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.

XIX. Unexpected Changes

Jerry sat on the Air Canada Vanguard turboprop as it lumbered its way toward Boston. By now Charlie and Dan would be in class. He knew they'd do ok scholastically; it didn't take a lot of brain power to realize that they were both pretty intelligent. But how had their reception been? What had been the reaction of the other students? How had they accepted the two queers?

Jerry had realized instantly that Truro was a small town, and small towns, it seems, are the same the world over: News, especially bad news, controversial news, travels like wildfire! And what could be more controversial than the return home, to public school, of two young queers? There was no one in Truro, unless possibly the totally brain dead or completely spaced out on drugs, who did not know of the incident last November and the resulting flight of two frightened boys. So how had all this affected their return to school today? Jerry could only surmise, and worry.

"You ready?" Dan asked shakily. They were standing in front of Truro High School, about to face their first public appearance since their bizarre announcement and disappearance last November. They were about to begin their first day of summer school, where they got to pay for all their sins, their wild winter, their indiscretions.

"Not really," Charlie answered. "But since when did anyone ever wait till we were ready?"

"Gotcha!" Dan said with a grin. "So let's go in there and kill 'em all!"

Go in they did. Kill 'em, they did not! But they were pleasantly surprised to learn that they did not know most of the kids in summer school, and those that they did know traveled in different circles and didn't really care about the sexual preferences of their fellow summer school students, no matter how diverse. Or at least that was their first impression.

Summer school was a completely new experience for both Dan and Charlie. Both had always maintained good grades, and had never in their entire lives considered the possibility that they would ever have to do anything to supplement their normal school year. But now that they were here, they were pleasantly surprised. In many ways, it was even better than the normal school year curriculum. The academic subjects were condensed and intense; there were no extracurricular activities to get in the way. This was business: all business. This was make it or break it, fly or sink, do or die! This, in the opinion of both Dan and Charlie, was how school should be! This they could do! This was the environment in which they could thrive!

Their teacher was Mr. Bell, a rather handsome, friendly man in his early forties. He was new to the area, so none of the students knew him. They did not change classes or teachers; Mr. Bell handled all their subjects, devoting one hour each day to each: English, Math, History, Social Studies, Science. Each of these major subjects was divided into its sub-categories, and all were covered thoroughly. Mr. Bell made it very clear from the first "good morning" that this would be a summer of accomplishment and rewards for those who were willing to work, and one of devastation for those who weren't.

The first half of the first day was spent doing administrative things like getting all the names right, checking that everyone had all the right books and other supplies, and making sure that everyone was in the right place. There were fifteen students in the class, all trying to make up the eleventh grade. Dan had been accelerated a year back in junior high, so he and Charlie were in the same grade and had been for three years. Mr. Bell commented that it was a larger class than he would like, given all the material they had to cover, so they would all have to work extra hard starting tomorrow. He handed out a sheet of paper with reading and homework assignments, promising that there would be a fresh sheet every day, that the assignments would not be checked, but that the work would be nigh impossible for those who did not complete the assignments.

"This is a small town," Mr. Bell observed after lunch, "so I assume that most of you people are not total strangers. But I'm new to the area, so I thought we'd spend the afternoon just getting to know one another. As the summer goes on you'll probably all learn to hate me, so I'd like to at least be on a first name basis with all of you before that happens."

Everyone braced for a session of "go around the room," where everyone got to stand up and tell something about himself. But Mr. Bell had other ideas. Instead he shuffled through his records, the information he'd been given about everyone in the class, and asked questions at random. "Miss Curtis," he said after a pause.

"Yes, sir?" a pretty black haired girl said as she stood.

"Gail, is that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"It says here you lost most of the year to sickness?"

"Yes, sir. I had mono for four months."

"Feeling better now?"

"Yes, sir. I'm fine, thank you."

"Edgar Allen."

"Yes sir?" a tall skinny teenager answered as he stood.

"I don't suppose anyone has ever called you Edgar Allen Poe?"

"Only about every day of my life since I was eight, sir." Nervous laughter from the class.

"Your grades haven't been too good this year. What happened?"

"I don't know, sir. I guess I just got lazy."

"Well, that's going to have to change."

"Yes, sir. I know, sir."

Sooner or later, Charlie and Dan both knew that one of them would be called upon, but they could not have predicted how it was done. "Nelson," Mr. Bell said, "Charles or Charlie?"

"Charlie, sir," he answered as he stood.

"You and Dan... er... ah yes, Dan Evans. I understand that you two ran away last fall, is that right?"

"Yes, sir," Charlie answered nervously.

"I hope you weren't in trouble with the law?"

