This story is a work of erotic fiction involving teenage boys. All the usual rules apply. If you shouldn't be reading this now then don't continue on.

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A New Life Chapter 15


Keith would have you believe that I was strong as an ox those first weeks after the accident. Any strength I had was absorbed directly from him. The truth is I cried a lot; sometimes just a few tears, other times crying so hard I couldn't breathe and got dizzy. I started having dreams, not more nightmares - only dreams. Comforting dreams mostly and a few of how I might have been able to change events. She was almost at work dammit! Another minute or two forwards or backwards and everything would be the way it was.

Mr. Hundser helped me organize affairs and made recommendations on which things to keep and which to get rid of. There were obvious large things to get rid of unless I wanted to get storage, which I didn't want to deal with. He helped me decide to keep some of the not so obvious smaller things I would've gotten rid of like the contents of the kitchen and miscellaneous nick-knacks.

Mrs. Hundser was just as invaluable in one very important way; she told me about grief and mourning the night I handed in the apartment key. One large burden was lifted and I was fed knowledge of what I could expect in the days to come. Sorrow of course tops the list. I was sorry about a lot of things including how my presence in the Hundser's home might effect them all. Anger sneaked in when I didn't expect it so I couldn't control it. Words flowed out of my mouth virtually uncontrolled for a while.

The guilt was the most difficult part to deal with. Haunting me was the day mom called me stranger. I knew she was smiling when she said it but still, I could've been around more during the summer. Keith, Mike and Derrick had all been at the apartment. They all liked my mom. I thought that by spending more time at the Hundser's not only would Keith and I feel freer but also that she would have time to adjust. How much of what I did was done out of selfishness? I hoped she didn't think I would have ever abandoned her. Did I show her that I loved her and appreciated the life she tried to make for us? I knew what she was doing was difficult. Were my little efforts enough?

I thought about the cooking and cleaning I did at the apartment during those summer hours I was bored and Keith was at work. That's what made me start doing it at the Hundser's. The first Saturday at the Hundser's I was the last one in the shower so I grabbed the cleaning liquids and once I was clean I started cleaning the shower. Keith peeked in the bathroom as I was finishing up and asked, "You okay baby?"

He's been calling me `baby' on and off for months and I loved the sound of it more than ever. I needed him watching out for me. It made me feel safe and warm inside. "Yeah, just finishing up," I replied.

"Okay, I didn't hear a thud but I thought I'd check." Keith said from beyond the bathroom door.

Turning off the shower I asked, "I haven't been that long, have I?"

"Pretty long," he answered.

Sliding open the shower doors I reached for a towel and said, "I was cleaning the shower."

"You were cleaning the shower?" he asked still peeking in from the doorway.

"Yeah. It's our bathroom," I said toweling off. "Only us guys use it mostly. Why not?"

He was still standing at the doorway looking in. It was cute the way he was hiding behind the door after seeing me naked at least a hundred times. "My mom's gonna flip, dude," he said laughing.

I stepped out of the tub and said, "This is stuff I did at home, I'll do it here too now." I meant it to be simple matter of fact but my tone of voice made it sound like I was crabby.

Keith said softly, "Okay, I'll be waiting in the bedroom," and closed the door.

I was doing all sorts of things like that; fighting to lift myself up then knocking myself back down again by hurting someone I really do care about. It just gave me another thing to think and cry about for a while. All he did was showed that he cared and I sounded like a flippant spoiled brat. He was there all the time for me, every afternoon at the apartment, no matter how puffy my eyes were from crying he'd try to make me smile. Every night he'd listen to me and hold me till I finally passed out.

I shouted at myself, no dammit! This time I'm gonna play for keeps. I won't let Keith hurt because I'm a jerk. God forbid anything happened to him or our relationship. I couldn't bare another layer of guilt. Finishing up in the bathroom I then went to his bedroom and found him sitting on the bed watching TV. I sat beside him and apologized. He wrapped his arm around my waist, smiled and kissed my cheek.

"Keep trying Preston," my mom's voice echoed in my mind. She said that a lot all my life. It was a like a broken record then, now it's a sound I love to hear.

As you can see, I walked and talked and lived those first few weeks but I was a jumbled up mess most of the time. I knew the anniversaries would be difficult. The first day anniversary sucked. The one-week anniversary wasn't much better and the first month anniversary was around the corner. I knew I'd be fighting an uphill battle to say to myself, "this day and all the days ahead are going to be better," on the 17th and 19th of every month. In my heart I knew that's the way she wanted me to be but damn it was rough. It took all my concentration to not go off on tangents thinking of her and that I'd never see her again. All I could do was hope that by the one-year anniversary I wouldn't still feel crippled inside on those days.

