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.

Copyright Notice - Please, this story is copyright by Eggman Enterprises and the author retains all rights.  You may distribute, copy, print, staple or spindle this story however you like, PROVIDED this copyright notice remains intact and you do not change the story in any way.  Also you may not charge any fee to anyone to distribute or access this story.

A New Life Chapter 29

Time Out

Making love with Prez early that Saturday afternoon was intense! There had been times in the past where during intercourse it felt as if we were having multiple orgasms but never did we actually shoot more than once. But that time we both did.

There was one point, when Prez was getting close to his second orgasm, where he raised his arms and scrunched a pillow around his head, pulling his upper body muscles tight and inadvertently reminding himself that he had been wounded. Quickly lowering his arms, he glared at me, totally surprised. I sat there between his legs motionless, waiting for a sign from him, wondering if maybe we should give up for this session. Wrapping his hand around mine, he wordlessly guided my strokes up and down his shaft, gyrating his hips slowly, massaging his magic button. Seconds later he groaned, "love you sooo much," in that word-pause-word way he speaks during intercourse, then he went off like a geyser.

More remarkable was that we had finished in about half an hour! It was very much like those first times during the summer when we were both learning how to make love. Back then we had virtually zero staying power. It was very much the same way this time. Two dudes, two orgasms each in only thirty minutes has got to be some kind of record!

We talked about our short fuses while cuddling afterwards. There were many reasons why we thought we had accomplished this remarkable feat. From Prez's perspective it was that we had completely relaxed, accepting our sexuality at a new level. All the stress and anxiety within us created by fear of homophobes was released on Jake and his friends. Prez said, "It was a fight or flight situation." If he and Mike had run away, avoiding the fight at all costs, then he wouldn't have been able to look at himself in the mirror, never mind facing me. Feeling his body tremble as he spoke, I could tell that he was genuinely angry with Jake and equally frightened that both he and Mike might've been seriously hurt.

My own view was that Prez was in serious trouble and needed me more than ever. Derrick and I saw the start of the fight from the parking lot. Stunned silent, I was completely caught off guard because Mike and Prez weren't concerned about their prior run-in with Jake. Derrick was mumbling profanities as we raced towards the scene. Weaving our way between parked cars we jumped out from opposite sides of the same car. Derrick ran straight for Mike, who was struggling to get free of two dudes. When I saw the knife I knew Prez's life was being threatened and I almost completely freaked! All I thought of was disarming Jake. Kicking his arm like I was punting a football seemed like the best way to accomplish that goal. It was like tunnel vision, only being able to focus on one thing at a time and dealing with the worst situations first. Naturally, that meant getting Prez out of harms way then helping Mike. Derrick never needed any help until the end when he needed to be restrained before he started swinging at one of the school security officers! Not until we were back in the main office did I learn that Prez had been hurt.

I had heard about all those other teenagers around the country that had brought guns to school and killed other students. We were so lucky it was a switchblade and not a revolver that Jake had pulled. The idea that it might've been so much worse, that a gun may have been fired killing both my boyfriend and my best friend is what scared me the most. My outburst in the office, outing my friends and myself proved how rattled and tweaked my nerves were. That's probably why I vomited in the nurses office, cried on my dad's shoulder and why I shed more tears while laying next to Prez talking about it that afternoon. The relief I felt Friday night continued into Saturday. All I cared about was that Prez was safe and lying beside me, not in a hospital bed or worse, on a slab in the morgue.

Kissing away my tears Prez whispered, "My hero, a heart of gold and fists of iron." Hearing that I giggled through the tears and blushed. Normally Prez doesn't say such sappy things but when he does, I know it's from the heart. Snuggling up to me with his head resting on my shoulder Prez said, "Why don't you take the night off work babe? You need the break as much as I do."

Considering the idea for a few moments, I then replied, "I guess I could call in sick."

"Sure you can. You've only done it twice before in all the time I've known you."

Remembering my aching groin and that summer day alone with Prez at the apartment I started to chuckle and said, "We could order a pizza for lunch."

His head popped up and he smiled widely saying, "I don't need an excuse to lick your face!" then proceeded to give my face a tongue bath.

Getting all wet, I grimaced but laughed hysterically and gently pushed him away. Turning my head to check the time I said, "Let's get the phone calls out of the way. You need to call Black Angus and I need to call Blockbuster."

"Okay," Prez said as he rolled off the bed, "then we can shower."

Rolling off of my side of the bed, I then turned to him surprised. "No we can't. You're supposed to keep them stitches dry for at least twenty-four hours," I reminded.

Prez sighed and nodded then we started looking around on the floor for our sweatpants. As we walked out of the room Prez turned to me with a twinkle in his eyes saying, "We can't stay scuzzy dirty all day. How about a sponge bath?"

I know Prez. He was serious about not wanting to be stinking of sweat and cum when my family came home. The twinkle in his eye meant the sponge bath could easily give us another opportunity for playtime! Reaching for his hand as we turned the corner into the kitchen I then trapped him against the counter before he could reach the phone and kissed him. Soon his mouth opened wide and his tongue darted out into my mouth then slid back again into his.

As we stood there swapping air and spit I thought, he's the best mixture of adult determination and playful boyish charms I could've ever hoped for. In many ways I've become more like him and in some ways he's becoming more like me. Years ago, while I was using sit-ups, pushups and then weights to get past my sexual frustration, Prez was becoming more interested in music and learning to play the bass. While I was getting more interested in movies and re-establishing myself socially with Mike and then Derrick, Prez was concentrating more on academic and musical pursuits. Now I'm catching up with him academically while he's becoming more sociable than ever before. It was a long, deep, playful, loving kiss.

After making our phone calls we went outside and played with Rush for a while. Before heading back into the house, Prez turned to me and said, "Watch this." Then he turned to Rush, still bouncing around playing with his toys, and snapped his arm up bellowing, "Rush, sit!" The pup's ears snapped to attention and he quickly sat down. Smiling at me, Prez then turned his attention back to Rush and said, "Good boy," then Prez slapped his left thigh. Rush ran over, sitting right beside Prez and nudging his nose into Prez's hand. "Very good boy," Prez said excitedly, "heel, very good!" Then Prez turned to me and said, "Now the big test." Prez then held his hand up like a traffic cop right in front of the dog's face and said, "Rush, stay!" then he backed away two steps. Uncertain, Rush stood but Prez repeated - "Rush, stay!" and Rush sat back down. Slowly, Prez and I backed away then stepped inside. We stood there in the doorway for a few moments watching Rush. Prez said, "He hates to stay put, like he's going to miss something." Finally Prez called, "Rush, come!" and the pup took off running. Rush flew into the house, barreling into a counter stool that I caught before it crashed to the floor and finally slid into a wall with a loud thud!

Rolling his eyes, Prez asked, "How can he be so smart and so stupid at the same time?"

"He's still a puppy but in a full size dog's body." I laughed.

Smiling, Prez shook his head and looked down at Rush saying, "You're nuts! Absolutely insane!"

Wagging his tail like crazy, Rush looked up at Prez as if to say, "Yep! That's me!" Then he trotted over to the cupboard where his food is kept saying, "Now where's my breakfast?"

"Alright, I get the hint." Prez said.

Watching Prez interact and actually talk with his dog is just another of the trippy things I love about him.

After feeding Rush, Prez and I went to the bathroom for our sponge baths. As usual, Prez turned on his little stereo radio while we brushed our teeth. While watching him shake his buns around to the music, I started moving ass around, dancing in place with him and thought about how my friends have influenced my interest in music.

Not too long ago I was usually content to listen to whatever Mike or my family was listening to, whether that was metal or classical or anywhere in between. Since I met Prez though I was following his lead, really listening to it all and choosing my favorites based mostly on the lyrics. If the words bummed me out I obviously didn't like the tune too much. Uplifting, positive messages in the songs are what I look for. Derrick likes progressive rock, especially the bands with great drummers, which may be all of them if you listen to him talk about it. Mike likes guitar music, mostly metal and grunge but recently he's been listening to other guitarists that Derrick and Prez tell him about. Prez likes all the same kinds of music that Derrick and Mike like but is more a classic rock buff. What I like the most are the really old Motown tunes. Some of those tunes like Ooo Girl, Betchya By Golly Wow and My Girl, send shivers down my spine, they're sung with so much feeling. That's probably why I like Journey so much, now that I think of it. Having the feeling that you're being sung about or sung to, is probably the most outstanding quality of any top forty songs.

Prez leaned forward and spit out the toothpaste, rinsed his mouth then looked at me in the mirror and started singing loudly with the tune on the radio.

"It's so damn easy, when your feelings are such

To hold and protect her, to love her too much

And my mind goes back to a girl I met some years ago who told me

Just hold on loosely but don't let go

If ya cling too tightly your gonna loose control

You're ready for someone to believe in

And a whole lot a space to breathe in

Don't let it slip away

Sentimental fool, don't let your heart get in the way

Ya see it all around you, good lovin' gone bad

And usually it's too late when you realize what you had

So hold on loosely but don't let go

If ya cling too tightly you're gonna loose it, you're gonna loose control"

Most of the time I watched my crazy boyfriend dance around and singing to me but towards the end of the song I took him in my arms and chuckled, "Nice try but that was way past your range."

"Yeah, but they are good lyrics." Prez said, "Hold on loosely, that's the ticket right there."

I nodded, agreeing not only that the lyrics were good but also that the message was received loud and clear.

We undressed during the station break and grabbed washcloths from the closet. Soaping up, we started to wash each other. The next song on the radio was one I knew from hanging around with Mike and one that Prez and I had listened to a lot the previous summer. Playing a little tit-for-tat, I started singing right back to him.

"Yeah, you reach for the golden ring

Reach for the sky

Baby just spread your wings

We'll get higher and higher, straight up hill climb

We'll get higher and higher, leave it all behind

Run, run, run away

Like a train running off the track

The truth gets left behind

And falls between the cracks

Standing on broken dreams

Never losing sight

But just spread you wings

We'll get higher and higher, straight up hill climb

We'll get higher and higher, leave it all behind

So baby, dry your eyes

Save all the tears you've cried

Oh that's what dreams are made of

Oh baby we belong in a world that must be strong

Oh that's what dreams are made of"

Prez yelled over the guitar solo, "That was excellent! Guess what song we'll be working on later this week!"

I laughed loudly then said, "Mike will love it, that's for sure. When we were little kids we used to fake playing guitar together, using tennis rackets and screaming at the tops of our lungs."

"I wish that there were pictures of that!" Prez chuckled.

The day started with us more in love then ever before and sharing each other's happiness. You might think that there would have been more sorrow or other bad feelings left over from the fight but after repeating the story so many times the previous night, all the sadness was completely aired out and there really wasn't anything left but relief and joy. We took our sweet time finishing the sponge baths with plenty of fondling thrown in for good measure.

Parading across the hall in our birthday suits, we went in our room and put some clean clothes on. That lanky stride of his in the buff from the rear is a sight to behold! Wondering what we would do with the day I suggested, "Wanna call Mike and Derrick?" half hoping he wouldn't want to. I wanted him all to myself for the whole day without interruption.

"Let's wait on that," Prez replied, "if they call us and want to get together that's fine but I'll bet they're feeling like we are."

It was cool that Prez was in the same state of mind as I. "We need to take advantage of this day before clouds and more rain move back in."

"How about we take Rush for a walk over to the park?"

"Yeah, that sounds good." I answered. Minutes later we had Rush on his leash and were walking out the door. Around the corner, we heard music playing and the further we walked the louder it became. A few houses away we found the source of the music. In a garage were about ten kids our age practicing line dancing to techno-rock. Prez and I hung out by the curb watching them for a while. I recognized a few of the faces from school but didn't really know any of them more than by first name.

"I'll bet you that they're practicing for the frolics," Prez said with a sly grin.

Noticing how everyone was out of step I chuckled, "They need lots more practice too." We started to walk away but a female voice yelled, "Hey dudes," and we stopped, turned around and waited for the girl to run up to us. Suddenly Rush remembered he was part German Shepherd and started barking at the girl!

