This story is fiction. It depicts, sometimes explicitly, sex between teenage boys, between boys and men, and between boys and females, both teenage and adult. If you find such things offensive, or reading such things is illegal where you live, please read no further.

X. California

Dan was very worried. Charlie had been talking and chattering for days now about how enthused he was about Jane, about how he had decided that, whenever possible, he would prefer women to men. It seemed so much less complicated, he had said, and so much more socially acceptable. Jerry had reminded Charlie that Jane was an exception: that she was rich, very interested in Charlie, and willing to accept his situation the way it was, but Charlie was so infatuated with the good time he'd had that he would not be discouraged. Fortunately for Charlie, he had not shared her proposition with the others; that would have sent Dan into a serious anxiety attack. Now Dan was very unsure of his position and was showing it by his moodiness and much reduced affection, towards Charlie or anyone else. When Charlie finally realized what was wrong he felt like a heel, and he had to make it up to him, and somehow convince him that all was well between them.

"Look, Danny," he started. They had gone out to dinner, just the two of them, but Dan had hardly eaten a thing. "I think I know what's wrong with you, and you're being silly." Dan looked at Charlie with a fire in his eyes that Charlie had never seen before.

"Silly?" he repeated. "You think it's silly feeling threatened when your lover comes home from a hot week with a gorgeous woman, ranting and raving how good it was, and how he has decided that he isn't gay after all? In case you haven't noticed, I'm still a boy and so are you, so if you're not gay, that doesn't leave much room for me, now does it?"

People in the restaurant were looking, but neither boy noticed. Charlie started to understand just what he'd been going through. But Charlie was confused too.

"I didn't say I'm not gay," he argued.

"Oh, excuse me. You're gay, but you prefer women. That clears it up for me perfectly." Charlie was exasperated. How could he explain his feelings to Dan when he wasn't sure himself what he was feeling? So he decided his only hope was to be honest. It had always worked before, at least with Dan.

"Please, Dan," he almost begged, "just listen. To be honest, I don't know myself exactly where I'm at any more. I didn't mean that I prefer all women, all the time. I really did start to have doubts in New Orleans. I won't lie and say that Jane means nothing to me, but she's not you. I am starting to really love Jane, in a way, but not the way I love you. When it came time to come home I was glad. And when I'm with you, or even think about you, there's a special feeling I can't even put into words. But it's there, and has been for years. Long before that night in the camp, and I mean long before, I had a special feeling come over me every time I thought of you... like an electric shock or something. You told me about the research you'd done because of some of the feelings you were having. Well, I had those feelings too and still do. Only difference is I didn't have the courage to recognize what they were. So when I said I tend to prefer women I just meant, as far as the business goes, that things would be smoother and easier to deal with if I stuck to women. In case you haven't noticed, they show us a lot more respect than a lot of our male clients, and so does everyone else. In New Orleans everyone knew who I was and what I was, but they accepted me anyway. I mean, they really accepted me! They talked with me, danced with me, really made me feel like I was more than just a cock for hire."

"So," Dan reasoned, "What you're saying is, you're not so sure anymore that you want to be open about being what you are and about us?"

"No, Dan, I'm not saying that at all. I'll never deny you or what you mean to me. But professionally, it's just easier to deal with women." Dan thought for a few moments, then looked Charlie directly in the eye and backed him into a corner.

"If you could only have sex with one person in the world and could choose what sex that person was, who and what would you choose?"

Charlie was stunned. He thought he had been prepared for this meeting, thought his love for Dan would enable him to answer any question he might have. But this was a real stumper! "I'm not sure I understand," he evaded.

"It's very simple, Charlie. Would you prefer me to be male or female, assuming you want to spend your life with me? You've done lots of both, which do you prefer?"

Charlie thought for a long time. He tried to let his eyes wander, but Dan held his gaze as if locked by radar. He tried to read Dan's face, tried to anticipate what answer would be acceptable, but the face staring back at him was expressionless. When the silent pause got too uncomfortable and Dan hadn't let him off the hook, he was still no closer to an answer, but it was obvious he had to give one anyway. In Charlie's mind there was every possibility his answer would determine their future, and the thought of losing Dan was driving him into a state of panic; but at the same time he realized it was a very good question, one he'd asked himself many times.