The night Mike and Derrick stayed for dinner was the turning point. Mike and I weren't talking much. He was giving me these looks that said, "we need to talk alone, the sooner the better". I knew he wanted to talk about my mom and his dad but I wasn't ready for it that night so I kept myself busy making dinner. When Mike left that night it was unspoken but agreed we would talk soon. I started feeling like life was happening around me again; just like it had from age twelve until we moved to California.

All I'll say about the shower incident is that I guess I needed to have my balls frozen off to wake up! During the last few weeks Keith proved beyond any doubt that he loved me. He stayed and comforted me; the Hundser's took me in and gave me a home when the rest of my so-called family didn't make any efforts at all. When they say, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," they were taking about my family.

My first day back at school I asked Keith to meet me whenever possible during the day. Having him out of my site was simply out of the question that day. He met me before or after every class.

I must've gotten thirty cards either stuffed in my locker or given by hand. It was a nice gesture. My mom would've made a point of thanking each personally so I did the same during the course of the week. At home that night I opened the cards and showed each to Keith. One of my PE coaches asked me to try out for the track team in his card. Having lost his mother to cancer at a young age he knew what I was going through. There was one card from a girl named Leigh offering much more than sympathy! I was building her up, Keith was knocking her down and between us we had a super model walking the corner of Hollywood and Vine! By the way, Keith never gave me the card back!

The night Keith and I went out was fabulous. Everywhere we went everything was perfect. Dinner at a nice restaurant, a good flick, a trip to the beach afterwards then coming home and slow dancing to my mom's old records. I was so nervous early that night for many reasons. It was our first real date alone and I wanted to be whole and actually enjoy my time with Keith without memories interfering. For the most part I think I did okay.

Getting Drew and John back later that night was fun too. To keep them awake Keith and I went out of our way to make noises like we were making love even when we weren't. We were probably much quieter making love! It's a good thing the Hundser's master bedroom is on the other side of the house. There was lots of noise from both rooms until about four in the morning.

Mr. & Mrs. Hundser said they would be out most of Saturday. Drew and John made their presence known by waking Keith and I up with the sounds of SuperNES football at ten in the morning. Keith was not too pleased about the noise until I reminded him we could probably do anything we wanted with the volume turned up that loud. That put the smile back on his face.

Still naked under the covers from the night before, Keith and I looked into each other's eyes. We only had a few hours until Keith had to work that afternoon. I had called work and told them I'd be in that night as well. Our gaze never faltered. Last night we planned on starting our Christmas shopping this weekend. Reaching for my hand, Keith slowly leaned in and kissed me. This wasn't a playful kiss or a long lip lock. His eyes were almost closed, his mouth was barely open and his tongue barely brushed mine then he pulled back breaking the kiss and snuggled up close to me. I wondered how he could still treat me so great after all the trouble I've caused. For weeks I've felt like the sad clown even though I tried not to be. Keith brought my hand to his lips and kissed each finger.

I smiled thinking; he knows how hot this gets me! "I thought we were goin' to the mall." I said.

Keith stopped sucking my little finger and said, "We will. A little while later."

I giggled at him saying, "you want to start the day with play time huh?"

He hummed yes into my finger then said, "wanna make you feel the best."

"You are the best," I said and guided him over on top of me. As soon as he was in position he started sucking my ring fingertip. I wrapped my legs around his and stroked his feet slowly with mine. Smiling the whole time, Keith moved on to wet my middle fingertip. Moaning, I raised my hips grinding myself into him. I could feel his tongue sliding around my finger so slowly. My mouth got dry I was breathing so fast. All I wanted was for him to finish working my fingers and kiss me. Any kiss; long, deep and wet or short but sweet or anywhere in between.

Keith rolled us over so I was on top of him and I stole a long, deep and wet kiss just before I dehydrated completely. "Do me Prez," Keith whispered in my ear after breaking our kiss. He spread his legs wide and I settled in between them.

Exaggerating the disappointment in my voice I said, "I was hoping for that this morning." I really did want him to make love to me.

"I know. Please?" he softly asked. His mouth spoke desperately for his heart. How ironic I thought, my pillar of strength for the last few weeks wants to be submissive? I kissed him deeply with his arms roaming freely around my back.

Understand that the whole time I was moving out of the apartment we hadn't had any sex at all. There was plenty of talking, cuddling and crying but intimate physical contact didn't happen until after the worst days of my life where over. During those days I didn't feel all that great and it was honestly the last thing on my mind. Keith didn't look for sex either. He patiently waited for me to initiate activities. I ask you, how many guys would do that? The instant I showed interest again I expected him to want everything in every way as soon as possible but no, not Keith. This whole past week he seems to be concentrating more on what he thinks I want. He was not only being slow but shy in some ways as well.

