DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account of two young teenage boys who fall in love. It contains references to gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading this story. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Although the story takes place in real locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals, nor actual corporate policies. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.

Please note that this 2007 Summer Anthology entry is the first in a series of short stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.

Broad Ripple Blues

A Naptown Tale by Altimexis

God, it was hot. It was close to ninety degrees and the humidity was around a hundred percent with no wind. A stationary front, the weatherman had called it. There was a high pressure mass off to the east and a low pressure cell to the west, fueling the movement of moisture-laden air from the gulf northward. The weatherman made it sound so dramatic. All I knew is that it was hot, and I was sweating like crazy.

But relief was on the way, or so the weatherman said. The high pressure mass would move off further toward the east, allowing a cold front from Canada to move through the area in typical Midwestern fashion, bringing with it severe thunderstorms and maybe a tornado or two. It was just a matter of when. I could see dark clouds to the west, but they could dissipate before anything happened, or they could overwhelm the region in a matter of minutes.

I sighed to myself as I picked up the pace a bit, barreling down the old railroad right-of-way, grateful for the shade provided by the trees that lined it. It was a long ride down to Broad Ripple and the Ben and Jerry's ice cream cone I'd promised myself when I got there. It seemed kind of crazy, riding my bike several miles in sweltering heat, just to get some ice cream, but truth be told, I was bored out of my mind.

It was July and in a little over a month, I'd be entering high school. I'm allergic to grass and allergic to morning, as my mother likes to joke, so that leaves out mowing lawns or delivering papers, and there aren't a lot of other jobs a fourteen-year-old can get, even if my parents would give their permission. At least next year, I'll have Driver's Ed to look forward to.

Basically, I have the whole summer with nothing much to do. I don't really have any friends, and I'm not sure I want any. Girls, well, I just don't understand them, and guys just remind me why I feel so alone. Two years ago, I realized I was probably gay, and everything that's happened since has only proven it. Not that anyone knows besides me, and I hope no one will until I'm at least, let's say, sixty. As much as I'd like to have sex and maybe even have a boyfriend, the thought of actually doing anything terrifies me, and the thought of possibly being found out . . . well, I think I'd rather jump off a bridge than have anyone know my secret. This is the Midwest, after all, and being alone is a hell of a lot better than being dead, or worse.

Still, if I wanted to stay in the closet, why was I heading to Broad Ripple for an ice cream cone. Sure, I could delude myself into thinking the bike trail I was on was a lot easier than dealing with the traffic on 86th street, but the other Ben and Jerry's was a lot closer and, if anything, I'd have preferred the Cold Stone Creamery that was also much closer to home. Could it have something to do with the fact that Broad Ripple is an artsy area that is a popular with the gay crowd? Yet it's also popular with teens and twenty-somethings in general, so I could go there without it being too obvious. Of course I wasn't deluded - finding a boyfriend was not going to happen, but just being around people who didn't mind gays was liberating, and man, I needed liberating.

By the time I got there, my shirt was thoroughly soaked. I locked my bike up by the canal and walked down Guilford Avenue. When I entered the shop, the cold air inside hit me in the face like a blizzard. My shirt instantly clung to my skin and I swear I felt icicles forming on my bare legs. Behind the counter was a cute boy, maybe sixteen, who smiled at me with the cutest dimples. "Can I help you?" he asked.

You can help me anytime, I thought to myself. Instead, I said, "Yeah, I'd like a double mint-chocolate chip in a waffle cone."

After paying, I went back outside into the sweltering heat and started walking down Guilford, stopping every now and then to look in the windows of the shops lining the street. I turned down Broad Ripple Avenue and continued my walk, not really paying attention to the heavy traffic or to the people who seemed to be doing their best to stay in the shade.

"Hey David!" I scarcely paid the voice behind me any heed until I heard it again. "David, wait up!" Certainly he couldn't have meant me, but I let my curiosity get the better of me and turned around. "David, why are you walkin' away from me, man?"

I put my hand over my eyes and squinted, trying to see who it was that seemed to be calling me. About thirty feet behind me was a boy, about my age, with long blond hair and wearing dark sunglasses. The other thing I noticed right away was that he was shirtless, wearing khaki-colored board shorts and sandals. I was way too nervous to walk toward him, so I did the next best thing, which was to stand still and wait for him to catch up to me. As he got closer, he began to look familiar, but I just couldn't place him, let alone remember his name.

