Discovering Reg - Chapter 3


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* * * * * * * * * * * * *


During our discussing with dad, I did mention that we'd only gotten Reg his high end wardrobe. We still needed to go out and obtain the casual side.

"Well, tomorrow there will be a few stores open, so you can go out and finish the job."

"Oh, by the way," I said as I pulled out my wallet. "I'd rather you held onto this." I handed him his card back. I just didn't feel comfortable carrying it around.

Dinner that night was a celebration. Everyone got turned out for it. Mother wore a beautiful gown and we guys put on our best suits. Yes, suits; my tuxedo was still being altered. Even the staff dressed as for a state visitor. It was a marvelous experience. I think I've mentioned that I liked dressing to the nines.

There was, however, a subtle, yet perceptible difference. Reg and I were being treated with just that touch more respect. Apparently there was some truth to the rumor that clothes do make the man. Even the after dinner wine was up a notch. Reg and I got full sized glasses. And it all seem to happen without any consultations, no grand speeches. It was as if Reg and I had assumed these new roles and everyone else had simply turned to the next page of the play. It was really some heady stuff.

Of course, Reg and I didn't feel any different. Well, maybe a little. I noticed Reg standing just a bit taller, which, in turn, caused me to improve my posture. The one thing I did notice is that I spent a lot more time admiring Reg. His new suit really showed him off. There was no doubt that there was a well molded, masculine physique beneath the fine threads. But it was his face that captivated me. To see it unsullied by vision enhancers was breathtaking. And it was quite clear that I wasn't the only one. Everybody took just a moment to bask in the glow of his radiant smile.

It seemed to take forever for the evening to end. The day's excitement had drained me somewhat and I simply wanted to go to our room and relax with Reg. I wasn't ready to sleep, I just needed to hold my lover and feel his warmth.

Finally the wine was consumed and we both got full good night hugs and kisses. I enjoyed that in particular, because I hadn't gotten a hug and kiss from my parents for some time now. Mom and dad seemed to understand because they made a point of squeezing me just a touch tighter and kissed me just a moment or two longer.

As I closed the door to our room, Reg made a b-line for the bathroom.

"I have got to get these contacts out."

I remembered that the optometrist recommended he wear them a couple hours at a time, until his eyes got use to the feel of them. I was now worried a bit about that because he'd had these in for almost eight hours straight. I followed behind him, draping my suit jacket on the back of the TV sofa, my tie getting draped on the bathroom door handle.

He got them out in short order, dropping them into the overnight container, then tried to squirt in the cleaning solution, but kept missing. I jumped in and gently took the bottle from his hand.

"Reg, why don't you let me do this? You sit, there, on the stool."

He dropped, gratefully, onto the stool. "My eyes won't stop tearing up. Can't see past my nose right now."

"Hmm. That could be fun. Can I be your `seeing eye Wayne'?"

He giggled. "Well, at least a seeing eye Wayne would be self feeding and wouldn't leave little doggy surprises all over the place." He laughed harder.

"Don't give me that, you just want an excuse to hold my hand in public without raising any eyebrows," I answered, joining his laughter.

"There's a thought."

I washed the contacts with the cleaning solution carefully, rinsed them, and placed them in the container with a bit of the overnight mixture, screwing the lids tightly shut. Then I picked up the bottle of eye drops the doctor had given him.

I turned to find Reg sitting, his head back against the wall and his eyes closed. His head was tilted back and there were tears slowly rolling down his face. It was obvious, however, that he wasn't crying.

"Gees, Reg, your eyes must really hurt."

"There's a steady burning sensation. I think I over did it a bit."

"Well, let me try and get some of these drops in there. Maybe that will help sooth them." I picked up the nearby towel and gently dried one eye. Then I forced his eyelids open and let one drop fall into it. Then I moved on to the second eye.

"The doctor said two drops each," said Reg.

"I know," I said softly. "But your eyes are watering so much, I thought I'd give you one drop each to give you some immediate relief and see if it won't stop the tearing, that way the second drop don't get washed away."

"What a good nurse you are."

"Well, don't expect me to start wearing a nurse's uniform. My legs are too hairy for those short skirts and I refuse to shave them."

"Oh, now there's an ugly vision," he said grimacing. But then his face relaxed. "Ah, that does seem to be helping. Why don't we wait on the second drop for a bit until the watering stops."

"Let's get our suits off and hung up and then we'll reapply."

It didn't take us long to don our birthday suits.

"You a bit chilly?"

"I am," he answered and went over and fussed with the thermostat. "I've never spent time naked in here. I always wore pajamas. This is a lot more fun." Then he came over and wrapped himself in my arms.

"This being an adult is a lot harder than it looks," he said softly.

"You won't get any arguments from me there. I think we did a good job though."

"You made me awful proud today, Wayne."

"Me? What did I do?"

He looked up at me and I could see that his eyes were clearing up. But he seemed to be looking for something.

"You really don't understand the significance, do you?"

"Significance of what?"

He took my hand and led me to the sofa and sat me down, then sat on the coffee table facing me. "Do you know how long you've been here?"

"A bit over twenty-four hours."

He glanced at the clock. "Thirty hours, twenty-seven minutes."

"All right. So?"

He was being awfully serious. I couldn't imagine where he was going with this.

"Less than thirty-one hours ago, you were a lonely, gay, middle class high school student. Please don't interrupt," he said as I opened my mouth, "This is important."

Those words echoed in my head, because I remember using a similar line twenty-four hours earlier.
I nodded.

"Okay, so you were nothing special. Your only claim to fame was the fact that you were a genius and openly gay. You had no friends, your parents, or at least one of them, hated you. You were getting ready for a long, boring weekend, probably sleeping in your car."