I recognized a change in our relationship more intensely than ever before. During the summer I told him I loved him but my knowledge of what love is was still developing. Then we were best friends having good times. Where to go or what to do were the biggest disagreements and they were rare. Since my mom passed away Keith was supportive of me. He wanted to remind me, I felt, and in an unspoken way that we are equal, giving and receiving everything abundantly. The love I felt for Keith magnified another ten times.

I can be pretty darn stubborn but I learned early on with Keith which times to be stubborn, who does what sexually is not one of those times. Making love is a time for the body to speak for the heart. Keith's heart pleaded for me to make it beat. I broke our kiss licking, sucking and nibbling my way down his body. Writhing with pleasure he groaned as I worked my way down. He was still quieter than the SuperNES football game in the next room but breathing so fast and deep I wondered if he might hyperventilate! Kneeling, I spread my knees wide between his legs. Our lovemaking has been so slow and gentle this last week. Squeezing my cock I lubed his hole until it was shiny wet with my precum. I pulled on his hips to move closer and Keith shuffled closer too until all but an inch of my cock was inside him.

When I started this I had the idea that when I point my dick down while jacking off I can last a long time. Naturally I figured the same would be true in the position we were in. The look of absolute bliss on Keith's face and his blazing hot insides soon proved my idea very wrong! Keith arched his back absorbing the remainder of my cock then settled back. I pushed forwards and he arched his back again. Slowly we repeated the process. We were both smiling the whole time, enjoying pleasures only a partner could give. To think I could last longer like this made me question my sanity! Keith's hands were either stroking my thighs or his dick and balls. When he stroked his cock he got so tight I couldn't help but groan.

"I can't last much longer babe," I whispered.

Keith let go of his cock, arched his back then opened his arms saying, "Fill me up Prez. I love you so much!"

As soon as I leaned above him, Keith wiggled his hips and smiled when I groaned through a false alarm.

I leaned down and kissed him then started pumping at a nice rhythm. With Keith teasing my nips and stroking my arms my thrusting soon sped up and got erratic. "Fill me," Keith moaned once again and I pushed into him once more then shot my love deep inside him. Blast after intense blast filled him to overflowing while I told him that I loved him more than life itself. And I do. Life without him in it would seem unbearably empty.

Still hovering above him, Keith started to stroke his cock as my spent dick slowly deflated inside him. I was about to protest and ask him to let me finish him off when he said, "Oh baby you feel so good inside me." His contracting and expanding sphincter massaged my willy back to full hardness. Keith's whole body shuddered before the final stroke that pushed him over the edge. Volley after powerful volley splashed between us. When he was finished he pulled me down on top of him to share his orgasmic high. I could feel him shivering now and again as he cooed in my ear. Making him feel that good had me on cloud nine. Whispers of love turned into short kisses that became longer lip locks. His mouth tastes so sweet I can never kiss him enough.

Breaking our kiss I whispered in his ear, "we stayed pretty quiet that time".

Keith giggled saying, "yeah, not that it matters with all the noise in the next room". Then he reached back and knocked on the wall once. We were both more than a little surprised to hear a knock back from the wall and started laughing.

I said, "I wonder who that is," a little worried that we hadn't been quiet enough and maybe John was in there.

"Don't worry baby," Keith said picking up on my tone, "John's cool. It really doesn't matter. He likes you, ya know?" Curiously I looked down at him and Keith smiled. "You know who John stayed with that day?" he asked.

He was referring to the day of the funeral. All of the Hundser's except John were there that day. I shook my head no.

"At Kim's," he answered. "She lives a few doors down from Tommy. Mom and dad went to pick him up at Tommy's but found him at Kim's that afternoon."

Dumbfounded I asked, "John's got a girlfriend then?"

Keith nodded yes. "I'm pretty sure they're just friends but still, maybe some day. Ya never know." He was beaming with pride for his little brother.

Smiling knowingly I said, "It's good thing we're planning on moving out in a few years. John and Drew will need separate bedrooms." A long life with him is my main objective. I kissed Keith and rolled off him to one side before we got glued together.

He was still beaming at me and I stole another kiss from those luscious lips. With a sigh we got out of bed and started our day. It's so great standing side by side with him brushing our teeth. We showered together, helped each other pick out clothes and got dressed together. John was sitting at the kitchen counter grinning from ear to ear when we finished our morning routine.

"Hey bro," Keith said. John started laughing. Keith looked at his younger brother like he was whacked out but didn't say anything.

We were hunting breakfast in the fridge when John said, "You guys are too much. How many times did you fuck last night?" It startled me so much I bumped my head on the refrigerator turning around.

John was still chuckling but Keith was standing there with his jaw hanging to the ground. Looking at me like he was ashamed of his brother, Keith reached for my hand. I quickly decided not to say a word but hold my boyfriends hand for support.