"The summer's only half over, and you've already forgotten me?"

Not exactly wanting to offend the guy and admit that I didn't have a clue, I tried to fake it. Big mistake . . . I'm a lousy actor.

"Oh hi, how's it going, man?" I said convincingly, or so I thought.

"You don't know who I am, do you?"

"Well, ah . . . I know you go to my school, and I think I've seen you in one or two of my classes, but . . ."

"The name's Jeremy. Jeremy Kimball. We had Earth Science and Algebra together. . . . And gym . . . I can't believe you don't remember me from gym class . . ."

"Wait a minute!" I said as it suddenly came to me. "Aren't you the kid that . . ."

"Please don't remind me. That was sooo embarrassing."

"But didn't . . ."

"Hey, I'm not gonna say anything more. Alright?"

"Sorry, it's just that . . ."

"Believe me, I know. Scarcely a day went by in school when someone didn't remind me about it. I just hope things die down over the summer, or the start of high school could be a real drag."

Remembering what had happened, I couldn't help but wonder if the rumors were true. Was Jeremy Kimball gay? That certainly was the obvious explanation, but it could have been an innocent mistake, as he'd claimed. As I thought about this, I started to notice Jeremy's skin, glistening in the sun as beads of sweat rolled down his bare chest. The thought that he might be gay, along with the vision of his hot bod in front of me, sent my hormones into overdrive. Before I knew it, I was starting to bone up, and fast. I had to do something to diffuse the situation before Jeremy noticed.

"So what brings you all the way down here?" I asked, hoping to focus the conversation away from all things sexual. Big mistake.

"All the way down here? I live near here, man. Just across the river. You do know we're near the river, don't you?"

"Well duh," I answered. "I crossed over it to get here. But you went to my middle school."

"Of course. The river is the dividing line between school districts."

"I didn't know that," I confessed. "Broad Ripple High is so close to here, I just assumed the city school district extends a lot further north."

"Nah, like I said, the river's the dividing line. We got the best of both worlds. We're surrounded by one of the coolest city neighborhoods, but we have a new house on a lake and live in one of the top school districts in the country. . . . so I have a good reason to be `all the way down here', but what about you? What brings you to my neighborhood?" Jeremy said with a sly smile.

I nearly panicked, trying to think up an excuse, but before I had a chance to reply, there was a loud rumble of thunder and the wind started to kick up.

"O shit," Jeremy said, "I think I'm gonna regret not even bringing a shirt with me. Listen, I gotta jet. I gotta get home before the rain starts. These awnings don't exactly provide much cover and I'm not gonna parade around inside the shops without a shirt."

I don't know what came over me, but I said, "Oh, I don't know, Jeremy. I think a lotta the guys would like seeing your cute body." It was impulsive and so unlike me.

"Yeah, I wish," Jeremy said with a smirk that made it clear he was joking . . . or maybe not. . . . "Seriously, though, I gotta make tracks if I'm gonna beat the storm to my house."

Once again, I surprised myself by asking, "Mind if I go with you? I'll never make it back to my house in time."

"Not at all. I could use the company."

We retraced my steps back to the canal and I unlocked my bike.

"You go ahead and ride and I'll run beside you," he suggested.

"OK," I answered him.

It was tricky holding my bike under ten miles per hour in a strong wind when I was used to going around 15-20. I imagine Jeremy wasn't doing much better, running in sandals as he was. He directed me as we went, but it quickly became clear we were never going to make it to his house in time.

The sky turned black and the lightning became almost continuous as the temperature plummeted, sending a chill up my spine as my damp shirt clung to my skin. Suddenly, I felt a plop of water hit my back, and then another hit my head. This was followed by plop after plop, and then the heavens opened up and we were caught in a torrential downpour. This was dangerous, as we were sitting ducks for lightning and we were now out in the open, no where near any kind of shelter.

"Hop on my back," I yelled to Jeremy. "We can get there a lot faster if we ride together!"

Jeremy didn't argue with me. It was the only thing to do, although I'd never ridden with someone on my back before, and I don't think Jeremy had ridden on someone's back either, as he didn't seem to know what to do. Eventually, he managed to grab me around the waist and tuck his legs up so they were off the ground. It took a lot of effort on my part, but before long, I had us up to a fairly fast speed.

