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.

XVII. The New Arrangement

The atmosphere in Dan's bedroom had been anything but the friendliness, the warmth, the happiness that Dan had remembered from his childhood. The tension had been so high for over a week that neither he nor Charlie hardly spoke from the time they entered the room until they left in the morning. Often one would wake the other tossing and turning as they both had trouble sleeping, and both were beginning to seriously wonder if being gay and in love was worth all the hassle.

"Can we talk?" Charlie asked as they settled in bed.

"Sure." answered Dan, "What about?"

"Well, Jer and I... uh... I..."

"What, Charlie? What's wrong?"

"You and me, Dan. WE'RE wrong! We been slowly killing each other for the past week and I hate it! I love you and I hate it when I hurt you!"

"I know, Charlie. I just wish I could convince you to stay here. I don't know how I'll make out without you. I need you!"

"Does that mean you've decided to stay?"

"No, it means I want to, real bad. But I can't bear the thoughts of hurting you, and I can't bear the thought of being without you, maybe even losing you altogether."

The two boys lay in the bed on their sides, facing each other, looking each other in the eye. They remembered, for the first time in quite a while, just how incredibly wonderful it felt to love so completely. Charlie was remembering five-year-old Danny, standing in the midst of a group of six-year-old "big" kids, getting beat up. He had been awed by the beauty of the little boy then, and he still was now.

"I don't want to lose you, Dan." Charlie said as the tears started to blur the eyes that Dan was staring at.

"That's not a concern, Charlie," Dan assured him. "No matter what happens, no matter who stays and who goes, wherever we go, I'll always love you."

"Always is a long time, Dan."

"I know exactly how long Always is, Charlie. And I repeat, I'll always love you. Always!"

"I'll always love you to, Dan. But with what we do, how we live, I can't guarantee you that I... uh... that I'll be perfectly true..."

"I know that, Charlie. But you don't have to go! Why can't I make you see that you don't have to go at all? What happened to our promise? You promised me that we'd both go back to school. You don't have any intention of going back to school, do you Charlie?"

Charlie went silent again. He had indeed forgotten his promise to Dan. He wasn't anxious to go back, but his better judgment told him that he certainly should. So why didn't he? He didn't really know, but he did know that he couldn't go back in Daytona, as long as his true identity was questionable. Jerry had warned him that anything that might draw attention to himself could blow their false id, and then they really would be in trouble.

"I'm gonna go back, Dan. I just don't see how I can right now.

"You mean it? You really want to go back?"

"Course I do! But with false id, being underage, in the country illegally, I don't dare! You know that."

"Charlie," Dan pleaded, "stay here and go back to school with me! Live with us here, and to heck with your father!"

"I think you know I can't do that, Dan. You have no idea how I envy you for the family you've got, the future, the love they have for you. But it's YOUR family, not mine."

"They love you too, Charlie. I think they've proved that."

"They tolerate me. But love?"

"Yes, LOVE! I don't understand why you can't see that. Or maybe it's been so long since you felt love you just don't know what it feels like."

"That's crazy, Dan. I love you, and I know you love me."

"Do you, Charlie? Do you really feel my love, or are you taking my word for it?"

Dan told Charlie in detail how the school had a plan whereby he could go to school all summer and make up the year he'd lost. He was confident that with the grades he had going into the program, he'd pass the exams in late August, and the year would not be lost. "You could do it too, Charlie. I know you could do it!"

"Yeah?" he answered, "how do I get into the program?"

"Just fill out the papers and pay the money, have money for tutors, and you're in. Oh, and you have to have your parent or guardian sign for you."

"Fat chance!" Charlie said, discouraged.

"You don't think he'd sign?"

"Not a chance. He won't do crap for me now."

"Will you ask him?"

"You wanna see me get beat up again? Only this time it'd be different. This time I'd show him some of the things I've learned since he used me for a punching bag."

They fell silent again, each with his own thoughts. Charlie knew, he really KNEW, in his heart, that he could never again be happy in Truro; but he also knew that he could never be happy anywhere else either if Dan wasn't a part of his life. In his mind Charlie was convinced that leaving Dan now would mean leaving him forever. There simply seemed to be no other option.