Closing the refrigerator door Keith and I walked up to the counter across from where John was sitting. "First of all John," Keith said softly, "how many times we had sex is none of your damned business. Secondly, Prez and I don't fuck."

John chuckled, "yeah right."

Thoroughly annoyed Keith said, "your gonna learn something right now."

"No I ain't," John said getting up from the counter stool.

Keith blocked his path and said, "yeah you are or I'll tell dad what you said and I guarantee that you'll be grounded for at least a week."

"What's your problem, man?" John said.

"My problem is your choice of words!" Keith shouted at his brother. "You wanna know what fucking is? It's cheap, meaningless sex. It's getting your rocks off when you don't really care about the person your with. It's a put down and a word I don't ever want to hear you say again, especially regarding what Prez and I do together alone."

"My friends say it all the time," John said defending him self.

"That's because they don't know any better. Today you're gonna know better. I'm telling you there's a difference between making love and fucking. Are you hearing me?"

"Yeah," John said.

Keith's hand stopped trembling in mine and he settled down some. "You like Kim, don't you."

John blushed and replied, "Uh huh."

"I was just telling Prez about you and Kim." Keith said releasing my hand to search the contents of the fridge."

I added, "Keith was really proud of you too." John blushed again.

Sounding thoroughly disgusted Keith said, "That's right I was, then you go and say dumb shit and embarrass me."

"I dunno why I said it the way I did." John mumbled.

"Because guys say stuff like that," I said, "it's all just loose talk."

"Some of 'em make fun of me cause I'm a virgin and stuff." John said.

Keith sighed, shook his head and closed the refrigerator saying, "bro that's just so much bullshit. I'll bet you money that none of the guys you hang with ever saw a real life naked girl and if they did they probably pissed themselves, ran home and jerked off." John started to laugh.

"Seriously," Keith said, "ya know what that kind of talk's going to do sooner or later?"

John answered, "No."

"Some girl is gonna get hurt by it," I said.

"And a friendship will be ruined because of it." Keith added.

"Let them say what they want John. From what I hear you're already way ahead of them in the girlfriend department." I said sitting on a counter stool.

John complained, "But there's nothing going on, we're just friends."

"There's no better place to start." Keith said. "If you say anything about Kim like you just said to me you know where you'll be?"

John thought for a moment then said, "In the hospital probably, she'd kick my ass." Keith and I laughed and John managed an embarrassed smile.

"Once your wounds heal where will you be?" Keith asked.

"Alone?" John said uncertainly.

Keith and I both nodded yes. After a minute or so of silence the phone started to ring. John answered it and handed the phone to Keith.

While Keith was talking on the phone I turned to John and asked, "you know all that noise last night?"

He nodded.

"None of that was real, we were just goofin' on you guys to keep you awake."

Keith asked, "You ready to hit the mall, Prez?"

I nodded.

Keith said into the phone, "Cool, yeah dude get yer buns over here. See ya in a few." He hung up and said to me, "Mike and Derrick are on the way. We'll grab a bite to eat at the mall." He then turned to John with a crooked smirk on his face. As John started to walk off towards the living room he turned and asked, "how many times did you make love last night?"

Keith laughed then answered, "all night."

The look of confusion on John's face was priceless. I held in a belly laugh.

John asked, "Jeez didn't ya ever sleep?"

"Sure, we slept." Keith answered.

Totally confused, John shook his head and walked down towards the bedroom. I looked at Keith then leaned my head down on the counter and cracked up. The greatest thing is how good laughter felt again. I was thinking how funny John was not understanding that when Keith and I are together we are making love in some form or another. All he knew at age twelve was the physical act of having sex. I have some vague recollections of being twelve and don't think I was anywhere near as knowledgeable as John was. Weird shit raced through my mind and I actually laughed till I cried. Keith must've thought I was upset or crazy. He started rubbing my back and asking if I was okay. I nodded then reached for him to pull him close. I was more than okay, I really felt cared for and at home. As soon as I started to stand the doorbell rang.

"Still wanna go?" Keith asked.

I nodded yes then said, "let me just wash my face and get it together."

Keith walked off to answer the door and I went to get cleaned up. While I was washing my face I thought, no one in this house is gonna let me be sad or alone ever again. In a few minutes, from behind the closed bathroom door, Keith asked, "you ready baby?" I was finished drying my face and looking about as good as I was going to so I opened the door ready to face the world once again.

Derrick and Mike were waiting at the entryway.

"Hey dude," Derrick said reaching to shake my hand, "how's things?"

I shook his hand and replied, "gettin' better every day."

Mike could tell somehow that things weren't quite right and said, "You sure Prez? We don't have to go..."

"It's just been a strange morning," I interrupted, "I'm doin' good and ready to hit the road." Keith was standing right behind me. He put his hands on my shoulders and kissed the back of my head.