The rain continued to pelt us as we rode together. Jeremy told me where to turn and we were making good time. I could literally feel his heart beat against my back - both of our hearts were racing. I could feel his breath on my right cheek and I thought I felt his erection, but that could well have been my imagination. I, however, was hard as a rock. Rain or no rain - lightning or no lightning - Jeremy was hot, and he was pressed tightly against me.

But then I felt something hard hit my head, and right after that, Jeremy cried out, "Fuck!" Now I could hear the distinct `plink, plink, plink' sound of hail. I was getting frequent hits on the head and I could only imagine the pounding Jeremy was taking on his bare back. My erection was gone now as the realization dawned on me that we were in a life-or-death situation. I picked up the pace, pumping my legs as fast as I could with Jeremy on my back, but taking care not to lose control of the bike on the very slick pavement.

"Should I head for the nearest house?" I shouted out.

"Nah, we're very close now."

We turned onto a street that was lined with mansions. Each house seemed bigger than the last. Before long, Jeremy pointed to a large house and I made a beeline for it. Jeremy hopped off my back and entered a code on keypad outside the three-car garage. One of the garage doors opened and I quickly ran the bike inside.

Jeremy closed the garage door, pulled out a key and opened the connecting door to the house. We entered through a mud room and Jeremy directed me to the bathroom that was adjacent.

"My mom'll kill me if we track water through the house. We'd better get rid of our wet clothes here."

Jeremy was right. I was thoroughly soaked. My shirt, shorts and boxers, and even my sneakers were completely waterlogged. Jeremy handed me a bath towel. I quickly removed my sneakers, then turned away from Jeremy and proceeded to remove the rest of my clothes. I used the towel to dry myself, then wrapped it around my waist and tucked it in.

When I turned back to face Jeremy, he was still drying himself . . . and he was facing me! I could see it all, and I was impressed. He was beautiful - there was no other word to describe him. He smiled at me and I blushed - all over - he had to have seen it. He laughed - it was almost more of a giggle - as he wrapped his towel around his waist. We threw our wet clothes into the dryer and Jeremy turned it on.

"I've got some clothes you can wear up in my room," he said as he bounded out of the mudroom. I ran after him, barely keeping up. His house was enormous. We ran through a kitchen that was larger than our living room, an atrium that was larger still, and up a sweeping curved staircase to a balcony overlooking the atrium. We ran down a long hallway and through a door into what was undoubtedly his bedroom, though it was a big as my bedroom and my parents' bedroom, combined. I was impressed to say the least.

Jeremy ran into an enormous closet, opened some drawers and threw me a pair of boxers and some board shorts. I followed him into what was obviously his bathroom and removed the towel, hung it over the shower rod as he did with his, donning the clothes he'd handed me. He didn't give me a shirt, so there I was, barefoot and shirtless, standing in front of someone I now recognized as one of the hottest guys in our school.

"Would you like to play some video games?" Jeremy asked.

"Sure," I answered, thinking a game would be the perfect diversion to keep my `little David' under control.

He fired up his XBox 360, which was connected to a 42 inch plasma display on the wall, and asked me to choose from an impressive array of games. I chose one that I knew how to play and he inserted it into the machine.

As he started up the game, I mentioned, "I didn't even know this area existed. How long you lived here?"

"Yeah, Lake Shores is pretty cool. A lot of people don't know about it. We've lived here almost three years, now. Would you like to see where we are on my computer?" Jeremy asked with excitement in his voice."

"Sure," I said, trying to match his enthusiasm.

Jeremy fired up his iMac - it had a humongous monitor - and loaded Google Earth. In no time at all, he had zoomed right into his neighborhood. The display was filled with an image showing a large peninsula, surrounded by a bend in the river, and filled by three small lakes.

"This is Lake Shores," Jeremy said. "There are three `oxbow' lakes, left over from when the river changed course. This used to be a flood plain . . . actually, it probably still is . . . which is why it went undeveloped for so long. They brought in tons of dirt to build the whole area up and many of the houses are elevated on stilts, so the river would have to crest several feet above flood stage to do any damage.

"I live on Dawson Lake, which is the largest of the three." Jeremy clicked on the mouse a few times and zoomed all the way in. "And here's my house."

I had to admit, it was impressive. You could clearly see the shape of his house in sharp detail. You could even see the pool out back, and there was a boat dock!

"So where do you live, David?"

