Catcher and Pitcher Part Two: Summer

Daniel Bradford

Copyright 2009, all rights reserved

Sharing a motel room with Chuck during the baseball team's first-ever attempt to capture a state championship and a tongue-filled kiss with Nick provided me with the most outstanding weekend of my life! I managed to squeeze in a bit of studying before Chuck called me late Sunday night upon return from his sister's graduation. Now that baseball season was over there were no alterior reasons for Chuck to make contact, so I was doubly impressed that he had bothered to call. We easily fell into comfortable conversation about nothing in particular. He teased that there were likely some pretty hot girls and guys in his sister's class but he couldn't really tell because of the flowing gowns. I was quick to point out that he would soon be similarly clad and he just grunted at the reminder. "Well, I've seen you naked, so a gown can't fool me," I teased. I could hear him snicker, while my cock pulsed. Our conversation ended shortly thereafter and I had to jerk off before getting into bed.

The following week was filled with finals for me, and every possible type of graduation-related practice or ceremony for Chuck. Nick was required to play at the commencement ceremony and I used him as an excuse to be present when Charles Burke crossed the stage to receive his diploma. Though I hadn't divulged which player had won my affection, or perhaps more accurately my ass, Nick found me a place behind the orchestra, where I sat anxiously waiting for Chuck to appear. He did look a bit silly in a cap and gown but as his large hand dwarfed the principal's, I immediately began to think of the large package in his pants. My imagination took over as I pictured him naked beneath the flimsy robe and my cock began to leak. I was about ready to rub it when something made me look around and I found Nick looking directly at me. Busted! I thought. I gave him a wan smile, which he returned with a much brighter one. (Probably it was just a random coincidence and I doubt he had been able to zero in on Chuck. Still he had correctly surmised that I had had sex during the championship weekend, though I hadn't verbally confirmed the fact. Why didn't I just return his trust and confess to being gay? I mean he had come out to me last year! He's got to be the coolest friend ever.) And as if I were seeing it for the first time, I silently remarked to myself that Nick's smile was incredible; he didn't have a gorgeous jock-body like Chuck, but his smile was amazing! I smiled at him again, knowing that he would cut me some slack, or a lot of it, if required. In that moment I vowed to come out to my best friend?soon. I wasn't brave enough to commit to telling him after the ceremony or even tomorrow and managed to sneak out before the orchestra played the recessional.

Later that evening and after several aborted starts, I was sweating as Nick's phone rang. (Originally I wanted to call Chuck but decided against it as I felt sure he would be busy with family and relatives; at least that was my rationalization. Something about my commencement fantasy and Nick's smile had almost convinced me to profess my love to Chuck, despite the fact that I had no evidence that he was interested in anything other than sex or winning a baseball game.) I thought I might be able to actually say to Nick, I'm gay but breathed a huge sigh of relief when his voicemail interrupted my near panic. I did manage to thank him for getting me a seat at the graduation ceremony. Fuck! I thought as I ended the call and fell back on my bed. I didn't know where Germ was at that moment, but I thanked the cosmos that I was alone as I rolled onto my stomach and cried into my pillow.

*   *   *   * *

Just days later, I was sitting in some Human Resources department waiting to take some kind of test. I wasn't complaining, as opportunities for summer employment that didn't require asking 'would you care for fries with that?' were virtually non-existent regardless of one's motivation or intelligence. I was here by virtue of a particularly long and convoluted thread that included my Uncle Tim's golf partner and a woman who had taken maternity leave. Apparently I aced the test and when it became apparent that they wouldn't have to pay benefits, as I was a minor still living at home, the decision was a no-brainer. I was scheduled to report to work the following Monday and was assured that wearing a tie was neither required nor expected, though I was instructed not to wear blue jeans. Already it was shaping up to be an incredible summer! I had a job that would pay almost $17.00 an hour; I'd been in contact with my usual group, which included Nick, and Chuck occasionally invited me to hang with his some of his jock friends, most of whom I knew from baseball and I'd finally bested Germ at his favorite video game. Cool!

Mom was practically glowing as she set a hot breakfast before my father and I; despite what I'd been told at the office, I was wearing a tie just like my dad. My brother must have smelled the food as he walked in just as my mom proclaimed, "You two are so handsome!" before placing a kiss on each of our cheeks. I blushed a bit but had to smile when I saw Germ roll his eyes. I wasn't all that hungry but Jeremy ate enough for two!

As had been agreed, dad drove me to my new place of employment before he continued on to his office. (I would never have to worry about being late, that's for sure!) "Your mom and I are both really proud of you, Dave. Get in there and kick some butt!" he said sounding like I was headed for the football field rather than an office job. Whatever. My nervousness re-surfaced as I approached the building and saw myself in the mirrored facade. I didn't really mind wearing a tie, but I didn't want to look like some kiss-ass, so I pulled off the tie and put in my backpack with my lunch. I took a deep breath and opened the heavy glass entrance door. The receptionist listened to me for five seconds tops, before she used the intercom to announce my arrival to the appropriate person. Moments later I was greeted and led through a series of corridors to what would be my new home for the summer, at least between the hours of 9 to 5.

Data entry had five other employees, all female; I guessed the youngest to be 24 and the oldest, who had greeted me in reception, to be a woman in her mid to late forties, a bit older than my mom. The work seemed easy to me, so despite the frequent and numerous pauses to introduce me, I managed to accomplish all of the work that awaited me at my new desk. Bernice, the older woman, frequently appeared to check on me and see that everything 'was in order', in her words; she was super-nice. I assured her that most things seemed self-explanatory, thanked her for her concern and added that I would definitely consult her if problems were to arise. Other than the threat of monotony, my other immediate observations were that the youngest woman, Kristin seemingly had a thing for me and that our work space had a single wall of floor-to-ceiling glass that faced a landscaped courtyard. It was relatively easy to ignore Kristin, but the green space grabbed my attention every time I looked up from my computer screen.

Though my salary seemed inordinate for the work I was doing, I felt like I'd rather spend my money on things I wanted rather than basics like a hot lunch from the commissary, so I generally ate a bag lunch in one of the outdoor spaces; possibly I had inherited some of my father's frugality. And since I didn't know anyone outside my five co-workers, I often took a brief walk or just sat at my desk and admired the courtyard greenery during breaks. It was during one of those breaks that I happened to see what I thought to be an incredible male ass across the courtyard. It was difficult to see through the various panes of glass and I couldn't see the face when he eventually stood erect, but I now had something to think about other than Kristin and the landscaping.

Fate works in funny ways; something I was just learning, as days later the skies opened just after the morning break and a deluge descended upon the business park, keeping almost everyone, myself included indoors for the lunch break. Accordingly the cafeteria was very crowded that day. I was more or less oblivious, listening to the dull roar of the rain as I ate my lunch and read. Someone wanting to share my table, one of the few remaining available seats, momentarily distracted me. I looked up and nodded approval to the guy standing opposite me with his lunch tray. He was okay looking, but nothing so special that I'd be tempted to stare. I'm kinda shy the first time I meet someone, and though I didn't intended to be rude, I guess I was more-or-less ignoring him throughout his attempts to make conversation. Occasionally I'd laugh or snicker, as he made some pretty witty comments. Finally, I turned to face him just as he was about to go and empty his tray. He smiled with a smile that was genuine and friendly, and which changed the entire appearance of his face; I smiled despite myself. However when he turned from the table, there was no doubt in my mind that he was the owner of the ass I had spied across the courtyard. Fuck! I started to jump up and follow him, but he seemed to have disappeared into the crowd.

Saturday evening, Aaron, Nick and I were at the bowling alley. None of us were any good, so we never took it seriously but we always had fun. We had decided this would be our final game before we ate. Nick was keeping score and it was Aaron's turn; it looked like he was about to win three out of three, especially since his first ball took out nine pins. The final pin wobbled while Aaron's body tried to persuade it fall, with a series of gestures and movements. Aaron was a stereotypical blue-collar stud, not so tall but broad and solid. I'm sure Nick liked all his muscles, while I had noticed his glutes in particular. Nick and I giggled as he retrieved his ball. He seemed to take forever to set up his shot, so I leaned closer to Luke. "Hey?um, Nick?wanna know something?"

"What, like Aaron's gonna win?" he replied with a big grin.

"DUH! Like yeah? but not that." I paused a moment watching my friend watching his boyfriend as the ball was suspended at the end of his muscular arm. I knew he was still listening so I began. "Um?you probably already know but I wanna tell you anyway. I, um?I've thought about it before but, ah?" I paused yet again as Nick turned in his seat to face me. I braced myself and in a hushed voice said, "Nick, I like guys? I'm gay." His face broke into a huge smile, which allowed most of my fear to evaporate.

"Damn it Dave, I thought you'd never tell me!" He pulled me into a hug and whispered into my ear. "Thanks for telling me. Does anyone else know?" We were interrupted by a small shout from Aaron and looked up to see him doing some little victory dance after his second ball took out the stubborn pin. I just shook my head as we clapped and laughed for Aaron. "Are you going to tell Aaron?" Luke asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Maybe you should tell him."

"Why me? I think you should do it." By this time Aaron was approaching and Nick called out to him. "Way to go, dude, but you know you're making the two of us look really bad," he teased, as I saw him discretely pinch one of Aaron's nipples. Aaron's smile immediately turned up a couple notches. "So guess what?"

"Dave's buying the pizza?" Aaron responded looking at me, still smiling.

"That's a given, but it's something even better," he said prompting me.

"Yeah, I was just, ah telling Nick?I just told Nick?that?" My words stopped as my eyes shifted between their two faces, landing on Nick's.