Mike smiled weakly and sighed. "I know dude, sometimes it feels like your living a TV documentary." He said.

I nodded my head, agreeing that reality seemed to have almost a dream-like, unreal way about it recently. Sometimes I could see myself doing things as others would see me, like cracking up at the counter. I couldn't see Keith with my head buried in my arm but I could imagine him standing there with one hand in his pocket smiling at me while I laughed and the harder I laughed the more his facial expression showed concern. That made me laugh and thinking how whacked out I must seem made me laugh harder. I'd like to have taken one of those ink blot tests to see if I was delusional during those days and weeks. The results would've been interesting.

"Let's jet then." Keith said and we all walked out of the house. Keith offered to drive and Derrick said that would be cool. As soon as we got in the car and got out on the road Keith's hand reached for mine.

The radio was still on the "soft hits" station we were listening to on the way home from the beach last night. Mike couldn't take it and said, "Argh! Could we please have something other than elevator music to listen to?"

I let go of Keith's hand and pressed the buttons to put on a really cheesy AM oldies station where I found Sinatra singing. "This better bud?" I asked turning up the volume. Keith quickly glanced at me grinning from ear to ear.

"Ah shit!" Mike yelled, "you're turning my stomach dude."

Keith reached for the radio, tuned into the FM dial and passed several good stations momentarily while Mike yelled, "No wait! Metallica. Go Back! Oh Clapton! GO BACK!" Settling on the FM classical music station, Keith took his hand from the dial and Mike whined, "Puh-lease!" We spent the whole ride to the mall goofing on Mike that, going from jazz to gospel to country and Spanish stations, anything that wasn't rock. Just as we pulled into the mall parking lot I searched the dial again and heard The Rolling Stones playing "It's Only Rock and Roll". I left it there and we heard maybe a minute's worth before Keith parked.

"Good tunes!" Keith remarked as he and I got out of the car.

Disgusted Mike got out the car saying, "You guys suck bad."

"I'm starving, let's eat." Derrick said gathering up the wasted remains of Mike.

Revolted, Mike looked at him and asked, "how can I eat now?"

Derrick walked with Mike and said, "I'm sure you'll pack it away. You'll need your strength for later."

"Hey Mike, didn't you appreciate any of what we flipped past?" I asked.

"Umm... no." Mike answered.

"Aw, come on dude," Derrick said, "just cause you don't like to play it doesn't mean you can't listen to it."

Keith said, "there's some good stuff that I wouldn't normally listen to but it's cool to dance to."

"Like?" Mike said.

"What were we dancing to last night Prez? Some of that was pretty good."

I said, "Stuff from the 50's and early 60's of my mom's."

"Slow dancing till dawn's early light again Prez?" Derrick laughed.

"You betcha!" I said, "There's so much more than that though, Mike. My mom's got some records that'll blow you away."

Keith opened the door to the mall and asked me, "stuff we can dance to?"

"Nah, not really. But Mike if you're looking for a few new challenges I'll bet I can dig out a few records that'll have you questioning how good you play."

"Yeah? I'll check it out but I'll bet you it's not all that hard to learn." Mike said.

Derrick laughed, "oh, do we have an ego forming or what?"

Once in the mall we headed for the escalator to the food court. Keith said, "Later tonight we could get together and check some of that out if you're in to it?"

"Sounds cool." Mike said.

Derrick said, "Dude you're gonna hear some shit like you've never imagined."

"Mike, have you ever heard of Return to Forever?" I asked.

Derrick asked, "Billy Cobham used to play with them?"

"Yeah, I think so." I said.

Derrick laughed harder saying; "you've put your foot in your mouth now dude."

"Who's Billy Cobham?" Mike asked.

"A killer drummer dude. One of the best." Derrick said.

Unimpressed Mike said, "I smell eats!" Then he turned to Derrick asking, "When the last time we ate?"

Derrick thought for a moment and said, "umm... before our 2AM snack around ten last night I think."

Mike whispered, "you're not gonna be happy till I pop a bone are you?"

Derrick wrapped his arm around Mike's shoulder and whispered something in Mike's ear that made him whimper and blush. That's the first time I've ever seen Mike blush. Keith and I laughed wondering what Derrick said and stepped on the escalator with Mike and Derrick in front of us.

"Orient Express?" Derrick asked when we got to the food court and we all agreed on the same thing for once. During lunch we talked about the incident with John earlier and how funny I thought John's confusion was.

Derrick said, "Not too long ago I would've been just as confused as John."

Mike whispered to Derrick, "My best only comes out when I'm with you, dude." I had never heard Mike say something so romantic before. Judging by Derrick's long stare at Mike it made him feel really great.

"John would have no way of knowing or understanding that. I think I made a dent this morning though." Keith said before taking his last bite of Teriyaki chicken.

