This story contains scenes of love and sexual interaction. Much of this involves males with other males. If the reading or possessing of such material as this is illegal in your country, state, province, county, municipality, etc., please leave this site immediately and do not proceed further. If you are under the legal age to read this, please do not do so.

It is not my intention to offend anyone or to get you in trouble.

The author retains all rights to this original story. Please do not publish without explicit authorization from me.

This story is completely fictional. Most of the places mentioned, and none of the characters exist in real life. Some may possess physical or personality characteristics of people I know or have known. But if you see yourself in this story, your imagination is better than mine!

All best, Jon

If you like my story, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you: seperatepiece@hotmail.com

Matt and Jon

Chapter 21

Word spread quickly of Todd’s triumph over the vandals. Ann called Bill at work, who called Dan and Tom. They all agreed that they had to find a way to thank Todd. They met at the Kent’s after work and consulted the boys. Matt, Jon, Ryan and LittleTom were all unanimous, so after a phone call to Jane and a brief trip downtown, the three families found themselves ringing the bell of Todd’s apartment.

Jane sat across the kitchen table from Todd paying bills as he finished up his homework.

“Todd, honey. Someone’s at the door. Would you see who it is?

Todd went to the door unaware that his mother was following him. When he opened the door, he was amazed to find them all crowded into the hallway.

“What’s going on?” He said, looking around at the beaming faces.

“Todd,” Bill began, “we know we can never thank you enough for what you did today, but the boys all thought this might be a good start.”

The throng of bodies separated like the Red Sea to reveal in the hallway behind them, a brand new 24 speed touring bike. Todd felt his mother’s hands on his shoulders and looked up at her pleadingly.

Jane smiled at him lovingly. “Todd, you earned every penny for you last bike from odd jobs. I was so proud of you. I guess you earned this one too!”

Shelley wasn’t the only one who dabbed at her eyes as Todd hugged his mother. When he broke the embrace, he practically charged Bill and hugged him. Only after he’d hugged and thanked everyone did he let his hands roam lovingly over his new prize possession. Todd had been very proud of his old bike, but this one was top of the line. They all had a laugh when he tried to mount it. The seat was so high that there was no way his feet would reach the pedals. Tom fished a crescent wrench out of his pocket and adjusted the saddle and handle bars to a perfect fit. They all went outside and watched Todd take a few laps around the courtyard.

After they visited for awhile, the Kents and the Barkers said they should get home. Jane had invited Tom and his boys to stay for dinner when he’d called earlier, so they made their way back to the apartment. Todd, Ryan and LittleTom set the table while Tom carved the roast. Jane set about putting the roasted potatoes and vegetables into bowls and bringing them to the dining area. Over diner, the boys all told about their first day of school. Todd didn’t mention the incident with Mr. Hanson. He knew his mother would go right to Dr. Garvey. Not only was he afraid that it might make matters worse, he also wanted to try and handle it on his own.

After dinner, the boys cleared the table.

“Mom, we’ll do the dishes. Why don’t you and Mr. Reilly take your coffee in the living room?” Todd offered.

When the three boys had the kitchen spotless except for the roasting pan soaking in the sink, they adjourned to Todd’s inner sanctum for a game of Legends of Zelda.

As Todd popped the game in, he turned to the others with a wry smile. “Do you think we were too obvious about leaving them alone?”

Ryan thought about it. “Nah, I don’t think they give us that much credit.”

The three of them shared a laugh as they seated themselves at the foot of Todd’s bed and picked up their controllers.

Tom and Jane sipped their coffee in the living room. “Thanks for dinner. Everything was great.”

“Oh, you’re welcome. You and the boys are the first company we’ve had here.” Jane smiled.

They were comfortable with each other, and soon were sharing details about their lives. Jane told about what she had been through, and how she felt the move had been good for them. She enjoyed her job, and was happy that Todd had adjusted better than she thought possible. Tom agreed that it was time for the boys and him to be near family again, and how he really felt that they were all moving forward with their lives.

The time passed quickly, and before they realized it, it was after 8:00. Tom collected the boys and as they were headed for the door, Todd stopped Tom.

“Thanks again for the bike. It really means a lot to me.”

“You’re welcome Todd. We all thought you deserved it. I think you’ve given us all back our peace of mind.”