"Charlie?" Dan said questioningly, "can I ask you something?"

"Anything, if it'll help us sort out all this mess."

"Charlie, what do you want me to do? I mean, what do you REALLY WANT me to do?"

"Unfair question, Dan. You're tryin' to get me to make your decision for you, and I can't do that. Jerry told me he thought you'd do whatever I say, and I'm sorry, I'm not gonna let you off the hook that way. It's got to be YOUR decision, 'cause you're gonna have to live with it."

"I'm not copping out, Charlie. But your opinion is important, and so are your feelings. I promise I won't do what you say just 'cause you said it. But I do need to know your opinion. Please tell me! If it were up to you, what would you tell me to do?"

After a long pause while Charlie searched his mind frantically for just the right answer, Charlie started to cry. "What I WANT," he sobbed, "and what I think you should do, are two different things. What I WANT is for us both to go back to Daytona and live the way we've been living. But what I think you SHOULD do is stay here, be a good son to your parents; be a good student and get your diploma, then go to college. Have fun; go fishing with your dad; walk down the street with your head held high, knowing you're as good as anybody. That's what I think you should do. Oh yeah, and forget about me! I live in another world now, and like Jerry says, there's really no way out."

Now Dan was crying too. "What you're saying is, if I stay and you leave, our love affair is over?"

"No, Dan. You said you'd always love me and I believe it. I know it's true 'cause I'll always love you too, no matter what! But I just think that over time we'll drift apart. You might even find somebody else. We'll be traveling in different circles, and our lives are simply not compatible."

"So it comes back to having to make a choice between you and my life here."

"Not exactly. But we have to face the possibility that it could happen. We've got to face reality, haven't we?"

"But we could see each other lots of times. Long weekends, school holidays, summer vacation... and you could fly up here once a month, couldn't you?"

"And how long before that would get old, Dan? How long before there would be some reason why I only go every 2 months, then 3, then not at all?"

Again they were silent. Actually Charlie was starting to fall asleep when Dan again said, in his Sunday-best little boy voice, "Charlie?"



"For what?" Charlie answered, a little more awake now.

"For telling me you still love me. It means a lot to me."

"It's only the truth. Sometimes I wish I didn't love you so damned much, then this whole thing would be easier."

"I know what you mean. But it's nice to know I've got you no matter what."

"Me too Dan. I love you!"

Another long pause.



"If my dad gets your dad over here, will you ask him?"

"He won't come."

"If he does, IF. Will you ask him? We can go get the papers tomorrow."

"I'll ask. IF you get him over here."

And with that, punctuated by a deep and long kiss, they were asleep in each other's arms.

"Your father is coming over tonight after supper," Mom Edwards informed Charlie at lunch the next day. Dan had got Charlie out of bed at the crack of dawn, drug him to the school office and by lunchtime had him registered, the school having committed, as they had for Dan the week before, that if he did his part he could easily pass the summer course and go back to his normal grade in the fall.

"How in the world did you do that?" Charlie demanded. "I never dreamed he'd come over."

"He said he wanted to talk to you anyway. Maybe he wants to apologize."

"My father? Apologize? Fat chance!"

"Charlie," Mom said as she sat him down, "you've got to do your part. If you approach him with an attitude like that, you're never going to get anywhere."

"I can't live with him, Mrs. Edwards. I just can't! It wouldn't be any time till he gets ticked off with me over something and then he'd want to beat me up, and I'm not gonna take that any more."

"You don't know that, Charlie. Maybe he felt remorse after the other day. Won't you give him a chance?"

"He'll try to keep me away from Dan too, and I can't deal with that. Dan's the only reason I'm even considering this. I won't be separated from him!"

"Let's just wait and see, ok?"

"Ok. But you'll see. I'm actually glad he's coming over. That way you'll see for yourself what I'm dealing with."

It was already after 8 when Charlie's father showed up. To Charlie's surprise he was absolutely charming in every way! "I'm so glad everyone's here," he said amicably, "so we can get this thing all straightened out and these boys can get on with their lives. Things can get so bent out of proportion when you're a teenager!"