"Then your life took a strange turn. You helped me out of a tight spot and were suddenly thrust into a world of wealth and privilege. You found love in a most unexpected place, and in an intensity that was staggering." He paused briefly. "Accurate so far?"

I nodded.

"Now, any other person would have been overwhelmed, unable to cope with the overpowering nature of it all. But not you. You rolled with it. You even embraced it as if it was the most natural thing in the world."

"I'll tell you honestly, I was scared shitless last night. I was so afraid that it'd become too much for you and you'd feel it necessary to leave. But mother said it perfectly at breakfast; you're a long lost Finger who's finally found his way home. You have insinuated yourself into this life...our smoothly, it's like you were raised in this house from the day you were born."

"You have a natural grace and sophistication that belies your modest upbringing. Your instincts and people skills have endeared yourself to everyone, and I don't just mean my parents. I've been astounded at how the staff has responded to you. They're always so proper and staid with visitors. But they immediately relaxed and treated you like a member of the family. They tease and joke with you just like they do with me. I've NEVER seen them do that...ever. Not even when extended family comes to visit. And did you notice how Francios hung on your opinion last night at dinner? That man is the finest chef I know, he doesn't need random praise. He usually remains in the kitchen so that he doesn't have to respond to empty accolades. And yet, he really wanted your good opinion. Christ, Wayne, the man actually blushed."

"I'm not through yet, but I think I need that second drop now."

He sat next to me while I administered the required dose. "May I respond?"

"Uh huh."

"I've only been trying to make sure you were never disappointed in me. You're right; this all has me just a bit frightened. But it's been fun. I've just wanted to be certain that you never regretted taking me into your life."

"And I haven't regretted; not for one moment." He sat up and blinked a few times, then turned and faced me, his knee lightly touching my leg. "Your fear hasn't shown." He briefly caressed my face. "You're so beautiful, even through watery eyes." He giggled.

Then he sobered. "All right, moving right along. That was all the personality things. Now I'll address your responsible side. Did you notice that dad took me aside while you and mother were chatting?"

"Yeh, so?"

"He was interrogating me about our shopping trip. He wanted every detail of how you handled the attention and especially the finances. He wanted to find out if you'd passed the test."

"Test. What test?"

"When father handed you his American Express Card, he was testing you. Now, mind you, he's hasn't said anything to me directly, but I know it to be true. He wanted to know if you'd try to take advantage of his good will." He held up a hand to stop my automatic response. "Don't be offended. It's a test he gives everyone who tries to get close to us. I don't think anyone's ever passed. They've all tried to get more than they'd been authorized. You see, Wayne, that card has no limit. You could buy a new home with it."

My jaw dropped and I began to shake slightly.

"You see? That's what I mean. You're so scared of that card now that dad would have to staple it to your forehead to get you to accept it again."

I nodded.

"I don't think dad was really surprised. But I can tell you, he was awfully pleased. He even laughed when I told him how you argued with me over Charles' tip. How you said that dad would get mad at the extravagance."

He then took my closest hand and held it between his two. "So, I'm proud of you. You've done everything right. And you've done it instinctively, naturally, and without any coaching. Welcome to our world." He smiled hugely. "I can't wait to take you to all my favorite places and show you off. You're not a `thing' I can possess, I know, but you are still my most prized possession."

How does one respond to something like this? I couldn't think of anything that was appropriate, so I changed the direction of the conversation. I pulled him towards me and hugged him. "So why don't you come and possess me."

We spent the next two hours loving one another. We repeated all the things we'd done before, but with a tenderness that was extraordinary. We didn't experiment at all. Tonight was about experiencing, not experimenting. Love not passion. And it rocked my world. For two hours I was lost in a sea of fulfillment. I was beginning to touch the very edges of the idea that we were so much more together than we could ever be apart.

As we lay there in the aftermath of our loving, I wondered silently if I was ready for this. Was I really prepared to give up my freedom like this? Because I knew that if I surrendered to this man beside me, I would never be completely separated from him. That no matter how far apart we were physically, he'd always be with me spiritually.

We were sixteen years old, for crying out loud. We'd just begun to live our lives. Was it right for me to want him so much? Was it right to ask him to give up `his' freedom?

"Do you believe in destiny?" he asked softly, surprising me. I thought he'd fallen asleep.

"I've given the idea some thought. But I hadn't really come to any conclusions."

"How about karma? Ever thought about that?"

"I've tried not to."

"How come?"

"Because if karma was real then I must have really fucked up somewhere in a previous life. My whole life lately seemed to spiraling down. I kept thinking that I'd crash and burn to pay for some past wrong."

I felt him nod his head as it lay upon my chest. "Me too."

"I thought you said you weren't a philosopher?"

"I'm not really. Karma and destiny are common themes. You're much more of a philosopher because you contemplate things that no one's ever thought of before. That whole dad/father thing tells me that. You think deeply. But, more importantly, you come to conclusions. Karma and destiny are so well defined that it's only a matter of deciding if you believe. I'm not having to reinvent the wheel when I think about those."

That sounded pretty deep to me, but chose not to mention it. "All right. So, have you come to a decision?"

"Uh huh. You're my destiny. I'm being repaid by the universe for all my good work." He paused, but it was obvious to me that he wasn't done yet, so I didn't interrupt. "Karma is the idea that you reap three fold what you sow. If that's true, then I must have been very, very, very good."

"It's odd, you know," I chuckled, "That you were having those thoughts when I was thinking much the same."

"How so?" he asked calmly.

"I was wondering if we had the right to feel this strongly about each other. We're still quite young. I was wondering if we really knew what we were in for."

He never tensed up. He simply lay there, listening, absently playing with my few chest hairs.

"But you've explained that all so perfectly. So, in answer to your question; yes, I believe in destiny and karma. And before you ask; yes, I believe you are my destiny, too. I love you, Reg."