"If you want a one word answer," Charlie began, "I'm afraid I can't give you one. For one thing I don't think I have all the facts. For another, I haven't even figured out what facts I do have or what they mean. But I'll try and tell you how I feel 'cause you have a right to know. When we're alone in bed, whether we're making love or just being close, I don't want a single thing about you to ever change. Hugging and kissing you, touching and being touched, the smell and taste of your body, and the other things we do, I love them all and wouldn't want to lose any of them. I can't comment on doing some of the things guys do because we've never tried a lot of them, but I suspect if it's with you, I'd like it just fine. What we do, all of it, feels perfectly normal and natural to me now, and I'm comfortable with it.

"When we're out, like for example right now, I sometimes wish one of us was a girl so we could show more affection publicly. But that's the only reason. Of course just to confuse things, I wouldn't want to change Jane either. I love what we do together too. I dunno, Dan, I guess I'm just conditioned to think of you as male, Jane as female, and I don't want to change either one. As for others, I love my job, both the men and the women. Sometimes when I'm out with some great looking guy or girl, I want to forget the condoms and do it the way I do with you. I think I just plain love sex, Danny. I love being intimate with all our clients, exploring all the different ways of pleasuring, caressing, cuddling, all of it. So I can't answer your question directly. If you suddenly had a sex change I could deal with it. In a lot of situations it might be good; but I think I'd rather you not change because I think of you as my lover who happens to be the same sex as I am. I love Danny Edwards, homosexual, gorgeous young male, and to hell with the world. How about you?"

Now it was Dan's turn to be shocked and extremely uncomfortable. He wasn't at all sure why he had asked Charlie such a question, but he was no better prepared to answer than Charlie had been. "I don't know," he stammered. "I guess I've come to think of myself as pretty exclusively gay. Of course I've never had a relationship with a woman, just one night stands while I'm working. Then there was Brian, and you've never done anything like that."

Charlie had completely forgotten Dan's encounter with Brian at Christmas. But the fact that he'd forgotten was ample evidence, at least to Charlie, that it wasn't important. Evidently it had been to Dan, and he had used the incident to support his belief that he was truly a homosexual. Of course Charlie hadn't bothered to tell Dan about the encounter with John.

"So," Charlie pressed, "Does that mean you have no interest in women?"

"No," Dan said thoughtfully, "it means I don't know. I've enjoyed those that I've had, but I've never... you know... never wanted one before it happened. But I have wanted men - three of them in fact. So doesn't that prove something?"

"No," Charlie argued, "I don't think it proves anything at all. Maybe after a few years it might, but like Jerry says, maybe we should just quit worrying about it and just enjoy the way things are.

"As for Jane, I'm sorry for giving you the wrong impression," he said truthfully. "I had a great time and wanted to share it with you. As for me being gay, I'm not sure what that word means any more. I still love you, and I guess that means I'm gay, but what I mean to say is that I don't like guys more than girls. I guess it means that I could have fallen in love with a girl, but the fact is I didn't... I fell in love with you. We were best friends first, long before we were lovers, and you're still the most important thing in my life. To me you're both best friend and lover. The fact that you're the same sex complicates things, but I can live with that. And if you have a problem with my seeing Jane, or anyone else for that matter, I won't do it. That was always our agreement, and I don't see it changing now. Am I making any sense at all?

"Dan," he said, "We've only been lovers for four months, only known we're gay for four months, and we're still finding out exactly what that means. Maybe I'm just plain over-sexed or something, but the person I want to be with is you. If I can only have sex with one person, I want it to be you, no matter what you have or don't have for equipment. But as long as we sleep around all over the place, I just seem to enjoy the girls, especially Jane, more than guys."

"So you're not falling in love with her?"

"No, Danny, at least not the way I'm in love with you. But think about it. I spend a week being treated like a prince in a mansion, hopping in and out of bed all the time, being pampered by servants. I have a brand new convertible car to use while I'm there, or drive around in a chauffeured limo, my choice. I take a gorgeous redhead out dancing at a fancy private club every night, swim nude all day. What teenager wouldn't like that? Sure I love the experience, but most of all I love coming home to you."

Dan said he felt better, but Charlie wasn't convinced. They paid the bill and left the restaurant. Charlie finally said to him, "You have to trust me, Danny, and I meant what I said. Say the word and Jane is history, in fact our whole business is history, if that's what will make you happy." Dan thought about that for a long time, but finally said he'd try to accept it for what it was.

"As for trusting you, Charlie," he said, "I've already proven that I do, and you've never let me down so I'll trust you now. But just remember you can't help your feelings, so if you do change, I hope I'll be the first to know." Charlie assured him that he would, but that it just wasn't going to happen.