"Rush! Heel!" Prez bellowed, pulling Rush back and wrapping the leash around his hand.

"Will he bite?" the girl asked.

"No," Prez said, "don't worry, he's restrained." Rush sat there, a low growl rumbling in his throat.

The girl cautiously walked closer to us and introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Rebecca," she said reaching for Prez's hand, "I just moved back here from San Francisco a few months ago." We introduced our selves and she turned to Prez saying, "Weren't you the dude fighting out by the parking lot yesterday?"

"Yeah, we both were." Prez said.

"What was that all about?" she asked. Before either of us could answer she then said, "I'll bet that Jake started it, huh? He's in one of my classes and I just knew that dude was trouble the first time I set eyes on him."

She rattled all that out remarkably fast and I thought could this chick talk up a storm or what?

"Yeah, he started it." Prez said plainly.

"I don't think you'll be seeing him around too much anymore," I said. It was sort of rude that she never even looked at me when I spoke and my mind started to wander.

"Really?" she said excitedly. " I knew it. That dude is a jerk! That's not why I stopped you though. I was wondering what you thought of the dancing?"

I chuckled and said, "It still needs some work." Again, she seemed focused completely on Prez and ignored what I had said. My gears started spinning like crazy.

Prez nodded and grinned at my comment then asked, "Are you going to be in the frolics?"

"Yep, we just started practicing this morning so I'll bet it really looked all discombobulated and shit," she giggled.

"We're in the frolics too." Prez offered.

Not once did she look at the dog or me or back into the garage. Her attention never wavered from my cute, redheaded boyfriend. She was obviously using the fight and the frolics as an excuse to talk with Prez. Her intentions were clear to me.

"Really? What act?" she asked.

"We're part of a band, listed on the school bulletin board as The Boys Of Summer." Prez told her.

"Ooo, here I am fraternizing with the competition!" she teased. "I've got to get back any way. I'll see you dudes Monday at school." She said and started to turn away.

"We'll see you again before that on the way back home." I said.

Giggling, she shot back, "I'll have to close the garage door then!"

A few steps away I started chuckling and Prez looked at me confused.

"What's so funny?" he asked.

"Oh nothin,' I laughed, "Just that Rebecca seemed a little preoccupied, don't you think?"

"Preoccupied? With what?"

"With you!" I chuckled loudly.

Prez shouted, "What? No way! It was you she was probably trying to impress." He was completely serious and blushing bright red.

His bashfulness only made me laugh harder and start teasing him.

Smiling widely, Prez said, "Man, don't start that straight boy shit again. I'm not interested, plain and simple."

"She was kind of cute though."

"Good for her," he chuckled, "she's still lacking and, since I'm already taken, she'll just have to find someone else. I am already taken, aren't I?"

My heart raced and I actually felt a little dizzy for a moment as we walked along side each other. After all the months we've been together, I'm still amazed. Prez never dated anyone before me and rarely ever questioned his sexuality. In his words, "This is the way I am. People can like me or leave me be but I'm not going to change without a damn good reason." He's learned all the right ways to act from his mom and avoids being anything like his dad. Contributing to his beliefs are all the things that give him personal satisfaction, his school grades, his preferences in music, his job, even Rush and his relationship with me. He can sometimes be stubborn but the root of that is his fierce independence. The truth of the matter was simple, he wanted to be with a boy and the boy he chose to be with was me.

Thrilled beyond the capacity to think, never mind speaking, my hand reached for his, right there as we walked along the side of the street, in broad daylight! It was the only way I could answer his question. Yeah, you're taken baby and I love you so much it's scary sometimes. As we turned and smiled at each other I thought, maybe I have learned something from that fight. I've been hearing him say it doesn't matter what other people think all those times he said it. Maybe, finally I understood his words because at that moment I knew I had to touch him. It didn't matter that we were outside or if someone shouted something derogatory at us. We had faced far worse than offensive words. Judging solely by his reaction, he wanted me to hold his hand. We walked down Shoup Avenue holding hands. It was only for five or ten minutes but cars drove by and people were out and about. No one stopped or stared. When we had to run across the street to Woodland Hills Park we let go of each other. Not a single comment was passed by anyone on the street or at the park. We didn't stay at the park for very long, just walking twice around the perimeter before heading back home.

Once we were back in my neighborhood Prez reached for my hand. And he kept holding my hand, swinging our arms in a big arc as we walked past Rebecca's house! He never said a word but the grin on his face and twinkle in his eyes said; "I'll just have to drop a not so subtle hint that I'm not interested." The garage door was open and they were still practicing their dancing. Looking at Prez then into the garage back and forth a few times, I laughed my ass off but didn't let go of Prez's hand. There's no doubt Rebecca saw us. For whatever reason, she didn't come running out into the street to chat this time!

Approaching home, we noticed my dad's car in the driveway but my mom's car missing. "Maybe she had to do some stuff at the office today." I commented.

"I wonder if anyone else is home?" Prez said. "I was hoping for another chance to fool around before tonight."

Liking the sound of that, I squeezed his hand and said, "If it's only my dad, we'll quietly sneak away for a while."

Unfortunately, when we walked in the house we found everyone but my mom home. My dad, John and Kim in the living room watching TV. I noticed John had gotten a haircut. Looking in the dining room, I saw Corey and that Drew had gotten his ear lowered as well. He looked good with a buzz cut around the ears. Obviously my dad had taken both my brothers out for haircuts and picked up their friends on the way home. Prez took the collar off Rush and I turned to my dad. "Where's mom?" I asked.

"She's on her way home," My dad answered. "There was some paper work she needed to finish before Monday morning." Then he asked, "How are you two doing?"

"Great," I said enthusiastically, "it's finally feeling like spring."

"We took the hound dog for a walk and went to the park." Prez explained.

"I expected to see Mike and Derrick with you." My dad said.

"Not today," Prez said.

"Did they call?" I asked.

"There were no messages from them. Only from your mom." My dad said.

I nodded then turned to Prez, tapped him on the shoulder and we started to head back to our room when John shouted, "Wait!" Prez and I turned to see what John wanted.

Jumping up from the floor, John came over to us and said, "Kim and me were talking earlier today and well... I told her about the fight." He paused then looked down at the floor, away from Prez and I, then softly said, "I kinda told her why too."

Prez looked at me with a slight smirk on his face. Finally my little brother was learning to deal with facts. True, he probably said a little too much but I still saw this as a step in the right direction. And since we were pretty much out to the whole high school, what addition trouble could Kim possibly cause?

"Don't worry about it bro," I said.

Prez offered, "Would you like us to talk with her?"

"You don't have to, it's cool," John said. "She's staying for dinner. I guess you could talk then if ya want."

"Cool bro," I said. Prez nodded and we went back to our room. Kicking back on the bed we watched the last part of some blues band performing live on the BETJ channel. Prez watches every band, every type of music he can whenever possible. It was pretty cool; drums, bass, piano, and saxophone but no vocals. When that was over it was four in the afternoon and we scanned the Prevue channel for a few minutes but found nothing else on TV.

Getting up from the bed, Prez suggested, "How about we go outside and toss the Frisbee around?"

Looking at him sternly, I reminded, "You really shouldn't be jumping and twisting your body around."

"I know," Prez whined, getting the Frisbee from the closet, "it's just a really nice day and it'll be dark soon. Let's not waste it. Besides, we're only tossing it around the back yard, not down at the beach. I promise, I'll save all my jumping and twisting for when we're alone later." Prez said with an evil grin.

Chuckling, I hopped out of bed and reached to grab him but he slid from my grip.

Prez giggled and raced from the room. Rush and I chased him out to the back yard. The first few times I gently lobbed the Frisbee to Prez, using just enough force to keep it in the air away from Rush. Each time Prez returned it to me with increasing strength, making me run from one corner of the yard to the other after the thing!

"What are you doing?" I shouted across the yard.

Smiling widely, Prez countered, "What are you doing? I'm not that hurt Keith. It's not like my intestines are gonna burst out of this cut on my side."

Getting the hint, I hollered, "Okay, but you'd better not rip them stitches open," then hurled the Frisbee with a fair amount of force.

Prez ran for it and turned around, catching the Frisbee behind his back. "That's much better," he yelled and tossed Frisbee back to me. It caught the wind and hovered in the air for a while, giving me the opportunity to tap it up a few times before finally grabbing it.

After a while Drew and Corey came outside and joined us. Then my dad came out to start the barbecue grill and we tossed the Frisbee to him. Effortlessly, my old man grabbed the Frisbee then spun it around his index finger, eyeing the four of us one by one, making us wonder where he would toss it. He was watching Corey and Prez on the other side of the yard but suddenly the Frisbee flew high in the air between Drew and I!

We both yelled, "I got it!" a second before crashing into each other. Drew landed on his ass and Corey started laughing. Drew quickly jumped up and brushed himself off saying, "It's cool, toss it bro." For the first time I noticed Drew wasn't quite as short as he used to be, maybe only two or three inches less than I.

After I tossed the Frisbee my dad asked, "Keith, aren't you supposed to be at work tonight?"

"Yeah, but I thought that under the circumstances I could use the night off." I replied. The Frisbee came towards me and I side stepped out of the way so Drew could catch it then told my dad, "The car insurance was paid earlier this month. I think it's cool." He nodded and went back into the house. All that my dad wanted to hear was that I was paying attention to my bills and not concentrating solely on being with Prez. Deciding whether to make thirty bones or to spend the night with Prez was a no brainer.

A short while later, Prez and I went back in the house. We hung out in our room listening to the radio and surfing the net until dinnertime. The e-mail we had been expecting from the gay-straight alliance finally arrived. Its importance had diminished somewhat since the fight but we were still enthused and forwarded it to Mike's e-mail.

Interestingly enough, Kim didn't have much to say during dinner even though the conversation briefly circled the fight. She was sweet and soft-spoken, seemingly only concerned with Prez's injury. In the kitchen after dinner, while Prez, my mom and I were rinsing the dishes; Kim's lack of interest was mentioned. My mom softly whispered to us, "Kim's a little shy about sexual matters. Notice how she's slouched forward, trying to hide her developing chest?"

"Sneak up behind her, tickle under her arms and watch how fast her posture improves!" Prez chuckled. I thought that was a pretty good idea and laughed along but my mom stared at us, flames shooting across the room until our smiles faded. As we headed back to our room Prez said, "Guess that's not such a good idea, huh?"

Prez and I chilled out for a while, listening to music while he practiced his bass. We were working on another new song, Dirty Laundry by Don Henley. While I sat back on the bed singing along, I watched Prez struggle at first. But soon he was keeping up and by the second half of the tune he was perfect. It's so funny to watch him make faces when he's learning a new tune. At first its faces of disgust and displeasure then suddenly a light goes on and from then on it's "wow, I did that?" surprised looks. He ran through the song a second time, playing a little bit then jotting down notes on a pad of paper. For the rest of the night we watched movies on TV, played some video games on the PC then practiced getting tangled up in the bed sheets.

Before passing out for the night, Prez said, "I've been wondering about something."

"What's that, baby?"

"Are you worried about my sexuality?"

Surprised, I looked at him and answered, "Not really. It's weird that I'm not worried about someone catching your interest and taking you away from me. Guess I trust you."

"Cool, I was just checkin'."

I pondered why he had asked for a few moments. Believing that he wanted to talk about it more I said, "You asked because of the teasing?"

Prez sighed and said, "Yeah. It doesn't really bug me. I just needed to check that it wasn't bugging you, deep down."

Rolling to my side to face him I said, "There's no problem here. It's just, I don't know, like a comfort level I guess. I just like to play and see you smile. You know a lot about me and I know as much about you. You told me how you never really considered having a boyfriend or a girlfriend."

"Thinking about it would've only been a reminder that I was alone, with no really close friends, just school acquaintances."

"I know baby. Being lonely and not able to stop wanting a special someone is what pushed me towards the edge. It's different now though."