If I'd thought he was relaxed before, he positively melted at this point. "I love you too, Wayne."

And then we slept.

I awoke to the soft light of morning streaming through the shear curtains, still in the same potion I'd gone to sleep in. I felt his feather touch once again teasing my chest.

"You awake?" I whispered.

"Uh huh."

"How `bout a shower?"

"How about a sauna and then a shower?" he countered.

"A sauna? You got a sauna?"

He sat up slowly and looked down on me. "In my weight room, for after my workouts. Got a shower there, too. Let's grabbed a towel to wrap around ourselves."

We grabbed our terry body shields and walked three doors down the hall. The weight room was very impressive. Everything a person needed. Reg turned on the sauna and then went and started up the shower which stood right next to it. Leaving the shower running, he led me into the sauna where we baked for half an hour. When he forced me to leave, saying that we shouldn't over do, he pushed me toward the shower and then forced me under the spray.

"Yeow!" I yelled. It was anything but warm. My entire body began to tingle, like thousands of needles poking me. I was too shocked to move.

"Invigorating, eh?"

As I continued to stand there, the water seemed to warm up, and finally settled to something just slightly less than luke warm. That's when I realized that the water hadn't really been all that cold, it'd just seemed so after the tremendous heat of the sauna. I was certainly awake now.

"That was a rotten trick," I laughed.

He laughed back. "I know. I couldn't resist. You think this is bad, wait until I get you to Scandinavia in winter. When they sauna, they finish off by going outside and jumping in the snow. Makes you feel like your pecker is pulling right up inside you."

I shivered at the thought. Then Reg raised the water temperature slightly so that we could shower. We never even touched each other. It was simply enjoyable to wash together. When we exited the weight room, towels tightly about our waists, we saw one of the staff backing out of our bedroom.

"Good morning, Brenda," greeted Reg. He was not the least embarrassed by our lack of dress, so I went with it.

Apparently this was not an abnormal occurrence, because Brenda never even batted an eye. "Good morning, mister Regi, mister Wayne. Francios asked me to come and see if you'd be eating with the family."

"Of course we'll be eating with the family," he laughed. "When have I ever missed Sunday breakfast?"

She laughed lightly. "Actually, it's not getting you `to' Sunday breakfast, it's trying to get you `away' from the table."

He gave her a light hug and quick kiss on the cheek. "You're telling family secrets, Brenda."

"It's not a secret if it stays in the family, is it?"

There it was; a simple casual reference, but so powerful to me. It's not a secret if it stays in the family.

I copied his hug and kiss. "She's got you"

She left, laughing, and we headed for our room. "You ready to eat until your eyes pop out? Because Francios' Sunday breakfast is an event. A small banquet."

"Sounds like fun. I always enjoyed Sunday breakfast before my homosexuality came out. Father always cooked something hot, and lots of it."

He immediately turned to see if I was upset by the remembrance.

"Don't worry, I'm not upset. I'm looking forward to it. Now, since this is an event, is there required attire? I notice the mom seems to have meals and dress code carefully choreographed."

"Ah, caught on to that, eh? And yes. Sunday mornings are New England yacht club. That's the white pants and oversize white shirt, with the deck shoes. That's why I insisted when you tried to put them back on the shelf."

We began to dress. He had to insist on white boxers, since the pants were made of some very thin material. "And is there a nautically themed room somewhere for our pre meal gathering?"

Reg laughed heartily at that salvo. "Not for lack of wanting one. But if we had an appropriately decorated room for all of mother's events, the house would be five times this size."

He then finished us off by insisting we blow dry our hair without any styling additives. "Gives it a bit of a wind blown look. I've never done it like this before, but I'm feeling whimsical this morning."

"And I suppose you have some rouge around to give our cheeks a bit of wind burn too?"

He spun toward me and got an evil grin on his face. "Wanna?"

I was about to decline, but his look of eagerness won me over. "It might be fun. Okay."

He ran from the bathroom and went to a wall mounted phone by the bedroom door that I hadn't noticed before. He picked it up and dialed several times before he located the person he was looking for. When he returned to the bathroom, he was all grins and enthusiasm. "Arlene will be here in a moment with her make up kit." He then kissed me quickly. "You are such a bad influence," he giggled.

"One does one's best."

Arlene was enthusiastic about the plan and soon had us looking well flushed without looking made up. We thanked her, kissed her on the cheek, then headed for the parlor. When we entered, it was if we'd rehearsed our performance, but in reality we hadn't even discussed it.

"Hope we're not late." said Reg.

"But we couldn't resist," I continued, "It was such a beautiful morning that we just had to take a spin around the harbor in the yacht."

They both looked as us as if we'd lost our minds. Then our appearance registered. They doubled up laughing. It took several minutes for them to calm themselves.

"Penny, my dear, I think we may have erred by letting Wayne move in. These two are going to be the death of us." He was all grins when he said it though.

"Maybe, but what a way to go," she answered.

We exchanged hugs and kisses and then quietly chatted until breakfast was announced.

Arlene had apparently let the word out about our little plan, because the serving staff played right along.

"It looks like the winds were a little brisk on the harbor, mister Regi."

"Actually the harbor was quite calm. The wind didn't happened until we got the yacht up to full speed," he answered.

"Father," I continued, "You may have to buy the harbor master a bottle of brandy to calm him down, he was not pleased."

Father actually had tears rolling down his face.

"Stop! Stop! I surrender."

It was a glorious beginning to the day. Mom and dad couldn't stop smiling. They even laughed from time to time, simply remembering our antics.

"All right, you clowns," said father, placing his napkin on the table, "go do your shopping. My stomach needs a break. Oh, and here, Wayne," he tried to give me his credit card again.