Tom gathered Todd into a gentle embrace. Todd melted into his arms, feeling loved and safe. When they separated, they both saw a look on the other’s face that went beyond words. Tom knew at that moment that Todd had accepted him. Whatever happened between Jane and him would be alright with Todd. Todd saw in Tom’s face the thing he was looking for. He now knew beyond all doubt that if Tom and his mother became involved, that he was a welcome and wanted part of the package.

Ryan and LittleTom smiled at Jane and thanked her for dinner. She came to them in the doorway and gave them each a kiss on the cheek and told them she was glad they came. Tom surprised them all when he kissed Jane goodnight. He smiled at her, and they left without another word.

In the car on the way home, no one spoke for awhile until Tom cleared his throat.

“So, did you have fun with Todd?”

“Yeah dad,” LittleTom answered for both of them, “he’s got like every video game there is. The cool ones, anyway!”

“He’s quite a kid.” Tom agreed. “You boys were awfully helpful, doing the dishes and all.”

Ryan smiled. “We thought you and Mrs. Austin might like a chance to talk, you know, without us hanging around.”

“I thought I smelled a setup!” Tom laughed, but then his voice became serious. “Boys, no one will ever replace your mother in my heart, but I think it’s time I opened that part of myself up again. Jane reminds me of what Cindy and I had together. I really miss it. She’s so easy to talk to. She knows what we’ve been through. How would you feel if I started…seeing her?”

“Dad,” Ryan said, looking across at his father behind the wheel, “we’ve talked about it. We know how lonely you’ve been. Mom wouldn’t have wanted that. Todd feels the same way.”

Tom was more than grateful for his son’s maturity. “I’m so glad you feel that way. I’m very lucky to have such great boys.”

Ryan leaned back in his seat. “This might sound nuts, but sometimes I think mom is looking out for us. I can’t help thinking that it’s all too much to be coincidence. Maybe she led you to Todd’s mom. I know she’d have liked her.”

They heard a sniff from the back seat. Ryan turned around as far as his seatbelt would let him and put a hand on LittleTom’s shoulder.

“Are you okay?” He asked with concern.

LittleTom smiled and nodded through his tears. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

When they reached the Kent’s house, they found Dan, Shelley and Jon watching TV in the living room. Tom sat down with the grownups while the three boys excused themselves to check their email before turning in. Once the computer in Jon’s room was up and running, he let Ryan go first.

When Ryan logged on, he found two new emails. One was from Eric, which was basically a love note to which he fired off a similar reply with a grin on his face. The other was from a friend in Maryland. He and Tony hadn’t been very close outside of school, but Ryan considered him the best friend he’d had. He was a little surprised to read that Tony missed him at school. He always thought that Tony was more popular than he was and had lots of other friends. He felt bad that they hadn’t really had a chance to say goodbye. He wrote him back telling him about his new school. He told him that he missed him too, and that he would keep in touch. Seconds after he sent it, Tony’s screen name popped up on his buddy list. He didn’t want to hog the computer. Jon and LittleTom both wanted to get their mail too. Just as he was about to sign off, Tony sent him an instant message.

TRexMD: Hey Ry!
RyansWorld90: Tony! Got your email.
TRexMD: Yeah, haven’t read yours yet. Do you like your new school?
RyansWorld90: Yeah, so far. It’s smaller then Blair. I already have some friends because of my cousin, so it’s not too weird being new.
TRexMD: It’s not the same without you. I have no one to make stink bombs with in science. LOL
RyanWorld90: LOL, I’m sure that’s a great loss!
TRexMD: Seriously though, I wish you didn’t have to move.
RyansWorld90: Maybe you can visit once we get our own place.
TRexMD: Yeah, maybe. I’m glad you like it there.
RyansWorld90: It’s not like I don’t miss you too, but I have to admit, I do like it here. Besides you, I never really fit in. Ya know?
TRexMD: ???
RyansWorld90: I guess I never felt like I was one of the gang. You have lots of other friends.
TRexMD: Now that you’re gone, I guess Brett is the closest friend I have here. He’s like in NONE of my classes! *sigh*
RyansWorld90: I thought you and Clair were going out over the Summer. What’s up with that?
TRexMD: We broke up.
RyansWorld90: Sorry!
TRexMD: It’s okay. We didn’t have anything in common. She’s nice though. We’re still friends. Actually, we get along better now that the pressure is off. How about you? Any hot chicks on your radar?