"It's better! Even if I were still living with my mom it would still be the best."

I waited for a few seconds to see if he was going to get sad after mentioning his mom but he didn't. "Now I feel like I can joke about how things were for both of us," I said. "If it bothers you..."

"No, it's not a problem, honest," Prez interrupted. "It's fun when it's happening but afterwards my mind drifts off on tangents. As long as you're not thinking I'll walk off with the first pretty face that comes along."

I shook my head slowly. He's really the sweetest guy on the face of the earth.

As I leaned over to kiss his cheek, I closed my eyes and prayed that we'd always be able to talk like this. Misunderstandings creep up when we hold stuff back. Since I was happy, I wanted to make sure he was too and said, "So umm... guess this means Rebecca's big knockers did nothing for you?"

With fire sparkling in his eyes, Prez looked at me and giggled, "I wouldn't exactly say they did nothing."

I could tell he was goofing on me so I played along, shifting away from him slightly. "Uh huh, you horny bastard, you'll take anything you can get," I teased.

"Not anything... I'm looking for some specific qualities."

"Such as?"

Prez rolled over to face me and ran his hand around my ear, making me shiver with delight. "Brown hair is a must," he said. Allowing his hand to slide down my neck, he then said, "I like big shoulders too." Cupping my pec and brushing his thumb softly across my nipple he continued, "A good thirty six inch chest is nice."

Describing me with words and touches was turning me on something awful! Before throwing myself flat on my back and begging him to take me any way he pleased, I had to break the tension. "Bet ya like that fishy smell," I joked weakly.

Prez grimaced and softly said, "Nope, more a musky kind of smell," as his hand traveled painfully slowly down my side to my waist. Pulling himself closer to me he whispered, "A year ago I couldn't have known how much I like feeling a dick harden in my mouth. I never thought about it until I moved. That first week here, being alone all day, every day for a week, with very little to keep me busy, I wondered what it would be like to be held or to be kissed by another boy. It was never good enough if the fantasy was a girl, ya know? Suddenly, my head turned for almost every guy I saw. Then I met you. You stopped beside me and I could easily tell I could trust you. A few days later, when I saw you hard that first time... I never felt more alive."

Pausing, Prez waited for me to say something but I was speechless. Since I had nothing to say, he leaned closer and seductively whispered in my ear, "That morning part of me wanted to jump out of the bed and pull your boxers down, just to see you hard and to show you I was hard from watching you. I like feeling your cock in my mouth, throbbing against my tongue, tasting your sweet precum. If that's not good enough then all I have to do is spread my legs and take you inside me. Nothing feels better. You put me in orbit every time, you know that?"

He was right. Intercourse is the best way to show how much you love someone. Mesmerized by the deep tone of his voice and the incredible things he was saying, I barely choked out, "Uh huh."

"Please don't ever doubt that I'm just as gay as you are. I just don't spend time dwelling on it. It always seemed to me that being cared for and caring for someone was more important than gender. Truthfully, I don't even like classifying myself as gay. I'm a person, head over heels in love with another person and we really care for each other. That makes me feel good about myself."

I love his ideas! The way he explains things always thrills me to the core, starting with his "icing on the cake" statement last summer at Big Bear. He likes to talk about us, both as individuals and as a couple. It's reassuring for both of us too.

With the biggest, goofiest grin on my face, Prez then kissed me gently, whispered "good night, babe" and rolled over on his side facing away from me!

Stunned for a few seconds I wondered how he could say all that, melting my heart and turning my spent wiener into an iron rod, then just roll over and go to sleep! I snuggled up behind him and closed my eyes, sad that he was obviously too tired to fool around anymore but reassured that Prez was truly satisfied with everything. Then I felt the bed shake for a second, stop, then shake again. My eyes popped open and I waited. The bed shook again and I could swear I saw Prez's shoulder move! Propping myself up on one arm, I looked over his shoulder and saw his eyes squinted shut and a big smile on his face! This is exactly why we call it playtime!

I lay back down behind him but shifted closer, so that my cock was nestled between the cheeks of his ass, and started licking and nibbling his neck, knowing he wouldn't be able to take it for very long. After a minute or so like that Prez finally rolled around to face me. He whispered, "I love you Keith," then draped him self over me.

I replied, "I love you too baby." For a long while we lay there gently stroking and fondling each other before we finally lost consciousness.

Sunday morning Prez woke before me and turned on the TV. The first sounds I heard were from the movie Caddyshack.

I heard Bill Murry mumbling, "Mrs. Craine? I'm looking at you. You wore green so you could hide. Heeheehee! I don't blame you. You're a tramp! Ooo! That was a good one! Ooo! That was right where you wanted it. Ooo, Mrs. Craine, you're a little monkey-woman, you know that? You're a little monkey-woman. You're lean and you're mean and you're not too far between either, I bet, are ya?"

Prez was softly chuckling beside me as I lay there, my eyes still closed, laughing into the pillow. Rolling onto my back, my eyes parted slightly and I mumbled, "Nothing better than waking up to a good flick," as I stretched out my arms and legs.

Sliding down and close to me Prez replied, "Oh, I can think of at least one better way."

Opening my arms to accept his embrace I whispered, "We sorta forgot to finish something last night."

As we slid over and around each other for a while it suddenly occurred to me that we didn't have to go to school the next morning. And that Drew and John wouldn't be at home! And that mom and dad would both be at work - thus and thereby leaving me home alone with Prez! We could have intercourse on the bed without worrying about the headboard slamming against the wall or any other noises!

I tried to remember how many times we made love the previous few days. Not at all on Friday but we made love Saturday morning and night. Now it's Sunday morning and our hard cocks are sliding against each other once again. We could make love a lot this next week; conceivably making up for some of the past lost opportunities! The more I pulled together visions of the week, the more excited I became and the harder I pulled Prez to me. His grip around me tightened as well, adding to the stimulation. When our lips finally met my bone erupted, followed a few seconds later by Prez's forceful volleys of jizz squirting between us.

That morning I woke up feeling awesome, completely confidant, like the world was at my fingertips and nothing could possibly go wrong. The morning haze burned off and a bright blue sky took its place. After a shower and a quick breakfast, Mike and Derrick showed up early for rehearsal, which is phenomenal because Mike has never been so punctual so many times for so many months in his entire life!

Prez met them at the door and led them to the garage while I took a few moments in "the toidy", as Derrick puts it.

Now he's got all of us saying "toidy time"! Argh! Before Prez showed up, that was one of those inside jokes between Mike and Derrick that I never got. Derrick says it with just the right inflection, not really gay sounding, other than the phrase itself. I still don't understand how exactly that phrase started. Once, when I asked Mike and D about it, I got an obvious line of bullshit. It makes me wonder what may have happened in the bathroom between them that started the whole thing.

While I was washing my hands Jess rang the doorbell. I answered the door and we went to the garage. Prez was chitchatting with Derrick while Mike, who was shaking my tambourine and chanting praises to Hare Krishna, worked the PA and tested the microphones.

Personally, I think Mike has taken one too many trips through Los Angeles International airport!

Now my friends have got me playing various percussion instruments -- cowbells, maracas and the tambourine, even castanets. How gay is that? Playing castanets I keep my hand down by my side, thank you very much! I kind of like the cowbell. The tambourine is slightly less cool... but those castanets! I had a nightmare once where a dancing girl wearing a fruit basket on her head had my face! Needless to I say I woke up scared to death and, as insane as it sounds, had to check myself out thoroughly for the correct body parts before I could go back to sleep!

With all the gear powered up, the chit chatting turned to reviews of various parts of various songs -- they called them change-ups, where the verse switches to the chorus - or something like that. Sometimes listening to the four of them is like listening to my computer literacy teacher. Let's see, there's eight bits to a byte, four bytes to a word, four beats to a measure, eight bars to a chorus, two pints to a quart -- my goodness! They'd play a little section of music a few seconds long over and over until they were satisfied with it. It was like an old record skipping at first, then more like a programmed repeating section on a CD. They were getting so good! How they could just pick a small section of a song and play it like that amazed me! Most times, while they were working just the music, they didn't need me to sing until we were ready to run through the whole song.

My turn to be a perfectionist came during the songs with complicated background vocals. They had the background music "in the pocket," as they say, but sometimes they don't even hear themselves singing, straying all over the place. Eventually someone starts giggling or purposefully exaggerating his or her fuck-ups. Correcting the problem section and then re-doing the entire song takes the most time. We're getting there, slowly but surely. Mike and Jessy do a great job on Wonderful Tonight by Clapton. More often we're making it through more difficult songs like Don't Worry Baby, Helplessly Hoping and Never My Love without major problems.

During breaks, how to keep an audience entertained was becoming a repeating topic of conversation between the five of us. With Prez backing me up, it took very little talk before they all agreed to get involved more.

There was no doubt that I enjoyed singing and spending days with my friends actually accomplishing something. It beats roaming the mall, especially since it's rare we can afford to buy anything!

Lots of times I was impressed with how well they played but only marginally satisfied with my own performance at best. Remember that I was the one dragging my feet at first, caught at a particularly emotional time. Now everything's completely out of control! How the hell am I going to sing in front of twenty or thirty people in my own back yard, never mind an auditorium full? I often asked myself and reminded them.

They kept saying, "Chill out and have fun playing the part the way you want to play it," or variations on that theme.

Yeah, right! It's difficult enough remembering lyrics sometimes with just the four of them watching!

They'd remind me of the night at The Royal Crown too.

I'd remind them that most everyone there was behind me and that I was on painkillers at the time!

They all thought that was pretty funny and that I should use it in the act! I can't win sometimes.

Working on ballads the whole day was a lot easier on me though. There were occasional high parts to reach for but they were much less difficult than the heavy rockers by comparison.

A little before six we finished up and Jessy asked if we had made any decisions about the prom.

I looked over at Prez then said; "We haven't even mentioned it since our last rehearsal."

"We haven't talked about much either." Mike confessed.

Jessy asked, "Don't you want to go anymore?"

"Sure we do, don't we?" Prez said, turning to each of us. I smiled and nodded enthusiastically, thinking, what the fuck? Whether we go or not, won't effect much of anything anymore.

"Yeah, we do." Derrick said and Mike nodded. "It's a little bit different now though."

"I'm looking forward to the limo ride." I said.

Jessy got really excited and said, "A limo sounds wonderful! I'll have to ask Nelson about that idea."

"It would be stupid to try and appear... well... straight." Mike said, more to Derrick than anyone else.

Derrick suggested, "We could still go with them, even if they're not like dates."

"Sure you could," Jessy agreed.

Prez asked, "They're still interested in going with us?"

Jess answered, "As far as I know of, yeah. Why don't you meet them for lunch tomorrow?"

"We won't be at school tomorrow or at all this week." I said.

"I'll pass along the message," Jessy said. "Where would you want to meet them? Carl's Junior?"

We all nodded and Prez said, "That's fine."

My dad came to the garage door, looked over at Mike, Derrick and Jessy before asking, "Who's staying for dinner?"

Jessy smiled, shook her head then said, "I've got plans with Nelson, thanks."

Mike nodded and Derrick said "If its not too much trouble."

"No problem, just bring in two folding chairs with you." my dad said.

Before my dad left I asked, "Dad, what's it cost to rent a limo for a night?"

Glancing at the four of us, my dad asked, "For two or four couples?"

"Four," Prez answered.

My dad thought for a moment then said, "For four you'll definitely need a stretch limo. Figure close to one hundred dollars per hour."

Surprised at the cost, Mike said, "Really? That's gonna break the bank dudes."

"Not if we split the cost eight ways," Derrick said.

Nelson walked up behind my dad, they greeted each other and Jessy practically skipped over to her boyfriend, saying her good-byes and reminding us to be at Carl's for lunch the next day.

After dinner the four of us retreated to our bedroom. We didn't even close the door or sit down before Derrick and Mike became unnaturally interested in taking Rush for a walk. Mike got in my way, preventing me from sitting down and Derrick kept getting in Prez's way so the TV and stereo wouldn't be turned on! I knew that look in their eyes and hurried Prez along with Rush.