"Not on your life. If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have been scared shi...stupid. No more tests, please."

Dad gave me a significant look, but let it pass. Then he smiled. "So, Regi told you about that, did he?"

"Only as part of his attempt to convince me I belonged here," I defended.

"You belong, Wayne, you belong. All right, you can use Regi's card to pay today. Go ahead and use your discretion."

Reg and I simply sat their stunned as mom and dad left for parts unknown.

"Did he just give us carte blanc?" asked Reg.

I simply smirked and shook my head. "Just another test, I think."

We headed for our room chuckling together at dad's craftiness.

"You know, Reg, the MG isn't going to work today. Does Carter have something with more room? It's Sunday, after all, and we're going to have to bring our purchases home ourselves.

I began changing into something more appropriate for shopping while Reg called Carter. Then we headed for the portico after Reg had changed. "Carter says he has just the thing for us."

I should have known something was up by the sly tone in Reg's voice. But no, not me. So, once again, this family managed to shock me. For when we stepped onto the portico, there stood Carter, all decked out in his chauffer's uniform next to the limo.

I hit Reg lightly in the shoulder as we descended the steps. "You're a turd. You could have warned me."

"Ah, but it's much more fun to surprise you," he said, rubbing his sore shoulder that wasn't sore.

Carter opened the rear door. "Good morning, sirs." His smile was evidence that he was enjoying my discomfort.

"You're as bad as he is," I said, indicating Reg.

He totally ignored my remark, except that his smile got just a touch wider. "A shopping spree, I understand?"

"Yes, Carter," replied Reg. He then rattled off the list of stores we'd been to yesterday, without specifying an order. It was apparently up to Carter to choose the most efficient route.

The limo was luxurious, as you'd expect, and I enjoyed the thrill completely. The seats were ultra comfortable, the small fridge filled with sodas and juices. There was even a tray of finger sandwiches for later. Now when had they had time to make those?

As it turned out, the limo trunk was huge and easily capable of holding all of Reg's new things. I even picked up one or two items I hadn't seen yesterday. All in all it was a rocking morning. I think the best part was watching the heads turn as Reg and I exited and climbed into the limo.

We got home about one in the afternoon and I offered to take the receipt to dad and let him know we were done with our shopping for the time being. The door to his study was open, so I went there, assuming that's where he would be. As I approached, I heard two male voices. Just when I reached the open door I recognized who they were. One was Reg's dad, the other was mine.

When I turned into the room, I saw that Reg's dad was talking to my dad via a speaker phone. Reg's dad had his back to me.

"Mr. Edwards, I was simply calling you as a courtesy to let you know your son was fine and spending the weekend with us."

"I couldn't care less where he is," said my father, angrily. "And as for being fine, I'd just as soon the little bastard was dead. In fact, why don't you keep him. I'm sure you'll all have a wonderful time fucking his faggot little ass. I'd just as soon never see fucking queer again!"

"Fine, you miserable fuck! I'll be sure to never come home! I hope you rot in hell, you ass licking prick!" And it was all spoken with my voice.

I dropped the receipt and ran from that room, ran from that house, ran anywhere. I ran forever, not knowing nor caring where I ran to. I ran, bumping into things the whole time. I couldn't see through my tears. I ran until my legs finally turned to rubber and I collapsed where I was and bawled. I screamed my hurt and anguish. I beat the ground in my anger. I wrapped myself in my misery.

I was alone. My family didn't want me. I was awash in my total abandonment. I was alone.

And then, like a gift from the gods, I was no longer alone. Something crashed through the forest and landed at my side. Something ripped me from the earth and bound me to them. Something nearly crushed the remainder of the life from me. And then a cry of anguish, equal to my own, washed over me.

"I'm here, Wayne! I'm here! I'll never leave you!" My angel of salvation. Reg. "I love you! I'll never leave you!" And he kept at me. Forcing my mind to accept him, forcing his love back into my steel shrouded heart. His words continued to stab at me until finally an opening appeared; just a sliver or realization that this man truly loved me. And with that small opening he blazed forward, melting the steel shroud, filling me with warmth and love. He filled me with his devotion to our love.

At that instant I grabbed for the lifeline. I wrapped myself in his warmth, since I had none of my own, it having been taken from me by my father's cold indifference and anger. I filled myself with his love, replacing that which my father had ripped from me. I renewed my unspoken vow of devotion to what Reg and I shared. And the minute I returned his embrace he stopped talking. He simply held me tight, rocking back and forth, and shared his tears with me.

Not alone, I thought. Never alone, so long as I have you. Please don't ever leave. Hold me close. Be my rock.

All these things I thought, but never said. I couldn't say them; for though Reg was there, I still cried bitterly. Great wracking sobs, just like he'd shed that first day in the front seat of my car. I cried for an eternity, until I had no more tears to shed. Then I grew silent, only to begin again some time later, just as strong, just as anguished.

It took me a week to finally learn all that had happened after I'd run from the house.

* * * * * *

Dad spun around and witnessed my outburst in shock and horror. After I'd run from the room, he quickly turned back to the phone.

"You're going to regret that, Edwards!" He stabbed at the cut off switch before my father could respond. Then he turned and followed in my wake, knowing that this was an emergency of the first order.

The first thing he saw was Parker and Carter standing in shock at my tear wracked departure.

"Carter! Watch were that boy runs to, but don't leave the grounds. Reginald, get down here immediately!! Parker! Four estate radios. Two on each channel. One rigged for continuous transmit. Reg!!!"

"Here, father!" Reg was halfway down the stairs.

His father raced up to him and grabbed him by the shoulders. "You've got to go after Wayne!"

"Wayne? Why?"

His father then did something he'd never done before. He violently shook his son. "Damn it, Reginald! I don't have time for your hesitation!"