"Wh-a-a-at?" Aaron laughed. Luke started to open his mouth and I just nodded my head, before he whispered into Aaron's ear. His smile had turned to an expression of surprise but the smile returned as he proclaimed. "Welcome to the club, Dave!" He then pulled me into a hug in the middle of the bowling alley. I was embarrassed as hell but then noticed how good it felt; I had just revealed my biggest secret to two people, they were both happy about my news and I was hugging a cute guy in public! Without waiting to finish the game that Aaron was obviously going to win, he asked, "Are you two losers ready to go? I'm starving and we've got some celebrating to do." He looked so excited that I began to feel it too. "C'mon! Nick's buying!"

We didn't travel any further than the restaurant in the bowling alley; you wouldn't go there for dinner, but they did have great pizza. And we ate a lot! None of us are big guys, (I'm bigger than either of them) but you'd have thought we were feeding the football team. But we were there for hours so it wasn't like we were gorging ourselves. And laughing burns calories, right? It was awesome being able to say what came to mind without having to sensor myself. In my ignorance I said some silly things, but the guys were cool, laughed with me and told me what they knew. Aaron asked what guys I thought were cute. I mentioned a few names, including a guy from last year's chemistry class.

"Chris is pretty much a confirmed breeder," Aaron replied to that one. He and Nick exchanged looks and shared a smile.

"Maybe one of these days you'll tell me what makes you so sure about that," I teased. It was nice to finally get to know Aaron better; he and Nick had been together for several months, and I had tended to shy away from hanging with Nick when Aaron was around. He was nothing like my best friend and I sort of felt like the odd man out. Nick prodded me about my baseball "buddy". After all we had shared that evening, I was surprised that his inquiry made me blush a bit, which earned me more abuse. Regardless I was smiling while admitting that I had done some stuff with a member of the varsity baseball team. "However," I added more seriously. "I'm in no position to be outing anyone, so I'm not naming any names or divulging specifics." Then back to our playful mode I added. "But I think it is safe to say that neither of us is pregnant." I got some serious shit for my cop-out but they let it slide.

We had stuffed ourselves while a second wave of diners had come and mostly gone; fortunately no one chased us from our booth. "Dude," Nick started in. "I'm not dissing you or anything, but what the fuck took you so long to tell me? I mean, we're best buds, like since forever!" He wore a bemused smile but I must have looked a bit nervous or taken aback because he quickly added. "Sorry?it's cool. But one of these days?"

"It's okay, totally okay? I've been thinking about this for a long time?a really long time. Thank god you guys were soon cool about it and everything."

"DUH!" Aaron teased. "I haven't known you very long, but Nick's been concerned about you for as long as I've know him." Nick and I both blushed, though I couldn't see his face when he turned to look at Aaron.

He turned back to me. "My bad Dave, we can talk about this another time."

"No! Like I said before it's totally fine? you certainly deserve some kind of explanation. It's just that?" My eyes dropped to the table before I continued. "Well, the longer I waited, the more embarrassed I got for not trusting you."

"You mean for dropping hundreds of hints but never saying anything definitive?" he teased.

"Yeah, I guess," I said, breathing a sigh of relief. "But you were the one that got me thinking about boys." My tone might have sounded defensive, but I was smiling.

"So it's all my fault?" I knew he was teasing but still, it got me a bit flustered.

"No, but you?I?I mean you?"

"Dave, I'm just kidding! We're all friends here," he said and placed one of his hands on one of Aaron's and one on mine. "But you should see yourself right now, you're so cute."

I blushed again and said, " Don't say things like that! I'm so embarrassed!"

"Why? You are cute." He snickered and turned toward Aaron. "He is cute, isn't he?" Aaron nodded his head in agreement while they started to laugh.

I knew they weren't laughing at me and soon I laughed too. "Thanks Nick. You gotta be the best friend a guy could have, no offense Aaron."

"None taken," he answered before placing his arm around Nick's shoulder.

"But seriously Aaron, the first time I thought about guys, that way was around Nick's 13th birthday." Nick gave me a questioning look as I continued. "See I got him a card and some stupid little thing that I can't even remember and was plotting to kiss him when he opened the door. But when I?"

"You got me new cables for my iPod!"

"You remember that?"

"Heck yeah! You know how much I love music and the 'rents would have killed me if they found out I'd lost the damn things. I'd hadn't even had it for a month. I probably should have kissed you!" He smiled at me. I was amazed that he even remembered. Aaron watched the two of us with a grin on his face.

"Obviously no one got kissed that day," I said directly to Aaron. He snickered. I looked to Nick and saw something in his face I couldn't quite read. "Back then, I probably didn't know exactly what wanting kiss Nick was all about. But I had it pretty much figured things out by the time you came out last year, Nick. You surprised me, I guess but I was so happy and relieved that I wasn't the only one." I let out a nervous chuckle and shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know why I didn't turn around and tell you right then?"

"I guess the time just wasn't right," Nick replied. "With me, I just had to tell someone and except for my parents, I couldn't think of anyone else I trusted, but I didn't really want them to be first. Of course there was a chance you'd freak but I thought you were probably gay too. And I sort of hoped that maybe you'd tell me cuz then? maybe you and?like we might, hook up?so I just had to go for it!" He glanced quickly at Aaron then returned his gaze to me. Even if they had swapped coming-out stories, I doubt Aaron had heard about Nick's plans; it was definitely news to me.

"So you were my first push," I said. "Round two came when I got bumped up to varsity, but you already know about that." I said hoping to ward off any further discussion of Chuck and I.

"You haven't really told us anything other than the fact that you practice one-on-one with some hot stud." Aaron retorted and turned to Nick. "I didn't miss the good stuff did I?"

"No you didn't miss that part, but you failed to notice that Dave is under a restraining order not to divulge that information, so cool it?at least for tonight!" He snickered as he elbowed Aaron and flashed me a devious smile.

"Okay! Okay," I laughed, raising my hands in mock surrender; they were being super-cool, yet I was a bit jealous watching their easy give and take. "Anyway," I said clearing my throat. "A couple days ago this guy was sharing my table in the cafeteria, that day we had that huge downpour."

"Yeah, Wednesday, Aaron confirmed. I think I made like, three dollars in tips that day at the carwash." We all chuckled at his predicament.

"So, this guy sits down, he's sort of okay looking?"

"Just okay?" Nick interrupted.

"Yeah?just okay, at least until he got up to leave and I saw his ass. I couldn't stop staring!" They were both wearing huge grins and I blushed yet again. It took a moment to gather my thoughts. "I lost him in the crowd but sort of busted myself for fixating on some dude's butt. That was like, my third strike and you know it's three strikes and you're out. So now I'm "out" at least to you guys." I let out a sigh. "Aaron, I wasn't sure I could tell Nick while you were around but I'm glad I did. It was sort of like a two-for the-price-of-one."

"I know about two plus one," Aaron teased, giving me a mischievous grin. I turned fifty shades of red while Nick elbowed Aaron's ribs. "So you're an ass man?" he continued despite a second jab to the ribs.

"I hope your guy is a bit more mature than mine." Nick said with a smile. "I love him but sometimes his mouth moves without the benefit of his brain."

"You don't usually complain about my mouth," he smirked.

"So true," he chuckled in response.

"At this point Aaron, I think I like it all. There's some pretty hot stuff wandering the halls at school." (I can't believe I just said that.) "Ready to roll?" I asked quietly, fearing I would only embarrass myself more if we lingered.

"Sure," said Aaron. "Let's get out of this fuckin' dump." He slid out of the booth, reached into his pocket for his keys and headed for the exit. I couldn't help but think that Aaron wanted to get naked with Nick ASAP.

Considering the way they had treated me I was ready to pay the bill and leave a generous tip but Nick refused my offer so I took some bills and shoved them into his pocket. Nick's landed on top of my denim-covered hand. "I kinda like the feel of that," he said with a smile. Of course I blushed for the millionth time today.

"Nick, I don't deserve a friend like you." I said feeling like I might actually cry.

"Too bad," he said and released my hand. "You got me and I'm not easy to get rid of. But c'mon, let's get out of here."

Outside the summer evening was just growing dark. Nick slipped his arm around my waist and I draped an arm across his shoulders. "Thanks Nick... I?"

"Don't talk," he half whispered and squeezed my waist. "You were really brave tonight; I'm totally proud of you. I got to see that side of you that you've been hiding from everyone. It's beautiful; you're beautiful." He smiled and then he kissed me. Right in the middle of the parking lot! "Dave?do you have any idea how beautiful you are? Forget about sex and all that. You're kind and gentle and smart? and sexier than hell!" I stared at his face; a tiny smile tempered his seriousness and I thought he had never looked more handsome.


"Dave, I'm sorry?well part of me isn't sorry. Things can get so frickin' complicated. I've loved you for, like, forever, but I love Aaron too, though not like?like? you. Don't be mad. You're still my best friend."

"How could I possibly mad at you? You're the best!"

He smiled and led the way to the car.

"Got lost, huh?" Aaron smirked. "I burned half a tank of gas waiting for you two!" he teased, with just a bit of sarcasm.

"Sorry babe," Nick said, turning Aaron's handsome face toward his own. "We just had to settle up with the waitress before she would let us leave." Nick then laid a kiss on Aaron's lips that silenced any further discussion. I tried not to stare while attempting to fasten my seatbelt. (They looked cute and hot!) I gazed out the side window as the car began to move. We were supposed to be headed for my house, but as the car turned left instead of right, Aaron announced that he was buying ice cream for everyone.

"Ice cream?" I laughed. "Aren't you stuffed?"

"Not 'til we drop you off," he snickered. "But I l-o-v-e ice cream. How about you?" he asked with a big laugh.

It took me a moment to decipher his double entendre but when I did, I flushed red. I was glad it was mostly dark so they couldn't see my face but had to laugh at myself for being so slow on the uptake. Aaron drove us to some strip mall that I never knew existed but insisted it was the only place to go. "My grandma brought me here when I was a kid and I always come back!" he said proudly, as if that proved his point. And it was good. I couldn't decide, so had to get a scoop of mint chip and one of Rocky Road. We sat on the hood of his car and ate ice cream in the parking lot.

