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 30

Confused, Bothered and Bewildered

Keith was fabulous at John's birthday party. What he would never tell you is that while he sang, sure his eyes were closed a lot but he was really getting into each song. When he wasn't pounding out a rhythm he would grab the microphone and move around our stage area, spending time singing and dancing around by each one of us in turn. I'll bet he was doing everything in his power to avoid standing at center stage! Mister Mellow was rockin'! He was hardly recognizable, as if it were a different person in my boyfriend's body. The whole day was so great and I was proud of him.

He does it all for me! Imagine how that makes me feel. Most of the time I feel ecstatic about it but there are times when I wonder if I've pushed him too far in a direction he'd just as soon not go. It's hard to tell sometimes. He was so quiet all Saturday morning while we set up the equipment in the back yard and he didn't eat a thing until dinner. I hate to see him stressed out like that. As good as he sings and as good as he sounds with our band, I asked myself if it was worth it. My only intention that night was to show him how much I appreciated the effort he made.

With his arm over my shoulder and mine around his waist, I led him back to the bedroom. He was tired and being goofy, tickling my neck and pretending he didn't do it. Passing into the living room he starting softly singing a modified version of We Are The Champions. "I've slurped my dues, time after time, I've slurped my sentence, but committed no crime."

We stopped for a moment as I started chuckling and asked if he ever watched the Smurfs on TV. That's what he was acting like, changing the verbs around in the song.

He nodded and said, "Little blue people. I've always wondered about them. Like what colors are their bruises? And what color do their nads turn when they don't get any from the Smurfettes?"

Chuckling at his silliness, I took him by the hand and started back towards the bedroom. "You really had a good time today?" I asked.

Keith nodded and said, "Yeah, it was fun even though I was really scared at first."

As we were about to cross the threshold into our bedroom I reminded him, "We were all scared and excited and feeling mixed up inside. It's because we care about what we're playing and really wanted to do it right."

Once the door was shut I looked him square in the eyes and lifted his arms for him before removing his T-shirt. I let him undress me too but once we were naked I took control. He frowned when I pushed his hand away from my cock but I whispered, "This time it's all for you babe."

"It's about us both, isn't it?" he asked.

"Yeah, but tonight let me just say thank you in my own way." I answered.

After the fight, that whole week that we were suspended from school and most of the time leading up to the party gig, I couldn't get enough of him. I would drink him in with my eyes and instigate a sexual response just so he would make love with me. He saved my life on instinct and, being the humble guy that he is, didn't think twice about it. I thought about it though - a lot. Having him make me feel alive was the physical response to the thoughts crossing my mind. Maybe that's selfish but I needed it. Keith never complained either. The way I think of it, Keith had me inside him often last summer and I wasn't able to return the favor for a while. It was my turn after the fight. But after the tremendous performance he gave, I was ready to give some back.

I gave him a deep, soulful kiss then led him to the bed and gave him my best full body massage. Starting at his neck, working my way to the shoulders and down each arm to the hands and fingers then returning to his back, down past his ass to his legs and finishing with his feet, I rubbed out all the tension in his body. It took him a few seconds to roll over when I asked him to. For a second there I thought he fell asleep! Even his dick was completely limp! The intention was to start the massage over again on his front but when I saw his flaccid dick that plan flew out the window! He was already plenty relaxed anyway! I took him in my mouth and just let it rest there, fighting the urge to move my tongue around and let him harden without additional stimulation. Once he was hard I lay his stiff meat down on his lower abdomen and gave his sack a tongue bath then placed angel kisses all around the sensitive area where the thighs meet the torso. That broke his silence and he started giggling and whispering, "Omigod!" over and over. His cock was bouncing and twitching before me so I placed a few angel kisses along its length while I gently ran my fingers around his belly. Keith couldn't take it and reached his hands under my arms, guiding me over and on top of him. He pushed his hardness up against me and breathlessly whispered; "Now Prez, I can't wait."

Seeing the contented look on his face and feeling his heart pound through his chest against mine, I couldn't refuse him. We made love very slowly. Keith raised his legs in the air to take me deeper and I couldn't help but lick his feet and suck on his toes. I wanted him to feel good for as long as he liked. Since we were on the bed, we also needed to try and keep the noise down. After the first thirty or so minutes, while we were taking a breather, Keith asked, "What's the matter baby?"

"Nothing. I'm just trying to be quiet and considerate of your brothers."

"Did you forget Corey was here?"

I nodded and said, "Yeah, I did."

"They're probably in the den. We could have a little more fun, as long as we don't go over board." He said and cracked that mischievous little smirk that set my heart racing. I was stunned silent because I forgot about Corey completely and because he was holding that smirk, making his eyebrows bounce up and down, driving me wild. Just as I thought, he's so irresistible; he beckoned me closer and said, "Give me a kiss." We weren't in a position where I could do that easily so I pulled him up towards me and he pulled me closer until our lips finally met.