And just then a voice rang out clear and strong cutting through everything. "Arthur!!!"

Time froze. No one moved. No one seemed to breathe.

"Arthur Fitzgerald Finger!! You are frightening your son!! Now pull yourself together!" The voice, of course, was Reg's mother.

Sense returned to his father eyes, and suddenly they filled with tears. "Oh, Regi, I'm sorry. I've screwed up royally. He's out there all alone because I couldn't leave well enough alone." And then he began to weep.

But Reg knew that they didn't have time for this. He didn't know what was wrong, but it had to be something major for his dad to be breaking down. And that something involved Wayne. So Reg acted on gut instinct and pulled back and slapped his father so hard that his head spun to one side.

"Damn it, dad! What's happened?! Where's Wayne?!"

That sharp stab of pain focused his father's mind once again. Instantly he was in charge again.

"Quickly. Wayne's been kicked out of his home. Wayne overheard me talking to his father. His father said he never wanted to see Wayne again and made several scathing sexual comments. Wayne's run from the house. You have to go find him! We can't let him think he's been abandoned!"

The radios arrived at that moment and he grabbed the one that had tape over the transmit button. He fastened it around Reg's waist. "You have to find him, son. You have to convince him not to take himself out of this world."

That shocked Reg. "No!!!"

"I'm sorry, son. But we just don't know him well enough to know how he'll respond to something like this. I believe that only your love for each other will hold him back. But right now he's not going to be remembering that."

"Dad?" Reg was shocked that his father would mention their relationship so openly.

"We don't have the luxury of worrying about discretion, son. I'll deal with it. You just get out there and convince him to come home. I want that boy back in this house by night fall, you understand me?"

"Yes, sir."

Parker was suddenly by their side. "We already knew. Don't worry about it."

"Promise him anything you have to, I'll make it happen. We'll be his family if no one else will have him. This will be his home. We'll be all the better for his presence. Carter will show you where to start."

Reg didn't even acknowledge that last. He pushed between Parker and his father and raced out the door, searching frantically for Carter. He saw him at the edge of the lawn to the right of the house, waving his arms.

Parker told me later that it'd been like watching an old war movie; the Lord Marshal sitting on his horse, bellowing orders to the troops. He also said that the slap could be heard clear through the mansion.

* * * * * * * *

It was getting late when Reg finally spoke. I'd been quiet for some time, and seemed to have gotten over the worst of it.

"Wayne?" he said softly. "Wayne, you've got to listen to me," he repeated a bit louder.

"Yes, Reg, I'm listening," I groaned.

"It's getting late, Wayne. We have to get home before dark."

I was still too exhausted to think clearly. I hadn't understood his implication. "I don't have a home."

Next thing I know Reg has me in a vice grip by the shoulders, holding me at arms length. And I swear, his eyes were on fire. "Don't you ever say that again!" he yelled at me. "This will always be your home! We will always be your family! Damn it, Wayne, we've built too much!!"

My god. This shocked my mind into motion. I could feel the gears slowly grinding back into motion. `Reg mad? Mad at me?!' It is probably the only thing that could jerk me out of my lethargy. I couldn't stand the thought that the love of my life was mad at me, for whatever reason.

"Oh, Reg."

"Are you listening to me now?" He was still angry.

I nodded.

"Say it!!"

I jerked back. "I'm listening."

"Tell me you want to come home with me."

I nodded again.

"God damn it, Wayne!! I said say it!! Say it like you mean it!!! Make me believe you still want us to be together!!!"

A single tear trickled down my cheek. "I want to come home with you, my love." And I fell into his arms. "I'm sorry, love. I'm still so numb."

"Do you still love me?" he asked, quietly.

"Oh, Reg. I love you more than my own life."

"Then don't leave me, Wayne. Promise you'll stay with me. I promise this will always be your home."

"Reg, you can't promise that."

"I didn't. Father did. His last words to me before I came out here were, `I want that boy back in this house by dark. We'll be his family if no one else will have him. This will be his home.' And, Wayne, he was crying when he said it. This mother and father...this mom and dad, love you almost as much as I do. The staff love you too." And then he chuckled. "They already know about you and me."

I sat bolt upright, wide eyed in shock.

"Parker told us. Dad had made some comment about our love and I'd been shocked that he'd done it in front of everyone. But Parker stepped up and told me not to worry about it, they already knew."

"Why do I have the feeling that there's a story behind that?" And I actually chuckled.

"You're probably right. We'll probably have to hog tie him down to get it though. Now, are your ready to go home?"

I caressed his face. "Yes, Reg, I'm ready to go home."

"Good. Now help me straighten my legs, they went to sleep ages ago."

The minute I got them straightened Reg began laughing and crying at the same time. "Oh hell, I hate that feeling."

I knew I couldn't do anything for him. I knew the minute I touched him it'd only get worse. But it broke my heart to see him like that.

"Don't fret," he said, seeing my distress. "I'll live. It'll give us time to decide what to tell dad."

"What do you mean, tell dad?"

"He said I could promise you anything to get you to come home and he'd make it happen. So saddle up that imagination of yours and let's get you something spectacular. Want a new Maserati? How about a vacation home in the Alps?"

Maserati? Vacation Home? And then it hit me and I double over, laughing now as hard as I'd been crying earlier. Reg's smirk confirmed it. He'd been joking.

"Oh, gods. Oh stop. Don't, don't. Oh Reg, that's cruel."

He simply sat there and waited for me to get control of myself. "That was not fair," I finally said, smiling.

"I know. Now, you feeling better?"

"Yes, Reg, I'm feeling better." I took his head in my hands. "Thank you for coming to me." I then kissed him, long and slow.