When the boys got home there was a message on the machine that Charlie hoped would relieve the tension. It was from Jane... she and a friend were going to California and she wanted Dan and Charlie to join them there. Dan agreed somewhat doubtfully, so Charlie made the reservations. They would fly to New Orleans to meet the girls, then all four would fly on to Los Angeles. Dan was unsure about leaving Jerry home alone, but Jerry assured him he'd be fine. "After all," he said, "I spent the last five years alone and did just fine, now just knowing y'all are coming back is all I need. Besides, we still have a business to run so I'll just stay here and hold things down."

The boys packed lots of clothes, but they needn't have bothered. As was the case in New Orleans, Jane took them shopping as soon as they arrived and bought them the clothes she wanted them to wear, tempered of course by their own opinions. Charlie saw John of course, but was disappointed to learn that he wouldn't be coming to L.A. with them. Oh well, he thought, We probably wouldn't get a chance to get together anyway. He did, however, get a chance to at least thank John again for a fabulous time, to which John replied simply that it had been his pleasure.

Their first night in L.A. was absolutely fabulous. The foursome went to a very posh nightclub for dinner and dancing. The boys would never have believed six months ago that they would even be in a place like this, never mind enjoy it. But now as they sat in their perfectly fitting clothes, with their expertly styled hair and manicured hands, entertaining these two lovely creatures, it was as if they had always lived this way. Dan danced more than he had ever done before. He was starting to get the hang of this social life now, and the constant smile on his face was ample evidence that he was loving it.

After leaving the nightclub they drove around L.A. for about two hours in the limo Jane had rented. She was much better behaved tonight, being content to fondle, feel and caress as they took in the various sights of the city. Charlie found that he enjoyed this turn of events much more. He was getting and returning constant attention, but not so intense that all else in the world was excluded. Dan too was enjoying this quiet time as the chauffeur droned on about the tourist attractions they were passing.

When at last the limo arrived back at the hotel, all four were ready for bed. Mind you sleep was still a few hours away, the four having worked themselves into a frenzy of desire. It seemed to Charlie, though, that the long tour had had an odd but pleasant effect on Jane. She was no less anxious to go to bed, but once there she was far less intense, far more passionate, far more willing to take things at a slow and relaxed pace. This Charlie found even more enjoyable. Perhaps, he thought, it was just that they were becoming more accustomed to each other, more comfortable as it were.

They spent a fantastic week in California sightseeing and screwing, partying and screwing, golfing and screwing. Now Dan was just as enthusiastic as Charlie had been, and now Charlie really understood what he'd been going through. He felt left out as Dan and Karen hopped in and out of bed, were all over each other, practically ignoring everyone else. But he was glad, because now maybe Dan would also understand how he had felt. And he did.

They visited Disneyland, spending an entire day there. Jane admitted she'd never been there and really didn't want to go, but in consideration of the boys' ages decided it would be something they'd like to do. Once there though, all four had a fantastic time. They were there when the gates opened in the morning, and were almost the last ones out that night. They tried every ride in the place, attended most of the shows, sampled the different types of food available. For that one day it was as if they were four teenagers just having a rollicking good time together. And of course having had such a good time all day only served to make the night games more fun, more real.

The girls took them to be fitted for rental tuxedos one afternoon, announcing that they had tickets to an opera that night. Dan and Charlie both knew this would be a painful experience to endure, but they cooperated without complaint. Once at the opera, dressed in the fanciest clothes available with the two stunning women by their sides, they found they were enjoying the experience in spite of themselves. They were painfully handsome and they knew it, their dates were as beautiful as any in the place, and even the music, though they didn't understand what was going on, was pleasant in a majestic, stuffy kind of way. So much did they enjoy themselves, in fact, that this would become one of their regular activities, one that Jerry never could understand.

Karen, Dan's companion, had spent a lot of time in California, consequently she was a very accomplished surfer. None of the others had ever tried it, but at Karen's suggestion they all spent a day at the beach. Karen patiently instructed the others until they were all riding the huge waves, having the time of their lives. Charlie found he had a natural ability for the sport, being able to balance the slippery boards like a veteran once he'd been taught the basics. Jane, on the other hand, couldn't seem to get the knack of it at all, but that didn't bother her in the least. She derived as much enjoyment out of sitting on the beach and admiring her young friend as he came zooming in on a wave, hair flying, muscles rippling. She admired Charlie more than words could describe, cherishing him with a love that was a mixture of maternal, sibling, and pure lust. Theirs was a strange relationship, but one in which both were perfectly comfortable.