I asked Keith, "What kinds of things do your brother's want for Christmas?"

"CD's and video games are always the best bet. What did you have in mind?"

"I'm not sure. Something else a bit more creative, something they would use or wear all the time."

Keith smiled and said, "Maybe we could check out Spencer's for gag gifts?"

"They'd only use it against me." I said chuckling.

"You dudes ready to motivate?" Derrick asked gathering up his trash.

Mike got up and said, "Yeah, let's move on."

I needed a way to get Mike or Derrick's attention without Keith knowing. A gift idea for Keith was already running through my mind but Keith couldn't be watching me buy it. When an opportunity arises I'll see if I can enlist their help to occupy Keith elsewhere.

Roaming through the mall I watched Keith around other people. There were definitely smiles and expressions he made that were only for me. There appeared to be other mannerisms reserved for Mike and Derrick. There was also the meek Keith around total strangers like when sales people asked if he needed assistance or when a teacher would call on him. Conversely, I watched other people around him. Like the girls behind the cosmetics counter at JC Penney's that seemed to loose interest in their customers as we walked past. I almost busted out in a belly laugh. Instead I decided to reach for Keith's hand! Snickering to myself I thought, girls not only don't you have a chance in hell but also this guy is mine! We were well beyond the cosmetics counter when Keith looked over at me smiling then down at our hands. "You are so bad!" Keith chuckled. Walking behind us, Mike and Derrick cracked up.

"Prez dude, you are so jealous!" Derrick said.

"It's cool," Keith said, "I noticed them watching but who would care about a face packed in five pounds of makeup? Not me, that's for sure!"

"I know," Derrick said, "who could find that attractive?"

Mike added, "and there's a few missing parts there, right bro?"

"Most definitely. All I want or need is right here." Keith said lifting our hands briefly.

Softly I asked Keith, "ya wanna fool around in the men's department dressing room?" He looked in my eyes and saw I was only half joking. The idea was dangerous and exhilarating. Our pace started to slow as if we were actually considering it but we smiled and decided privacy was much better.

"I guess we're done shopping for the day, huh?" Derrick asked.

"Yeah, let's split this dump." Keith said. "We can hang out at my place for a while."

Minutes later we were back in the car leaving the mall. Lately we never seem to get much shopping done but I did get some gift ideas. I was still drawing a blank about what to get Mr. and Mrs. Hundser. The kinds of things I saw that I know they would like were way out of my budget. They'd never let me hear the end of it if I dipped into my insurance money. "Keith, what are you thinking of getting your folks?" I asked.

"They like stuff for the house, you know, something they can display." Keith replied.

"Cool. Remember that clock I saw? Would they like that?"

"Yeah but they'd flip out if we got them a gift like that."

"If we pooled our money though and Drew and John chipped in we'd be pretty damn close."

"Include us too." Mike said from the back seat.

Derrick said, "We'll pick it up during the week."

Back at the house the four of us hung out in our bedroom listening to tunes for a while. Derrick sat on the chair with Mike sitting on the floor between his legs. Before the first disk ended Keith got ready for work, I walked him to the front door and he kissed me goodbye. Returning to our room I over heard Derrick and Mike bickering about something they wanted to talk with me about.

Derrick said, "don't go there dude, please," as I walked into the room.

"Don't go where?" I asked. They looked at each other like they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

After a long silence Mike sighed then said, "Umm, Prez? Are you afraid to talk with me?"

Sitting on the edge of the bed I answered, "No way Mike. Both of you guys have been helping a lot. You could be hiding from me but being the gluttons for punishment that you are you've stuck around."

"See dude, he's cool." Derrick said.

"Yeah, today I'm doin' good and I hope to feel as good or better tomorrow." I said but Mike still looked discouraged. "Mike? There's gonna be a day when I'm not feeling so good, like no one understands. When that day comes you're the first person I'm gonna call. Cool?"

Mike smiled weakly and nodded. Derrick massaged Mike's shoulder and we sat there silently for a minute or so. Mike and I were looking into each other's eyes, bonding at a deeper level. Music had been the core of our friendship once. A shiver ran up my spine realizing how attached I felt to him at that moment. To break the building tension I said, "I think you just want to get me alone and have your way with me!"

Mike laughed, "nah, I was thinking more about giving myself to you!"

Derrick smiled and said, "oh sure, flirt right in front of me."

Mike looked back at him then at me saying, "blond or red head? Tough decision."

Derrick pushed Mike's shoulders, laughed and said, "dude, just you wait. You'll be begging me for attention."

"The green monster strikes again!" Mike said laughing.