The night air was chilly and damp. Misty halos could be seen around the street lamps. It would likely become a very foggy night. Lined up in a row, Prez on my left side with Rush trotting along merrily beside him, Derrick to my immediate right and Mike at the far end, we wandered the residential side streets of Woodland Hills. We were still talking about the various options we had for the night of the prom.

"I really, really want to see you in a tux," Mike said to Derrick.

Derrick flashed a wicked grin. "Ha! And once you see me in a tux you'll be struggling to get me out of it again!"

"Umm... so where's the problem dude?" Mike said gleefully.

Prez said. "Are we going with the girls? That would make the limo significantly less expensive."

"It's up to you and Mike," Derrick said to Prez. I noticed D fidgeting around like he had an itch around his waist that he couldn't quite scratch right.

After a few moments Mike sighed and said, "Okay, if you'll wear a tux, I'll deal with the girls being around."

Prez looked at me then silently walked along a few more paces before saying, "Okay, I can cope as long as we take a limo."

"So are we going to just go with them or pair up or what?" Mike asked anxiously.

"Why don't we wait and see how they want it to be?" Derrick suggested as he struggled to pull something from his jacket pocket.

"What are you fighting with there dude?" I asked.

Derrick replied, "My cousin was in town yesterday and gave me a little gift."

"You dudes will love this!" Mike said excitedly.

"Don't interrupt dude," Derrick said.

Prez and I glanced at each other, wondering what was stuck in D's pocket. "It's a ferret," Prez whispered and I giggled.

"As I was saying," Derrick chuckled, "my cousin was in town. When she learned I wasn't living at home anymore, she walked around the corner to see me." Mike was snorting, fighting to hold in a belly laugh. "She caught me `bout an hour before I had to leave for work..." Derrick said and Mike roared with laughter. Derrick shook his head at Mike and said, "When Mike's mom knocked on the bedroom door to tell me I had visitors, we were just cleaning up the room but were still naked."

Mike laughed, "He was in such a hurry to get dressed, he put his jeans on inside out!" Prez and I cracked up, imagining our selves in the same predicament.

"ANYWAY!" Derrick said loudly. "So my cousin starts asking questions, why I'm not living at home and stuff. My cuz and I were always tight when we lived close by so I told her the truth."

"Really?" I said surprised.

Prez asked, "How'd she take the news?"

"Great!" Derrick said, "Charlise said that she was always pretty sure I was gay. That kinda freaked me out so I asked her how she knew. She glanced at Mike and then at me again then said, `I kinda already figured, I'm bi.' What's really funny is that her roommate Terri is her girlfriend and they're both spending the weekend at my parent's house! If my dad only knew." Derrick said and we all laughed hysterically. Derrick continued, "Just before I left for work, while I was sitting in my car, Charlise asked me if I wanted a little weed. `Course I said it would be nice but I was low on cash. She gave me some anyway and this great little one-hitter... if I could just get it out of my damn jacket!" Mike shook his head and D explained, "It fell through the hole in my pocket, now it's trapped between the linings."

Prez looked past me at Derrick and asked, "How many fingers fit in the hole bud?"

"Is there room for two? Can you feel anything?" I snickered

"Maybe it's too slippery?" Mike added.

Derrick chuckled, "You're not making this any easier! It's my first time, please be patient." With that comment we all cracked up laughing.

Holding his belly, Mike giggled breathlessly, "Liar! It's been about a year since your first time."

Derrick looked over at Mike so fast his neck almost snapped. "You remembered." Derrick said softly.

"Course, dude!" Mike said then bumped against Derrick, knocking him into me slightly.

Catching something in their tone, I asked, "Do I detect an anniversary coming up?"

"Yep!" they both said simultaneously.

"When's the big day?" Prez asked anxiously.

"April 27th." Derrick said proudly.

"It's been a hell of a year," Mike said quickly.

"Oh shit dudes, that's only a week away!" I said.

"We'll be celebrating all week, starting with this," Derrick said, finally displaying the small wooden box that was hidden in the depths of his jacket pocket. It was about three inches long, an inch and a half wide and three quarters of an inch deep. Derrick slid open the compartment and out popped what appeared to be a brass cigarette holder. He then pushed the brass piece into the wider side compartment, brought it to his lips and took his first hit.

Prez chuckled, looked up at the sky and in his thickest southern accent said, "Remember when I was an innocent tike, ma?" I looked at him incredulously and he smiled at me then said, "She left me to be edumacated by you city slickers!"

Mike, Derrick and I almost lost it entirely!

"Give me a break!" laughed Mike.

Derrick cackled, "You haven't been an innocent little boy in a long, long time dude!"

"Yeah! You've taught this city slicker a few new tricks!" I chuckled.

Grinning evilly, Prez said, "Sure, blame me for your wicked ways."

"Ugh! Dude, your trippin' me out here!" Derrick laughed.

"It's like one of many possible realities." Mike explained jovially while he scraped the one hitter in the box. "There is, no doubt a reality where you may be slightly more innocent, but in this reality that is not the case, I assure you!"

Derrick commented, "You're startin' to talk like Doug or Brian dude."

"I'm still way more innocent then you Michael," Prez said while Mike was taking his hit. Hearing his full first name, Mike sputtered then Prez said; "It's not me asking about how we might arrange a little orgy! Is it?" Coughing and gagging, Mike laughed his ass off, staggering around in the street. I laughed so hard I almost pissed myself!

"You've been snagged dude!" Derrick laughed.

Looking at me like I had let the fox loose in a chicken coop, Mike passed me the one-hitter saying, "It was supposed to be a surprise! For a birthday or holiday or something!" then turned to Prez and asked, "How long have you known?"

Grinning widely, Prez said, "A long time. Since Christmas." and Mike snickered. As we crossed the street heading towards the park I scraped the little brass thing into the box, waiting and wondering what would be said next. I knew Prez was ready to open our discussions to include Derrick and Mike but I didn't know he was going to do it right then! I figured he was talking to Derrick about it a little bit. Prez and Mike get along well and all, it's just that they took a while at first so they proceed with caution.

"Since you've waited this long to say anything, I guess it's not completely out of the question then." Mike said.

"Keith and I have talked about it some from time to time," Prez said.

We had talked at length about it, I thought as I took my hit. Those were some of the greatest conversations we've ever had, really emotional, one minute baring all, a little ashamed and sad, the next minute laughing hysterically. Prez had told me his limits and I told him mine.

All the trials and tests we've had as a couple were small potatoes compared to what it takes to swallow your pride and admit to your boyfriend that your just an exceptionally horny dude with lots of fantasies. It wasn't a one sided exchange, Prez had similar admissions to make.

On one hand, we both want to be faithful and are certain that our relationship could work long term. On the other hand we can't help but be curious, not only about Derrick and Mike but curious of almost every cute guy we see! Promiscuity is out of the question, totally out of character and impossible for both of us to even fake. Mike and Derrick aren't just anybody, however. I've known Mike forever. Prez and Derrick are really tight too; they often think alike and finish sentences for each other.

The fact was that there is very little Mike or Derrick could provide physically but they did provide a lot emotionally. Could I watch Prez tongue kiss either of them? Sure, I tongue kissed both of them. Prez knew that and the only thing that bothered him is he wasn't there and he hadn't had any remotely similar opportunities. There's a sort of breathlessness, anticipation when you kiss someone you love. It's hard to describe but kissing them was nothing like kissing Prez. I imagined Prez kissing them and I knew it would feel different to him, just as it had for me, and it would just be a weird, friendly kiss.

Sitting on a swing at the park, I came out of my trance to hear Derrick say, "Ever wonder what its gonna be like a few years from now?"

"We're gonna graduate and who knows where we'll wind up." Mike said, taking a running leap onto a merry-go-round. Derrick walked over and began pushing the merry-go-round hard, making it spin faster.

I handed the little box to Prez and he said, "We could try to keep within driving distance of each other."

"But already we know our plans are heading in different directions," Derrick said, jumping onto the merry-go-round. "You and Keith are checking out colleges. Mike and I are looking at trade schools."

Mike explained, "We just want to keep food in our bellies while we try to make it into Billboard's Top forty. I can work shit jobs for the next few years. I'm going to go to the Guitar Institute."

"I can't deny that you dudes are important, ya know?" Derrick said softly, "I could easily say I love you both, just not at the same level as Mike."

"Aww," Mike giggled.

"You dudes mean a lot to us too," I admitted.

"Yeah ya do," Prez said, "but is that a good enough reason to tempt fate?"

"Nobody's lookin' to go home with some one new, " Mike insisted and scraped his feet in the sand to slow down the merry-go-round. "We've talked about it some too. It would just be sad if we wound up hundreds of miles apart and didn't ever display some affection, don't you think?"

Prez nodded slowly, handing me the dog's leash then took a hit. As he exhaled he half apologized, "I just don't want anyone to get hurt. Could you imagine it if none of us could talk to each other?"

"Chill dude, no one's gonna get hurt," Mike said, "come play on the merry-go-round, you'll feel better."

"You are still a kid, technically speaking," Derrick laughed.

"We all know the deal pretty well. It's just gonna be like sexual dares and games, stuff like that." Mike said then he giggled, "I've read way too much stuff on the net to let all this pass!"

"It's good we're talking about it, all at the same time. There's no misunderstandings this way," I said.

"I totally agree." Derrick said.

Prez tied Rush's leash to the monkey bars, came over and took the swing beside me. We started swinging to and fro, eventually getting in sync and tugging the steel poles of the swing set out of the ground.

"Couldn't have picked a better time," I commented.

"For one reason or another I was uncomfortable talking about it before, it just felt right this time." Prez said.

"It's cool baby, I'm proud of you."

"The only question left is... when?" Prez said.

Hearing Mike and Derrick's laughter behind me I said, "When it's right. It doesn't look like they're worried about it."

Soon Rush's whines turned to barks so we decided to leave the park before a cop showed up. Of course Mike and Derrick were completely dizzy, holding onto each other as they wobbled, familiarizing themselves with solid ground again. It wasn't very late but still, if a cop had driven by, we would've all been looking for some serious answers! Luckily we made it back to my house without interference.

Later that night, after everyone had gone home or gone to bed, Prez and I were in our room getting ready for bed. I wanted to refill my glass with cold water and went to the kitchen. When I came back to the room all the lights and the TV were off. Only the flickering lights from the stereo softly illuminated Prez's naked profile at the foot of the bed a few feet before me. He was swaying softly to the music, his eyes closed, facing the stereo.

The last week we had been practicing a lot of ballads. The tape he made of the original recordings was playing very softly in the background. A few seconds after I walked into the room he turned to me and smiled as I pushed my boxers off, swayed over to him and took him in my arms. Before he had a chance to ask, I softly sang, almost whispering the lyrics.

"You ask me if there'll come a time when I grow tired of you

Never my love, never my love

You wonder if this heart of mine will loose its desire for you

Never my love, never my love

What makes you think love will end when you know that my whole life depends on you?

Never my love, never my love."

If Prez had never reciprocated wholeheartedly to my singing then I most certainly wouldn't be doing any of what I was with the band. He didn't hold back that night either. From that first time I sang a little for him I was always pleased with his reaction. For some reason no one else's opinions ever really mattered, not my families or even Mike's. But Prez only knew me for a few days and his comments were then and have always been appreciated, making me feel like I've accomplished something wonderful. Occasionally seeing him pull on his bone through his clothes was always a big help too! I'd never be one to complain but we really need to get past these ballads before we all wind up severely dehydrated!

Lunch with the girls the next day went much better than our first meeting. We all knew of each other from various classes we had shared at school, we simply traveled in different circles and never really talked before Jessy introduced us. While we were in line ordering our food, Sharon, the smallest but the most vocal of the four girls, asked, "We're only sharing rides together, right?"

Julie, Sharon's girlfriend said, "You're not looking for dates or anything?"