"I'll always come to you when you need me," he said when we separated. "Now, I'd love to prove my devotion by loving you right here, but everyone is listening." With that he reached down and pulled a walky-talky from his belt and removed a bit of tape and fiddled with the control.

"Still there, mother?"

The reply was instantaneous. "Yes, son, we're still here. Is everything all right?"

I couldn't believe how cool and calm he was. "No, mother, things are not `all right'. They may not `be' all right for some time. But..." and he looked longingly at me, "...they're better."

When mom keyed her end there were cheers in the background. "Better will do for now. Are you boys going to be hungry?"

Reg, keyed the radio, buy allowed me to answer. "Yes... and no."

When she keyed her mike, it was Francios on the other end. "I know just the thing for yes and no. I'll have something stirred up in forty-five minutes. Will you be home by then?"

Reg chuckled. "Wayne took the scenic route to get here. It'll probably take us half an hour," said Reg. "Please tell Carter we'll be coming out where I entered. We're tired."

When we stepped out of the woods, there sat the ever dependable Carter in a golf cart for four. "Good evening, boys. If you'll assume your places we'll be off."

Mother stood at the top of the steps when we arrived and hugged us simultaneously, then pointed to the seating group that had been set out on the portico. "Sit a moment and we'll talk and have a drink." As we stepped away from her, we separated slightly, as was our habit around others. "Stop!" We did. "We've had a house meeting, and have learned that everyone is well aware of your relationship to one another. So, from this moment, if you two wish to show your affection to each other, no one will take it amiss."

What was she saying, precisely?

She sighed, seeing that we weren't getting it. "Wayne, are you feeling a bit adrift right now?" I nodded. "And what would it take to anchor you?"

"To be holding Reg," I answered hesitantly.

She smiled. "That might be a bit awkward trying to get around the house like that. Would holding his hand help?" I nodded. "Then do so. And don't you let go of that hand until you feel you can do so without feeling lost." We did so. "Better. Now if you'll take your seats?"

She poured each of us a small glass of something from a decanter. "I'm sure you're thirsty, but I suggest you take small sips, not gulp it down."

We sniffed at the contents. "Mother?" asked Reg.

"This is an occasion where only a bit of brandy will clear our heads so that we can think more clearly. Now, sip you brandies, boy, and listen to me without interrupting."

We nodded.

"First and foremost, welcome home boys. We've been worried." We nodded. "Second; Wayne, what Regi told you in the woods it true. From this day forward, this is your home, and we are your family. Is that acceptable to you?"

"Yes, mother, very acceptable."

"Excellent. And third; your father is very upset right now that an action of his has brought you to this end."

"He di..."

She held up her hand. "He believes he did, so don't bother to try and convince him otherwise. Your father wants to have a short talk with you both before we eat. He has spent all the time you've been away, in his study. He has burned up three phones, I believe, setting various things in motion. I do not know what those things are, because we have not had the chance to discuss it yet. I imagine he'll tell you when you talk. But first, I want you both to go up and freshen yourselves. If that requires a shower, then do so, but please hurry, because Francios is nearly finished preparing your meal."

She stood and opened her arms to Reg, who fell into them. "Well done, son." Then she turned to me and it was my turn to feel her love. "I'm so sorry for all of this, son, but we are going to do everything possible to ensure you are well cared for and loved." I squeezed her just a touch tighter.

When we separated, she was smiling, although a bit sadly. "Now, take your brandies and get refreshed. You'll feel better for the effort." Then she kissed each of us lightly and pushed us toward the door.

We walked to the second floor, hand in hand. As we entered our room, Brenda was just exiting the bathroom. "The shower is warm and running if you should decide you need it, and I've taken the liberty of setting out something clean for you to wear." She pointed toward the bed where there were two outfits carefully laid out. Then she stepped up and gave each of us a brief hug and light kiss on the cheek. "Welcome home, boys." Then she left. A simple gesture, but very touching.

We put our brandies on the table and shucked our clothes right there. I noticed, as I tossed mine into the hamper, that'd I'd probably ruined this outfit that I'd worn only once. `Yet another blot on Mr. Edwards record' was my thought. Then we showered and dressed, our brandies never far from our hands. I'd never wanted to indulge in strong drink before. Mr. Edwards had amply demonstrated the effects that could have. But the brandy, drunk slowly, `did' help relax me, without losing any alertness.

We took just a moment to look deeply into each others' eyes before we left, leaving our empty glasses behind. We saw the doors to dad's study were open as we descended the stairs, so we walked right in. When we entered, we found him standing just inside the doors.

Dad grabbed us and wrapped us in a group hug...a tight one. "Welcome home, sons." When he released us I noticed that his left cheek was a bright red. Reg saw it too and reached up tentatively.

"Oh, father..."

"Don't, son." He smiled weakly. "Don't say it." He rubbed his left cheek. "I'm going to wear this as a badge of honor for a few days."

Of course, I didn't understand any of this at the time. But Reg seemed to. He simply smiled and nodded. He was immediately wrapped in his father's embrace. "I'm proud of you, son."

Dad then stood slowly, ramrod straight, looking at a point over Reg's head, taking and releasing a deep breath. Then he slowly turned and looked me in the eye. "Wayne, I'm sor..."

I stopped him with a hand over his mouth. "Mother told me you were unset and blamed yourself. Well, I don't. She also told me that it would be useless to try and convince you otherwise, but I'm going to try anyway." I looked silently at him for just a moment. "What has occurred was bound to happen eventually. And after careful thought, I've concluded that it would have been soon. Mr. Edwards was becoming increasingly hostile."

Dad's eyebrows rose, noticing my form of address for the man who'd help conceive me.

"I'm thankful, really, that it happened As a result of this, I've discovered a new family, one that loves me for who I am, not who they wished I would be. So please, don't beat yourself over the head with this. Yes, I'm sad, and I'm hurt. But I'm also happy."