Ryan froze staring at the screen. He really wanted to be honest with his friend, but didn’t know how he’d take it. Even though he wasn’t ready to be completely out, he swore he’d never be ashamed of his relationship with Eric. He could just simply say no, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. He sighed and figured he had to start somewhere, at least he wouldn’t have to face Tony in school if he freaked out.

RyansWorld90: Tony, there’s something I want you to know, and I hope you’re cool with it. I don’t want to loose you as a friend. I met a boy here. His name is Eric. He’s my boyfriend.

Ryan held his breath as he hit send and watched the words transfer into the top half of the chat window.

There was a long silence. Finally he saw that Tony was typing.

TRexMD: You’re gay?
RyansWorld90: Yes.

Almost instantly, TRexMD disappeared from Ryan’s buddy list with the sound effect of a slamming door. Ryan shook his head in disbelief. He thought he knew Tony. Sadly, he signed off and relinquished the computer to his little brother.

Jon and LittleTom could tell that something had upset him, but he refused to talk about it. Instead he went for a walk. After walking around aimlessly for about 20 minutes he found himself at the little park a few blocks from the house. He sat down on a bench and took out his cell phone. He speed dialed Eric’s number and told him what had happened. Eric listened in silence. When Ryan finished, Eric wasn’t sure what to say.

“Ryan…we knew that not everyone would accept us. So far we’ve had such support from everyone who knows, but I guess we had to expect some people to react badly.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s just that Tony was like the best friend I had growing up. It hurts that he thinks I’m some kind of freak.”

“Give him some time, Ry. Maybe when he’s had a chance to think about it, he’ll come around.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right. Anyway, no matter what, I have you. Just hearing your voice makes me feel better.”

“I know what you mean. I’ve never felt the way I feel about you before. Just seeing your name on caller ID gives me such a rush. Is that dumb or what?” Eric giggled into the phone.

“No. It’s not dumb. I feel the same way. I’ll see you tomorrow. I guess I better get back before they come looking for me. I love you Eric.”

“I love you too.”

Ryan smiled lovingly at the phone as he snapped it shut and headed for the house.

The next morning, Matt was relieved to be walking to school. He vowed he’d never take his freedom for granted again, now that the vandals were in custody. He arrived just in time to see Todd at the bike rack, chaining up his new wheels. He was about to call out a greeting, when he realized that Todd was intent on what he was doing and wasn’t looking in his direction. Instead he jogged over to him and got his attention.

Todd smiled up at him. “’Morning! This bike is sweet. I really love riding it!”

Matt smiled back at him. It gave him such pleasure to see Todd so happy. Todd saw Matt’s expression change as they caught sight of Jon walking across the parking lot. He wondered if he got that same goofy grin when he saw Joel.

Jon sauntered over to the two boys. “There’s one good thing about us being on the news!” He stated triumphantly.

Matt arched an eyebrow. “Oh, and what’s that?”

“This!” Jon said as he gathered Matt to his body and gave him a squeeze and a quick peck on the cheek.

Matt shook his head. “You’re too much!”

They chatted about their schedules for the day. Todd told them that he had a meeting with Detective Gordon and the assistant D.A. after school. He had to give a deposition swearing that the conversation that Joel transcribed was what he had seen the men in the car saying. He was a little nervous about picking them out of a line up, but there was no way he wasn’t going to go through with it.

As they headed toward the building, Todd suddenly stopped. “Guys, can I ask your advice about something?”

“Sure Todd.” Jon answered while Matt nodded his head.

“It’s Mr. Hanson. I went to see him after school yesterday about not facing the class when he spoke.” Todd’s humiliation had been replaced by indignation and resolve as he related the conversation to his friends.

“That old buzzard!” Matt declared.

“So what do you think I should do?” Todd asked with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Well, you could go to Dr. Garvey…” Matt thought out loud.

“I thought about it, but Mr. Hanson might think I’m trying to get him in trouble. I really don’t want that. I just want to do well in the class.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean.” Jon said. “There’s got to be something we can do.”

“Todd,” an idea was forming in Matt’s brain. “Be sure you sit next to me today. I think I might have a solution.”