Until five in the morning we made love then wandered naked out into the kitchen, arms wrapped around each other. Neither of us would let go so I poured one glass of apple juice and shared it with him. Then we wandered over to the cupboard. Keith grabbed a bagel, stuffed it in his mouth and pulled my face closer so we could share it, slowly chomping our way past it until we kissed again. At our feet, Rush dutifully cleaned up any crumbs we dropped then whined for us to pay attention to him. We both reached down and petted him. When he had enough, Rush trotted over to the back door. Letting the hound out, we realized the sky was turning from black to dark blue. Standing in the doorway, we felt the chill of the night air against our naked bodies. Keith looked at me with questioning eyes. I shook my head no then led him back to our bedroom where we tugged the blanket out from the mattress. Wrapping ourselves up in it, we went back outside and stood in the middle of the back yard facing east.

The quiet times with Keith have always been amongst my favorites. So much can be understood between us with only the blink of an eye, the nod of a head or any combination of facial expressions. I felt so peaceful with him beside me watching the sunrise. Unbelievably, my stupid dick started to lengthen under the blanket. The sky got lighter, birds started chirping and distant clouds reflected pastel colors above the mountains. Keith turned to me and pulled me close for a daybreak kiss. He felt my condition and smiled knowingly. Resting my head on his shoulder, I sighed loudly and hugged him tightly against me. I felt his hardness against me and we started to giggle. It was remarkable that even after four incredible hours of making love our bodies still responded to the intimacy of the situation. Keith yawned deeply and I called for Rush. We went back inside and lay down on our bed, falling asleep instantaneously.

In my slumber, I faintly heard something. Keith and I were on our sides facing each other. Someone else was in the room whispering. I wondered, was it Drew and Corey? Then I heard the voices more clearly.

"Tickle Keith's feet dude."

"Nah, that's no way to wake them up. He might get pissed. Let's just stay here and see what happens."

"How about we climb into bed with them? I'll take Prez's side and you snuggle up next to Keith?"

"Heehee! What if he starts something?"

"Go with it. I'll die laughing when he realizes it's not Prez."

It was Mike and Derrick. Thoughts quickly flew around in my mind but I made believe I was still asleep. I wanted so much to surprise them both, the sneaky bastards! Keith shuffled slightly beside me, pulling me closer. I stroked his foot with my own and he hummed, so softly it was barely perceivable. He wasn't completely coherent but I was sure he knew what was going on. I heard more whispering that I couldn't quite make out. Then I heard movement. Someone was getting onto the bed behind me. How badly I wanted to open my eyes and see what was going on or jump up and scare the daylights out of them but I didn't and remained perfectly still. I let one eye open ever so slightly and could see Keith grinning. Then he rolled over on his other side and I did the same, throwing my arm over whichever dopey friend was laying next to me. Keith stroked my foot with his again. I tapped his foot once, and then twice. Then we both bounced up and on top of our friends, pinning them to the bed!

"Ah ha!" Keith shouted down at Derrick.

"Dammit! You were supposed to be asleep!" Mike shouted back. The shocked look on his face was priceless and I cracked up. As his gaze traveled from my face down to my crotch I realized I couldn't care less about him seeing me naked and with a morning semi.

Laughing heartily, I then shouted at Mike, "You couldn't wait to get me in the sack, you hornball!"

Looking over at Derrick, I saw he was blushing bright pink. "Get your naked ass off me!" Derrick hollered at Keith.

Smiling insanely, Keith asked, "Isn't this what you wanted?"

Derrick countered, "Not exactly!"

Pushing hard against Mike's shoulders I said, "That'll teach you two to be more quiet when planning your antics. I heard almost everything you said," then got up off of him.

"Me too," Keith said as he rolled off of Derrick and started looking around on the floor for some clothes.

"One of these days dudes," Mike said as he got up.

Keith chuckled, "Today's obviously not that day."

"Yeah, you already had those days," I said as I picked up our shorts. Tossing one pair to Keith I reminded Mike, "For six months you had me believing you would only play heavy metal. Pay back's a bitch, ain't it?"

Derrick got up and changed the subject. "Jessy's in the living room talking with your folks. Today's Sunday, rehearsal time, remember?" I looked at the clock and saw it was almost one in the afternoon.

"Can we take it easy today?" Keith asked.

I agreed by adding, "We only need to work on the tunes for the frolics."

"That's cool I guess," Derrick said.

Mike asked, "Which songs?"

"Why don't we ask Keith's folks which songs we did best yesterday?" I suggested.

Keith asked, "Can we get cleaned up a little first?"