"That's true, Mr. Nelson," Mom Edwards replied, "and Dan and Charlie are certainly miserable right now."

"That's what I really don't understand," his dad said. "They were so anxious to get out of here, then stayed away so long, all the time telling us how happy they were. And now they want to come home. Why?"

"They had some pretty harrowing experiences, Mr. Nelson. I think they just came to appreciate their home, school, their future. And Jerry helped a lot. He lost his home when he was just a little boy, and he's been fighting for everything he's got ever since. He wants the best for these boys, the same as we do."

"But why now? Why not six months ago? Why not before they got into all that... what they've done, what they've seen? Why now?"

They bantered back and forth for over an hour, Charlie's father and Dan's parents, all the time ignoring the objects of their discussion as if they were some inanimate object. Charlie looked over at Dan, sitting next to his mother, and he could see in Dan's eyes that he'd about had enough. Charlie tried to tell him with his eyes that he should be quiet, but he should've known that there was no way Dan was going to be quiet once he got riled. So when his mother started talking about how much the two loved each other, how dedicated they were, Dan stood up and said "This is stupid, Mom. I have a pretty good command of the English language, does anyone mind if I speak for myself?"

Charlie could see the surprise, and the rage, in his father's eyes. He really wondered if Dan was about to get decked. But Mom Edwards must've seen it too, because she very quickly answered Dan. "Of course, dear," she said. "I guess we were kinda monopolizing the conversation, weren't we?"

"To put it mildly!" Charlie commented.

"I didn't teach you manners like that!" his dad growled. Charlie wanted to say you didn't teach me manners at all, but he thought better of it. But Dan was just getting up steam.

"Everything that Mom said is true," he began. His face was red and his hands were shaking. Charlie tried to stop him, but he'd had enough. "Yes, I admit, I've been saying basically I'm not done being a kid yet. I'm not done enjoying the love my parents have to give me, and I'm not done learning, not done being a carefree teen. But there's more. There's so much more!

"I spent nights on the streets of Montreal, Boston, New York. I was so scared I could hardly move, and yet nothing happened at all. Without Charlie there with me I woulda died! I know he was scared too, but we were together, and we were both ready to die if we had to, long as we were together. We knew we couldn't be here, which was why we left int the first place. We met Jerry and things started going our way, or so we thought. That was until I got involved with Tony the movie man.

"I didn't come here to listen to your son talk about how he's screwed up my son's head," Don Nelson said to Dan's parents. "If this is gonna turn into a sordid discussion of their filthy habits, I for one don't want to hear it."

Now Charlie was on his feet. "He didn't screw up my head, Dad!" he screamed, "We..."

"Charlie," Dan said calmly as he put his hand on Charlie's shoulder, "do me a favor and shut the fuck up! I don't want to have to say this again: I can talk for myself!

"Mr. Nelson, I watched a little boy get drugged and kidnaped, almost raped and probably murdered; I sat in a drugged stupor watching a boy two years younger than I am get a knife in his back... a knife that was supposed to kill me! That kid was only 14! His only sin was that he was different than what his parents would have liked, and now he's dead! And then just in case I still wasn't paying attention, I watched Terry's murderer get his head blown off by police bullets.

"I realized then just how dangerous a game I was playing. Then later I realized that I was there by my own choice; if I'd been killed I'd have nobody to blame but myself. But most of those street kids have no choice; they are there because they have no place else to go. They have no family, no home. That's what you're doing to Charlie, Mr. Nelson!

"I made a promise to the parents of that dead boy. I promised that I would find a way to come home and face whatever I had to, to finish growing up where I was safe and loved. I have got to keep that promise! I also promised them that I would let them know how things are going for me, and I'm gonna keep that promise. I'm gonna write them and tell them that I've come home!

"There are other reasons too. I need my education. When I finish high school I'm going to college. I'm taking criminology. And when I graduate I'm gonna be a police officer. I'm gonna do whatever I can to stop all the garbage from happening to those homeless kids: The drugs, the sex, the fear, the... the hopelessness..."