The warning bell rang for homeroom, so he didn’t get a chance to outline his strategy as they hurried into the building.

The wheels were turning in Matt’s mind all morning. Finally it was time for science and he met up with Todd in the hall and walked with him to class. They took two seats in the middle of the room and got out their books. The lecture began normally with a review of the previous nights reading.

Mr. Hanson turned to the board and began writing an equation. “Work is the product of a force moving an object over a measurable distance.” He droned as he wrote.

Matt turned in his seat and repeated the words to Todd. He almost lapsed into his impersonation of Mr. Hanson, but caught himself just in time. Mr. Hanson ignored him at first, but when Matt kept repeating his words to Todd, he finally turned around.

“Mr. Barker! Not one more word out of you.”

He turned to face the board again. This time Angie, who Matt knew from church, turned around and repeated what was said.

“Miss Chambers! What is the meaning of this?” Mr. Hanson barked.

“Oh, well, you told Matt not to speak, so I was telling Todd what was said so he can take notes.” She said with an innocent smile.

“No one is to speak for the remainder of the class, is that clear?”

For some time, he continued speaking while facing the class. Matt thought they might have gotten through to him, but eventually, he turned back to the board. To Matt and Todd’s astonishment, every student in the room turned toward Todd and repeated Mr. Hanson’s words. It made Todd feel good to know that they were all on his side. Mr. Hanson gazed around the room.

“What is going on here?” He demanded.

Matt looked at him calmly. “It’s called civil disobedience. It’s a peaceful form of protest. We learned about it in social studies.”

“I see. I’ll have to speak to Miss Selwitz about her curriculum. Mr. Barker, you and Mr. Austin will remain after class.”

The remainder of the class passed without incident. Mr. Hanson wrote on the board several more times, but turned back to the class before speaking. When the bell rang, Todd and Matt remained in their seats. When the other students left, Mr. Hanson sat on the edge of his desk.

“Mr. Hanson, I just want to say that Todd didn’t know anything about this. It was my idea.” Matt said, looking him right in the eye.

Mr. Hanson sighed. “And a very good one at that. Todd, I believe I owe you an apology. When you spoke to me after school yesterday, I responded inappropriately. The truth is I get so carried away with the subject, that I keep forgetting. I was embarrassed, and I took it out on you. Matt, if I ever forget again, you have my permission to remind me. It’s a very hard habit to break, I’m afraid.”

Todd stood, thanked Mr. Hanson and shook his hand. Matt remained in his seat, lost in thought. When he came back to earth, he looked at the other two and blurted out, “what about a mirror?”

They looked at him oddly. “Todd, if there was a mirror over the blackboard, angled down so you could see Mr. Hanson’s face, do you think you could read his lips that way?”

Todd got a goofy grin on his face. “Well, yeah, I guess. It’s not like he’d be talking backwards or anything!”

For the first time that anyone could remember, Mr. Hanson actually laughed.

“Well, it seems I’ve underestimated your creative problem solving abilities. I’ll see what I can do about having one installed.” He said good naturedly as he dismissed them for lunch.

When they got to the cafeteria, lunch was in full swing. Todd excitedly told everyone about what had happened in science class. He was ecstatic that all the kids wanted to help him.

Jon beamed at him. “That’s ‘cause you hang with the cool crowd.” He joked, causing the table to erupt in laughter.

The rest of their classes went by quickly, and soon Matt and Jon emerged freshly showered from the camaraderie of the locker room. As they headed down the hall to meet their friends on the front steps, Charlie Pierce approached them.

“Charlie,” Matt sighed, “we don’t want any trouble, okay? Just leave us alone, and we’ll stay out of your way.”

Charlie almost left, but he knew he had to go through with what he intended to do.

“Guys,” he began, staring at his feet, “I just wanted to say I’m sorry…for the things I said. Alright?”

Jon and Matt wished that they could see his eyes. Matt cynically figured that Miss Selwitz had made him apologize as a condition of not reporting him.

“Charlie, look at me.” Matt said softly.

Charlie meekly raised his eyes to meet Matt’s. Matt was pleased with what he saw. He remembered the good times they’d had together when they had been friends.

“Charlie, I know that wasn’t easy for you. When Jon and I became…friends, I apologized to him for making fun of his weight. He knew I meant it, and he made it easier for me. We can tell you mean it too, so no hard feelings.”