The three of us spent the next hour or so listening to tunes and picking out songs we might play until Derrick and I had to get ready for work. As I gathered my work clothes Derrick went out to his car and got his work clothes. For a few moments I pondered how Derrick lives out of his car out of necessity. Sadly, he's got both parents and less than what I had with my mom or have now for that matter. I could imagine his position; not feeling comfortable in his own home, staying away and sleeping out every chance he got. If my nightmare had been true that's exactly how I would be. Anywhere other than home would be safer than risking the confrontation at home.

Derrick came in and asked, "Prez, have you got a spare white shirt dude? I gotta do some laundry obviously."

"Sure D," I said, went to the closet and handed him one.

"I guess you guys never have to worry about showing up for school in the same clothes." Mike said noticing the contents of the packed closet.

Derrick took his shirt off and tapped my shoulder saying, "Dude, the Hundser's are home and asked if you were going to work tonight."

I started to get changed and said, "That's weird, I told them during the week."

Mike said, "Guess they thought you'd change your mind."

"I'd considered it but school went okay so with Christmas and all, what the hell." I said taking off my jeans. "Are we still getting together later tonight?"

"Yeah," Derrick said pulling his jeans off.

"I'll bring my acoustic and your bass." Mike said.

Derrick said, "Coolness! A little late night pre-jam jamming."

"I'll ask dad if we can just set up over here if you guys are into it?"

Mike smiled and said, "Dad, huh?"

"Yeah," I said pulling up my black Dockers, "it was a horrible accident being swapped at the hospital!"

Derrick and I finished getting dressed then the three of us went to talk with Mr. & Mrs. Hundser for a few minutes. They gave the green light to our plans for the night and next day.

Derrick dropped Mike off at home then we went to work. The restaurant was a mad house when we walked in. It seems that everybody in the valley was celebrating some birthday or anniversary. There was no time for socializing from the moment we got there and throughout the night. Even at our normal ten o'clock quitting time the place was still hopping. Derrick and I stayed till eleven to help clean up the last of the large parties then broke down the salad bar and left for Mike's house. After a long, hard night we were both pretty quiet in the car until just before we got to Mike's.

As we pulled onto Mike's street Derrick smiled saying, "Dude, watch me make Mike squirm."

"Huh? Why?" I asked.

Derrick chuckled and said, "Blond or redhead? If he thinks he's getting a kiss he's got a surprise comin'."

All our gear was packed and ready for transportation waiting with Mike on the front porch when we drove up. Mike walked to the driveway carrying his amp and put it down by the trunk. Avoiding Mike entirely Derrick had walked around the front of the car and headed to the porch to get his drums. Mike said, "Hey, Prez. Must've been a busy night, huh?"

"Yeah man," I said, "lots of large parties staying late." Before I started laughing I started towards the porch to get my amp.

Derrick went back to the car with his bass drum and Mike greeted him warmly with his customary, "Hey, buuuuddy!"

"Dude, let's get the gear stowed and get to the Hundser's before midnight." Derrick coolly said unlocking the trunk of the 442 then returned to the porch leaving Mike visibly dazed. I put down my amp and returned to the porch quickly before Mike could say a word. Passing Derrick on the way I could see the smile in his eyes but he had a great poker face on. Turning with another load I saw Mike and Derrick storing stuff in the trunk. I wished I could hear what they were saying! Approaching the car I could see them bumping into each other with increasing force. The second Derrick stood up straight Mike stayed hunched over and grabbed him around the waist. In a flash Derrick reached down for Mike's leg and the wrestling match had begun. Seconds later they were on the lawn and struggling for advantage. I assumed the role of referee. You can never loose points or get warnings in a wrestling match between two lovers. In moments Derrick had Mike off balance and they both tumbled to the ground. Mike wiggled free and was gaining superiority then Derrick reached between his legs and grabbed his belt. All this looked like way too much fun and it suddenly dawned on me that Keith was probably pacing the floors by now. Mike and Derrick had reached a stalemate anyway so I proclaimed the match a draw. They play battled, grabbing below the waist for a few more moments while they untangled themselves and stood.

Smiling, Mike mumbled, "cheater".

Derrick pulled Mike towards him, whispered something and laid a whopper of a kiss on him. I walked over to the car and loaded the last of our gear in the back seat then climbed in. A few moments later we were on our way home.

My home is the Hundser's home. We drove past the street where the apartment is. I couldn't see it but I could feel it, like a piece of her was still there. Suddenly I missed my mom so much tears welled up in my eyes and my throat tightened. Remembering how she tackled me when I was nine and came in the house all muddy made me smile but shed more tears. She's really gone and I'll never see her or hear her voice again. All that remains are my memories. "Good night, ma," were my last words to her. I remember her saying, "have a good day sweetheart, I'll see you tonight," before she left the house for work. Those were the final words between my mother and I. You would think the good Lord would have us say something more meaningful. It made me nauseous.