Charlie slowly sank back into his chair. The room was very silent now as Dan hugged his mom, then came over and melted into Charlie's arms. When he had regained some of his composure, he said softly, "You're part of the problem, Mr. Nelson. You're turning Charlie into one of those homeless street kids. Charlie and I want to be together, need each other, complement each other; but we're not brothers and don't want to be. We don't do anyone any harm and don't want to, but that's not enough for you. So because you cannot accept him as he is, you're forcing him to leave town again, maybe never to come back. Ever! I know what he's facing, even better than he does. And I'm powerless to stop him."

"Did you know about this?" Mom Edwards asked Charlie.

"The police thing? No Ma'am! This is the first I've heard of it."


"No Ma'am. Danny, you don't know what those cops go through!"

"I think I have an idea," Dan answered. "But I KNOW what those kids go through, and I have GOT to help them if I can. I have GOT to do what I can to get that garbage off the streets.

"I'm sorry, Charlie. I wanted to tell you, but I just figured it all out tonight. And then I was afraid you'd laugh at me."

"Laugh at you? Dan, aside from shocking me almost to death, you've made me the proudest queer in Canada! But you're not gonna have all the fun, I want a piece of it too."

Dan stood again. "Does that mean you're..."

"Damn right it does! Dad, I need your signature on some forms here so I can go to summer school to catch up. I'm NOT gonna be chased out of town, and I'm NOT backing away from what I am any more. Will you sign them?"

Charlie's father looked over the papers that Charlie passed to him. "Damn, Charlie!" he exclaimed, "this says I have to pay over a thousand dollars because you ran away last fall. Do you think I'm crazy?"

"No sir, I don't. And I don't expect you to pay either."

"Where the hell are you gonna get that kinda money?"

"Right outa my pocket, that's where. I think this should cover it."

With that comment Charlie pulled a roll of bills from his pocket and dropped them in his father's lap. "Where the hell did you steal that?" Don said with surprise on his face.

"I didn't steal it anywhere, Dad. I earned it! I worked hard for it! There's a lot more where that came from but it looks like I'm gonna need it. All I want from you, all I NEED from you, is for you to sign these papers. A year and a bit from now I'll be 18 and then you won't ever have to worry about me again."

"I'll sign them," his dad said, "but you're coming home with me!"

"I... I can't do that, Dad."

"I see. You want all the benefits of being my son, but you won't obey me. You don't respect me, you don't care about my feelings. Just shut up and sign, right?" Now Dan was on his feet again.

"Mr. Nelson," he said as his face reddened, "I for one don't like the way you're treating Charlie."

"Dan," his mother interrupted quietly, "stay out of it. This is between Charlie and his father."

"I will NOT stay out of it, Mom! I'm sorry but I gotta say this: Anything between Charlie and anyone is between me and that person too! We are a pair, Mom, and the world might as well get used to it!"

"We've sat here," he said to Don Nelson, "and listened to you telling Charlie he's no good, a coward, not worth the cost of school, he doesn't give you any respect, and now you're calling him a thief. And then you ORDER him to go home with you. Why would he do that, Mr. Nelson?"

"Because he's my son, that's why! He belongs to me!"

"BELONGS to you?" Charlie demanded. "I don't think so. That's your problem, Dad, you want to OWN everyone! Well you don't OWN me and you never will! And you've told me that I'm not your son any more anyway. I can live with that, but legally we're stuck with each other for another year and a bit."

"Mr. Nelson," Dan added, "there are a few things about Charlie that you don't know. Since we left here last fall we've both been taking self defense courses, and Charlie is quite capable of taking care of himself. You should know that when you gave him that beating, it was only because he allowed it. He could have cleaned your clock good, but he wouldn't."

"Dan, you don't know what you're talking about. Charlie couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag!"

"You're wrong, sir," Jerry interjected. "Dan's right. I doubt he would have any problems putting you on the floor, and you wouldn't be too quick getting up. But he won't hit you, because you're his father and he respects you. But he doesn't particularly like getting beat on either."

"Maybe you'd like to demonstrate," Don said to Charlie. "Let's just see what you can do."