A smile spread across Charlie’s face. “If I’d known that that’s how you became ‘friends,’ I don’t think I would have apologized!”

Jon laughed. “Don’t worry, I don’t have that effect on everyone!”

Matt couldn’t resist. “Yeah, and I DID say no hard feelings!”

A puzzled Chet came looking for the boys only to find them clutching their sides sharing a laugh with their arch nemesis.

He shook his head. “Now I’ve seen everything.”

When the boys calmed down, they told him that Charlie had apologized, and filled him in on the joke.

“I guess you guys don’t need me anymore.” Chet told them, as he offered a sportsman like hand to Charlie.

“We’ll always need friends like you, Chet.” Jon said, giving Chet a playful slug on the arm.

Chet told them he was going to stop by the service station and get the tail light lenses put on his car, and that he’d see them tomorrow, as they all headed for the door.

As Chet swung into the service station, Officer Harris emerged from under a car wearing coveralls with the service station logo on them. He smiled at Chet as he got out of his car and came toward him.

“What are you doing here?” Chet asked as he shook his hand.

“Oh, when I’m off duty, my cousin lets me work on my car here.” He answered, pointing to a vintage 69 Mustang convertible in one of the bays.

“Wow!” Chet exclaimed. “That’s a real beauty!”

“Yep! I got it as a real junker and I’ve been fixing it up on and off for about a year now. I was just about to take her for a test drive. Wanna come along while Jace puts the tail lights on for you?”

Chet’s face lit up. “Sure! Thanks Officer Harris.”

“Call me Dave.” The other said as they headed for the car.

With a wave to his cousin, he started the Mustang, and carefully backed it out of the garage. They rode in silence for awhile, with Dave listening to the engine intently. When he seemed satisfied that it was running smoothly, he headed for the parkway where he could open it up a little more. The car seemed to respond eagerly to the open road and Chet was enjoying the ride. He couldn’t help stealing glances at the driver. He was a handsome man with dark eyes and hair and a dazzling smile.

After awhile, they began to chat. Dave shared that he had only recently graduated the academy and at age 20, he was the youngest officer on the force. So far he really liked police work, but he hadn’t been involved with any major cases. Chet told him about football and school, and that he was looking for a part time job to save up for college expenses. He was hoping to get at least a partial scholarship, so he really had to keep his grades up in addition to doing well in football this season.

Dave suddenly had a thought. “Why don’t we ask my cousin if you can work for him at the garage? He’s always looking for people. You don’t have to know a lot about cars to pump gas and do oil changes. What do you think?”

“That’d be great! I haven’t had much luck so far. Seems like no one in town is hiring right now.”

Dave pulled off the parkway, and crossed the bridge that took them to the on ramp heading back to town. Chet was excited about getting the job. He hoped that it would give him an opportunity to be around Dave. He was definitely developing a crush on the young officer, even though he told himself it wasn’t likely that Dave would be interested in him, or even be gay for that matter.

When they exited the parkway, Dave pulled the Mustang into the Friendlys parking lot.

“You want to get some ice cream? I’m buying!” Dave offered.

“Yeah sure, but I got money, you don’t have to pay for me.”

Dave chuckled. “Okay, we can fight over it when the check comes, moneybags.”

They sat opposite each other in a booth savoring their sundaes. Dave looked across the table at his new friend.

“Chet, I think it’s really cool the way you look after those kids. They really look up to you, you know.”

Chet smiled. “Thanks. Jon’s brother Sam is a good friend. We were team mates. I’d never let him down. Also, Jon and Matt are great kids, and so are their friends. I like hanging around with them.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I think it’s great that they can be so open and honest about their relationship. It takes a lot of guts for kids that age.”

“Yeah,” Chet agreed, “They told their family and friends, but they didn’t exactly plan to be out to the whole town. I think they’re handling it really well, though.”

“Uh, Chet…if I’m getting too personal here, just tell me, but that day down by the reservoir, you said something that gave me the impression that you might be…uh…”

“Gay?” Chet finished the sentence for him as he studied the back of his hand. “Yeah, only a few people know. I always figured I’d tell my family and friends if I ever found someone special, but I’ve been concentrating on school and football, so I thought it’d just be easier if no one knew. Pretty lame, huh?”