When they dropped me off, Nick called me to his open window. "Dave, what you did tonight was huge. But don't freak out 'cuz Aaron and I got your back. Call me if you need anything, okay?"

Before I could respond, Aaron jumped in unexpectedly. "Dave, I know I talk a lot of shit, but I'm serious and Nick's right; what you did takes balls. My dad kicked me out of the house when I told the 'rents. Fortunately it only took mom a couple days get me back in the house; my old man and I are mostly cool now." Not exactly what I wanted to hear, especially if that was what I had to look forward to.

"Thanks guys," I said trying to sound upbeat.

"Call me," Nick insisted before the car pulled away.

As I approached the front door I wondered if I might look different since I had outed myself. Not exactly like a Scarlet Letter but something anyone could see. Aaron's parting remarks were definitely disquieting. I took a deep breath and exhaled as I turned the key in the lock. My folks were watching a movie, but as soon as I appeared dad grabbed the remote and hit pause. I almost panicked. I am so dead! I thought as they simultaneously turned toward me. I didn't move, ready to bolt for the door at a moment's notice. But dad's first words were about bowling; he loved to tease me about playing an old duffer's game and mom inquired if I was hungry. I could feel my entire body relax and I finally smiled. I teased my dad that bowling was good for me as I was saving myself for the next baseball season. That remark got laughs from both of them and I assured my mom that I couldn't possibly eat another thing. I learned that Angela was spending the night with friends at a pyjama party and Jeremy was probably still glued to the computer. Finally I interrupted the conversation. "I don't want to keep you from the movie and I'm beat, so I'm gonna pack it in. G'night." I stepped near and gave my mother a quick peck on the cheek before dad gave me casual hug; the last hug was months ago when I made the varsity baseball team. They know! Holy fuck they know! I thought as I dashed up the stairs and into the bathroom. I closed and locked the door and stared at my face in the mirror. I contorted it into every possible expression and pushed the flesh around, viewing it from as many angles as possible. I couldn't see anything different from what I'd seen in the mirror everyday. I was frustrated and anxious, until I realized that I needed to piss big time. (Who knew coming out was such hard work?) After flushing the toilet I barely had the energy to wash my face and hands and brush my teeth before collapsing into bed.

Despite my fatigue, I tossed and turned for what seemed an eternity. Obviously I didn't remember everything, but I remembered portions of some of the most sensual and erotic scenarios, which were invariably interrupted by nightmares that might have been pulled from Dante's Inferno. Needless to say I was exhausted when my brother woke me the next morning.

"Bro, wake up. Are you okay?" He gently shook my shoulder and added. "Dad wants to know if we're going to church, so wake up." Another shake and I barely opened my eyes, mere slits and turned to face him. "I'm not going if you're not. So what's the deal?" Apparently he hadn't really been paying attention as his tone changed completely. "Dave, are you okay?" he asked getting in my face. "You were crazy-wild in bed last night, sort of like some epileptic or something... Fuck! Dave is this some drug thing? You know dad's gonna kill you if it is!"

"No, nothing like that; I just had a bad night," I said and reached out to touch my brother's arm. He stood steadfast. "Thanks for waking me. What time is it?' I asked groggily. "Do I have time for a shower?"

"Sure, if you hurry. Do you need help?"

"No I think I got it handled," I said puling back the sheet. For the first time in a long time there was no morning wood. The bathroom was down the hall and in deference to our sister and mother, Jeremy and I always covered up when moving between the two rooms. My hand was on the doorknob when he asked if I shouldn't put on some pants or sweats or something. "Whatever?" I replied and headed down the hall in my boxer briefs.

I felt like shit but the warm water felt wonderful. My family has never been particularly religious; my parents attended services frequently but weren't regular church-goers. And when I turned 16 they gave me the option to join them or stay home whenever they attended; I assumed Germ would be given the same option. (Considering my condition, I'm not sure why I was making the effort. Hiding my sexuality behind religion?)

There was no mention of Leviticus or any other reference to homosexuality during the service and I was surprised to see Angie and her friends at the end of the service; apparently church was the agreed-upon pick up point for most of the girls attending the sleep over. She ran to me and I picked her up in a welcome hug. At ten years of age, she wasn't a little girl but she buried her face in my neck as I twirled her outside the church. "I had a great time, but I missed you Dave!" I began to think that my paranoia had trumped me once again.

If they noticed, no one mentioned my mood, though Germ didn't let me get too far out of sight. He approached me after I dropped onto a chaise in the back yard; he looked worried. "Jeremy," I said as he got near. "Seriously dude, I'm all right, so don't worry. 'K?"

"Promise?" he replied, obviously not believing me.

"Almost," I replied. "You're a great little brother and I really appreciate your concern but everything's gonna be fine; I just need some sleep." I wasn't angry as much as I just wanted to be left alone.

"I think you need a hug." He quietly suggested. I nodded and we hugged. It was nice, though I thought I might start to cry.

"Thanks bro. That was nice but I'm going to try and sleep. That cool with you?" He nodded and left me alone. My eyes were wet but I didn't cry exactly before I slipped into mostly undisturbed sleep. I slept for hours, took a leisurely two mile run, followed by a long warm shower. I felt good or at least pretty okay, at least that's what I told Nick when he called later that night.

"Well I hadn't heard from you so I was just checking in," he said as if to explain. In any other circumstance, no explanation would be required or expected; we called each other all the time, even for the most random reasons at equally random times.

"I'm good," I replied, intentionally ignoring my panic attacks and fitful sleep interspersed with erotic dreams and fearful nightmares. "Just a lazy day, pretty much did nothing; church with the 'rents, ate, slept, went for a run and eventually lost another game of video football to Germ. How's by you?"

"Great! If you're good I'm good." I could almost hear his smile. "My day was uneventful as well. Aaron and I spent some time at the pool and dad fired up the grill. The food was awesome but I ate w-a-a-a-y too much. I sort of look like a cartoon snake after it's swallowed a dog or pig or something." That was a very funny mental image since Nick has a slim build. We both started laughing; it felt good. I won't keep you unless there's something else. I just wanted to be sure you were okay. G'night Dave. Later dude? love you."

"Yeah, thanks, you too," I muttered in response. (What's up with that? A three-minute phone call and a shared laugh with Nick had me feeling better than I had all day. We actually kissed in the parking lot and he just used the word 'love,' but I couldn't say it in return. I do love him, don't I? Why is this so effing difficult?)

I was content to be back at work on Monday; the office felt "normal and safe" after my crazy weekend. Well, that was until Kristin arrived with a very large, very elaborately decorated cupcake inside its very own pink box. "David, these are absolutely the best! They're probably even addictive, but I love 'em and thought you might too, so here you go. Hope you like it," she said placing it on my desk. She smiled and I noticed her face grew dimples when she smiled. She really was attractive in a fresh-faced, perky sort of way. It was easy to imagine her as some college sweetheart and I really couldn't fathom why she found me interesting or attractive.

"Gee, thanks?Kristin. It looks great, but you didn't need to do that."

"I know," she tossed back with another smile but no attitude. "Enjoy," said with a wink and turned to her desk.

I ignored the confection until morning break and only ate half, saving the remaining portion for lunch. It was definitely the best I'd ever tasted and told Kristin as much. She seemed pleased and I felt a bit better about the situation when I discovered that the other four co-workers had also received a cupcake.

The next day while returning from the supply room (you know, low man on the totem pole) I saw the 'ass' guy walking in my direction. "Hey," he called out when he got near. "We didn't really get properly introduced last week. I'm Brent," he said extending his hand. Like the last time I saw him, I found his face was unremarkable, not bad looking or anything just sort of average I guess. But when I extended my hand to shake his, he smiled and his face was transformed. It was a bit disarming.

"Sorry about last week, Brent. Nice to meet you, ah?name's Dave. I wasn't trying to be rude or anything?I was a little distracted and, um?I'm kinda shy in new situations? around new people, you know?"

"Yeah, I understand, but you're too cute of a guy to be shy." He rolled his eyes and started to chuckle. I was thinking that 'cute' was an odd word choice, but when he ended with a rhyme I thought he must be some kind of freak. "God! Did I just say that?" he said shaking his head. "Must be my nerdy-accountant gene coming out." We both laughed and it pleased me to see that he could laugh at himself. "What I meant Dave," he said still smiling, "Is that there's no reason to be nervous or shy. You seem like a got-it-together kind of guy and almost everyone here seems pretty decent. I wouldn't necessarily want to hang out with all of them, but I haven't met any full-fledged assholes?yet." Again we shared a chuckle. "But duty calls. It was good to finally meet you, Dave," he said with a wink. He delivered a friendly pat to my shoulder and added, "Hope to see you again, soon." We parted and after five steps, I took a deep breath and I turned my head to look back at him; thank god he hadn't done the same thing. I took a lingering glance at his butt as he continued down the corridor. Nice? real nice! I thought to myself.

It was probably Brent's ass in my dreams that night, but again the pleasure was interrupted by more horrific nightmares. It was a similar experience to that first night after coming out to Nick and Aaron, so I easily recognized the pattern. I awoke each morning feeling tired and I hadn't jerked off for four days!

Still, I readily agreed when Brent invited himself to share my table at lunch and felt no anxiety. The outdoor patio really was a pleasant space and we did the whole get-to-know-each-other routine. I learned that he was not a local, nor was he a career accountant. He was just a couple years out of college and following a year-long stint with a bank, this was his second job as he attempted to get some real-life experience in finance before continuing with grad school. Somewhere along the way he asked me about rollerblading. I confessed I had never tried them, but said that I was game when he told me blades could be rented at one of the local rec centers.