Dan and Karen didn't fare so well in the water. Although Dan was an expert swimmer, he was less than professional on a surf board. He did all right, Karen thought, but he had a need to excel at everything he did in the company of his dates, and excel was not the word to describe his surfing. As much as Karen tried to encourage him, he still felt inadequate that she was far better than he. Finally in frustration she said to him, "Look, Dan, I've been surfing most of my life, so naturally I'm good at it. This is your first time, so what did you expect?" Then in a voice loud enough for half the population of the beach to hear she announced to the world, "Be content with the talents you have. You've only been screwing for a few months, and already you're better in bed than most guys who've been at it for ten years. Given a choice I'd rather be a good lover than a good surfer any day. In the sack, Danny boy, you're Olympic material!"

The words moved over the beach like an electric shock, freezing everything and everyone in their path. Even the surf seemed to subside momentarily. Charlie and Jane looked at each other, then at Dan who was stricken as if he'd been struck by lightning. Every eye on the beach, maybe the whole world, was on Dan whose mouth was hanging open in shock. Charlie was about to scoop up Dan and get him out of there when Jane started to laugh. First a tiny giggle escaped, then she was screaming uncontrollably with mirth. One of the things that had attracted Charlie to Jane from the beginning was her contagious, hearty laugh. Unfortunately for Dan, that laugh had soon caused Charlie to lose control and he too was rolling on the beach. Five or six good natured surfers closest to Dan, who was still standing aghast with every drop of blood drained from his face, though they'd never met him, raised him to their shoulders football hero style and went parading up and down the beach yelling 'Dan's number one, Danny get yer gun!', while the rest of the beach laughed, cheered, or just regarded this new folk hero with wonder and curiosity. Karen, realizing what she'd done, was mortified for a moment, then she shrugged and said flatly, "Well, it's true, so what's wrong with that?" And she joined the cheering throng, injecting new enthusiasm into the group. Handsome as he was, Dan didn't look the part of a great lover; at least not one to earn a comment like that from a woman eight or ten years his senior. And that probably added to the magic of the moment.

Dan couldn't admit it until later, much later, but the thought of having all those jocks carrying him up and down the beach, even in mock admiration, was no small thrill. He and Charlie wondered how they'd have reacted if they'd known about some of Dan's other bedtime interests. Needless to say though, the incident brought to an abrupt end the surfing outing. For the rest of the evening Jane and Charlie had only to look at each other to bring on fresh volleys of laughter.

The two screwing machines came home from California tired, tanned, and happy. They were quite content, when there was a choice, to leave the guys to Jerry while they serviced the girls, old and young. They now felt confident, and had learned from their mistresses how to please a woman. They figured that they'd had more experience at their age than most guys ever got, and that felt good too.

Both Charlie and Dan had learned so much from Jerry in the short time they'd been with him, they could hardly believe they were the same people. But they had also unwittingly taught Jerry a few things too. It started when Jerry had tried to get his young trainees to impersonate females until they were completely comfortable with the experience. Although they had refused, they did do a fair bit of role playing in the privacy of their home, to appease Jerry. During that time there was a lot of dancing, and Jerry was more often than not the dance partner of the young girl/boy. He discovered that, just as Charlie and Dan found themselves enjoying being led as girls, he was enjoying holding them and being their male counterpart. And as they came home from dates with girls, chattering enthusiastically about how great it had been, Jerry began to envy them the fun they were having. Slowly but surely, Jerry started accepting more dates with women. He discovered that he could enjoy these dates without making a commitment, so the feeling of being threatened began to leave him. To all their astonishment, they started to realize that Jerry wasn't nearly as well adjusted as they had all believed. Increasingly, all three believed that no one or even two of them could be nearly as happy or successful alone. They all needed each other and, it seemed, very little else.

All three of them had been taking dancing lessons, determined to give their clients their moneys worth no matter what they wanted. Their business was rapidly turning into a true escort service, and although there was still lots of sex involved, there were a lot of lonely people out there who just wanted company, or someone socially skilled to take them to a formal function and treat them well. These they enjoyed too, and it made them feel better about themselves knowing they didn't have to use their bodies to please someone.

They began to feel that they were doing mankind a real service, providing company to those who needed it, being sons, brothers, lovers, whatever the situation required. Idealistic? Perhaps, but the three really got into it, and determined to provide the best quality service that money could buy.

They had more time to themselves now, and Dan and Charlie started doing some of the things they had done back home and had missed; like hanging around malls, playing video games, checking out car lots and motorcycle shops. Jerry joined in for the company; but, having had to grow up at a very early age, he failed to see the attraction. The money was pouring in, and Jerry was content to work on ways to improve his business. That aspect of life was important to the other two also, but it wasn't enough; they had to spend some time just being normal kids, so because it was important to Dan and Charlie, Jerry accepted what he considered to be rather strange behavior.