"Please. Nothing personal but you dudes reek." Mike said with sly grin.

I chuckled at Mike and said, "Remember that the next time you want to join us in bed!"

Mike and Derrick left the room; probably feeling a little bit defeated. Keith and I gathered up some clean clothes, left the room, waved to Jessy in the living room then went into the bathroom.

While preparing to brush his teeth, Keith smiled and said, "That was great baby. I wasn't sure you would do it."

"The expressions on their faces made it well worth a little bit of embarrassment." I chuckled and took the toothpaste from him. We grinned at each other in the mirror as we brushed our teeth. No sooner did we finish than Keith pulled me close for a proper good morning kiss. I melted into his embrace.

Keith giggled and pushed me gently away saying, "I think you need to shave baby." His hand stroked my chin and he said, "That stubble tickles!"

Frowning I said, "You seemed to like it though."

"A little I guess. But against my neck, it's too ticklish."

Stroking his chin I nodded and said, "You've got some stubble too." Keith then stepped closer and rubbed his chin against my neck, causing me to practically flip out in hysterics!

"See!" he chuckled.

Grabbing the electric razor from the vanity drawer I said, "Yeah, but ya know what? I liked it!" then started to shave.

Dropping his shorts Keith suggested, "We might have to start shaving twice a week," then stepped into the shower and turned the water on. Quickly I finished shaving then joined him in the shower. We might've been a lot quicker in there if Keith didn't spend so much time tickling my neck with his stubble! I demanded that he shave or he wouldn't get any kisses until he did. Finally, when we got out of the shower he stood there naked running the electric razor around his face. I wondered what are we going to do when we get older and have to shave every day? There would sure be a lot of unintentional tickling going on! Thinking about it for a few more seconds I started to get a stiffie again while I pulled on a pair of boxer shorts. Keith was watching me out of the corner of his eye and, seeing my semi erect cock poking out of the fly, started chuckling.

Loud music filled the house. Mike, Derrick and Jessy had obviously started without us. I put on a T-shirt and waited for Keith to get decent before opening the bathroom door. In the bedroom I put on socks and sneakers while Keith put on a pair of sandals. We heard Mike playing a rhythm guitar part. A few bars into it I shouted, "Yes!" and then Jessy started singing Give Me One Reason. "Oh man I love this song!" I commented.

"It is really good," Keith agreed as we walked out of our room, "and I get to take another break while Jessy sings."

"We'll take plenty of breaks today babe. I'd like to talk more about the alliance with everyone."

"Is anything wrong?"

"Not really." I said then sighed, "It's just that I don't want any repeats of that fight; not for us or anyone else." Nodding towards the garage I said, "There's some stuff I'd like more opinions on. Besides, it gives me a way to show how much I appreciate what you did and, at the same time, make damned sure we never have to go through that again."

I reached for the garage doorknob but Keith grabbed my outstretched hand, smiled at me then leaned over and kissed me gently. We've talked some about the alliance, looked over several related web pages and reviewed the school's club creation criteria. There was a lot to be done. My hope was to get as much as I could completed before the end of the school year so that in September we could start the club immediately. With a little luck, I was certain everything would fall into place.

Entering the garage we waved to everyone then Keith picked up the maracas and I powered up my bass amp. By the time I started playing the song was almost over!

After finishing the tune, Jessy smiled at me and said, "There was a hell of a lot of yelling going on in the bedroom before. You want to fill me in?"

Glancing quickly at Derrick then Mike I noticed they both had painted on their angelic faces and halos. They obviously had not told Jessy about their foiled plot! Keith shook his head and started to chuckle. I turned toward Jessy but nodded back over my shoulder at Mike and Derrick then said, "They'd like for you to believe that they're completely innocent."

"Who jumped on who dude?" Mike asked.

I playfully argued, "Well you two joined us in our bed!"

"Our house, our bed, our rules, anything goes!" Keith laughed.

Jess smiled but shook her head slowly at each of us for a long few moments. Looking around the room I saw plenty of smiling faces but no one was blushing. It was then that I realized how much our friendships have grown. There was no way I could misinterpret Jessy's smile; it showed no sign of disapproval of any sort, in fact it showed understanding. Mike and Derrick passed some unspoken comments between them then turned smiling back to me. Keith had that mischievous smirk across his face. Sometime in the not too distant future someone was going to dare someone else to get naked and shortly thereafter all hell would break loose!

With nothing more to say aloud in front of Jessy, I changed the subject back to music and we ran through Give Me One Reason once again. Agreeing that we need to work on that tune more, we then moved on to the tunes for the frolics.

Mike turned to Keith and said, "Your folks think we should do Don't Worry Baby. It's a cool tune and all but I don't know if its something I want to do at the frolics."

"Why not?" Keith asked impartially.