He arrived at my house Saturday morning as planned. The paint on his older Saturn was seriously oxidized but the car was clean. As he pulled away from the curb, he asked my shoe size. "Ten, usually," I answered. "But why?"

"I found a pair at home that might fit you. I don't know how I ended up with them, they belonged to my ex." He turned his head toward me, presumably looking for a reaction, and I was looking right back at him. "I hope that's not a problem because I'm that way, like, I'm gay."

I think I caught it before he even realized it. "You did it again!" I proclaimed with a chuckle. "Maybe we should talk in rhyming couplets all day!" I teased. It surprised me a bit that I felt so comfortable with this virtual stranger.

"It must be you! I'm a number cruncher not a poet; I never talk this way at work."

"Sometimes?" I teasingly rebutted.

"Yeah but that time I was with you, so it must be your fault!" He flashed me a smile.

"Yeah, sure, whatever," I said, playing along, as he parked. I shamelessly stared at his ass while he retrieved the skates from the back seat of the car.

"Here, try these. It's no biggie if they don't fit, but if they work we won't have to rent any." Brent sat near me on the curb as I traded sneakers for roller blades. "They're supposed to be snug, but not too tight," he said while supervising.

"I guess they're fine," I said not knowing what they should feel like.

"Well let's give it a try. You might want to put these on. You're blading with a permanent employee, but I doubt Workman's Comp would consider this a work-related event. I gave him a blank stare and accepted the knee and elbow pads. (I was years away from grasping the kinds of things people like my father fully understood. However I had no intention of missing even a day's pay because I'd screwed up a knee, elbow or wrist while playing and donned the pads while Brent pulled on his blades.)

"Damn! It's like walking on marbles," I complained, though Brent had no problem assisting me while wearing the same footgear. I didn't complain about the warm hand on my waist.

"We'll go slow, I promise," Brent replied. "Are you ready?"

"For what?"

"Ah?skate?" Brent teased.

"Oh?yeah?sure. Lead on; I'll try to follow."

The first two hours were tortuous. I was grateful for the pads, but my ass definitely took a beating. Once I started to get the hang of it Brent performed for me, literally skating circles around me, sometimes in reverse. Like some kind of training exercise, I split my attention between staying vertical and staring at his ass. A couple of times I intentionally faltered so I could press against Brent; he never objected. Finally I called a halt; I was exhausted, though Brent was just getting into it, having given over most of the morning to coaching me.

Brent insisted on buying us smoothies before he took me home. Again I offered to pay as I thanked him for a great time. He offered the blades and pads as I was about to close the car door. "Maybe you should keep them until next time," I said. He looked disappointed until I added. "Like next Saturday?"

Again, his face was transformed with a big smile. "It's a date!" His enthusiasm died upon recognizing his possible faux pas. (I hadn't come out to him, I had only confirmed that his sexual orientation didn't matter to me.)

"Sure, see you here next week."

Soaking my sore butt in a tub of warm water, my mind began to wonder. I would have enjoyed my erotic dreams except they always morphed into something horrific, leaving me feeling tired and anxious. I was tired, and tired of always being so close to tears. Drama had never been my style; I mean I'm just a normal guy, well just a normal gay, guy: my brain is probably a bit better than average; I like sports and school and my family. So what's the deal?

Monday morning I was really starting to drag tail, even mom's morning kiss or Brent's workday greeting hardly stirred me. And for the first time, my work became challenging, simply because I was tired and distracted. I had no idea why I was so paranoid. The whole gay thing was really getting me down. Finally, on Wednesday I raised the white flag and surrendered. During the morning break I called Nick, who was also at work, but took my call. "We have to talk, just the two of us. No Aaron, no interruptions!" I was beyond concern for being rude or demanding; even if it wasn't fair. I was desperate and Nick was my first, last and only resort.

"No problem Dave. Just tell me when and where."

"Does tonight work for you?"

"Sure." Again, without cause I felt on the verge of tears. As if he sensed this, Nick added. "I'll be home right after work; come over whenever you want."

"Thanks?" I paused to wipe my eyes, which had begun to water, thinking, god I'm such a freaking mess! "See you tonight?you're the best...later?bye." I ended the call and went to the men's room to wash my face. When dad picked me up after work, I asked him to take me to Nick's house, indicating that I wouldn't be home for dinner.

Nick's room was comfortably welcoming and despite my mood, I smiled as I noticed his drum practice pad and at least five pair of drumsticks scattered around the room. The walls were covered with images of drummers (many of them shirtless) and album art from some of his favorites. Over his desk a smaller, but cluttered collection of images of Aaron created something of a shrine dedicated to his boyfriend. (I was impressed and possibly jealous: there wasn't a single image of Chuck in my bedroom.)

Lacking a shrink's couch, I claimed the bed and Luke settled onto his desk chair after giving me a hug. There was only a moment of fumbling before I launched into a diatribe about my life since coming out. I revealed the panic provoked by my parents and how I managed to freak out Germ. I talked about Brent, Chuck and even Nick himself. I mentioned the troublesome dreams that left me tired. "What if I get fired?"

When I finally fell silent, he said. "I guess it's different for every guy; I still remember the euphoria I felt when I finally told you. And I was so happy for you last week that it never occurred to me that you might be having a hard time of it." He emitted a tiny sigh. "Dave, I'm really sorry. I wish you had called sooner." I was thinking the same thing as he stood and approached the bed. "Roll over." Without hesitation I complied and felt Nick's warm hands on my shoulders and back. It felt like I was melting in to the mattress and soon I was sleeping.

I'm not sure how long I slept, but the room was mostly dark except for a lamp when I awoke. Through half-shut eyes, I saw Nick beside me, propped up on one arm and smiling. "Sorry, guess I fell asleep."

"No prob; I like watching you, you know. Cuz even though you don't like me to say it, you're so damn cute!"

His smiling face was so beautiful that I stretched to kiss him and he kissed back. And then we were making out, rolling around on his bed, often with one on top of the other. My cock, which had been inert for over a week, was throbbing in my pants. Finally I pulled back from his mouth, virtually panting with excitement and practically gasping for breath. A noisy growl emanated from my belly. I was a bit embarrassed and the mood definitely changed as we both started to laugh. "Man, I'm starving!" I proclaimed, suddenly a bit uneasy of the fact that I was making out with Aaron's boyfriend.

"No shit!" Nick chuckled and squeezed my crotch. He made it all seem so easy, so natural, like most of the things we did together as friends that weren't sex.

"Do you and Aaron kiss?" I innocently asked.

"Absolutely! Sometimes it's better than sex, though Aaron probably wouldn't agree."

"Well, Chuck never?" I stopped dead silent, realizing I'd just outed Chuck.

"Chuck, as in baseball stud, Chuck? You're fucking Charles Burke, the single sexiest guy in school? And you're whining to me? Dude, you are so busted!" He crawled on top of me and smothered me with kisses as the make out session resumed. Nick's cock was definitely hard and mine was seriously leaking when he finally lifted his face from mine. "I guess we could get something to eat," he slyly admitted before I pulled his face to mine and rolled on top of him.

I was on the verge of creaming my jeans. "Jesus, Nick! You're?" His mouth covered mine and rolled us over yet again. My hips involuntarily pushed our cocks together and my arms squeezed him tightly to my chest as my long-delayed orgasm began. Nick's pelvis thrust and his cock began to shoot while our mouths remained joined. Involuntary muscle response forced our mouths apart as we gulped in air. Nick remained stretched over me like a warm blanket. After our breathing had settled we heard my stomach growl again. He giggled; I snickered. "Nick, I?"

"I know, I know, you're hungry," he interrupted.

"Actually, I was going to say that?" His smile momentarily distracted me. " I love you, Nick? I apologize for not having said it before now, because I've known it, like, almost forever." We shared a smile and a final kiss before we finally got off his bed. Nick quickly changed his clothes; I was out of luck but really didn't mind having just experienced the most incredible make out session ever!

I couldn't help but smile when we got to the kitchen; his mom had set out fruit and cookies and numerous notes about food and drink options. "Wow!" I said grabbing a cookie. "Does your mom regularly kill the fatted calf, or is tonight special?"

"Well, tonight is special because you're here," he said handing me a soda. "She's probably watching the news with dad or she'd be here to wait on us." He giggled, then added, "Being the baby of the family has its advantages."

"Yeah, baby!" I said in my best Austin Powers imitation; Nick groaned. He was a baby only by virtue of birth order; his two older sisters were already away at college. I had met both of them, but was more familiar with Angela, who was just two years older than Nick. I had always thought it strange than we had sisters with the same name but that night it seemed almost obvious, as if we were brothers filling our stomachs in Nick's kitchen. Typical of his thoughtfulness, he insisted on walking me home "But how will you get home?" I queried.

"I play the card when it works in my favor, but I'm not a baby! I can find my way home."

I couldn't think of a reply, so I just smiled. It wasn't all that far and mostly we walked in silence. Nick took my hand in his and held it; something I'd never done with another guy. I liked it.

As we approached my house Luke finally spoke. "If you play your cards right, you could be married to an American All-Star with a multi-million dollar contract by the time you finish college. Imagine that! Being able to sit at home and write without having to worry about having a job. Do you think he'd be wiling to sponsor a talented musician like me? I could probably cut the grass on your estate or something."

I nervously laughed at Nick's comments, since I had had similar thoughts on the odd occasion. "Dude, I don't even know if Chuck is gay."

"Does it really matter, if he's willing to take care of you? He's hot and definitely major league material!" Nick paused a moment, seemingly lost in thought. "It shouldn't matter unless you're like me and need to be in love with the guy."

"I think maybe I am one of those guys, but things have been pretty screwy the last few months, so I'm not really sure?"

"God I hope so!" Nick said before quickly kissing me on the mouth. "G'night Dave," he added as he stepped off my front step.