"Forget it, Dad. I'm not gonna fight you, now or ever. I respect you too much, and I respect the Edwards' home too much to wreck it rolling around like a common thug. Yeah, I've learned to fight, but I've also learned to respect people and their belongings. I don't hate you, I love you! But we both know we can't live together any more. You don't want a son who thinks for himself, you want a puppet. And I can't be a puppet. I've had a taste of being myself and it feels pretty good. I wouldn't ask you for anything except that I'm underage, and I need those papers signed so I can go back to school. Please, Dad?"

"Man," Charlie said as he crawled into bed with Dan, "you were somethin'! You were really somethin'!"

"I dunno what you're talkin' about." Dan grinned. "I just talked to your dad in a way that he understands."

"You mean you bullied him."

"Uh-huh. That's what he understands. Oh and by the way, you didn't do so bad yourself. When we got through with him he had no choice but to sign those papers."

"Speaking of which," Charlie said as he got more serious, "tell me more about your plans. How in the world did you ever come up with all that? Were you serious?"

"Serious as a heart attack, Charlie. I just figured that we were going nowhere in the escort business, not long term anyway. Then when I saw you hanging on the edge of going back with Jerry, it suddenly all kinda came together and I knew what I had to do."

"Jerry!" Charlie exclaimed. "He's... he's gonna be going back alone!"

"Not really. We've got to go with him, to get our things, the mustang, say good-bye to all our friends and clients. We got a busy two weeks ahead of us."

"I don't mean that. I mean, we gotta get him to stay."

"Never happen, Charlie. He's just too..."

"Watch me!" Charlie challenged as he got out of bed. "In fact, c'mon with me and... and watch. You might learn something."

Jerry Wallace lay in his bed in the spare bedroom, staring up into the darkness. He was delighted, but his heart was breaking. Dan had made his decision which had prompted Charlie to make his, and Jerry was alone again. Oh, he knew he'd see them again because they were a large part of his life now; but there wouldn't be the constant din and confusion, the delightful noise of the two happy teens in his townhome again. He knew he would miss that, but he knew that things had turned out the way they should. He had protected and trained his companions, could be very proud of what he'd done with them. And now their values had been restored to what he knew was right. So why was that tear rolling down his cheek?

He thought of the poster he'd seen not that long ago. In his mind he could see it now. A picture of a man with a large eagle perched on his fingers. His arm was outstretched and the bird's wings were just beginning to spread. What was it that the caption had said? Something like "If you love something wild, let it go. If it returns it is yours; if it doesn't, it never was."

Well, Jerry could hardly think of his two companions as wild, but he certainly did love them, and now because he loved them so much he was letting them go. He had been with them, encouraged them, helped them gain self confidence. Now they had come to the point in their young lives where they could make decisions, and with enough confidence that they could see them through.

He'd had sat quietly and watched as they maneuvered Charlie's father into signing the consent form so that Charlie could go to summer school. They had always been an incredible team, those two. But tonight he had seen them at their best, and their best was pretty damn good! Charlie's father, obviously a very strong, very assertive man, had been no match for them at all. It had been absolutely no contest.

When the evening was over and Don Nelson left, they not only had a signed consent for Charlie to go to summer school, but also a power of attorney for the Edwards' as far as Charlie's welfare was concerned. It wasn't a full custody order, but it did give them the legal authority to make decisions about Charlie's medical and educational care. It was legally the most they could do without going to court, which no one wanted to do.

Jerry had seen their faces after they had their consent. He had seen the happiness; the elation; the pure joy. The two lovers would be together with no separation. He was so incredibly happy for them. So why were tears coming now in a torrent?

"Jer, you awake?" a whispered voice came from the door as it opened a crack.

"Yeah," he answered, "c'mon in. I was hoping you'd come."

"Well, I don't know about that," Charlie quipped. He suddenly realized that he didn't have any sexual desires right then, but he did want to be close to the two he loved the best.

"You guys were so incredible tonight!" Jerry said as he enclosed them both in his arms. "I was so proud of y'all!"

"Just had to let him know how it is." Charlie said.

"Charlie, I never saw you two more in harmony than you were tonight! It looked to me as if you both had practiced the whole scene for weeks!"

"We were pretty good, weren't we?" Dan chuckled. "What you didn't know is that until tonight I was so terrified when we were living here Charlie could never get me to spend time with him at his house; but tonight all that fear was gone. All I could think of was getting that signature for Charlie."