“I don’t think it’s lame, Chet. Look what happened to your friends. The world can be a pretty unfair place sometimes. I never told anyone what I’m about to tell you except my cousin and my partner on the force. I thought it might make it hard for me at the academy if everyone knew so I kept it to myself. Chet, I’m gay too.”

Chet stared at him as his words sunk in. “So how come you’re telling me?”

Dave looked deep into Chet’s eyes. “Because I thought maybe I’ve found somebody?”

Chet was overwhelmed. He fought to hold back a tear. “You mean you and me?”

Dave nodded. “Ever since I heard what you said that day at the reservoir, I haven’t been able to get you off my mind. You were so kind and patient with the boys. I could tell you were a very special person. I knew I had to get to know you better, so you see, it’s not a total coincidence that I just happened to be at the shop today.”

“Dave, I…uh, well…you’re…I mean yes! I’d like to get to know you better too.”

Dave smiled at him. “Okay then. Let’s go get you that job!”

Chet was grinning from ear as they drove back to the shop. “I can’t believe that a guy like you would be interested in me.”

Dave laughed. “Chet, have you looked in the mirror lately? You’re like one big muscle, yet you’re so gentle and good. Why wouldn’t I be interested in you?”

When they reached the station, Dave’s cousin was pleased to hire Chet on the spot. He told him he could start tomorrow after school if he wanted. Dave could show him what to do. After Chet thanked him and paid him for the tail light lenses, Dave walked him to his car.

“Chet, I was wondering if tomorrow when you’re done working you’d like to come to my apartment for dinner. It’s just a few blocks from here.”

“I’d like that, but I’ve got to see how much homework I get.”

“Well, you still have to eat!” Dave said with grin.

“Yeah, I guess so!” Chet said as started up his car.

Todd and Joel sat in the food court at the mall with Jane. They rode their bikes to the mall after school to hang out, and when Jane took her break, she treated both boys to an after school snack. Todd told her all about what had happened in science class.

“Todd, you should have told me you were having trouble with a teacher. I’m glad everything worked out, but you really should have come to me about it.”

“I know mom, it’s just that I thought you might go to the principal. I thought Mr. Hanson might think I was trying to get him in trouble.”

Jane smiled at him. “What I would have done is have a conference with Mr. Hanson and see if we couldn’t straighten it out between us. If that didn’t work, I certainly would have gone to the principal, but not without giving him a chance, so in the future, you can trust me.”

Joel looked at his watch. “When do we have to be at the police station?”

“Not until 4:30.” Todd answered.

He was a little nervous, and was glad that Joel was going with him. Jane looked at her watch.

“I get off of work at 5:00. I’ll try and leave a little early and meet you there as soon as I can. Why don’t you drop your bikes off at home. It’ll probably be getting dark by the time you finish up there. I can drive Joel home.”

“Oh, that’s okay Mrs. Austin. My dad’s going to pick me up. We can put my bike in the trunk.” Joel said.

“I guess we can do the same with Todd’s bike.” Jane thought out loud.

“No way! It might get scratched! I have a light and reflectors. I can ride home.”

Jane laughed and rolled her eyes. “I should have known! By the way Todd, I read that the cycle shop downtown is taking donations of used and damaged bicycles. They fix them up for underprivileged kids. What do you think about donating your old one?”

“That’d be cool. I think it would be neat if some kid got some use out of it.”

Joel smiled at Todd. He loved the fact that he wanted to make others happy. As they rode to the police station, Joel let Todd take the lead. He couldn’t take his eyes off of him. He was so perfect. He wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Whenever he was around Todd, he felt lightheaded. He knew Todd liked him as a friend, but he figured there was no way a good looking guy like Todd could ever want to be with someone as dorky looking as himself.

At the station, the boys were asked to pick out pictures of the men they saw in the car. They were relieved that there was no line up. The assistant D.A. asked them questions about the conversation while a stenographer took down what they said. Jane had arrived and was ushered in to the room. The assistant D.A. explained that he thought he had enough to make a deal with the lawyer for the defense, but if not there would be a trial. He was impressed with Todd’s abilities, but still had some misgivings.