"Nick?" I said. "Thanks?I owe you... a lot! Night!" He was already fading into the darkness when I realized that in addition to easing my angst, he had given me a lot to think about. I rushed inside to call his cell phone knowing he didn't have it with him. "Thanks Nick. I love you."

Upstairs, I turned on the hot water and stripped. My damp, slightly crusty briefs reminded me of the cathartic evening with Nick; I couldn't decide if I should laugh or cry but I think I was smiling. Regardless the warm water felt good and after a quick shower I toweled off and brushed my teeth. Lacking options, I pulled my shorts over my naked body and headed for my room, where Jeremy was already asleep. I stripped and slid under the sheets naked; I'd worry about underwear tomorrow. Almost immediately I fell into the best sleep I'd experienced in over a week.

It would probably take another day for me to catch up on my lost sleep, but I felt good the next morning. When I realized I was naked I smiled, remembering making out with Nick. Throughout the day I wondered what had changed, what Nick might have said that allowed me to sleep so peacefully? I scratched down some notes, but didn't arrive at any conclusion. After a second peaceful night I was on top of my game as far as work was concerned, but no closer to a conclusion. After dinner I called Nick. Like always we talked about "stuff" before I mentioned my new dilemma. (I think he was laughing at me but he kept that to himself.)

His phone started to beep. "Dave, my battery is getting low, so we'll have to make this brief. And to be completely honest, I don't know the answer to your question, exactly or even if there is a question." He paused. "You're just fucking with me aren't you? Getting all mysterious and existential on me, huh?"

"No!" I said seriously but started to giggle.

"What did I tell you, butt hole?" Nick chuckled before we both started laughing. The beeping phone sobered us up. "Okay," Nick said stifling a snicker. "Seriously Dave, I don't think I said anything different that what I normally go on about. And actually, you did most of the talking last night." He paused. "It's kind of sweet that you think that I'm some kind of gay guru that knows all the answers?but I'm not. You're probably smarter than me and definitely cuter?" I started to object. "Sorry dude, I'm right about that one. So the only big difference is that I came out a year earlier than you."


"Yeah, I forgot, you have a tendency to over-think everything!" I sighed. "That's not all bad, at least you're using your brain, unlike most of the guys at school." The phone beeped again. "But seriously Dave, and I truly believe this, I think the only thing that happened, well not the only thing. Yum!"

"Nick," I pleaded. "Just tell me!"

"Dave, the thing is you." beep "You came to my house and told me what you were thinking. You didn't try to make it rational or pretty; you asked questions without editing yourself." beep "You shared yourself and a kiss; you said three very special words to me and I know you meant them." beep "I think the lesson is to not keep all that stuff wrapped up inside." beep "I know you're just starting this?" beep "Shit! this process. I hope it'll get easier." beep "Dave let call you back on the other?" beep

"Not necessary Nick." beep "You've given me plenty to?" beep "to think about. I?" beep "I do love you, Ni?" The line went dead. There was something soothing about the hum coming over the line. I placed the handset in the cradle and almost immediately the phone rang.

"Hi! I know you said not to call back but I wanted to be able to say I love you since we didn't even said good night."

"Thanks, Nick. You're the best!"

"No, you are!


"I love you Nick." "I love you Dave."



"Good Night!" "Good Night!"


Nick had given me more answers than he could have imagined along with a few more questions. It was too early for bed and neither reading nor TV sounded appealing so I grabbed my iPod and went outside. I was almost at Chuck's house before I paid any attention to where my feet were taking me. Was it possible that my brain wasn't in my head and my heart wasn't in my chest? I walked the remaining blocks to Chuck's house and noted that it was mostly dark: he was probably home alone. I wished him well as I walked by, eventually making a loop that passed by Nick's house before I returned home. I settled into bed and woke the next morning ready to tackle anything the world of data entry could possibly throw at me. Life was great!

*     *    *    *    *


The following Saturday Brent and I met up for rollerblading as we had agreed. I managed to come out to him and he both thanked and acknowledged me for sharing. Without that hanging over my head and with my improved blade skills we both enjoyed the morning.

Later that day, it was more or less the usual suspects when a group gathered outside the movie theatre. Eric was with Nicole and Scott had his arm around Michelle. Jake, one of Chuck's inner-circle, who also happened to be my age, was there with his younger brother, Keith. He didn't look particularly pleased about the situation and pulled me aside almost as soon as Chuck and I had arrived. Like me, he was very anxious to please and was worried about the tag-along, explaining that it was a last-minute thing where he had to take his brother along or stay at home to 'baby sit'. I felt confident that Chuck wouldn't care and that's what I told Jake. Keith was a perfect guest, though I caught him staring at Nicole at least as frequently as I stared at Eric's ass.

After the film, we headed to an arcade for sodas and video games. We had a blast but it was Keith who looked the most disappointed when Jake announced that they had to get home. Chuck offered to take them home and allowed Keith to ride shotgun. Jake and Keith thanked Chuck effusively, while I moved to the front seat. As the car pulled away, Chuck said, "Thanks for being cool with Kevin tonight." I was about to protest that I hadn't done anything, but his hand moved up to squeeze my neck, effectively blocking any thoughts that didn't involve Chuck. "I hope you can hang for a while to play a new video game."

Chuck quickly set up the video game but just when I was starting to get the hang of it, he announced that he needed to crash. "The folks are gone, but you're welcome to stay if you want. Maybe you should call home," he said, tossing me his cell phone before leaving the room. His invitation was rife with suggestion and innuendo and I was both excited and nervous. Ultimately I dialed Jeremy, the only one of us kids to have a cell phone. (Dad considered them to be frivolous and Germ had one simply because he made a bit of a fuss, which coincided with an impressive final report card around the time of his birthday and his promotion to high school.) I never begrudged my younger brother for his phone and currently was very happy he had it as I'd be able to deliver a message without disturbing our parents at the late hour.

"Dude, what are you doing up so late? Surfing the web for porn?" I teased once he answered.

"No!" he answered dismissively. "Well?maybe, a little." He chuckled and then asked. "What are you up to??"

"I'm just hangin' with Chuck; probably about to get slaughtered at this new game he has. He's almost as good as you," I added hoping to insure my little brother would be cooperative. "I'll probably crash here, so do me a favor and leave a note for mom and dad, okay?" Instead of an agreement, he launched into a series of questions about the game. "Bro, I don't know! I'll let you ask Chuck some time. But do me a favor and leave the rents a note. Oh, and one other thing, keep it clean okay. I don't want to use a sticky keyboard."

"Dude! That's gross!"

"Hey, you're the one surfing for porn, not me! And make sure to do your history."

"Bro. It's summer and I already told you I was looking for pics of hot chicks, so what's with the history crap?"

I laughed until I considered that Jeremy might not know what I was talking about. "Seriously dude, you do know about clearing your history, right? You know that mom, dad or Angie could accidentally find that shit if you don't!" His silence confirmed that he was unaware, which actually surprised me since he was really smart, particularly concerning computers. I quickly explained the process and he thanked me profusely in return. "Don't forget to leave the note, and don't stay up too late. See you tomorrow. Love you bro." Apparently Nick had rubbed off on me, at least a little bit.

"Yeah, sure, whatever. Thanks for the history lesson," he chuckled. "I could have been totally screwed. Of course, I'd have said it was you, not me!" he teased. There was a moment of silence before he continued, more quietly than before. "I love you too, but don't say that shit where people can hear, okay?" His comment hit me like a slap on the face.

"Yeah?sure. Good night." I ended the call and sat still, a bit baffled. Chuck returned and announced that there were clean towels and a toothbrush for me in the bathroom. I gave him a weak smile and left the room.

Whatever discomfort Germ's last comments may have caused me, were instantly forgotten when I returned to Chuck's room, which was dark except for a single lamp on the empty side of the bed. He looked to be asleep but my dick began to stir. Chuck's right hand was tucked under his pillow while his other arm was stretched across the pillow that was obviously meant to be mine, the sheet was pulled up to his waist, exposing his muscled torso. I groaned audibly before stripping to my briefs and slipped into bed. I turned off the light and allowed myself a single kiss on his hard chest; my hand remained on his taut abs. Just as I was drifting into sleep, Chuck's arms embraced me as his body rolled against mine. (Sweet dreams, indeed!)

We were essentially in that same embrace when I awoke. I carefully extricated myself from Chuck and made my way to his crotch. His boxers provided easy access to his cock, but my greedy need to expose his balls was probably what awakened Chuck. I had managed to coax his bat into readiness when he moaned, tossed back the sheet and lifted his hips to lose his only garment. I was ready to get back to it when he yanked my briefs down and maneuvered us into a 69. I was surprised as he'd only done this once before. His technique is still lacking but it helped me hold out a bit longer. Regardless it was over way too soon! Eventually Chuck tossed me a pair of sweatpants as he was donning a pair. "Ready for breakfast?" he asked rhetorically and left the room.

Breakfast consisted of microwave waffles with syrup, orange juice and either apples or bananas, which fell way short of what my or probably Chuck's mom would have prepared, but a half-naked Chuck could have served three-day old white bread and I would have been content. Just watching Chuck drink coffee gave me pleasure. I smiled when I felt his crotch against my ass while I loaded the dishwasher, though he acted like it was an accident.

Eventually Chuck excused himself to get ready for work. When I returned from my shower, he was already dressed and sitting on the end of the bed putting on his shoes. Chuck's summer job consisted of working in a sporting goods store at the mall and his uniform approximated that of a referee: black and white with plenty of polyester; despite the fiber content, Chuck looked hot, like always! Feeling playful, I tossed my towel aside and stood before him naked. "Excuse me sir, I need a jock strap for school, but don't know what size I should get."

With both his feet now firmly on the ground, he looked at me while trying to hide a smile. "Dude! Get your junk out of my face," he demanded as his huge right hand encompassed my cock and balls and he gently squeezed them. The warmth of his hand immediately produced results as my dick started to stiffen. "Bro get some clothes on unless you wanna walk home; I gotta get to work!" A huge smile betrayed his threat. "Go on, get dressed," he urged giving my junk one final tug.