"No, sir," Charlie said, "nothing like that." He ventured a look at Dan. The look on Dan's face told him they both knew where this was going.

"Were you in trouble at home?" Mr. Bell persisted.

"We... we thought we might be."

"They got caught suckin' each other's dicks!" came a comment from the back of the room. The class broke up. Dan turned scarlet, and Charlie felt his face flush. Mr. Bell had a stricken look on his face that told any and all he knew he'd pushed too far.

"Who said that?" Mr. Bell demanded. The class went silent. Charlie knew it had been Ernie Provost, a boy he knew only vaguely. But Ernie, it seemed, had used up all his courage giving his report to the class. "I would like whoever said such a thing to own up to it. In fact, we'll sit here until you do. You may take your seat, Charlie." Still silence. Mr. Bell was obviously annoyed. He began lecturing the class on the terrible consequences of telling untrue or partly true stories, of starting rumors. This one, he said, was particularly vicious and could do irreparable harm to two boys' reputations. Then to everyone's astonishment, especially Charlie's, Dan got slowly to his feet.

"Mr. Bell," Dan said softly.

"You said that?" he questioned.

"No, sir, I didn't. My name is Dan Evans. It doesn't matter who said it, sir, because it's true. I suspect you're the only person in Truro that doesn't already know it, and I'm not gonna hold the whole class up because of something I've done. We don't mind, really. We're gettin' used to it."

Mr. Bell sat silently for a full two minutes, his mouth open, his eyes locked on Dan's, who was staring back at him. He was obviously speechless, possibly for the first time in his teaching career. "Th-thank you, Dan," he stammered finally. "Class dismissed. I'll see you all at 8 AM sharp."

Most of the class filed silently out of the room and out of the building. Two or three stragglers lingered to stare, one or two made comments like "Kiss him, Charlie!" and "Let's see if they're gonna do it in the washroom before they go home." Dan looked at Charlie, his soft brown eyes looking softer than usual. "Dan," Charlie exclaimed, "you were..."

"Shut up, Charlie," Dan said. "Let's just get outta here!"

"I'm sorry, Dan," Charlie said, "but I thought..."

"I said shut up, Charlie! Just shut the fuck up!"

"Man!" one of the onlookers remarked, "who the hell shit in his cornflakes this morning?"

"You heard him," Charlie said vehemently as he felt his face turn crimson again, this time with rage. "Just shut the fuck up!"

Not a word was spoken during the walk home. Dan was seething, Charlie was beside himself with worry, but he didn't dare say anything. He thought he knew why Dan was so pissed off, but he wasn't sure and he wasn't about to make matters worse. He only hoped that things would cool down as the evening progressed.

Jerry was not prepared for the reception he received at Daytona airport. By the time his plane landed, he was tired and discouraged. He was worried about how his companions had done their first day of school; he was discouraged how he would fare once he had to start school again. He was really beginning to think he'd made a mistake, that he should continue the life he'd built. He was the envy of a lot of men twice his age and he knew it. Now, he'd thought, he had to be insane to give it all up. Yet that's precisely what he was doing. And that's when he stepped off the plane in Daytona.

The first faces he saw in the crowded arrivals terminal were those of John and Linda Jenkins. The Edwards had evidently called them with Jerry's flight information. Behind them were Mark, Jerry's lawyer, Chuck Dalzell, and three uniformed policemen. Something was obviously going on; something that caused Jerry to consider turning round and getting back on the plane, wherever it was headed.

"Sorry for all the cloak and dagger stuff," John said as he shook Jerry's hand. "Under the circumstances, we thought it better to be safe than sorry."

"What's going on?" Jerry asked of the welcoming committed in general.

"I'm afraid there's been some trouble," Chuck said. "Your town house has been trashed and burned. We think it was the mob, trying to put you out of business. It's a good thing you boys were away, or you'd probably all be dead."

"D-dead? But... but why?"

"You know how the mob works, Jerry. I guess they got tired of you operating outside their control. And you did have some trouble with them a year or so ago, didn't you?"

"Yes, but I thought that had all been settled."

"With them it's never settled, Jerry, until they have what they want. In this case they wanted you, and failing that, they wanted you out of business."

"But... I AM out of business!"

"So John has been telling me. But of course the mob doesn't know that. You can't go back there, Jerry. There isn't much left anyway."

"Not a problem," John interjected. "He's coming home with us."

"Sorry," Chuck said, "can't do that either. That'll put you and your family in danger when they find out he's here. I think the best thing for you to do, Jerry, is get right back on a plane and get out of here. It's just not safe for you in Daytona any more."

"I can't do that, Chuck!" Jerry exclaimed. "I've got business matters to take care of. I've got people to notify. I've got to get our savings, Charlie's car.... Oh shit! The Mustang! Where's the Mustang?"