The boys started to fill the house with music. First there was the stereo, with records to suit every mood, every taste from hard rock to country to heavy classical. Music was another thing Jerry had never had much time for as he scratched and clawed to eke out a living. But now, as the house was almost never quiet, he began to value the constant din. But like Charlie, the noise he valued most was the frequent and hearty sounds of laughter.

Charlie was something of an amateur musician, and although he'd never mastered an instrument, he soon had bought a cheap guitar, an accordion, and a violin. His companions weren't sure what attraction Charlie found in the squeaks and squawks he produced, but he persevered, and more important, they persevered in their listening, and eventually Charlie was actually picking out the odd tune, sometimes even recognizable.

Meanwhile, Dan was becoming an accomplished photographer. He'd always dabbled with the hobby, but with a cheap non-adjustable camera. Now, with money to spend on the odd luxury, he equipped himself with the best 35 mm. equipment he could find, and was frequently haunting the pawn shops and used camera stores, searching for this or that gadget he'd heard about or read about. He took pictures of everything: himself and his colleagues before almost every date, the cars, the house, all the animals ever known to man, sunsets, the beach, pretty girls and handsome guys, flowers, trees, buildings. It seemed Dan found beauty in everything and had a compelling need to record it.

Jerry was fascinated by his middle class companions and their hobbies. He'd never been in a position to have any sort of interest that cost money, which of course all hobbies do, so he watched the other two with a great interest and tried to find something of his own to be his hobby, but twenty years of practical living, of spending all his energy surviving, was difficult to overcome, and nothing held his interest for very long. No problem though, he never tired of watching Dan tinker with his various devices, or listening to Charlie struggle and wrestle with one of his instruments until he'd forced a tune out of it.

Jerry did learn an important lesson from the other two though. He had taught them responsibility and hard work, self preservation and the importance of doing things well and carefully. Dan and Charlie, on the other hand, taught Jerry that there was more to life than work; that hobbies and other diversions were as important to one's well being as earning a living. Yes, it was important to enjoy your job, which they all did immensely, but there was still that need for activities totally unrelated. As he watched the other two develop their hobbies, he observed that they were also becoming much more content. They still regretted having to leave home, but between work and hobbies there was little time to brood, so the regret became less important in the overall scheme of things, and all were happier as a result.

There were dozens of pictures of California, of course, and upon seeing them Jerry wanted a trip. So it was agreed that soon, very soon, all three, and no one else, would visit the California beaches. Dan, having recovered his embarrassment of the beach incident, had a picture of the spectacle Charlie had snapped enlarged and hung it next to the picture of the Mustang; another trophy, Charlie said, at least equal to his own.

From Dan's journal:

So far, this has been one barn burner of a spring. It seems that everything we do turns to some sort of learning experience! I never dreamed getting an education could be so darned much fun! And the most astonishing part of all is that to me the sex part, although very much a part of our lives, is fading into the unimportant.

Charlie and I just had the most fabulous week in California anyone could ever ask for. The weather was great, the girls gorgeous, the dining and dancing a fantasy. Oh, yes, there were the bedroom games; but that wasn't any more a highlight than any of the other activities. For a week we were just carefree teenagers, doing what any teen would kill to do: spending money whenever necessary to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to do it! But it was so great, being 'normal' kids, though I doubt if any of our friends back in Truro would call carrying on like that normal.

I feel sorta guilty, because I knew all week that Charlie was jealous, but I paid no attention. I did with Karen exactly what I was being paid very good money to do: I acted in every way that I could like her boy friend. Oh, I wasn't trying to make Charlie uncomfortable, and I certainly have no doubt that I love him and always will. But it still felt kinda good for a few days to forget about being a social outcast and be a normal red-blooded American boy friend.

I think about that a lot... I mean that Charlie and I will never be accepted as what we are. Oh, I know very well what we're facing and I'm willing to live with it; but at times like this I can't help wishing we were born in another time, another place, where we could be lovers and still be accepted by society. I know it's just a pipe dream, but we'll never accomplish anything if we don't dream. So in the meantime I have to make up for the discomfort I caused Charlie this week, and when these little diversions come along I'll just enjoy them, then go back to where I belong: in Charlie's arms.

I don't know if you'll ever read this or not, Charlie. But just in case you ever do, whether it's a month from now, or thirty years later, it'll still be true: I love you, Charlie. I want to spend my life with you, and no sacrifice is too big. And I truly am sorry if I hurt you in California.

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