"We're open to suggestion but just sharing the ride and sitting at the same table would be cool," Derrick said, then turned to order his lunch.

"We were thinking of hiring a limo for the night," I mentioned.

"That would be excellent," Sharon said loudly.

Julie asked, "How much?"

"We're not sure yet," I said.

"We're guessing about a hundred bucks an hour. Split eight ways, that's only twelve-fifty per hour each." Prez said softly. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was still self-conscious. One by one we each placed our orders then sat at adjacent tables.

As Prez and I joined the group at the table, Sharon said, "I guess we need to get the tickets before Friday."

"Why Friday?" Mike asked.

"That's the last day they're for sale, it's then or never." Sharon said.

Surprised, the four of us looked at each other. Had we wasted so much time just thinking and talking about it that we forgot when the cutoff day was? Obviously so!

Noticing our expressions, Julie asked, "You haven't bought tickets yet either?"

"No, and we forgot all about the cutoff date." I said.

Prez said, "Being suspended might make this difficult."

"Do you have the cash? We'll get the tickets for you." Julie offered.

"That would be sweet!" Derrick said happily.

"Yeah, thanks. For a minute there I thought we blew it." Mike added.

Julie giggled and Sharon leaned towards Mike softly saying, "Is it P.C. for gay dudes to use the term `blew it' in public?" Everyone cracked up. Mike blushed and chuckled, shaking his head slowly, embarrassed at his choice of words.

Our orders were set down on the table then I suggested, "We'll meet again tomorrow and get you the cash then, if that's okay?"

"That's fine. How about Taco Bell tomorrow?" Sharon said.

Prez nodded, grinned at me and softly said, "Better get extra sour cream on your tacos."

For the next hour after lunch we drove around Woodland Hills hitting ATM's to get the money for the prom tickets. Back at my house, we sat in the driveway for a few minutes passing Derrick's one-hitter around. Mike was in a hurry to get back to the garage and blast out for a few hours before my folks got home. As if on the verge of a breakdown, Mike explained nervously, "After a weeks worth of ballads, I just gotta play something loud and raunchy for a while or I swear, I'll loose it."

Loud and raunchy is exactly what it was too! He ran straight to his guitar, powered up his amp and started crankin' out before Derrick or Prez could even get themselves situated! Old songs flowed into new songs and they became rhythms and solos I had never heard before. He went off for about twenty minutes before stopping!

As soon as he stopped playing, Prez asked, "Do you know how to play Dreams, Mike?"

"Most of it." Mike said, softly playing the tune on his guitar.

"Almost all of it," Derrick corrected, "the solo is a little different but it's Van Halen-ish."

Mike smiled, "I've been wanting to suggest some Eddie for a while."

"Why not do Love Walks In?" Derrick suggested.

For the remainder of the afternoon we played both Van Halen tunes several times. Mike, Derrick and Prez took a few heavy metal tangents now and then, playing tunes I didn't know they could play and completely throwing me off! I had a pretty good buzz and goofed around, singing whatever lyrics I could remember and making up the rest! Mike did a lot of singing and forgetting lyrics too! It was one of the best times I've ever had rehearsing.

That night during dinner I told my dad, "We met with Jessy's friends today."

"It's decided then, you're all going to the prom together?" my dad asked.

I nodded and swallowed then said; "Everyone's pretty psyched about hiring a limo for the night. Can we go ahead and make some calls?"

"Already done." My dad said, "For the stretch limo it's one hundred an hour."

"Can we get them for an hour to pick us up and then another hour to take us home or does it have to be one big block?" Prez asked.

"Two reservations can be made." My dad answered. "Shall I make the reservations tomorrow then?"

"Cool, the prom starts at seven and ends at eleven." I said.

Tuesday started out almost an exact repeat of Monday. Prez and I took our sweet time getting out of bed; we showered, picked up Mike and Derrick then met "our dates" for the prom at Taco Bell. Loud, outgoing, cheerful Mike turned into an absolute basket case when I called them "our dates". I hadn't noticed before, he was the only one that hadn't spoken much in front of Jessy's friends! With every short answer he looked more like he might barf all over himself! At least Prez was speaking, telling them about the limo reservations we were making with my dad's help. Mike was obviously afraid of girls! On the way home I couldn't help but tease Mike a little bit. Mike denied it, of course. He got me back when we got home and back into the garage, instigating me to act crazy and then pointing out to me what I had been doing! No new songs were learned that day. They played some of the old, "Pre-Jessy" tunes with me smacking the cowbell and singing background vocals here or there.

During a break, Prez was playing guitar, Derrick was playing bass, I was playing drums, Mike was playing keyboards and we were making a horrible racket when my brothers walked in. "You've got company," Drew shouted and behind him were John, Corey, Jessy, Sharon and Julie.

"And I just got done saying how good we were starting to sound," Jessy said with great sadness.

I got up and greeted our unexpected guests.

"We just came over to drop off the prom tickets," Sharon said. Dangling the tickets before me, I reached for them but she pulled them away and said, "Not so fast! There's the little matter of shipping and handling. That'll cost you one song -- each!"

"Can we offer a rain check?" Prez asked. "We have to go to work in a little while," he explained.

"Oh shit, I completely forgot about that." Derrick said.

Looking at my watch and searching for a way to reduce the number of audiences I would have to sweat through I suggested, "Why don't you just come over for my brother's birthday?"

"When's that?" Sharon asked.

"Saturday, May 16th." John answered.

Sharon glanced at Julie, who nodded her head in agreement and then she said, "We'll be there."

"Cool, I'll let my folks know there'll be two extra." I said.

Derrick came over and took two tickets from Sharon, thanking her and said, "I've got to get ready for work." Then he looked over at Prez and asked, "Are you workin'?"

"Yeah, I'll just stay in the kitchen emptying buckets. Do you want to drive or shall I?" Prez said.

"It don't matter, dude." Derrick said.

"I'll make up for some of the rides you've given me then. I'll pick you up in about half an hour." Prez said.

We all left the garage and I quickly excused myself to get ready for work while Prez walked everyone else out. When he returned to our room he picked up the prom tickets and said, I can hardly believe we're really going."

Tying my shoes, I asked, "Have you thought about a tux?"

"A little bit, maybe blue but I'll have to see how it looks."

"With tails or without?"

"I'd prefer with tails."

"How about we go tux shopping tomorrow?" I asked and Prez's face lit up like I had proposed or something!

"You'd better leave really quick or I'm gonna attack you." He said.

I got my wallet and keys off the dresser quickly then stopped to kiss him goodbye. He almost swallowed my tongue!

At work it was pretty busy that night, more like a weekend night than a weekday. A shipment of tapes had been delivered earlier in the day. With all the customers, I had to stay until ten to get them all unpacked and the shelves stocked up.

Prez got home a few minutes after me. He checked his e-mail and found another e-mail from the gay-straight alliance. The first e-mail was a simple greeting and some information about the organization. It's not just for gays but for anyone that's mocked or harassed at school, like the disabled or the kids that dress funny or anyone else that doesn't act "normal". This second e-mail told us more about how school administrators sometimes tried to prevent the club from using school facilities. We learned that there was a proposition that would be voted on in the coming election, making it illegal for school districts to restrict access that way. Until then we should notify them if the school resisted our efforts. Prez was surprised that there was already a lawsuit against the Orange County school district for doing the very same thing. He was really bummed out about it and I went with him to talk with my parents. This was the first real conversation we had had with them about the alliance. They liked the idea a lot and told us not to worry about our school district, saying that Orange County was full of Republican preppies! I had to laugh out loud.

Before we left to return to our room, my mom turned to Prez and said, "Let's change that bandage again tonight, honey."

I had stayed when my mom changed the dressing Sunday morning and wasn't pleased with the site of the stitched up wound on his side. This time I thought I'd go back to our room and create a little distraction from the political situation with the gay-straight alliance. From the medicine cabinet I got the gauze pads and the tape then gave them to my mom before going to the kitchen for some Cokes. Retreating to our room, I only had to think for a minute before an idea came to mind that would certainly make Prez happy.

First I turned on the TV then quickly searched the desk drawers for a deck of cards, a pencil and some paper. Strip poker wouldn't do since we were already wearing only shorts and underwear. A game of "five hundred" rummy would fit the bill nicely, I thought. We could play that and whoever won would have his choice of sexual favors! I got our large throw pillows to sit on, set them in front of the TV, stripped naked, shut off the lights then sat down on a pillow and waited for Prez, shuffling the cards impatiently, willing myself not to get hard.

A few minutes later Prez opened the bedroom door and Rush trotted in then plopped down on the pillow across from me! Prez pulled the pillow out from under Rush, kneeled down, smiled at me and said, "Strip poker? It looks like you've already lost."

That sexy smile alone got me hard instantaneously! "It's not whether you win or loose but how long you can stand playing the game!" I said and then explained to him what I had in mind. As soon as I finished he stood up and stripped off his clothes, allowing his stiffie to spring free. The eleven o'clock news had just started when we began playing the first hand. About an hour later Prez was winning with over one hundred points compared to my own sad score of sixty-two. I couldn't concentrate! Not with his beautiful cock displaying the various stages of arousal right in front of me! A short while later, Rush got up and went into his pet apartment. Prez shifted slightly on the pillow, reached down to rearrange his scrotum and, seeing me watching him touch him self, he explained, "Just adjusting things, I'm not playing with it."

"You can play with it. Better yet, let me." I only half joked.

"We've not even reached two hundred yet. You ready to give up?"

Enjoying the game and seeing him naked, I shook my head and said, "Not really, you?"

Prez grinned and said, "I won't forfeit while I'm winning."

The last time we played strip poker I had lost only two articles of clothing by the time Prez had lost his briefs. I knew he wouldn't give up easily but I also could hear a slight anxious tremble in his voice. Watching his dick go from half hard to fully erect, back and forth, over and over again was making me whacko!

I don't have a clue why we play the games we play or why we tease each other the way we do. We're not testing each other, looking for some limit to be reached. From our very first days together it was like we were feeding off each other, learning and growing more all the time.

"Ummm... how about we take a break at the halfway point, like they do in football?" I suggested.

"Okay," Prez said, "how long should our halftime festivities be?"

"Not too long or we'll forget to finish the game!" I laughed weakly.

Prez laughed along, leaned forward and kissed me then whispered; "I need you to touch me real soon."

Hearing that, my mouth got so dry I couldn't speak. We looked at each other for a long minute; his blue eyes searching my soul, my own eyes completely entranced by his face. Our smiles faded. I noticed Prez started fumbling with his cards and I whispered, "I love you so much baby." Prez dropped his cards and I threw mine aside as he crept over to kiss me. My hands slid around his sides and I felt the stitches under his bandage. Carefully I guided him down to the floor and kissed my way around his face, chest and belly, eventually working my way to the bandage then down to his shiny wet cock. Reversing, Prez licked a trail from below my ear, down my neck and all around my chest and stomach while my eyes spun wildly in their sockets. He lovingly sucked each of my nads into his mouth then stopped to kiss me tenderly.

Moving back away from me, he offered a hand to help me sit up and said, "Do me babe," then got on his hands and knees with his bubble butt in the air. I got up to get the lube and heard him whisper, "Damn, I'm so hot I could explode at any second." I must've broken light speed getting the lube from the night table and getting back into position behind him! While I lubed his hole he started gyrating his hips, pushing backward against my fingers and moaning. When I got into position and put my hard cock against his hole he hissed, "Yes." I could totally relate with how he was feeling. If he hadn't asked me to make love to him first, I would have been begging for it the same way. My baby was on fire inside. Remaining still, softly rubbing his back and thighs I waited only a few seconds before he shifted then pushed back against me. Taking hold of his hips I began thrusting slowly in and out and from side to side. His arms collapsed and he groaned something unintelligible into the carpet then pushed up, took hold of the edge of the bed and tried to raise his upper body. Wrapping my arms around his belly and chest I held him upright then started thrusting with short, hard strokes. One hand reached down and felt his soft, sopping wet dick. He was leaking profusely! I imagined myself finishing then taking his dick into my mouth, tasting that wonderfully sweet fluid, feeling him harden and finally shooting down my throat. That vision pushed me over the edge. Muting my cries against his shoulder, I heard him whimper as I flooded his insides with my cream. Prez reached back and held onto my ass, holding my deflating cock inside him as we kissed and cooed. When he finally let go of me, I pulled out then guided him down and tried to give him the blowjob of the century! Judging by his reaction and how quickly we fell asleep, I think I succeeded.