"It's safe," Chuck said. "For some reason it wasn't touched. We left it there for a couple days to see if anyone would go near it, but it hasn't been touched. We finally had it taken to Police Impound for safe keeping. But you can't go get it. We'll get it and have it shipped wherever you want."

"But," Jerry protested, "if it's all that dangerous, won't they just follow the car wherever it goes?"

"That's what we're hoping. Then we'll get a lead on who's done this."

"So, if I understand correctly, you don't even know for sure it was the mob?"

"We're pretty sure."

"But you don't know!"

"I guess not."

"I'm gonna find out."

"Jerry," John argued, "what difference does it make? You're leaving anyway. Why take the risk?"

"Cause I want to know how much risk there is. If I've got the mob on my tail, I'm not gonna go leading them back to Nova Scotia."

"They wouldn't follow you that far," Chuck answered.

"You sure?" Jerry demanded.

"Well, no, I guess I'm not sure. But I don't think..."

"I'll be needing the Mustang," Jerry said. "Can I pick it up today?"

"I don't think that's a good idea. If they're still looking for you..."

"There you go with that mysterious "they" again! Mark, can you help me bail out the Mustang?"

"Just rent a car, Jer," Mark advised. "You're gonna be getting a fortune in insurance money, and I agree with Chuck on this one. Until we find out who did this, that Mustang is better left in impound."

"Hey, Jer!" Charlie said cheerfully when he answered the phone. "I didn't expect to hear from you so soon." It was 9 PM, Monday night. Dan and Charlie had just finished their homework and were thinking about going to bed early when the phone rang.

"I just wanted to let you know," Jerry said, "I'm not at home. I'm staying at the Ambassador."

"Not home? Why not?"

"Is Dan there?"

"Yeah, he's here, but... well, Jer, our first day back at school wasn't the best day we've ever had. He's kinda depressed. But why aren't you home?"

"Well... uhhh there's been some trouble, Charlie. The townhouse was burned last week. Chuck thinks it mighta been the mob, so they've got me holed up here in the hotel and won't let me go back to the house at all. They're afraid..."

"Jerry," Charlie said, "get your tail outta there! C'mon home!"

"I... I can't do that, Charlie," Jerry answered. He'd noticed Charlie's words very specifically: "Come HOME" he'd said. But he couldn't, could he? "Charlie," he explained, "I can't go back there until I know who's chasing me, if anyone is. I've got to find out who burned our place, and if it's the mob or someone like that, I've gotta find out and settle things before I get y'all involved. You guys just sit tight, ok? I'll be in touch."

"Jerry," Charlie pleaded, "you can't face all that alone! You can't!"

"Stay out of it, Charlie!" Jerry ordered, much more sternly than he was comfortable with. "I know these guys, Charlie, and believe me, you have no idea how ruthless they can be, and you don't want to find out. I can't risk them connecting up with Dan's mom and dad. Just stay put, go to school, and I'll be in touch. Promise me, Charlie! Promise me you'll stay there and go to school, and take care of Dan."

"Jerry, I can't do that! Just a sec 'til I get Dan, ok?"

"No, Charlie! Promise me! Stay out of it!"

"I'm getting Dan, Just a sec..."

When Dan picked up the phone, there was dial tone on the receiver. He immediately tried to call the Ambassador Hotel in Daytona, but there was no record of a Jerry Wallace, a Jerry Edwards, or any other Jerry for that matter. They tried to call John Jenkins, but he was no help. He told them that Jerry had basically withdrawn from all his known contacts when he'd learned that the police suspected the mob was on his tail. He had quite successfully disappeared. "And don't even bother trying to call Chuck Dalzell," John said. "Chuck was the one who wanted to put him in protective custody, but Jerry refused."

"Refused? But why?" Dan asked.

"He's afraid of bringing trouble on you up there. He thinks as long as he is here and you are there, they'll concentrate on finding him and taking him out, and they'll leave you two alone. To be frank, he has a point, Dan."

"Yeah," Dan agreed. "Only problem is, that doesn't say much for what kind of friends we are, does it? I mean, if we can just sit up here and wait..."

"Danny," John said, "you're not thinking of coming down here, are you?"

"John, how can I not come down? How can we sit up here all fat and comfy while Jerry deals with God knows what down there?"

"But what can you do?"

"I dunno, John. But we sure can't do anything here."

"Danny," John pleaded, "please think this through. Jerry's got a lot of friends here, and we're all doing all we can. The best thing you can do right now is stay there and go to school. That's what he wanted, and he was so proud when he got back here that he'd left you two in school! Please, Danny, don't do anything stupid!"