"Love does things like that," Jerry observed.

"There's other things love does too, Jer," Dan whispered.

"Like what?"

"I got a plan." announced Dan.

"What, another one?" Charlie said, "You seem to be full of them all of a sudden. Guess the cold Canadian air agrees with you."

"Not the cold air," Jerry corrected, "the warm love in this house. I can see it in you both! You're so happy here, 'specially you, Dan. You're in your element, and even your brain is working better. I'm so happy for you I could... could..."

"Cry?" Charlie offered. "Is that why you were crying when we came in? Because you're so happy?"

Jerry didn't answer, at least in words. Instead the tears flowed again, in spite of his efforts to prevent them.

Charlie and Dan had both crawled in bed with Jerry, one on each side of him. All three were dressed only in their briefs, and Charlie and Dan had both gone to work on Jerry with their hands. Charlie's left hand was stroking Jerry's firm chest while his right had wriggled under his neck; Dan's left was caressing Jerry's stomach with his right going the other way under his neck. Jerry was paralyzed with pleasure; pleasure, and of course trying to soak up all the attention he could get from these two before it ended forever.

I'm asking Charlie's question again, Jer," Dan whispered. "If you're so happy, why the tears?"

"Unfair question," Jerry answered, "I'm... I'm just thinking how quiet that old townhouse is gonna be again. I'm gonna miss you guys so much!"

"So what's your plan?" Charlie asked, expecting a proposition that would keep the threesome together.

"We're goin' fishing with Dad tomorrow."

"Fishing?" Jerry and Charlie chorused.

"Yeah, fishing. You guys have never been fishing with my dad. He is so kewl!

"Dan," Charlie protested, "we've go a lot to do. We gotta get back to Daytona, pack, get rid of some stuff, then move the rest of it all back here, and we only got two weeks to do it. I thought we'd be hitting the road for Florida."

"That's just it, Charlie, we DO have a lot to do. So we need to take a day and just relax, and I don't know any way to relax better than goin' fishing with my dad."

"But Dan," Jerry argued, "you know I don't know how to fish. You know..."

"Yes, I do know, Jer, and that's why we gotta do this."

Dan went on to explain that since they were leaving, they wouldn't be seeing Jerry for a long time, and they had to leave him with something... something that would last him a lifetime. They had heard of the trip Jerry had taken - the very trip that had brought them all together. Now, he said, it was time to give something back. "You've been so good to us, Jer," he said, "and you've taught us so much. Now I want you to experience something that's very special to us. I know you'll enjoy it."

"But what about your dad? Doesn't he have to work?"

"Nope. I already asked him and he said of course he'd take us, and he booked off work for the next two weeks. So it's all set up, and you gotta come, Jer."

"What in the world was all that about?" Charlie demanded when they were back in their own bed. "What's the big deal about going fishing?"

"Trust me, Charlie," was Dan's answer, the only one he was going to get. "I know what I'm doing. Have I ever let you down?"

Charlie had to admit that he hadn't, and the thought of a day fishing, the four of them, did have a certain attraction. He knew that Clarke Edwards used to take Dan fishing, in fact he had gone along twice and had thoroughly enjoyed himself. When he thought about it he agreed that it was indeed a good final gift for them to give to Jerry. He just hoped that the fact that the trio was being split up wouldn't put a damper on the day. And he had to admit that Dan never had let him down. But Dan was acting so mysteriously he wondered if he'd been privy to the entire plan. But right now Dan seemed to have other plans... plans that took Charlie's complete attention.

They would go fishing tomorrow, Friday, while Mom Edwards took Charlie's papers in to the school board office. Then Saturday morning the three boys, plus Dan's father, would head for Florida to gather their belongings, pack them in the Mustang, and get back to Truro before summer school started. There were also some of their better clients, like Jane, and Jack the basketball player, and a few others, that they had to contact and say good-bye. But right now they had all been under a great deal of stress for a few days and it had eased, but there were still certain pressures to relieve, and Dan seemed anxious to lighten that load right now. So Charlie forgot his puzzlement for a while and joined Dan in his efforts. And then they slept.

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