“Todd, I have to warn you. The defense attorney will try anything he can to trip you up. He’ll try and make you look like an unreliable witness. If it comes to that, just answer his questions honestly and briefly. Don’t let him get to you, okay?”

“I’ll do my best.” Todd assured him. “Those guys not only broke things, they made me and my friends feel unsafe.”

Todd and Joel waited outside while the assistant D.A. spoke to Jane.

“I hope they take a deal,” Todd said. “I’m not looking forward to testifying.”

“If you have to, I know you’ll be great, Todd. I’ll be there with you.”

Todd smiled at Joel. “I know you will. That means a lot to me.”

When Todd arrived home, he found the email that Matt had sent him with the “before and after” pictures of his friend Tom. He smiled wistfully at the pictures and composed his answer.

Dear Matt,

Thanks for the pictures and the note. It means a lot to me to know that you wanted to help. Your friend Tom is a real hunk (it feels so strange to be able to tell you that, I’m still new at this)! Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be that lucky. You haven’t met my father! LOL. He met mom, so I guess that’s all that matters. I loved the part of the story where his boyfriend loved him anyway. For me, that’s the most important part. I guess it was for you and Jon too. I hope I can be as lucky as you guys someday. I’m so glad we’re better friends now. It is such a good feeling to have someone to talk to about my “little secret.” I don’t know if Todd told you, but he saw my lips when I came out to you. He’s been so great. I’m glad he knows.

Thanks again, Joel

P.S. Do you have an email address for Todd? I forgot to ask him.

After dinner, he was happy to see that Matt had responded, and added Todd’s screen name to his buddy list. He considered writing him an email, but he wasn’t sure what to say. His heart leapt when he saw Todd sign on.

Js1225: Hey! What’s up?
ToddAlert91: nothing much. Who is this?

Joel realized that Todd had no idea who he was, and decided to have a little fun.

Js1225: That’s for me to know and you to find out!
ToddAlert91: Hey! No fair! Do you know who I am, or do you stalk at random?
Js1225: I read your profile. You sound hot!
ToddAlert91: Seriously. Who is this?
Js1225: A secret admirer!
ToddAlert91: Great. You’re probably some dirty old man.
Js1225: Well, not old. ;)
ToddAlert91: Come on. Tell me who you are or I’ll block you.
Js1225: Okay, okay…It’s Joel. I got your address from Matt. I was just joking around with you.
ToddAlert91: LOL you had me going there for a minute.
Js1225: Yeah, sorry. Couldn’t resist.
ToddAlert91: So did you mean what you said? About being my secret admirer?

Joel froze. He knew he could blow the whole thing off as a joke, but if he did, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever get up the nerve to tell Todd how he felt.

Js1225: Todd. When I held you yesterday while you were crying, I felt something I’ve never felt before. I wanted so badly to make your pain go away. Then when you caught those guys, I was so proud of you. It’s okay if you don’t feel the same way about me. I understand, and don’t want it to affect our friendship.

Joel held his breath and sent the message. He waited anxiously for Todd to reply.

ToddAlert91: I felt it too. I felt like I was safe in your arms. Is that what love is supposed to feel like?

Js1225: I think that’s part of it. You’re so good looking though. I’m sure you could never feel the “other” part of it for me. You could probably get any guy you wanted.
ToddAlert91: Oh, I don’t know. What good is it being good looking if the only guy I’m interested in thinks he isn’t good enough for me?
Js1225: You can’t be serious.
ToddAlert91: Yes I am. Do you want to know a little secret? It’s kind of embarrassing, but I want you to know.
Js1225: Sure. You don’t have to be embarrassed to tell me anything.
ToddAlert91: Okay, so, I…thought about you last night when I , uh, did what boys our age do, if you know what I mean. In fact, I’m thinking about you now, and it’s getting a little uncomfortable.
Js1225: Wow! I don’t get it, but I’m not going to argue with you! BTW, I thought about you last night too. *blushes*

Joel felt his erection stir to life in the confines of his briefs.

ToddAlert91: I have an idea. When we sign off, let’s both do it. Knowing you’re doing the same thing will really make it special for me. Okay?

Joel agreed, and when they said their goodnights, two hearts, though several blocks away both beat a little faster as they pleasured themselves, relishing their newly formed bond.

Well, thanks to all who wrote. I really look forward to hearing from you all. seperatepiece@hotmail.com