The next thing I new were parked in front of the house. I looked at my home and saw my boyfriend walking towards us. Mike got out of the car and pulled the seat forward to let me out of the back. I stood, stumbled and Mike reached forward to catch me.

"Whoa dude, are you okay?" he asked. When I looked in his face he saw I wasn't okay but I nodded anyway. My stomach was flipping, twisting and turning. Stepping out of the car I knew I wasn't going to make it in the house. I ran past the rear of the car then threw up in the street. I kept heaving even after my stomach was emptied and collapsed to my knees.

Minutes later, when there was nothing left but tears, I started to stand. Keith wrapped my left arm over his shoulder and Mike wrapped my right arm over his shoulder. Together they walked me into the house and sat me on the sofa.

Feeling defeated I whispered, "Is this ever going to end?"

"Sure it will bud. It's gonna take some time." Mike said kneeling in front of me.

Keith sat next to me, took my hand and said, "We're gonna help too, right Mike?"

"You bet." Mike said, "let's start by getting you cleaned up."

I looked down at my shirt and pants but didn't see a mess.

Keith lifted my head and said, "not your clothes baby. You burst about every blood vessel in your face."

Mike said, "you look like you've got the measles."

"Let me see if my mom is still awake." Keith said then turned to Mike. "Stay with him, okay?" Mike nodded then Keith walked down the hall to his parent's bedroom.

"Reliving memories?" Mike whispered.

I nodded and said, "as long as I keep busy it's not so bad."

"I know dude. All the things you wish were different and the stuff you wish you still could have."

"I can hear things she used to say. Some times it sounds good other times I think it's going to drive me crazy."

Keith and his parents all came back to the living room. Mrs. Hundser got an icepack wrapped in a towel and handed it to me saying, "put this on your face sweetheart."

Mr. Hundser handed me a small glass. "Sip it slowly," he told me. I took a sip and tasted pear but it was warm. Swallowing warmed me all over and made me shiver.

I asked, "What is this?"

"A German import," Mr. Hundser explained sitting in the recliner, "Williams Birnen-Brand pear brandy. They hang the bottle over the pear seedling and the fruit grows inside. It'll help you relax and get some sleep."

There was a soft knock on the front door and Derrick came in the house. "How're ya feelin' bud?" He asked as I took another sip of the brandy.

"Better," I said noticing everyone sitting around me. "If I keep drinking this stuff I'll be the life of the party." Everyone laughed.

"Did dinner at work not agree with you?" Derrick asked.

I sighed and answered, "no just an over active imagination."

"You've got to talk about it Preston." Mrs. Hundser said.

Keith said, "he does mom." Taking the icepack from me he held it to the other side of my face.

"Then you obviously need to talk more," Mr. Hundser said. "Getting physically ill is not a good sign, ya know."

"I want to but I don't want to drag everyone down."

"I've lost both my parents," Mr. Hundser said, "you're not going to drag me down."

"I've been there too bud." Mike said.

"Tell us what happened on the way home from work." Mr. Hundser said.

Derrick started telling them about work and the drive home. Then I finished up with what I was thinking about.

"All he wants to do is try like his mom would want." Keith said, "Is that such a bad thing?"

"No, it's not bad," Mr. Hundser said, "but it is putting extra pressure on yourself Preston."

Mrs. Hundser said, "you can't force yourself to ignore reality. Let yourself feel the loss, don't hold back your tears."

"I really do feel pretty good most of the time." Smiling I said, "I like being the center of attention though."

Derrick chuckled then said, "If you had blown chunks in my car you'd be the center of attention all right!"

Picturing myself cleaning the 442 while Derrick watched over me like a taskmaster made me laugh. Mr. & Mrs. Hundser said goodnight and went back to their room.

"We should probably take off too." Derrick said to Mike.

"You don't have to." I said. "If you guys want to be alone that's cool but I'd rather you stayed."

"Nah, that's cool dude," Mike said getting up to leave, "it's getting late and you look like you're ready to zonk out."

"We'll be back around noon tomorrow, Prez." Derrick said.

Keith and I walked them out to the car and said goodnight then we locked up the house. Derrick had stowed all our gear in the garage for tomorrow. When we got back to our room I reached for Keith and leaned in to kiss him but he backed away chuckling, "I ain't kissing you until you brush your teeth!"

Faking a pout I said, "I thought you loved me inside and out?"

"I do, but I prefer to taste only the outside." Keith said guiding me across the hall. "Hurry up and get cleaned up. I grabbed a video from work, Independence Day."

Grabbing my toothbrush I said, "Cool! I've heard good things about that flick."

"While the aliens invade and take over the world I want to be holding you. I'll be waiting under the covers." Keith said and left me to brush my teeth.

To be in his arms was all I wanted after another roller coaster day. I couldn't brush my teeth fast enough.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Comments and contructive critisisms are welcome.
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