Mike and Derrick came over the next day around noon and the four of us went to the mall to check out tuxes. Afterwards, as we drove back to my house, we talked with Mike and Derrick about the latest e-mail from the gay-straight alliance. That conversation led to discussing what our time at school would be like starting the next week.

"I really believe that Jake and his buds are the exception, not the norm." Prez said as we got home and out of the car.

I unlocked the front door and said, "I'm pretty sure you're right babe. Those exceptions can sure create a shit load of trouble for us though."

"No one's gonna mess with us." Mike added, sounding very certain of himself.

"From the sound of it, the school's going to have to let us start the club or else they'll be hearing from the lawyers of the alliance." Derrick said.

Sitting down on the living room floor in front of the love seat, I guided Prez down beside me and said, "In the meantime we might have to find somewhere else to have meetings, just in case."

"There's only another five or so weeks left of school," Prez reminded, "we probably won't have to think about that until August or September."

Derrick nodded and said; "We're all thinking the same thing. No one wants a repeat of last Friday. Every time I look at Mike and see that shiner I shudder to think how things could have turned out."

The doorbell rang and I got up to answer it.

"That's probably Jessy." Prez said.

It was Jessy and Nelson was with her. I greeted them and, as we all headed for the garage, Nelson asked what we were doing with the week off. We each outlined a little of what we had been doing and Prez mentioned the alliance. I knew they would be cool about it but I wasn't prepared to hear them both say they would talk with their own circle of friends, encouraging them to participate.

What surprised me most was my own stupidity. Not that long ago I considered killing myself because I couldn't deal with being gay, with being considered abnormal. The alliance was a cool way for students to show other students and the faculty what they believed; that the old ways of putting people down, mocking their religion, ethnicity or even their choice of clothes did nothing but create a lot of friction.

It was about a year ago that I had come out to my family and they've been really cool. Even the problem with John and Kim worked itself out, for the time being anyway. After all I've been through with Mike and then with Mike and Derrick and then with Prez, I'm still only prepared to be openly gay with them. Having these two straight friends treat me normally just blows me away! Rarely do they even make mention of our sexuality. We bring it up more than they do, by far. They really seem to not mind at all, talking about our relationships as they would any of their other straight friends.

All through the afternoon while we rehearsed, in the back of my mind I wondered how some people could be so uncaring and inflexible. What hidden suffering made those people so heartless? Why did someone else's sexuality bother them so much when it really had no direct bearing on their own sexuality or any other part of their lives? What does it mean to be openly gay? Prez is my boyfriend. Any one that knows me well is going to know that. It's not like I would hide him from anyone. Examining my own thoughts I wondered if I was just being a stupid, stubborn kid? Since I was expecting a slightly different reaction, was I treating heterosexuals with the same sort of biases that they treat homosexuals with? Would I discover something later in life that answered any or all of these questions? When Prez and I talked about these ideas alone and then with my parents later that night, my mom said, "You're trying to second guess yourself. All you have to be is the best person you can be. Now and then life will throw you curves. You may not like the way you react, believing you might've done better. Just learn from those instances and try to do better the next time."

Rush woke us around nine and we spent the next few hours walking around the house in the buff, occasionally pausing for a quickie. I expanded on the thoughts from the previous night and asked, "Did you ever really think about the difference between being openly gay and straight?"

"A little bit," Prez said while he fixed us some lunch. "Ever since we first met Doug and Brian."

"They're obviously a couple."

"It's no different then seeing your parents together."

"But my parents didn't have to walk up to someone and declare their sexuality. They just decided to get married."

"I'm following you," he said, "so then why do gays have to state what should be obvious?"

"Yeah." I said and waited to see if he could answer the question. I though of another and asked, "If two or three supposedly straight guys are sharing an apartment would you wonder if they were having sex?"

"No, I wouldn't have to. How they treat each other would be all the signal I'd need."

"But for you it wouldn't matter. For someone else, they might be grossed out."

Prez turned from the stove to face me and asked, "You think everybody is doing the same?"

"Maybe. And do you know why it's necessary for us to come out?"

"Because there's no other way. Gay marriage isn't possible most places."

"And maybe because of other peoples assumptions and over active imaginations."

"I'm not imagining Doug and Brian having sex, that would be a little bizarre!" Prez said, shaking his head as if to remove the image from his mind. I laughed and he turned back to the stove saying, "I just know they are and they seem to deserve it. Same with your parents."

I nodded my agreement then chuckled, "And they call us perverts! They're walking around with mental images of strange couples having sex in their minds!"

Prez laughed and said, "Maybe they're not getting enough!"

"Or maybe it should be no one else's business, period. Two people live together and what they do behind closed doors is they're business alone."

"You know, I was just thinking of all those couples in the halls at school."

"I don't imagine them or anyone else having sex either. I used to."

"Ya weren't getting enough," Prez snickered.

Sneaking up behind him I waited until I was really close then grabbed him by the hips. Prez jumped and said, "Sneaky bastard."

"You thought about other people having sex too, admit it."

"Course, and sometimes I put myself in the picture."

That's another thing I love about him, how easily he tells the truth.

With both of us naked, so close together with the ever-present radio on in the background, we started swaying to the music. After a few moments Prez turned off the stove and faced me. We weren't really paying attention to the radio before but now we could make out lyrics. It was a great ballad; kind of jazzy and the lyrics contained the words, "always and forever"! We got really stoked and called the radio station immediately. The song's title was Always And Forever by a band named Heatwave. For a little afterwards, we danced a little to Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay to celebrate our good fortune. Then the Hanson song Weird started playing and, since that song has been burned into my memory forever, I sang it for Prez.

"Isn't it weird. Isn't it strange?
Even though we're just two strangers on this runaway train
We're both trying to find a place in the sun
We've lived in the shadows, but doesn't everyone
Isn't it strange
How we all feel a little bit weird sometimes

Isn't it hard? Standing in the rain.
Yeah, you're on the verge of going crazy and your heart's in pain
No one can hear but you're screaming so loud
You feel like you're all alone in a faceless crowd
Isn't it strange
How we all get a little bit weird sometimes.
Sitting on the side. Waiting for a sign.
Hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that can understand, someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.
So you don't stand out and you don't fit in. Weird.
Sitting on the side. Waiting for a sign.
Hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that can understand, someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world if you're different you can't win.
So you don't stand out and you don't fit in.
Isn't is strange how we all feel a little bit weird,
Strange how we all get a little bit,
Strange how we all get a little bit weird

Needless to say, the first lunch wound up in the trashcan! While we were eating the second lunch we decided to make a trip to the mall to pick up that Heatwave disk and maybe hit the arcade. Prez spent a lot of time watching people at the mall. Now and then he'd point out two people and ask me if I thought they might be having sex! Only once did he point out two average people. The rest of the time it was old people or two fat ladies or two bikers!

That night, as my parents walked in the door they found Prez, me, Drew, Corey and John sitting at the dining room table or sprawled out on the living floor doing homework. Let's face it; the main reason kids do homework is so they'll be caught doing homework! We had some stuff assigned last week that was already past due. Taking care of the homework and reading ahead a little didn't take much time at all.

Friday night my dad had invited Doug and Brian over for beers, burgers and hot dogs. Mike practically jumped up, ready to play for Doug and impress the daylights out of him. They weren't in that kind of mood initially though. My dad had told Doug about the fight and Doug told Brian. Visibly upset and practically in tears, Doug and Brian apologized to us, believing that what they had told us was too sugar coated, that they had some how caused us to act someway that prompted the fight.

We all looked each other and at them in shock because we'd never seen them this serious.

Mike said, "Dudes, there is nothing to be sorry about."

"You told us plenty, those dudes were just radical about it." Derrick added.

Brian and Doug started chattering simultaneously again. Prez bellowed over their voices, assuring them that Jake started it. Mike and Prez briefly outlined how everything happened then D and I filled in the rest. We got them settled down then had dinner outside on the patio.

Like any other Friday night, Corey and Kim were over for dinner as well. My parents, Drew and Corey, John and Kim ate inside. It was a good thing too because we told Doug and Brian about how we were stressing returning to school. It wasn't like we were messing our pants with fear but we wouldn't know what to expect. Other than instances that require standing up for our rights as individuals, what else could there be? We all agreed that, under most circumstances, avoidance wouldn't faze us. Name-calling, however, is an attempt to "tip over the emotional applecart", as Doug explained. In their own unique way Doug and Brian came up with an idea. For the rest of dinner we stopped using each other's names, instead using all the derogatory words in the book. The plan was to desensitize ourselves, so that we wouldn't get as upset if someone called us a name. At first it was kind of funny but after a while it got old hearing all those words I'd grown to hate used over and over. On occasion Mike and I have called each other a name so it was relatively easy to deal with. When Derrick called me a name I was in shock but when Prez called me a name it was like being shot through the heart. His voice was so low and soft, cautiously forming the word. I knew he was only saying the word and could tell he didn't really want to. There was no preparing to hear him call me a fag and, given the circumstances of the game we were playing, I was equally unprepared for how much it hurt. Even after it was old and annoying we continued to call each other names. My dad came out to join us, handing Doug and Brian a beer each, and heard the way we were referring to one another. We explained the reason and he understood but reminded us how angry those kinds of words make my mom. So whenever my mom was around we'd become suddenly quiet, confusing her to no end.

It started to get dark and a bit chilly after a while. Heading inside, we quit "desensitizing" each other. That was a shocking little learning experience though. Through repetition I learned that they're only words and how not to take them personally. With every utterance the sounds became that much more Neanderthal.

Doug and Brian had coffee and cake with my parents while the rest of us sprawled out in the living room in front of the TV. We were watching that Crocodile Hunter dude on Animal Planet, goofing on him for making his living that way, when we heard table drumming and then Doug singing.

"When I was a little bitty boy

my grandmother bought me a cute little toy

Silver bells hanging on a string

She told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling!"

My parents and Brian joined in for the chorus.

"Oh my ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling,

Won't you play with my ding-a-ling?"

There was no way we could ignore this little performance so we got up and went to the dining room. Mike ran to the garage for his acoustic guitar. We'd never heard the song before and learned it was a Chuck Berry tune. Brian showed Mike the guitar part and away we went, singing and laughing through a repeat.

Our week off was the best. The four of us became even closer spending all those afternoons and evenings talking about stuff. A week home alone with your boyfriend is the only way to get caught up from all those past interruptions!

Monday morning and the end of our week off came way too soon. Prez drove us to school and we raced into the building before the last bell. Through homeroom and most of first period I kept telling myself, don't be paranoid; no one else is going to get hurt. But that doesn't mean I wasn't a little bit edgy. On the way to second period I passed Derrick in the hall. He said no one had said a thing to him, only his teacher's list of missed assignments. First period was about the same for me. I greeted a few people in the hall and they nodded or said "hey," to greet me. Same old thing, different day, or so it seemed.

Outside our second period English class Prez said everything was cool. Our assignments from the previous week were turned in and new ones were passed out. We had a lot of reading to do. I passed Mike on the way to third period and talked with him and Derrick for a few before my algebra class. Teachers were definitely being cool and no one had heard a single accusing remark. We stayed in the cafeteria for lunch where Sharon and Julie joined us.

For the longest time it used to be just Mike, Derrick and me at a small table. Prez joined us at the beginning of the school year and now we have to pull over an additional table. Halfway through lunch, after we had finished eating, Jessy and Nelson pulled over another table.