"Don't laugh, but it's an area called Sherwood Forrest."

"Is that up in Nora?" Jeremy asked.

"Yeah, just north of 91st street."

"Would you like to show me your house?"

"Sure," I said with a hint of nervousness in my voice. My house wasn't nearly as large as Jeremy's.

With a few clicks and drags of the mouse, I was able to zoom right in on it. It was a large rambler but, compared to Jeremy's house, it was nothing special.

"It looks like it's a nice house," Jeremy said.

"It's nothing like yours."

"You can have mine," Jeremy said with an unreadable expression on his face.

What did he mean by that, I wondered to myself?

As we were looking at the satellite view of my house, there was a blinding flash of light outside the windows, followed almost immediately by an explosive crash of thunder. The monitor suddenly went dark and the lights went out.

"Fuck!" Jeremy exclaimed. "The last time this happened, we were without power for a day-and-a-half! Shit! Now what are we gonna do?"

"It's OK with me, Jeremy," I said to try to calm him down a bit. "There are other things to do besides playing XBox."

"Like what, jerking off?" Jeremy said heatedly.

What was it with these sexual innuendos? Again, I don't know what came over me, but I replied, "Either that, or trade blow jobs." I could almost feel Jeremy's blush.

"I don't know if that would be a fair trade. You already saw mine, but I have absolutely no idea what you're packing."

"Hey," I said in retort, "I can't help it if you're an exhibitionist. What I have'll just have to remain a mystery."

There was an awkward pause before Jeremy asked, "So, David, you never did tell me why you came `all the way' down to Broad Ripple, just to buy some ice cream. What were you doing? Checking out all the hot guys?"

"Yeah," I said before what he'd said fully registered in my brain. I quickly tried to back-pedal with, "Um, no, um . . . I mean . . ." but by then it was too late.

My back-pedaling made the situation worse - much worse. It was going to be hard as hell to work my way out of this one. Tears started to form in my eyes, but then I felt his hand gently touch me on the shoulder.

"David, you don't have to tell me, and it doesn't matter to me if you're gay or not. I think I'd like to know you as a friend."

"But why, Jeremy? Why would you want to be friends with a loser like me?"

"What makes you think you're a loser? Hell, I'm the loser. You didn't even realize I was in some of your classes until I told you."

"But that's just it, Jeremy. I'm such a loser, I didn't even notice you."

"Is this a contest to see which of us is more of a loser?" Jeremy laughed out loud. "It doesn't really matter. I don't have many friends . . . Hell, I don't really have any friends, but I'd really like for you to be my friend. As crazy as it may seem, the little time we've spent together this afternoon has been one of the most enjoyable I've had in a long time."

"I feel the same way," I responded, "but I can't understand why you don't have friends. You're a neat, good-looking guy who lives in this humongous mansion with a swimming pool and on a lake. Why wouldn't people like you?"

"Sometimes this `mansion', as you call it, feels more like a prison. There are no kids my age around here and we don't know any of our neighbors. My parents work long hours and I never see them, and my brother and sister are years older and moved away when I was a little kid. It's just me and the house most of the time. My parents buy me all kinds of expensive toys, thinking they can buy their way out of the guilt of never being around.

"Sure, I've made friends over the Internet, but that's not the same . . ." Jeremy lowered his voice and said, "and you can't kiss someone over the Internet." Even in the dark, I could tell he was blushing.

"You think I live in a wonderful fucking mansion. I'll tell you what, David . . . I'd trade this mansion for a tiny shack if I could just have friends."

Hearing Jeremy talk like that made my heart ache. Here he was, this cute, sexy, neat rich kid - he should have tons of friends. But then, I didn't exactly have friends either, and I decided I'd better tell him that.

"Jeremy, my parents aren't rich, but they're not exactly poor. I don't have your looks, and I guess the bottom line is that I'm pretty much a loner, too. I may not be as isolated as you are here, but I keep pretty much to myself."

I thought for a moment about what I'd just said and had an epiphany. "Jeremy, you and I can go anywhere and do anything. Fuck, we've got bicycles, we've got the Internet, man. The friends we make aren't limited by the walls of our houses or the walls that separate our subdivisions from each other. The only walls that limit our friendships are the artificial ones we build ourselves."

"Wow, David, that's really deep, man. Where did all that shit come from?"