I reached out and grabbed his shoulders and slowly pulled him to me and embraced him. "I love you, dad."

It took him a moment to respond. But I finally felt him return my hug. "You're remarkable." Then he gently pushed me away. "You've convinced me, so I won't belabor the point. I will, however, say this just once. I'm sorry, Wayne."

"I know. Thank you."

He shook himself, then turned toward the sitting area before the burning fireplace. "Alright, come and sit a moment. I have some things to tell you and I'll have to do it quickly or Francios and your mother will have my head."

We quickly took our place on the sofa, legs touching.

"I've pulled our lawyer away from his Sunday routine and given him his marching orders. Those orders were all directed at ensuring your safety and well being, Wayne. Now first, and foremost, I've told Herb that we are going to aggressively pursue getting full guardianship of you."

I didn't cry, but my eyes did get moist.

"Second, I'm having him investigate the possibility of suing the school district and possibly the principle of the high school for gross negligence. Finally, I've told him to do what is necessary to ensure that there will be no repercussions because of Friday's incident after school."

He'd raced his way through all of this, but now took just a moment to slow himself. "Now, at this point Herb is simply investigating. He's not taking any direct action until he hears from me. It now falls to the two of you to decide where we go from here. Do I have your permission to proceed?"

No one said a word as we considered carefully.

"Dad, I'd really like you to make the guardianship happen. It'd mean the world to me. But I'm not so sure about the rest. If we do the other things, do you think it will come out that Reg is gay?"

Dad smiled, seeming quite satisfied. "After all the names and circumstances are revealed, and it becomes obvious that it is we who are supporting you, I think it very likely that people will put two and two together."

I looked at Reg, but spoke to father. "Then no. Leave the rest alone."

Reg's reaction shocked me. He jumped to his feet, hands tightly clinched at his sides. "What do you mean, no?! Damn it, Wayne, this affects both of us and you `can't' just decide unilaterally! I'm sick and tired of being the butt of everyone's bigotry! I've seen the crap you take because you're gay! You know the shit I've endured because I'm too smart, too small, too different! And I'm fucking tired of it! Do you hear me?!! Tired of it!!"

I grabbed his hands and jerked him back into his seat. "Jesus, Reg, calm down! I'm sorry. I just don't want to see you hurt."

Reg unclenched his fists and grabbed my hands. "I'm not going to `be' hurt. You're going to take me to this dojo of yours and I'm going to learn to defend myself. And I'm going to stop letting people walk all over me."

"But, Reg, it's taken me three years to get where I am with my karate."

"But you didn't have the incentive I've got. You also didn't have a full time practice partner like I'll have."

I smiled at his determination. This was a refreshing new development. Reg the warrior. Wanting to fight for what we had. Gods, I loved this man. "So, you want to make a fight of it, do you?"

He nodded. "I want these pricks to understand that you can not cross a Finger. I want them to learn to fear this family." He positively growled his next statement. "I want to pull these insects' wings, slowly and painfully. I want everyone to learn that when you cross the Fingers, you do so at your peril."

Silence for just a moment.

"Have I mentioned just how much I love you?" I said softly.

He actually chuckled. "As a matter of fact you haven't. I love you too."

I turned to father, never releasing Reg's hands. "Father, Reg and I have decided. We fight!"

"Yes!" yelled father as he jumped to his feet. He walked briskly to his desk and spun the phone around to face him. "Regi, pour us each a shot of brandy. I'll be just a minute." He punched a button and waited. He was using the speaker, so we all heard the one ring and immediate pick up.


"Yes, Herb. The boys say we fight!"

"Excellent! I want to meet with all of you tomorrow afternoon. I'll have details and preliminary results by then. I'll call you to set up the time."

"Tomorrow then, Herb." The phone clicked and dad walked over to rejoin us, accepting the shot glass Reg handed him. He immediately raised his glass. "To my two sons! God I'm proud of you both. And to the beginning of a new era for the Finger clan."

"The Fingers," Reg and I chimed together, and downed the toast.

Fortunately, Reg had poured very sparingly, for him and me. In unison the three of us slammed out shot glasses onto the table. "I believe we'll find your mother waiting for us at the dinning room."

And we did. She looked elegant and poised, as always. Father glided to her and gently placed her hand in his arm.

"All settled?" she asked.

"Yes, my dear. Our sons have chosen to be warriors."

"That's nice." A simple statement of fact, as if to ask why he'd ever questioned the outcome.

Supper was excellent. For some reason everything seemed more robust to me. It was slowly seeping into me that I was becoming part of something concrete. There `was' a foundation below me that I could root myself to. Staff and family alike were reaching out to me.

No wait, that was wrong. It wasn't family and staff. It was family and extended family. The line separating the two was very, very thin. It was there to delineate a hierarchy, but only loosely. The line could be, and was, crossed at will, on a regular basis. The support was complete in this house. The loyalty unquestioned.

Don't get me wrong, I was still floundering. My stability was not my own, as it had once been. My ability to withstand these winds of change came from outside myself. So even though I was struggling to regain my equilibrium, I was being held in these loving arms, a constant reminder that I was not alone. I could lean on others as I'd never been able to do before.

It was...belonging.


It was...

It was only six o'clock when we entered the parlor after supper. The wine was served in small glasses for all of us.

"After the brandy, I thought it wise to go sparingly with the wine," said mother.

We sat there silently for some time. Reg and I were so close that it was a wonder I wasn't in his lap, or he in mine. I basked in the love surrounding me. I wallowed in the bond he and I shared.

It was some time before anyone spoke. It was dad that finally broke the silence.