Jessy and Mike began discussing the need for an extra night of rehearsals for the next few weeks. Derrick and Prez didn't argue so I said I'd check with my folks. We all agreed Friday nights were no good since that was the only night we spent mostly split into couples. That left Monday's or Wednesday's. The bell rang and we all walked out into the halls for our next class when suddenly there was loud laughter. Sharon was pushed into me and I stumbled into Prez. The three of us turned around but the dudes weren't even paying attention, obviously unaware of what was going on around them.

The rest of the day I couldn't help but think I was always being watched. It seemed that no matter where I turned my head someone was quickly snapping his or her gaze away from me. At first I chalked it up to paranoia.

After school we met outside the west exit by the student parking lot and walked to the Four Runner as a group.

Matching his stride with mine, Prez asked, "How'd it go?"

"Not too bad at all," I said casually, "I noticed a few people can't seem to look me in the eye any more."

"I noticed that shit too." Derrick said.

"Do any of them that diss'd you matter?" Prez asked.

"Not in the least." I answered truthfully and Derrick shook his head but still looked kind of disgusted about it.

"Some of those kids I've known since grade school," Mike said, "I can't believe that they could just forget a name and scrub someone from their life like that."

"It's alright bud, it wasn't everyone, just a few evolutionary holdouts." Prez said brightly and Mike chuckled.

Smiling devilishly, Derrick asked, "Did everyone get talked to by coach Redlin?"

"Was that funny or what?" Mike laughed. "As if I might prefer the locker room!"

Remembering a funny movie and a girl nicknamed Lassie, I said, "It's that smell. All them sweaty T-shirts and socks and jocks and wooooowooooowoooooo!" Everyone laughed hysterically. Slowly our laughs faded and I could feel Prez lightly stroking my hand. I caught the gleam in his eye and I knew I had just unknowingly struck fantasy!

As we drove home, we talked about the massive amount of homework there was to get caught up on. Derrick said he wanted to go home to change his clothes and Mike quickly agreed, saying that he and Derrick would return within the hour. Catching on to this, I peered over at Prez and he smiled back at me then said, "D, I got some loose shorts and a shirt for ya bud."

Turning around in my seat I smiled at Mike and quickly said, "I could scrape up something for you to relax in bro."

"I'm sure you could!" Mike said staring at me with accusing eyes, "but I think we'll get our own stuff."

"Umm... we'd rather have a few... alone," Derrick said softly.

I yelled with mock annoyance, "Why didn't ya say that in the first place!" and Prez cracked up.

"Next time I'll just say we wanna go slurpin', ok?" Mike laughed.

Derrick grinned, shook his head and said, "And you two won't be slurpin'? No, not Mr. Sweet..."

"Damn straight." I said.

"...and Mr. Innocent!" Derrick finished.

"I am completely uninformed and naive of any slurping matters!" Prez said way too easily. We all cracked up and goofed on our virginity, or lack thereof, until we dropped them off at home.

As Prez turned around and headed home, my hand slithered onto his lap.

"Wanna do some slurpin'?" Prez asked. I replied by snaking my hand up into his crotch. He continued to watch the road and seemed unaffected by my advances. I shouldn't have been surprised to find his boner straining to for release in his jeans. With questioning eyes I looked up at him and he said, "I can't wait to get you alone."

"Wanna tell me about these locker room fantasies?"

He laughed then said, "We need a celebration."

That's exactly what we needed. The day could've been a lot worse. But other than time consuming homework and an embarrassing lecture from our Phys. Ed. teacher, the day was good.

There are sometimes when I'd like to sell my brothers at auction! That afternoon was one of those times. We weren't in a slow, groaning mood - more like a loud, laughing and playing mood! But we had to try and be quiet and considerate! We did try, at first. But Prez was grumbling at my jeans button and mumbling about how much he wanted to smell me! That only made me laugh harder and try to take his clothes off faster! The end result -- we half-undressed ourselves and crashed onto the bed flinging shirts and kicking off jeans as we fell!

The next few days at school were uneventful and I started to relax. It seemed that the worst thing was a few people were dissin' us at school, none of which mattered a whole hell of a lot. At work not a word was said, not that I thought there would be since only one other person from our school works there. Not until Thursday did anything happen. That afternoon at lunch, Mike told us about some notes that a girl passed him in his English class. The first one asked, "Why would you want to be queer?"

Mike yelled over our combined laughter, "Come on! Be serious for a few here! In the next note she propositioned me!"

Prez started sliding out of his chair but grabbed hold of the table leaned forward and softly said, "Take her up on it Mike, just to show her what you're packing!"

Mike grumbled, "Don't be gross, dude."

"What did you do with the notes?" Derrick asked.

"Tossed `em in the trash on the way out of the classroom."

"Did she say anything to you?" I asked.

"Thankfully no, she just gave me this really angry look."

Over the next few weeks each of us had gotten a note passed to us by some girl. It was weird because none of the dudes did anything really. Some completely diss'd us, a very small handful actually called us names but most didn't react in any observable way.

In my chemistry lab group there are three dudes and two girls. There was no problem with the dudes. It was one of those two girls that slipped a note into my pocket. Later that afternoon, when I was home getting undressed, it fell out of my pocket onto the floor.

"What's this?" Prez asked, handing me the slip of paper.

Taking the paper I replied, "Dunno," then opened it and read the note. I must've turned red or appeared shocked or something because Prez started chuckling before I read the words aloud:

Please tell me it's not true.

"What are you going to tell her?" Prez chuckled as he continued getting changed.

"I'll slip a note back saying, yes it is... if you want?"

"If I want?"

"Sure," I said. Pulling a clean T-shirt over my head I said, "She's a nice enough girl and all but it don't matter."

Prez looked at me proudly then walked over and hugged me tight, resting his head on my shoulder. If I did or said something to deserve the hug, I have no idea. All I cared about was that his strong arms were holding me.

At the end of that week, on a Friday, Prez got his own little note. I never saw it but I could tell by his reaction that he was not flattered or impressed in any way.

"Ya know what boggles my mind?" Prez asked. I shook my head no and he said, "It's the implication that it's okay to treat one kind of person a certain way. And from a girl! For the last hundred years it's been women's liberation! Where does a girl get the nerve to write something that belittles my life in any way? Let me make my own choices and live by them! They can do the same without providing me their expert opinion! What does it take for people to treat each other with just a little respect? Do we have to nuke ourselves to kingdom come before they stop passing judgments?"

Whoa! He was pissed! I knew better than to try and rationalize with Prez over stuff like that. Not that I would have any argument that could change his mind! The best thing I could do was just listening and wait for him to chill out. Then he'd come close to me, looking sorry for having lost his patience.

Those weeks between our suspension from school and John's birthday party passed really quickly. There were tons of homework, tests and quizzes to catch up on. Rehearsals were increased to three times a week, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Prez and I spent lots of hours memorizing lyrics and bass parts. And still there were our jobs to deal with. Friday nights were our only night alone.

Prez kept e-mailing the gay-straight alliance during this time. We knew we wanted to organize the club, we just didn't know how to proceed or if we should even bother with the school year ending soon. Patient and persistent, Prez continued to ask questions and share the answers with me, Mike and Derrick. One day on the way out of school he dropped by the main office and brought home the forms to start the club.

A week before the party Doug and Brian showed up for our Sunday rehearsal. Every song was memorized, listed out and little pieces of paper were tapped to the backs of guitars or onto drums and keys. At first it was like a double-edged sword. Doug and Brian sat there quietly while we really tried to put on a show. At the end of each set they'd critique what they'd seen and heard. During the second set, they spent more time with Drew at the mixing board. Drew had been running the board for the last few months when we needed him to patch in effects. During the third set all those suggestions and minor tweaks really made a difference, especially during the very beginning of Living On A Prayer.

Brian seemed to make a point of using the word "impressive," to describe tunes we played but not until the very end of the rehearsal did Doug finally say, "I'm impressed". Derrick started giggling and Mike raised his hands yelling out, "Yes!" Prez, Jessy and I cracked up!

The Wednesday before the party, my mom walked into the garage to do laundry just as we were finishing up one song and asked, "I don't suppose anyone knows how to play Happy Birthday?"

Oops! I thought. We didn't work on that!

Jessy giggled and said, "Sure," then began playing the song on her piano. Prez joined in playing and singing and so did Derrick, followed lastly by Mike and I. It was a little sloppy for a first time but what the hell; I was just going with the flow anyhow!

The morning of John's birthday party I woke up with serious butterflies in my stomach. There would be about twenty kids, I figured, my parents and brothers, Nelson, Sharon and Julie, John's godparents, our grandparents and other kid's parents. Ugh! Realizing there would be thirty or more people to sing and perform in front of made me nauseous! I passed on breakfast. By dinnertime it would be half over and I'd scarf down good then.

Mike and Derrick came over early to help setup the equipment outside. Drew and John both helped us out. It was an uncharacteristically humid morning. Derrick had built the risers for the drum set and amps. The two eight foot by four-foot plywood units were stabilized by two by fours and they were heavy! Prez and I carried one into the backyard and moved it into position where my dad had pointed out, while Mike and Derrick fetched the other. John and Drew carried out the old rug from the garage for the drums to bet upon. Two PA speakers and their stands, the PA itself, two mic stands, Jessy's two keyboards, all the amplifiers, Brian's spare guitar stand that held six guitars, the six guitars of course, Prez's bass and stand, and the entire drum set, including the additional drums from Doug and Brian. Kids were already showing up by the time we were done.

Prez followed me into the shower, helped me relieve one form of tension and then, since I couldn't find anything appropriate to wear for myself, he picked out a pair of baggy khaki shorts and a my old faded black Batman Forever T-shirt for me.

Prez grinned and said, "You're gonna be great, babe. Do it just like last weekend with Doug and Brian. We're all going to put on a show."

"It's okay," I said weakly. "I'm so over anxious though. My stomach is all tight and I feel like I could jump out of my skin."

"I feel it too. And I'm gonna spend some of this energy out there, doing the best I can."

"For four months we worked on these songs. Only a handful of `em I barely knew before we started. Is that enough time? Do you really think we're ready?"

"You know the lyrics just fine, babe. We'll play the tunes, queuing one another like we've been doing in the garage. Some of the songs sound excellent, really close to the record. We really know these tunes. They're going to take notice of the Journey tunes and the Henley tunes and the oldies we've rearranged. They're gonna see and hear something pretty good."

My bedroom door opened. Mike bounced into the room yelling, "Dudes, this is it!" and Derrick followed, smiling at Mike's enthusiasm and lively step. Afraid to laugh that I might toss my cookies, I only smiled at Mike as he bounced across the room to us and carried on, "I hoped, I dreamed, I prayed that something like this would happen!"

"It's happenin'," Prez said, "a little bit different than I envisioned it."

The phone rang but I ignored it, knowing someone else was home to answer it and believing it was probably only one of John's friends.

"How'd you see it?" Derrick asked.

Prez chuckled then said, "Just like whatever the audience wanted I could play, a big band would show up when I needed one, then three guitarists and we'd play Freebird, shit like that."

Derrick chuckled and nodded then asked me, "How about you?"

"It's kind of funny really," I answered, "I didn't hope or pray for any of this. The dream sort of whacked me out a bit. It was like, me in a spotlight holding a mic and total blackness around me, no one else was there, but they were watching."

"Like an crooner on TV? Really?" Derrick said.

"I never thought of it quite like that." I answered and wondered a few seconds before my dad came to the open bedroom door. "What's up? I asked.

"Jessy called," he said, "she's had a flat tire and might be a few minutes late."

"Damn," I said softly then asked, "should we wait?"

My dad said, "Whatever you want," then left us.

"Ple-e-ease!" Mike whined, "Let's go on now."

"We could do the ZZ and Stevie Ray till she gets here." Derrick suggested.

"That would blow our set lists to hell." I said.

"It don't matter, we'll just cross those off the list first and pick up sort of at the beginning," Prez said, "I kind of need to get this going too." To look at him you wouldn't guess he was anxious inside.