"I don't know, man. It just came to me in a flash." Just then, there was a flash of lightning outside, followed by a rumble of thunder. There had been a lot of flashes of lightning and the timing was almost certainly coincidence, but we couldn't help but laugh.

"So shall we give it a try? Will you be my friend, Dave?"

"Only if you let me call you Jer," I replied, taking note of the way he'd shortened my name.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

After an awkward moment of silence passed again, I knew I had to tell him, and I had to do it now. I couldn't let something like that come in the way of our friendship. If nothing else, I wanted our friendship to be built on honesty.

"It's true, by the way . . ." I said with more than a hint of nervousness in my voice.

"What's true?"

"I'm gay," I said aloud for the first time in my life.

"The rumors are true, too," Jeremy replied.

"You mean . . ."

"Yeah, I'm gay, too."

Nervously, I asked, "Does this make us boyfriends?"

"Do you wanna be?" Jeremy replied.

I didn't know quite how to reply. Here, I'd really only known Jeremy for a little over an hour. I knew that I really liked him, but I certainly didn't love him - at least not yet. Did I need to love him to be his boyfriend? I had absolutely no experience with this sort of thing. I was afraid that if we rushed into things too quickly, it could wreck our friendship, but I also feared that I could crush him by answering no. And the longer I thought about my answer, the more awkward it became.

Finally, I answered Jeremy with bated breath. "As much as I like you, Jeremy, I don't think either of us are ready to be boyfriends yet. We only really just met and I don't think we should commit to anything that deep. More than anything, I wouldn't want our hormones to get in the way of our friendship. Right now I need a friend far more than I need a boyfriend."

"Thank God!" Jeremy exclaimed. "I feel exactly the same way. I'm not saying that someday we couldn't be boyfriends or that we couldn't maybe fool around a little bit . . ." I could almost feel Jeremy blushing again, "but we should take things slowly. I want to fall in like before I fall in love."

"I think I've already fallen in like," I added.

"Me too," Jeremy said as he threw his arms around me and hugged me tightly. I could feel his heart pounding rapidly in his chest, as I'm sure he felt mine. I hugged him back.

After a few minutes, we pulled apart and stared into each other's eyes, the only light being that coming through Jeremy's bedroom windows. I could feel Jeremy trembling under my arms. We sat there, still staring into each other's eyes, our faces mere inches apart. I think we both knew what we wanted, but we were both scared shitless that crossing even this line in the sand could affect our friendship forever.

Finally, I said, "It's not like we can't practice with each other, you know. Jeremy, may I kiss you?"

Jeremy barely managed a whisper as he said, "Yeah."

Our faces moved together at an excruciating slow pace. My world faded to black as I tilted my head and closed my eyes, just like I'd seen people do in the movies. Finally, our lips made contact. Jeremy's lips were so much softer than I'd ever imagined they could be. I applied gentle pressure and suction as I felt him do the same. All too quickly, we pulled apart as we both seemed to be testing the waters.

Before I could even say anything, Jeremy pounced forward again, pressing his lips to mine much more urgently this time. I too responded, quickening the pace and using much more forceful suction. When Jeremy thrust his tongue forward, I eagerly opened my mouth to allow it entrance. Sensuously, I felt his tongue gyrate alongside mine. After a seeming eternity, we pulled apart, both of us out of breath.

"Wow!" Jeremy said.

"Yeah, wow!" I agreed.

"That was fuckin' amazing. Just fuckin' amazing."

"I guess you liked it," I added with a smirk.

"You didn't?" Jeremy asked incredulously.

"It was the best." I replied with a sigh.

Jeremy started chuckling. His chuckles grew to full-blown laughter and before long, he was howling hysterically.

"What's so funny?" I asked with a puzzled expression on my face.

It was a while before Jeremy's laughing subsided enough for him to reply between bouts of laughter. "Are we corny or what?"

Thinking about what we'd said, I soon found myself laughing hysterically, too. It was a good long while before our laughter subsided.

"Corny or not, that was a hell of a lot of fun," Jeremy said.

"Maybe a lot more than fun. Let's do it some more." I suggested. And we did. Over the course of the next hour, Jeremy and I became experts on making out.

After a while, Jeremy suggested we move to his bed. We were both hard and we knew it.

"Are you sure you want to go that far?" I asked. I knew I was horny as hell and I really needed to get off, but I was scared of what doing anything together might mean to our friendship. Making out was one thing, but having sex was definitely crossing that line in the sand.