While brushing my teeth, Chuck arrived to take a piss. I tried to concentrate on my task until Chuck stood behind me pushing his crotch against my ass, despite the fact that I had moved aside to allow him access. He reached around me to wash his hands. His face was near my neck when he proclaimed, "The shampoo smells familiar but that ass couldn't belong to anyone else. Christ Dave, are you trying to make me late for work?"

"Me, make you do anything?" I teased. "No way dude! Of course, if you decided to call in sick?"

We watched each other in the mirror as the exchange continued. "Dude, you're really making it hard to?" he said and again pushed against my ass.

"What's up with that?with you?" I queried. "Have you been stealing little blue pills from your dad's medicine cabinet?"

"No way!" he protested with a chuckle and added, "It must be you." I smirked to think that Brent had used the same defense. "But seriously Dave, it's late; we gotta go."

At his car I stopped, recalling past sex. "Maybe I should walk; I'm not sure I can behave," I teased, still half-boned.

"Shut the fuck up and get in!" Chuck laughingly commanded. "I'll behave if you will."

Despite my resolve, my bone got harder before Chuck had even put the car in gear. Staring at his profile I said. "I'll bet no one else makes that uniform look as good as it does on you; you actually make polyester look fucking hot!"

He flashed me a quick appreciative smile before responding. "Well yeah, maybe you're right but Cassie, the assistant manager is a fuckin' melt down in this get-up. When she's on the floor the store fills up in seconds. She's so hot!" He seemed oblivious to the fact that I might be a bit put out by his enthusiastic assessment. "It's sort of a blessing and a curse. Some times guys buy all kinds of shit, hoping she'll ring them up. Other times they just come to look but not to buy. Go figure!"

"I'm sure." I replied, though I couldn't exactly relate to a hot chick. (Chuck's behavior in the last 12 hours had just about convinced me that he had to be gay?until he mentioned Cassie. I don't think I'll ever figure him out. What's a guy to do other than smile?)

As he pulled up in front of my house he snickered. "What's up with the silly smile? You look a bit like you're drunk or stoned or something." In reply I shrugged my shoulders and gave him an even bigger smile, while pulling on the door latch. "Dude, you're a freak! Lovable, but a freak." His face showed his amusement. "Call me!"

I felt so happy, I wondered if I really was in love, though I couldn't quite believe it. Inside mom and Angie getting ready to make cookies for a Scout event but mom abandoned the kitchen almost immediately after I offered to help. As with Germ, Angie and I enjoyed doing things together, but apparently, even she picked up on my euphoria.

"You're quite the happy camper today," she said with a smile followed with a giggle.

"I am happy. Thanks, kiddo." I gave her a quick hug, glad that she noticed but didn't feel the need to ask a dozen questions the way mom sometimes did. I cleaned up the kitchen while she got ready.

Mowing grass on a hot summer afternoon is always a workout, but my mind was busier than my body: I still didn't know what to make of Chuck. He's probably straight, bi-curious at most, but horny like every other male teen. At least likes me and appreciates my athletic and academic abilities, and we are friends! When he leaves, I know I'm gonna miss him big time! Thinking about Chuck, I chided myself for losing my cherry to Trevor, who was perhaps more handsome in that All-American, boy-next-door kind of way, but I now realize he was nothing more than an average cock attached to an enormous ego. Like numerous girls before me, he dumped me once I was no longer cherry. Thank god he graduated and left town soon after that mess!

After the yard work and a shower I considered going to the mall to tease Chuck but opted to call Nick, who immediately picked up on my mood. Without much effort, he "coerced" me tell him everything. Of course I edited the details but he got the picture.

"Way to go, Dave?Hell, way to go Chuck!" He teased. We talked a while longer as he prepped to hook up with Aaron.

I was reading when the phone rang again; this time it was Chuck. I learned that his workday had been a madhouse: Cassie worked his shift, and a huge storewide sale was in progress. We unnecessarily confirmed the summer's standing schedule for afternoon hoops with Eric and friends and he invited me to join him for the new movie on Friday evening. I agreed as always. (Chuck could have asked me to join him at a Barbie doll convention and I would have said yes. DUH! )

The following Saturday Brent picked me up for roller blading. Having honed my skills I was able to give Brent some serious competition, which he enjoyed. He was no slouch, but sometimes I'd fall behind just so I could watch his ass. He couldn't expect to necessarily win a race anymore, though of course I occasionally used my beginner status as an excuse to grab onto or rub against Brent; he never complained.

It was already late afternoon when Brent suggested pizza, so I quickly agreed. What I hadn't realized was that we would eat at his place. "C'mon." he said as he parked near his apartment building.

"I thought we were gonna get pizza."

"We are! I know this great place that delivers."

Inside his apartment, it looked like?an apartment. I don't know what I expected to find in a gay guy's place, but his looked perfectly normal. He offered bottled mango iced tea, how did he know it was one of my favorites? "You go first," he said after we had discussed pizza preferences and he had pointed out the bathroom. "Get cleaned up; I'll order the pizza."

I stepped into the bathroom with my backpack and closed the door. I considered locking the door but thought that was just me being paranoid: I'd shared locker rooms with naked guys for years. Opening the glass enclosure I marveled at the cleanliness; my mom is something of a clean-freak but this was spotless! I almost felt guilty about turning on the water but quickly stripped and jumped under the warm spray. It felt great!

Dressed in clean clothes, I combed my hair with my fingers before exiting the bathroom. I almost jumped when Brent seemingly appeared from nowhere and said. "My turn." He flashed a smile before adding, "Make yourself comfortable I'll be right out."

The sofa was very comfortable and the music was pleasant, but still I was nervous. I'd been alone with Nick in his house a million times and even been naked with Chuck in his bedroom but this was different. I could hear the shower running and knew that that meant Brent was naked, just a couple yards from where I sat. Despite my nervousness, my cock stiffened a bit just as the doorbell rang. Without another thought, I opened the door to reveal a wet-dream holding an insulated carrying case. I stammered while we checked each other out. "Hot stuff!" he proclaimed indicating the insulated pizza, but his face suggested he meant something entirely different.

"Ah, come in," I said nervously stepping aside, while vaguely pointing toward the kitchen. "Just put it on the counter," I said while closing the door but never letting his body out of my sight. Nick is totally cute; Chuck, is a total jock/stud and Brent has an incredible ass but this guy was from some altogether different jerk-off fantasy world that I had only seen on a couple of websites; he definitely wasn't a local! He had shaggy blonde hair, seemingly bleached by the sun and his smooth skin was incredibly tan; tight black jeans worn low on his hips, hugged his muscled legs and revealed a sizable mound at his crotch, while a white polo shirt with the pizza company logo barely closed the gap between its hem and his belt. I couldn't help but stare until Brent blocked my view.

"That was fast," he quipped. "Let me get some money." The delivery guy barely noticed Brent but he licked his lips and rubbed his crotch before Brent returned.

"Thanks," the delivery guy said after counting the bills. He stuck his hand under the hem of his shirt and rubbed his belly, which looked to be completely washboard. "You guys need anything else?" he asked with an almost sinister smile.

"No, we're good," Brent responded but surprised the hell out of me when he appreciatively felt the guy's basket and place a quick kiss on his cheek. "But tell your boss I really appreciate the improved customer service!" He ushered the hottie out the door. "He was kinda cute, but you're beyond cute." (I could only assume that Brent was being polite; how could he not see that the guy was totally hot!?!)

"Breakfast of champions," Brent teased as he put the left over pizza in the refrigerator, then moved to where I was sitting and straddled my chair. "Can you stay for dessert?" he asked before pressing his mouth to mine. We made out on that chair for several minutes before Brent made it clear that dessert would be served in the bedroom. (I suppose I might have suspected something like this could happen, but I never really thought it would.)

Unlike Chuck, Brent was definitely into kissing! We made out for some time before Brent suggested, almost begged me to fuck his near-perfect ass. And I did. Twice! Eventually we showered, together, before he drove me home. We shared a good night kiss in the car outside my house. When I went to bed that night my dick was satisfied but he rest of me wasn't.

Soon thereafter, I opened up to Nick about my conflicted attraction to Brent and Chuck. As always he was a careful listener, though from time to time a smile crossed his face. After some discussion he simply stated, "I wish I had your problems, Dave."

Brent and I no longer used rollerblades as an excuse to couple for lots of stuff, not just sex! Nick always made time for me if he wasn't with Aaron and even then I was often included. Chuck could be like a big goofy kid unless he was involved with baseball or sex but he was always fun to be around and he brought a whole other group of people to hang out with. Of course I had all my "regular friends", my family and a job to keep me occupied and entertained as summer quickly passed.

*     *     *     *     *

One early August evening at dinner, dad reminded everyone that we were just a week away from the start of our family vacation. (How the hell did I miss that one?) "But I have a job, I have to work!" I almost whined.

"Well Dave, it's not like we haven't been planning this for weeks already," he replied. "If you haven't already talked with your supervisor like I would've assumed, that should be your first priority tomorrow morning. Besides, summer is almost over and you'll be back in school before much longer. I'm sure there won't be a problem as long as you're polite and professional."

With a few short sentences, dad had silenced any argument. "Yeah, you're right; I guess I just forgot." Germ's glare seemed to express incredulity at the fact that I could actually forget the family vacation. I like my family and all that, but I'd recently come to realize that college would require tons of cash that neither my parents nor I had on hand, so my stupid summer job was very important to me.

Fortunately Bernice was extremely sympathetic and said she'd bring in a temp for the week I was gone. "I'm so going to miss you when you return to school. We all will!"

"Thanks for being so understanding. I'll work extra hard to make it up to you. This is great!"