Dan thought for a minute or so. He looked for Charlie, but he had disappeared. He'd been standing watching him with those little boy soft blue eyes of his. Dan knew that there was no way that Charlie would allow him to go back to Daytona alone. He knew that if he went, Charlie would go too. And John had already said that he and Chuck, Mark, and probably all their friends at the club, would be looking out for Jerry, so didn't it make sense for them to stay where they were? Where they were safe, and going to school? Putting their lives back together? Didn't that make sense? Of course it did! So why then did it feel so awful, just letting Jerry deal with whatever he was dealing with, alone?

"Ok, John," Dan said, "we'll stay put for now. But we're gonna be calling every night. And if you haven't heard anything in a week, we're gonna re-evaluate, ok?"

"I understand, Dan," John answered. "We're going to do everything we can on this end. And I promise, we'll let you know the minute we hear anything."

"Where's Charlie?" Dan asked his mom after he'd hung up.

"He said he was going for a walk. He seemed pretty upset, Dan. What's happened?"

"It's Jerry. They think..."

"I don't mean that. Charlie told me all about that. But he's been upset even before Jerry's call. Did you two have a fight?"

"No, Mom. Well, not exactly."

"Come on, Dan, what's happened? You two have a problem at school?"

"Yeah, it wasn't the best school day I've ever had in my life."

"But it's not like Charlie to get so upset. What happened?"

"I happened, Mom!" Dan said as he started to cry. "I screwed up really bad! I got mad at Charlie!"

"Charlie? But what did he do?"

"Nothin' Mom! He didn't do a thing! But I got mad at him anyway! Mom, I'm afraid the whole thing's comin' apart! School was awful, an' now Jerry's missing, our town house is burned down, an' Charlie and I are fighting! I thought things were supposed to get better! God, I wish we'd never come home!"

"It'll get better, Dan. You knew this wasn't going to be easy. And no matter where you go or what you do, you're going to have to face the fact that people don't like people who are different. But right now you're so tense I'm surprised you don't snap in two! Why don't you go take a hot bath? Just lie in the tub and soak like you used to."

"I can't relax, Mom! What if Charlie doesn't come back? What if he..."

"What if he were to give you a massage while you're in the tub?" Charlie's voice came down the hall as he walked in. "Please, Danny?"

"Charlie! I was afraid..."

"I just had to get a little air. C'mon, buddy, you and I have a date with a bathtub. Ok, Mom?"

Mom Edwards shrugged. She had heard expressions of her son's love for Charlie, had been assured it was real, even believed it in a way; but now she had seen it with her own eyes. She had seen the panic in Dan's eyes when he thought he might have chased Charlie away. Then she'd seen the relief, the joy, when he walked into the room. She'd noticed that Dan never answered Charlie's offer of a combination bath and massage; there was obviously no need! Of course he'd accepted!

In record time, Dan was stripped and lying in a bathtub of very hot water. Charlie was kneeling on the floor, running his hands all over Dan's body. Dan's eyes were closed. "My God!" Charlie exclaimed, "Your whole body is as hard as steel! Relax, Dan! Loosen up!"

"I'm gettin' there," Dan whispered. "Man, does that feel good!"

They could both feel the tension literally melt from Dan's body as he relaxed. After a half hour or so, he opened his eyes and looked directly into Charlie's. "C'mon in," he whispered, "the water's fine."

"It'll be kinda crowded, don't you think?"

"I want you inside me, Charlie!"

"Now? Here? In the bathtub?"

"Now! Here! In the bathtub! Please, Charlie?"

It took a bit of maneuvering, but eventually Dan felt the slight POP as Charlie violated his sphincter, then slid easily in until there was no more to give. "It's been too long, Charlie," Dan whispered, then he closed his eyes again as Charlie kissed him, then rocked gently back and forth, the warm water giving the entire operation an aura of gentle, relaxing peace.

Down the hall, Clarke Evans had arrived home exhausted, and he and his wife had headed directly to bed. There was only one bathroom in the Evans home, but Nancy had explained to her husband what had happened, so they made do until it was free. "There's a lot of strange noises coming from in there," Clarke observed as they lay in bed waiting their turn, "I wonder what in the world they're doing?"

"I honestly don't think you want to know," Nancy answered, "I just think we're better off not knowing."

* * *

Where is Jerry? Is he going to get in more trouble, and will he have to face it alone? What will school bring tomorrow for our two lovers? It was one thing, enduring rumors and repeated stories and folklore; it's quite another, having stood in front of the entire class and made a full confession. And what about Mr. Bell? He was so shaken by the entire incident that he'd dismissed class early. What will be his attitude once he recovers?

I promise to get the next chapter to y'all as quickly as I can.

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