Jeremy looked back at me with a hurt expression on his face, and then he looked down. He mumbled back, "Sorry, I know I shouldn't have pushed it."

"It's not that," I replied. "It's just that this is taking a big step. I'm afraid of wrecking our friendship."

"I know, Dave, but . . . well . . . I'm so horny, just breathing on my dick would get me off right now."

I laughed and said, "Me too. Maybe we could just, you know, jerk off in front of each other?"

"OK," Jeremy said as he stood up and eagerly slid his shorts and boxers off in one smooth move. I couldn't help but stare at his pulsating boner. I felt powerless as I reached out and touched it. It felt so silky smooth. Before I could even pull my hand away, I felt his dick pulse as his hot junk spurted out all over my hand, my forearm and the floor.

"Damn, that was fast," I said. "I'm sorry, Jer. I really shouldn't have done that."

At first he seemed to be in too much of a daze to respond, but then he answered, "What? Hey, no harm done, Dave. Actually, I wanted you to do that, but was scared shitless to ask. And besides, now I get to do it to you."

I blushed furiously as I realized that he was right. Fair was fair, after all - he had every right to touch me now, not that I was complaining.

I lowered my shorts and then my boxers, kicking them off. Jeremy reached out and felt my member, stroking it tentatively as he got used to the sensation of feeling someone else's dick in his hand, or so I surmised. I didn't last much longer than Jeremy had and soon my essence was covering his hand as well. It all happened far too fast for me to feel much of anything. It didn't even feel as good as a regular jerk-off, but it was the first time I'd ever done it with someone else, and that in itself made it feel more intense.

As I recovered, I looked up at Jeremy's face and saw him smiling back at me with that enchanting grin of his.

"C'mon, let's get cleaned up," he said and I followed him into his bathroom. Leaving the door open so we'd have some light, he opened the shower door and turned on the water, adjusting the temperature to his liking.

"Isn't it dangerous to take a shower during a thunderstorm?" I asked, recalling something my parents had told me when I was little.

"Prolly," he replied, "but in case you hadn't noticed, it's been a while since there's been any thunder."

Straining my ears, I listened for a while and realized that in fact there was no thunder. I guess I'd been oblivious to everything else while we were making out. Jeremy stepped into the shower and motioned for me to follow. I was still a bit nervous, but when he smiled at me, I again felt powerless to resist.

I expected we'd have a little fun in the shower, but I had no idea just how much fun two guys could have in a confined space. We got each other clean all right, and then washed each other again to clean up a second and then a third load that we deposited between our bodies.

We stepped out and dried each other after we were done. Jeremy handed me his deodorant when he was finished with it. I enjoyed smelling a little bit like him after I applied it. Somehow, I felt more attached to him because of it.

By the time we finished cleaning up, it was starting to get dark again as another storm moved in, so Jeremy went downstairs to get some candles. He returned with a couple large scented candles in jars and proceeded to light them. I watched as their yellow glow permeated the room, the flickering of the flames casting a wonderful dance of light across Jeremy's creamy skin. Neither one of us had bothered to put on any clothes and I took a moment to admire the perfect beauty of Jeremy's body.

"You're beautiful," he said to me, almost as if he were reading my own thoughts.

"How can you say that?" I asked. "I'm so ordinary looking, but you . . . you're gorgeous."

"Yeah, if you like the California surfer look."

"But I love the California surfer look."

"I'm glad you like it, 'cause it's the best I can do with my dull blond hair. My body is too thin, my skin is pasty, and my arms and legs are way too long for my body. You on the other hand are perfect. I love your wavy brown hair. And your eyes . . . your hazel eyes are golden . . . there's just something about the way you look at me. . . ."

"Stop it, Jer," I admonished. "You're making me self-conscious. I don't think I'm anything special, but I'm glad you like the way I look," I admitted, "and you'll have to trust me when I tell you that to me, you're the one who's perfect."

We embraced and kissed each other deeply on the lips, and then just held each other for a while, resting our heads on each other's shoulders as we swayed gently back and forth. Our balls were pretty well spent for the time being, and there was nothing sexual about the contact of our skin. We simply enjoyed each other's closeness.

Finally, Jeremy began to speak as he held me tightly. "I think I'm more than in like with you, Dave. I think I'm falling in love with you. More than anything, I want you as a friend, but I don't think I can be your friend without wanting more than friendship."