"Dave, you already work too hard. Just go and have a good time; enjoy yourself and your family," she said with a warm smile. "But don't try this again," she teased.

"No. I won't! I promise!" And this time I gave her a quick hug.

The family vacation was one of those "do absolutely nothing" vacations. We had a cabin near a lake where we swam, took hikes, played games, etc. Angie and I did a lot of reading and Germ and I basically lived in shorts the entire time. The three kids had to make diner one night, but mom had things pretty well prepped for us. One evening there were fireworks, but mostly it was down time for everyone, and no one complained, especially not the 'rents! The lake did have paddleboats, which Germ and I used like bumper cars until we got busted two days before we went home. (I don't know what the big deal was since they were made of plastic and no one got hurt. Needless to say it was fun while it lasted and Germ and I came home with awesome tans. I noticed my little brother was looking pretty good for a 14 year old.)


*     *     *     *     *

The jock group got together for a final afternoon on the basketball court before congregating at a Mexican fast-food joint to toast the guys who would soon be leaving to begin college. It was a bittersweet occasion for those who were leaving as well as for those who would be left behind. My attachment to Chuck made it fell I like I was straddling both worlds.

"C'mon, let's go," Chuck said quietly as the group was finally breaking up. I just nodded and followed until we were riding in his car to an undisclosed destination. "Dave, do you mind stopping at the field for a minute, you know, once for old times' sake?"

"Yeah, sure," I said nodding.

We walked onto the practice field and headed for our usual positions. I don't know what Chuck was thinking or feeling but I experienced the strangest mix of nostalgia and sexual excitement. We weren't using our gloves, so Chuck casually lobbed the ball in my direction. I noticed that his customary focus on the task was as conspicuously absent as were our uniforms; Chuck was half naked compared with how he normally appeared on the mound, and with the late afternoon sun shining like an aura around him, he looked amazing!

He easily caught the ball and began to walk toward home plate. As he got closer, the lump of his cock was clearly visible behind the soft fabric of his basketball shorts. I stood as he closed the distance between us. "Dude, you're kinda distracting, you know?" Me? I need a mirror right about now, I thought. He flashed a killer smile, lightly brushed his bulge and asked if I could "help him out." His other hand gently squeezed my crotch. With another smile he added, "I thought you might be willing." He guided me to a less conspicuous spot, where I wasted no time exposing his bat and balls. I'd finally gotten to the point where I could take his monster, almost all the way. I had also discovered that he liked something small like my finger play with his butt. Knowing that this might be our last time together, I gave him all I had to give. The smell and feel of his sweaty body, along with his moans and curses were making me horny as hell, but both of my hands were busy, so what could I do? His moans got louder and his grip on my head tightened as nirvana closed in. "Shit!" he exclaimed before he began to flood my mouth with the most monstrous load ever. I could feel his legs quiver and he was panting like he'd just run a marathon. "Dude?Dave?Fuck!" He panted. "How the hell do you do that shit? That?was?amazing!" During the brief post-coital moment, I coerced Chuck into surrendering his sweaty jock strap. "Sure, but I don't even what to know?" he said smiling at me while slid his basketball shorts up over his naked hips.

Knowing he would be leaving in a matter of days, proved to be the ultimate buzz kill as far as my cock was concerned. We were mostly silent as Chuck drove me home. Several blocks before we reached my house, I told Chuck to pull over. He responded immediately, while asking if I felt okay. "Yes and no," I replied, staring straight ahead.

"Huh?" he half chuckled.

"Dude, don't hate me but I gotta do this; it's my last chance." Chuck looked at me, completely mystified as I moved in to kiss him.

"What??" he almost whispered as my mouth drew near his.

I answered by placing my mouth on his. He didn't pull away even when I tentatively pushed my tongue toward his. His tongue stayed inert as my cock went on full alert. When his tongue parried with mine I moaned and my dick leaked. What seemed like a brief, yet glorious eternity, lasted probably no more than 20 seconds. It was Chuck that pulled away, and he seemed a bit breathless.

"Dave, I thought you didn't like girls?"

"I don't!" I replied emphatically.

"So where'd you learn to kiss like that?"

I chuckled, mostly to myself, but looked directly into Chuck's eyes. "I don't know?I never really?I guess it just comes naturally." (I hoped my smile didn't look smug because as far as I was concerned, he was responsible for bringing out my best stuff.)

"I don't know what it is about you, but damn! Sometimes Dave you can be?just so?so?um, sexy? And you're a guy!" I gave him a small peck before we got into some serious kissing.

Needing to breathe I pulled away panting as my eyes dropped to Chuck's crotch; without his jock strap, his boner was clearly evident. "I guess you liked that as much as me," I said with a smirk on my face as I grabbed his prick. "Get us away from this streetlight and I'll take care of that for you."

"Dave?"he began, but followed my suggestion and pulled the car into darkness as I massaged his cock. Once he had parked the car he reluctantly wrested my hand from his dick. "Dave, please stop; I gotta tell you something." He must have seen the look of horror on my face as he tousled my hair and continued. "It's nothing bad?it's just that I want to be honest with you." His hand left the seatback and gently squeezed my neck; it felt so good. "Dude, chill out! We're buds and I like you a lot?and not just cuz you have a hot mouth and super tight ass." He gave me a silly smile, before his face turned serious. "But seriously Dave, maybe I owe you an apology." He took a breath; I think I held mine. "You know that night on the bus? I really was concerned about you taking the umpire's call too personally, but I? was really horny too. I guess that's a given regardless of the final score, though you may have noticed that winning really gets me going!" He snickered; I just smiled. "But?I don't know, sitting next to you I was reminded of that shortstop from baseball camp; it's not like I thought your were gay or anything like that, but I thought I might get a blow job from you. I?I guess ego and a stiff cock let me lead you on."

"But I am gay!" I said as if to corroborate his assumption.

Chuck stared at me and blinked his eyes; I'd never admitted anything despite all the stuff we'd done together. "You sure about that? I mean you don't act like? like Ricky what's- his-name, and you're a way better ball player than Robbie will ever be. You've never made a scene in the locker room, and?you're like, one of the coolest guys I've ever met; I haven't known you very long, but you're like one of my best friends!"

"Thanks, but don't forget that we've? ah, I've done some pretty gay shit with you. And I liked it!" I didn't want our 'relationship' to end on a sour note, but I wanted the end to at least be honest.

"Yeah," he chuckled. "And you're good at it too!" I smiled at his back-handed compliment. "That's probably one of the things I like most about you," he continued. "I've never met anyone that could walk the fine line between insouciance and sincerity the way you do." (I was surprised that he even knew the word insouciance and somehow that knowledge made me hornier than I already was.) "I should probably get in back and let you fuck the shit our of me, just to even up the score." My eyes went wide and my cock got harder at his surprising proposition.

Thinking, as a prelude to sex with Chuck wasn't something I was accustomed to doing, so despite my aching cock, I had to pause a moment before responding. "Dude, I still remember; hell, I'll probably never forget how hot your ass was in that motel room, but I also remember how you couldn't sit still the next day. I'd love to have another go at you but I don't want you trying to sit still while your parents take you to college or?" I paused to stifle a chuckle. "Or even worse, you trying to sit still your first day with the new roommate!" At that point, I let loose a nervous laugh.

"Thanks, but I don't think I'll ever figure you out."

"That sounds about right; I'm not sure I'll ever figure me out either."

"Yeah, but isn't there something I can do to sort of even up the score?"

"How about a kiss?"

"Sure, if that's what you want," Chuck said, sounding disappointed. (I half imagined him thinking that kissing was very gay.)

I was a bit put off by his attitude but I leaned in and kissed him softly. The next time I was a bit more forceful and eventually Chuck started to get into it as well. Eventually we ended up in the back seat for a mutual suck session. Chuck still didn't have much finesse, but I relished the fact that he was doing this with me. It didn't last nearly long enough, but after being hard, off and on for hours, my balls were happy for the release.

There was some awkwardness as we pulled our clothes on, and an unspoken agreement to remain silent for the remaining distance to my house. (I don't drink or do drugs but I felt like I'd experienced the highest of highs followed by the onset of DTs since leaving the gang and arriving in front of my house where he stopped the car.)

"Dude, it's okay if you cry, but if I do, you can't tell anyone. Deal?" Before I could even respond, he pulled me into a crushing hug. My eyes were burning, but I didn't cry. "I'm really gonna miss you Dave."

"Me too," I mumbled into his chest. I bit my lip in an effort to forestall my tears. I turned away before I continued. "But you gotta make those scholarship people, our high school and?and me, proud; so you better be plastered all over the sport pages next spring!" My eyes were so wet that from the car, my front door looked like an impressionist painting. "But you have my number and email, so call me or something." I sniffled before quickly kissing his cheek and said. "I better go. Bye." Chuck looked a bit confused as I closed the car door.

"Dave?" he asked to my retreating form.

Fearing I would make a scene, I stopped long enough to wipe my eyes before turning around but when I did, all I could see were the taillights of his car moving away from me. He'd probably had enough drama for one night, I reasoned before moving up the walk.

That night I slept fitfully. I repeatedly hit the snooze button on my alarm clock. The third time the alarm sounded Jeremy tossed one of his flip-flops, which cuffed me on the shoulder; it almost hurt. (God, if he has any control he may be the school's next star pitcher I thought after silencing the alarm.) "Sorry bro." I muttered before tossing back the covers; I glanced towards his bed but he appeared to be dead to the world as I dragged myself to the bathroom. Without a morning jerk, I showered and got dressed. Out of routine I ate some breakfast and was soon in the car with dad headed for work. Generally we didn't talk much during the morning commute, but that Friday was conspicuously quiet. I was kinda glad that I didn't run into Brent at work as I didn't think I could deal with explaining things. Bernice's radar clued into my mood but thankfully she didn't inquire. After a couple of months my job was a no-brainer, which was immensely convenient as that particular Friday most of my brain cells were sleeping soundly. I called Nick during the afternoon break and sort of invited myself over.