"Just like a few weeks ago, one very stoned and fun afternoon off from school." Mike said.

"We're not wasted now though, it's gonna be even better." Derrick said.

"You red-eye?" Prez asked in a deep drawl. I chuckled and nodded my head, grabbing my darkest sunglasses from the dresser and putting them on as we walked from the room.

"Good! I was gonna go on without ya!" Mike said, practically skipping out of the room.

Derrick said, "Hey Mister Tambourine man, don't beat your hands raw out there!"

"Not funny dude," I countered, remembering my swollen hands, "they actually hurt into the next day."

"We should learn Beat It!" Prez laughed.

Derrick chuckled, "Can you dance like MJ, dude?"

"Let's not go there," I said, as we stepped outside onto the patio. Looking around as we walked towards our stage area, it took a while before I found John and got his attention. There were at least twenty kids, my parents and two other ladies out there. He looked at his wristwatch and looked back at me confused.

Excusing himself, he quickly walked away from his friends and came towards me asking, "Where's Jessy?" Drew and Corey were walking over to us to.

It was ten minutes to two. "She got a flat tire. She'll be here, just a little late."

"Are you ready, out of standby now?" Drew asked.

"What are you going to do? She's like really important! Don't ya wanna wait?" John asked loudly.

Prez answered Drew saying "yes," and Drew went over to the PA. With a short pop it came to life.

I told John, "Don't worry about it," and walked away before he started freaking me out! Only a few paces away from the microphone that I'd be singing in front of for the rest of the day, the last thing I needed was a reminder that we were one short.

Mike picked up an old Fender Strat and walked up to the microphone while I went to pick the tambourine. He giggled his way up to the microphone and introduced us. "Hi. We're Old Habits," He said, "and as you know, old habits are hard to break." After a quick look back at Prez, Derrick and I, Mike started wailing out Scuttle Buttin'." His fingers were just a blur! And it was right on the money! I stood by Prez, kind of half dancing in place with him, beatin' my leg and hand silly with the tambourine! Derrick led off the second song simply by starting the opening drum beat to Gimme All Your Lovin'. I noticed the boys gathering on one side the yard and the girls on the other side while I sang backup vocals for Prez. Some of the boys were slamming each other around during that tune but the girls were totally uninterested! What am I doing up here acting crazy with the other crazies, I wondered, the audience barely cares. We immediately went into the next tune when Mike started playing Purple Haze right after the last note of the previous tune. When Mike finished up Prez stepped forward and they played La Grange. It was weird watching them signaling each other with opening bits and falling right into tunes. Mike signaled the start of The Road and they each fell right in line. There were tunes were they'd want me change back in forth between tambourine and cowbell. This was one of those so I was grabbing what I needed off a little table while I sang background vocals with Prez. Sharp Dressed Man was next and I picked up the maracas.

This was going well, I thought. I caught Drew's eyes with mine and he gave me thumbs up. Now and then a boy would walk right in front of us, looking at Mike or back at Derrick. There were applause after each tune but we stormed full speed ahead. Then I thought, Jessy had played each of those songs with us and her parts were important! "Where the hell is she?" I asked Derrick at one point, feeling a little panicky. Almost all the tunes heavily relied on her. If she doesn't show soon then I can't sing! Oh yeah, well wouldn't that be too bad, I thought and started laughing my ass off. Someone get me out of this mess! The next thing I know, Mike began playing Little Wing and I'm wondering what they'll play next because we didn't rehearse this tune other than one afternoon's stoned meandering! Still, it sounded pretty good. Mike knew the song. Obviously Derrick and Prez weren't the least bit shaken. Finally I noticed Nelson and then Jessy stepping out onto the patio and my tweaked nerves could settle down a bit. Looking back at Derrick I saw his eyes closed. He's a little nervous too maybe, I thought and just before the end of the tune his eyes popped open. The three of them watched each other and ended the tune on the money. Jessy raced over to the keyboards but not before she was hit with a barrage of "It's about times".

She didn't answer but went straight to her keys and started playing a classical piano piece. There's been a few times she's played classical pieces during rehearsals but the only names she's ever mentioned that I can recall are Bach and Mozart, so I'll just say it was one of those! She got a good round of applause when she was done.

Prez and Jessy quickly marked off her song list. Exasperated, Jessy said, "Let's just start all over," and the whole back yard started laughing and giggling. Derrick started tapping out the opening to Tank and Prez joined then Mike and Jess. They had taken the original recording, kept a few pieces and turned it into a techno sort of thing with synthesizers and Mike's guitar processor. The kids seemed to like that tune and "wanna be" drummers started inching closer to the stage. Afterwards I checked Prez's list and saw what they all saw, only a few tunes remained of set one any way so we were simply starting from the beginning. The next song was mine! I took a big breath and walked over to the microphone as they started playing Dreams. Vocal chords don't fail me now, I thought, just before I closed my eyes and started singing. For all intents and purposes, I was alone, singing in my bedroom. Not until the guitar solo did I open my eyes again to be instigated on by Mike. It was just like being with the ten-year-old Mike, only this time he was really playing the tune! All the kids were moving closer to the stage but they still weren't dancing. Dirty Laundry got a lot of them moving though. It was funny to watch some of the boys trying to move but still not move at the same time! Just before we started Love Walks In, Derrick signaled that he needed a break after this. During the guitar solo I opened my eyes to get a drink of water, noticing that Doug and Brian had shown up and that every girl was suddenly standing in right front of me! I turned to get my water jug and saw Prez smiling and two stepping around. Mike was wailing away with the biggest grin on his face and Derrick's eyes were wide open and he was laughing! Heading back to the mic I noticed the girls all shifting around, as if clamoring for position! I had a little false start that I had to try and cover up when I closed my eyes and started singing again.

During the applause, finally Derrick said, "We're gonna take a break for a few but we'll be back," and I started wandering away from the stage.

Behind me, I could hear Jessy and Mike reordering songs and then Prez caught up with me. "Are you all right Keith?" He asked.

"Yep, gotta run inside and take a leak." I said and he followed me into the house.

"You were great babe," he said proudly.

"I flubbed that one part a little."

"It sounded just fine to me, no one noticed."

"It's so weird, almost unreal, like I'm watching those kids so I'm their audience."

"They're doing some pretty cute things too."

At the bathroom door I looked down the hall, saw the coast was clear and pulled him in the room with me.

"Did you notice your little following," Prez asked, then he ran the water and wiped his face with a washcloth.

"Don't forget the sun block baby," I said with out even thinking and then answered, "Yeah, I noticed `em."

"That's it! That's all you have to say? They followed you right to the back door!"

I shrugged and said, "Yeah, so? They're little girls! It's not like it matters."

"You did that babe. They barely paid attention until you started singing. I thought for a second there that we were loosing `em."

"Me too. Jess saved the day though, not me."

"We're a band Keith." Prez reminded, "Each of us alone isn't much. Not until we're all together does it really start to happen." He put on his sun block and I finished relieving myself.

Noticing him watching me, searching my expression as I washed my hands I said, "It's fun, but it's work. Kind of nerve wracking too."

"Anytime you want to give it up just say the word."

"Don't feel like your making me do this. I want to do it but only with you. If you weren't there, if you weren't having such a good time none of this would be worth it."

"I want to feel like you're enjoying it."

"I am, to an extent. Not like Mike or Derrick or Jessy or you though. This is your big dream. You guys have worked so hard and I've not done anything but sing with the radio. That still makes me think I don't belong up there."

"Those clapping hands say you do. Admit it, that does feel good."

I grinned and said, "All I want is my reward, later."

Prez smiled, looked up at the ceiling and said, "I'll have to think of something special then."

We heard Jessy playing her keys and I looked at my watch quickly. "Shit! We've been in here fifteen minutes?" Hurrying outside, we were greeted by ten thirteen-year-old girls and escorted to the stage. John met me on the way to the stage and said, "No more fuckin' around bro."

Feeling my temper rise a bit I asked, "Huh? What do you mean?"

"More of the rockers, more of them drum solos." John said.

Recognizing John's lack of verbal skills, I sighed and told him, "The song lists are already made up," then asked, "Why aren't you dancing?"

"I will, later. There's some songs I want to dance to."

Grumbling, I headed towards the stage. During the next set we played some hard rockers but we finished each set with at least one ballad. We played, Rock of Ages, Here Comes The Feeling and Go All The Way. All got some girls dancing and Doug and Brian started horsing around too, acting like middle aged head bangers! Then we continued on with Don't Stop Believin', and Something So Strong sung by me and Prez, Can't Stand Loosing You, The End Of The Innocence, Every Breath You Take, As Tears Go By, with Derrick singing, and then Weird. That last song got people dancing, even John and Kim.

At the break though there were still a few girls following me from place to place! They weren't really talking to me, just asking me questions about singing and giggling amongst themselves with every little thing I said, making me absolutely bonkers! Prez followed but after a while he just sat down, smiling at me across the yard. The rents started pumping out hot dogs and hamburgers from the grill and everyone sat down to eat. We ate dinner inside with Doug and Brian and were soon replaced at the dining room table by my folks and some of the other kid's parents. Just before serving the cake my mom asked us to go play Happy Birthday. We followed that with Birthday by the Beatles, Living On A Prayer, Wildest Dreams and The Joker while the presents were being opened. More people started coming in from the street and our back yard looked pretty crowded. I noticed Sharon and Julie talking with my parents.

Right after the presents, some girls started dancing right in front of us. Most of the little dudes weren't getting the hint, just standing around either tapping their feet, barely swaying or like pillars frozen with fear! While we played It's Only Natural I noticed more parents and other adults coming into the yard, probably parents come to pick up their kids. They weren't leaving though! Some of them started dancing! John and Kim were dancing and two other pairs of kids, leaving about seven boys off to the side watching Mike and Derrick closely, not to mention those five girls standing right in front of me still! We were getting applause and everything was going great! We continued on with Hold My Hand, Lights, Under The Bridge, Drive, Don't Worry Baby and finally finishing the set with Mike and me doing More Than Words.

It was a little past seven when we took a break. I was in a hurry to get the whole thing over with so we just refilled our water jugs before starting the fourth and final set. The back yard was filled with people when Derrick started playing The Boys of Summer. One couple at a time, people started dancing. Seeing that was way cool!

I started to introduce the next song, "This next tune is the love theme from Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves," when Mike walked up, excused himself and then thanked everyone in the backyard, especially Doug and Brian for teaching us how to make it all happen. Then I said, "Why don't you two come up and join us, just like last weeks rehearsal?" taking delight in being able to do to them what they had done to me a few months ago!

Jess, Derrick and Prez all cheered. Doug and Brian joined us for Everything I Do I Do It For You and One More Night. When they left the stage to a warm round of applause we started getting a barrage of requests! We continued on with Faithfully, a totally rearranged version of A World Without Love, then Baby I'm A Want You, Never My Love, End Of The World and All I Have To Do Is Dream. The loudest request was for us to play Weird again, so we went ahead and played it a second time - more like the Movo mix, more bluesy background vocals, which Mike and Jess excel at. The party didn't end at eight like it was supposed to. Half the neighborhood was or had been in our back yard at one point or another so we continued playing until about nine. But even then Doug and Brian started playing acoustic guitars! Of course Mike joined in and we had a little backyard sing along going for a while! Over the next two hours, slowly but surely kids and their parents left for home.

Before John hit the sack he came out and thanked us all for making his birthday like a block party. Drew and Corey had been missing for quite a long time I realized and wondered what they might possibly be into! As if hearing my thoughts, Prez reached to hold my hand and smiled wickedly at me. Around eleven thirty Doug and Brian went home and then finally Mike and Derrick. Prez and I made our selves a little late night snack and talked with my folks for a while before they finally shuffled off to bed. Silently eyeing each other, we finished eating then I softly asked, "Wanna see the sunrise?"

"It's a date. What shall we do until then?"

I made a loud, sloppy slurping sound and Prez laughed out loud.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Please come visit me at The Glass Onion.
Comments and constructive critisisms are always welcome.