I squeezed him even more tightly and spoke softly into his ear, "I love you too, Jer. At first I thought it was just lust, but there's more to it than that . . . maybe much more. I think we complement each other so well. It just feels right to hold you like this. Man, I can't believe how great this feels."

I pulled away slightly and looked him right in the eyes as I continued. "But above all else, I want you as a friend. I've heard that sex can really fuck up a good friendship, but maybe we can pull it off and have both. Maybe we can be best friends . . . and boyfriends."

Jeremy looked me in the eyes, his own starting to tear. "I'd like that very much, Dave. We're more than friends . . . more than best friends. I'd love nothing more than to be your best friend. . . and your boyfriend, too."

Slowly, we moved back together and our lips met in the middle. Somehow the kiss seemed sweeter than all the others that day because it was our first official kiss as boyfriends.

After we separated, Jeremy looked at me, his eyes boring into my own, and he asked, "Dave, what would you think about coming out?"

Coming out? What the hell did he mean by coming out? Wasn't it going to be difficult enough in high school without being harassed for being gay?

"Why do you want to come out?" I asked him incredulously.

"Because I don't want to sneak around for the next four years. I know I'm being an idealist, but I want us to be seen together in the halls without worrying about that goofy grin on your face." I blushed as he said that. "I'd like us to be able to hold hands if we want to," he continued. "I'd like to maybe give you a peck on the lips now and then."

"But Jeremy, this is the Midwest, man! It's the Bible Belt. This is the reddest state of them all. Do you really think folks are gonna leave us alone if we do shit like that?"

"Dave, I know it'll be tough. I'm just saying it might be tougher for us if we're not out. And besides, we're in one of the more liberal school districts, and at least I live in a gay-friendly part of town. Besides, things are changing. I was at the Borders downtown the other day, and I happened to glance over at the `Gay and Lesbian' section. There were a lot of guys looking at the books there . . . guys who aren't afraid to be seen and be out. There was even another kid around our age . . ."

"Was he cute?" I just had to ask.

"Meh, nothing like you."

When I just kept staring blankly at Jeremy, he continued, "and we won't be alone, Dave. Our high school has a GSA."

"What?" I asked in disbelief.

"After the `incident' at school, I got really depressed for a while. I finally admitted to myself that I really was gay and that the feelings I had weren't going to go away."

He continued, "I had to talk to someone about it, but I couldn't talk to my parents, and certainly not our minister, so I went to talk to my guidance counselor. She made me feel like I was normal. She also told me about the GSA and put me in touch with the faculty advisor for it."

"Wow!" was all I could say in return.

"When I met with him, he told me that there are lots of out kids in our high school. He said they have a very strict policy on sexual harassment and that bullying of gay students isn't tolerated. No, it wouldn't be smooth sailing all the way, but we could be us without fear, and . . . well . . . that's important to me."

A million thoughts raced through my head. I thought I'd stay in the closet all my life, but Jeremy clearly wanted to come out . . . as a couple, no less. I thought about how everyone would look at me differently. How would I feel the first time someone called me a `fag'? Sure, I'd have some recourse in school, but I'd still have to live in the real world. What would happen when I went to the mall, or out to a movie?

On the other hand, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to go to the mall or to a movie with Jeremy at my side? Wouldn't it be nice not to be afraid that people would find out were a couple? And I wouldn't have to pretend. I wouldn't have to date girls, just to keep up appearances. There were many positives to this scenario, but God, it was scary.

Then what about my parents? I hadn't come out to them and I hadn't planned to. I couldn't be out at school without them knowing about it. How would my parents react to having a gay son? What would my little brother think? Would he give me a hard time? On the other hand, did I even care if he did? But I did care what my parents thought.

"Dave, are you OK?" Jeremy asked me as I continued thinking about everything he'd said.

I decided to ask him how he felt about some of these things. "Jer, do your parents know?"

"God no. They're not here enough for me to have told them."

"But do you think they'll be OK with it?" I asked.

"I hadn't thought about that, but yeah, I think they'll be cool with it. They've never said anything negative about gays and always treat them respectfully when we're in public."

"But it could be very different when it's their son," I pointed out.

"I know that, but Dave, I'm willing to take that chance"

"What if they throw you out of the house?"