In consideration of his time I was being concise, yet thorough when he raised both hands in a gesture of surrender. "Whoa, Dave," he said franticly waving his hands to get my attention. "I get it. I hear you." He managed to get an arm around my shoulders, which slowed me down enough for him to lean in close to my ear. "You got it bad," he whispered in my ear. " Though I don't blame you, that Chuck guy is hot." I stopped and stared at Nick like he was some kind of stranger.

"Huh?" I replied before the words connected with my brain and gave him a silly grin. "Yeah, I'm gonna miss him; I already do and he hasn't even left town yet!" (Of course it had been an accident that Nick and Aaron know about Chuck and me but now I didn't have to backtrack or explain; he seemed to understand everything I was feeling! How great is that?)

"Dave I'm sorry, though I'm a bit jealous. I've never felt that way about a guy!" It wasn't the plan but at some point we fell asleep, fully clothed, cuddled up to one another.

When I awoke early Saturday morning, I was a bit disoriented until I noticed Nick sleeping next to me. I shuffled closer and went back to sleep. The next time I awoke, Nick's arm was wrapped around my chest and his body spooned mine. I turned to face him with a half smile on my face. He smiled and pulled our bodies closer and I instinctively wrapped my arm around him. It was all very nice until I started to get a bit nervous about being with Nick like this; what about Chuck and Brent?and Aaron?

Maybe Nick was picking up on my vibe, as he whispered in my ear, "If I were Chuck, I would've flunked out, just to be with you."

Momentarily, I thought he was suggesting that Chuck should cheat on a test or something, until I realized he meant it in a caring, gay-boy way. "Thanks Nick; you're a way better friend than I give you credit for." He responded by placing a single perfect kiss on my cheek. I hugged him tightly and sighed.

When we finally arrived in the kitchen, his mom greeted us as if there was nothing out of the ordinary for her son to show up first thing in the morning with another boy wanting to be fed. (Admittedly, I'd been in and out of the Anderson house with such frequency that I could have lived there. But it had been almost a year since Nick came out to me; he had to have told his parents by now, which means she could assume we'd been having non-stop sex since I arrived yesterday afternoon!) And without missing a beat and with a smile not unlike her son's, Linda Anderson served up a fantastic breakfast.

When I checked my email, I smiled to myself upon seeing four messages from Chuck; the first two dated Thursday that expressed some concern that he had pissed me off or that I was mad at him. Friday's message begged me to call him, but the final one, barely an hour old, cut straight to the matter at hand: you need to get a phone. call me fucker! I read the message several times and smiled. He loves me?well at least he cares, I thought as a typed a brief reply promising to call after he got off work.

I was feeling pretty good, so I cornered my dad later that afternoon to let him know that I wouldn't be trying out for football this year. I had several different arguments prepared, though the truth was simply that I would spend most of the season warming the bench: I wasn't big enough or mean enough to "kick ass" the way Coach Burnham demanded. I loved the physical activity and the camaraderie but also recognized that the time would be better spent studying. (Unlike Chuck, no college in the universe would be willing to pay for my athletic abilities.) Dad seemed a bit disappointed but accepted my reasoning.

"Thanks dad," I said and I hurried to my room to call Chuck, who started the conversation sounding a bit aggravated, but when I told him I had gone straight to bed after he dropped me off and then hooked up with Nick after work on Friday, he eased up.

"Good to know, I was a bit concerned?that um? maybe you were avoiding me or something."

"Dude, that just isn't possible," I teased, though it was a fairly honest statement. (I'd pretty much let Chuck call the shots: if he said we were on, I was there! But I didn't push myself onto him otherwise.)

"Cool," he said. I could almost see him smiling. "Cuz my folks are having this thing tomorrow and I sorta wanted you to come. Sorry, I forgot to mention it sooner, but?and?you'll probably be bored, but the 'rents and I are leaving Monday morning, so otherwise, I won't, like, you know, see you before I leave. You can just come for an hour or so; you don't have to stay all afternoon?"

"Shut up! Of course I'll be there!" We talked for at another five or ten minutes; I'm sure both of us were relieved that the tension of Thursday was gone.

Officially, the party started at 1:00, but following Chuck's suggestion I arrived a bit after two o'clock. I was surprised to see a large and animated crowd inside after a woman answered the door. "Hello," she said in greeting. "You must be one of Chuck's friends, thought I don't think we've met. I'm Sharon Burke; please come in," she said as she stepped aside to allow me access. "He must be friends with everyone at school, which is great!" she proudly announced. "I was painfully shy when I was his age."

Wow! I thought once I spied the buffet. (Whether or not I was still growing, I definitely like to eat.) Without even looking for Chuck, I made my way to the food, which appeared to be catered to accommodate every conceivable taste. I was filling a plate when someone approached from behind and got so close I could feel their body heat.

"Glad you could make it," he half whispered. His breath sort of tickled my neck before I turned to see him all clean and shiny for public display.

"Lookin' good, stud," I said quietly. Damn if he didn't blush a tiny bit before he smiled. He's sexy without even trying, I thought. Except for the fact that I was holding a plate of food and there were people everywhere, I probably would have given him a big hug.

"Thanks. And eat as much as you want; I think mom has enough food to feed the entire senior class!" he teased before making some introductions.

The party wasn't as boring as Chuck had predicted; many of Chuck's teammates, both juniors and seniors, were in attendance so it wasn't like I was a total stranger. At least twice that afternoon, Chuck's dad made a big deal out of introducing me to some of his friends; to hear him tell it, I arrived at the final hour to save Chuck and the entire baseball team! (I had to wonder what Chuck had told him about me.) It was nice but also slightly embarrassing.

Having said goodbye to my friends and thanks to his parents, I was about to depart when Chuck offered to walk me to my car. It was hardly necessary but I couldn't complain. He asked and I pointed in the general direction we were to go. He was silent and appeared to be deep in thought until I motioned to the white Camry parked across the street. "That's my ride," I said and we crossed the street. Chuck just leaned against the car, (looking rather sexy in his khakis and polo shirt) like he was waiting for me to say or do something. "I guess you want to tell me something?since you?ah, came all this way."

"Dave, I'm leaving tomorrow, a bit ahead of schedule. It's kinda funny when you consider that my parental unit tends to schedule things in ten minute increments." He smiled before he continued. "Anyway, Angela couldn't make it home for the party, so we're gonna hook up at my grandparents' and have a little family gathering before we?" He paused, let loose with a long sigh and toed the pavement. "Sorry, probably too much information."

"And so??"

"Well?the other night, I?I thought that?that maybe we parted on bad terms; like I'd left a bad taste in your mouth or something?"

"Dude, you were more delicious than ever," I teased, though it was exactly how I felt.

"Dave, I'm trying to be serious. Don't fuck with me!"

"Sorry," I replied, seeing that Chuck's face now looked troubled or worried.

"It's okay, it's just that?it's just that I?I can't stop thinking about what you said the other night." I'm sure he saw the question mark painted on my face. "I mean, if you're gay, what does that say about me? I really like you and, and all the stuff we did together?but I'm not gay? am I?"

(It never occurred to me that Chuck might ever have had thoughts or doubts about our activities; I always assumed that he considered it to be just sex, with no labels attached.) I was momentarily speechless, as I considered his dilemma. "We were just getting off; you were like, experimenting. That hardly makes you gay!" I sputtered; Chuck seemed slightly relieved. "I mean you could be bisexual or whatever, but from personal experience, I think you would have been thinking about it wa-a-a-ay before Thursday night. I mean I was thinking and worrying about it like forever before Robbie Wexler did his thing." Chuck seemed to be considering what I was saying. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you this, but you were the main reason I wanted to be on varsity!"

"No way!"

"Seriously dude. So you can only image how you fucked with my head that night on the bus. I thought maybe the diesel fumes made me imagine the whole thing until you gave me a ride home."

"Really?" he chuckled before a smile revealed the gap between his teeth. "So?so you're okay?with everything?"

"Everything, except the fact that you're leaving!" It might have been the first time I said it out loud. "But I can't even get too worked up about that, 'cause I'm happy for you and proud too. Still I'm gonna miss you." It felt good to finally tell Chuck some of my feelings for him but it also brought me close to tears.

Chuck pulled me into a hug and whispered in my ear. " I guess I never gave much though to what you were thinking. You were just?always there?always ready to give it your all, which was pretty fantastic, you're a? pretty special guy. I owe you?a lot!" He eased back and looked into my face. "Dave, I'm not sure how it is with you gay guys, but if you'd told me this stuff up front, it might have left you alone, 'cuz you probably could have hooked up with Keith."

"Keith? First base Keith? You're shittin' me! How do you know?!?"

"No I'm not, shittin' you, but look at you getting all hot and bothered." He snickered. "But I'm glad you settled for me." I gave him an incredulous look. "Would a hug and a kiss be an acceptable apology for my fuck ups?" I just smiled and moved closer. When his arms surrounded me, mine did likewise. The kiss was a brief one on the cheek, while the hug lasted for some time. At least I didn't cry.

"Keep in touch," Chuck said as I got into the car.

"Sure." (I could only hope that goodbye didn't mean I'd never see him again.)


*     *     *     *     *

Chuck left the next day. Without pre-season football practice to intervene, I worked the remaining days until school began. My replacement started on Thursday, but Bernice insisted that I stay those last days to help with the transition, as she called it. I was grateful for the extra days and then embarrassed by an inordinately elaborate farewell lunch on Friday, I got hugs from everyone, but the one from Bernice actually felt sincere.

School didn't start until Tuesday so I spent a lot of time hanging out with Nick and Aaron, I played video games with Aaron and made cookies with Angie; if I stayed busy, it was easier not think about Chuck.

To be continued