"Your mother and I have come to a decision, boys. You may not like it, but this is one instance where your mother and father are going to insist. Tomorrow morning I will be making inquiries and by afternoon I expect to be interviewing tutors. We have decided that from here on, the two of you will be completing your high school educations at home. We will no longer allow our sons to be the objects of cruelty and outright hatred."

It was so unexpected. I didn't have the opportunity to work up to this, so my emotions got the better of me. I sat there and wept silently in relief for just a moment. Then I rose, squeezed Reg's hand, felt his understanding squeeze in return, and then I left the parlor.

"Shouldn't you be going too, son?" asked dad.

Reg shook his head as he placed his glass next to mine, leaning forward. "He just needs a few moments. He'll be back." He then looked up at his parents. "Wayne's still strung a bit. Any unexpected kindness or love is going to set him off, and he's going to be embarrassed. He's always been the strong one; always in control of himself." He sighed. "We've only known each other three days and already he's taught me about strength, and how to be in control. We suddenly have to reverse those roles and he's embarrassed by it."

Reg began to tear up, so his father stepped over and seated himself where I'd been.

"If I follow him constantly, he's going to start resenting it. He'll begin to hate himself for being so weak. He's fragile right now, and his emotions are going to get the better of him. He's going to want to walk away from time to time and try to regain that control that he's so proud of." A tear slipped down his cheek. "And I have to be strong enough to let him go, even if I don't want to."

Dad slipped an arm over his shoulder gently. It was the most tender gesture Reg had ever felt from his father. His control was already fragile, and the arm collapsed the final barrier. Reg turned into his father's shoulder and simply wept.

"I'm so afraid, dad."

His father lifted Reg into his lap and held him gently, slowly rubbing his back. "I know. I know, son. And hard as it is, I believe with all my heart that you're doing the right thing, for all the right reasons."

It took only a few moments for Reg to recover. When he did, he slipped from his father's lap, but grabbed his father's hand when he tried to remove it. "Don't go, please."

He firmed up his grip and gave a light squeeze. "Whatever you need, son. You know, your mother and I were amazed at how well you handled yourself in the woods. You accomplished in a few short hours what I would have taken us days and maybe even weeks to do." He glared over at Reg. "You and I are going to have a long talk very soon about that Maserati suggestion, boy."

Reg simply smiled, knowing that the subject would never come up.

"It's never easy seeing the one you love in such pain. But if you'd care for a bit of fatherly advice...?"

Reg nodded.

"It's simple enough. Simply continue as you've begun. Don't doubt your instincts. They've been GOOD instincts. And if you see the rest of us trying too hard, or being too casual, you let us know. It's going to be up to you to lead us. But I know you're capable."

"I'm going to get a bit sappy now, but there's no other way to say this. My son has taken a giant step in his quest for complete manhood today, and I couldn't be prouder. But I think you're going to have some tough days, maybe even weeks, ahead. When it gets to be too much for you to bear alone, come to me and I'll give you a shoulder to cry on."

"Thanks, dad."

He kissed his father's cheek and turned to look at his mother. "Something has just occurred to me and I'm going to need your help and advice, mother. I've got an idea, but I need to know what you think of it."

"And what would that be?"

"Wayne's walking out like this has made me think that it'd be a good idea if he had a space that was his own. Someplace he could relax by himself and gather his thoughts. Our room is not going to satisfy that, I think. No matter how we disguise it, that is still `my' room. What would you think of making the other bedroom on the floor into Wayne's. It's just standing there empty."

She smiled. And it was a proud smile. "Did you know that your father and I each have our own bedroom?" Reg shook his head. "We do. And we have them for precisely the reason you just stated. I would never have suggested it, because it is up to you two to decide how you will order your lives. But for what it's worth, I think it's a good idea, and I'm very proud of you for thinking of it. Would you like me to call Marisa and set it up?"

Reg beamed. "Yes, mother. And the sooner the better. I think this need's to happen as fast as possible."

"I'll see to it first thing in the morning."

Dad squeeze Reg once more then returned to his seat, and I returned shortly thereafter and simply stood at the entrance. Reg walked over and gently took my hand.


"Yes. Thanks for understanding."

Reg then led me back to our seat. "You're probably expecting me to argue with you about this, aren't you, father?" asked Reg as we made our way across the room.

"You always have in the past."

"Well, I'm not going to this time. You and mother are right. After Friday's little incident things are likely to get worse. I'm tired of having to constantly look over my shoulder, and I can't have Wayne constantly at my side to protect me. He's only going to have his own problems. People like Preston don't learn from their mistakes. They simply keep pounding away at you until someone get's seriously hurt. I'm ready to avoid the issues. If you really want me tutored at home, I won't object."

"Wayne?" asked mother.

"I agree with Reg. Preston will enlist more help and I'll be forced to get more aggressive. I've got a lot of anger right now, and I wouldn't count on my being able to control it in a fight. So please, bring on your tutors. Let's save Preston's life, even if he doesn't know we're doing it."

I looked at everyone and smiled weakly. "Now, I hate to eat and run, but I'm exhausted, despite the hour."

"Of course, son," said mother.

The hugs and kisses were unrestrained. Reg then grabbed my hand and started toward the door.

"Reg, it's early, you don't have to come with me," I said, although I really wanted him to.

We'd reached the foot of the staircase alone.

"We need each other, Wayne, now more than ever. I may not be as tired as you, but I need you near me. I'll sit in bed with you and read until I'm tired. But I really want you near me."

I kept myself in check. "I'd like that."

I woke several times that night. And each time I did, he was there. My hand lay on his leg while he read. When he tired, we spooned, my arm over him. He pressed my hand to his chest and held it there. From the time we began ascending the stairs we said nothing. Not verbally, at least. We simply shared our need and our love by touching and being there for each other.