Jeremy smiled broadly as he said, "That's one thing I know will never happen. They may not be around much, but they've always stuck up for me when it counted. Like with the gym incident. Come to think of it, they didn't even ask me if it happened because I was gay . . . they just seemed to be OK with it. I may already be out to them as far as they're concerned."

His mood darkened as he asked, "But what about your parents, Dave? Do you think they'll be OK with it?"

"I don't know, Jer. I think they'll be OK, and I don't think they'll throw me out, either. Like you said, they've always been there when I needed them."

"So are you ready to come out?"

"God, I don't know, Jer," I answered. "I'm gonna need some time to think about it."

"I understand, Dave, and that's OK. We've got another month-and-a-half 'till school starts. Take your time."

Then, a crazy thought came to me. "Jer, how would you like to meet my folks and maybe spend the night with me?"

Jeremy's whole face lit up - I could tell, although we were in the dark. "I'd love to, Dave. There won't be much to do here, anyway, so I might as well spend the night with you . . . no, might as well isn't the way to put it. I would be ecstatic to spend the night with you."

"Jer, I'm gonna tell them. I'm gonna tell them tonight. They may not let us sleep together in the same room after I tell them, though."

"That's OK, Dave. I can understand that, just as long as they let me stay."

"Oh, they will. I have a good feeling about this."

Jeremy and I used our cell phones to reach our parents and ask permission for a sleepover at my house. Our mothers phoned each other and talked about it, which surprised me. I also was surprised at how easily Jeremy reached his own mom at her job. Maybe his parents weren't so distant from him as he claimed they were.

It was a long wait until Jeremy's mom called him back. At one point while he talked to his mom, he said, "How did you know? Yeah . . . yeah, he's awesome. . . . Mom! I can't talk to you about that. . . . OK, I promise." I wondered what `that' was about. After he hung up, I asked him.

"My mother asked me if you're my boyfriend. At first I was floored that she knew, but then she told me she could tell from the excitement in my voice, which I thought was pretty cool. I told her that you're awesome." I blushed as he told me that. "She started to talk to me about safe sex and, well, you can imagine how much I wanted to talk to her about that. She told me she'd buy us condoms and made me promise not to have oral or anal sex until she got them for us."

"Man, I can't believe she talked to you like that. I'm amazed she knew right off the bat that we're boyfriends. And the way she talked so openly about sex. . . ."

"In a way, I'm glad she did. It means she cares about us. Sometimes, I see my parents so little that I'm not sure if they even love me anymore. But then they'll do something like this and I know. Like I said, they're there when it counts."

"That's great. . . . I just hope my parents are so understanding."

"I'm sure they will be," Jeremy replied with more enthusiasm than I felt.

Because it was raining again, and pretty hard at that, my mom agreed to pick us up after work. Jeremy and I got our clothes out of the dryer and got dressed, and he packed up some of his clothes while we waited. When she arrived, I introduced Jeremy to her, and then we were off to my place.

We had dinner together that evening . . . my parents, my brother, Jeremy and me. It was just as Mom was serving desert that my brother asked a question from out of the blue.

"You guys are boyfriends, aren't you?"

I know I turned red as a beet. I was afraid to look at Jeremy, but I'm sure he was blushing too.

But then my father said, "Brad, you shouldn't ask them something like that! It's up to them to tell us, if there is anything to tell us, and if they want to."

I was floored. My dad was pretty much saying he was OK with it.

My brother continued to talk, however. "But it's pretty obvious, Dad." He turned to me and before my father could speak again, and said, "You two have been smiling at each other and acting kinda goofy since we started dinner. And besides, embarrassing you is what little brothers are supposed to do."

I gained a new appreciation of how perceptive my brother was for an eleven-year-old.

Before things got even more embarrassing, I decided to take action. "Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you . . ."

That night as I lay in bed, with Jeremy in the next room, I thought to myself about the events of the day. The sound of rain could still be heard on our roof. It may have been a crappy day as far as the weather was concerned, but the rain had worked unbelievable magic for me and Jeremy. It brought us together, helped us to come to terms with who we are and gave us an opportunity to be honest with our parents - parents who cared -- parents who loved us, no matter what.

Tomorrow, the weather man is predicting sunshine and cooler temperatures. I don't care what the weather might be like. Rain or shine, I'll spend the day with Jeremy.

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing and Trab in proofreading my stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting them.

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