"It's one of the oldest songs that we do," Mike said, "even though we do it pretty well, I'd just rather consider other tunes first."

"I liked Drew's idea," Jessy said then explained, "we could start off slow, with a ballad and soft lights, gradually getting brighter and more up tempo as we go."

I agreed, "That sounds good to me. Which ballad?"

"Open Arms would be good," Derrick said from behind his drums. We all turned to Keith and watched as he moved the microphone stand back into the center of the garage. As soon as he was in place Jessy started playing the introduction then Keith started singing softly and sweetly. One by one, we each joined in and built up the intensity during the chorus. The song is definitely one of the best ones that we play and relatively easy but without Keith's vocals it wouldn't even be on the list. Hearing him sing more strongly as the chorus started my knees wobbled briefly, recalling several bedroom slow dances.

At the end of the song we started discussing other alternative tunes. Weird was brought up as an option but, since we only needed three songs, we decided to make another more upbeat choice. Trying to second-guess what the kids in our school would want to hear led us through a list of songs but none were immediately accepted. Keith decided to go out to the kitchen to get us some drinks while we continued to whittle away at the list of songs.

Mike explained, "Open Arms is less than four minutes long and The Boys Of Summer is almost five minutes long. We need one more four or five minute song."

"I think we need to do Don't Worry Baby," Derrick suggested. "We can harmonize pretty well but with a little extra work, we could get that puppy down perfect." Smiling widely he then said, "Err... so to speak."

We each smiled or chuckled then Mike said, "Keith's gonna be a perfectionist dude." At the party, there were two sections of the song that I flubbed up and one each by Mike and Derrick. "He cracked up laughing the second the song was done yesterday!"

"Ya know what the problem was?" Jess asked and we all looked over. "I couldn't hear us that well. The speakers were turned away from us, towards the rest of the yard yesterday. Here in the garage they're pointing right at us so we can hear."

"That means we need a monitor cabinet," Derrick said.

Our PA system is a simple 8 channel stereo unit with 250 watts of power, I thought then said, "There's only two sets of stereo speaker connections and we're only using one set. There's the mono connection too, we could use that?"

"Maybe we could borrow a monitor from Doug and Brian?" Mike suggested.

Since we were hoping to make a good enough impression at the frolics to do some party gigs during the summer I asked, "Why don't we see how much one would cost? We'll hopefully get some good use out of it."

"Have you got the bucks for that?" Derrick asked.

I replied, "It depends on how much it costs."

"Let's just work on it and if Keith says no then we'll choose something else." Jessy said.

Derrick nodded and said, "Let's wow `em. If we're going to do it, let's do it right."

Mike turned to Derrick, chuckled and said, "You're full of one liners today!"

Keith walked in the garage with a tray of Cokes. After a long moments stare, Derrick said to Mike, "You're mind is just in the gutter again."

"I only left you alone for five minutes," Keith commented while passing the tray of sodas around. "How did we wind up back in the sewer again?"

"D wants to do it and wow `em," Mike chuckled.

Without missing a beat, Keith asked, "Didn't you dudes do it enough last night?"

"Too much is never enough," Mike said casually.

Smiling widely, Jessy shouted, "Boys! Please!"

I walked behind Jessy, put my hands gently over her ears and said, "Let's be nice for our little sister and save the kinky sex talk for later." She took a swing at me as soon as I put my hands down and started to step away from her!

"You dudes are rotten to the core," Jessy playfully argued. "What's the last nice thing you did for anyone?"

"I helped a geezer and his rooster cross the street just the other day!" Mike grinned.

"I've been thinking of doing something for all of us that might be nice," I confessed.

Keith said, "Yeah, Prez has been spending lots of time checking into this alliance club."

"I've only been reading some stuff on the net and writing a few e-mails," I explained. "We're all going to be the core members of the club so we need to talk about stuff."

"Such as?" Derrick asked.

I took a quick sip from my can of soda then said, "We need to write up a constitution stating the purpose for the club. I've already looked at some examples and could write that up in an E-mail for y'all to take a gander at. The basic premise is that the club is for everyone. We want to encourage open minds and tolerant attitudes."

"Sounds good so far dude. What else?" Mike said.

"We'll need to get a faculty advisor. You guys could help a lot by making some suggestions or asking some teachers yourselves." I answered.

Appearing thoughtful for a moment, Jessy said, "I know a few that might be able to put aside some time. Anything else?"

I thought if there where any additional tasks then shook my head and said, "Those are the major issues. Once we have a constitution and a faculty advisor then all we need is a meeting place and to get more kids interested in joining."

"We could hold a rally," Jessy suggested, "serve refreshments, play a few tunes, pass out information and discuss our goals."

Keith smiled warmly at me then asked, "Everyone agrees then, we'll work on getting the club started for next year?" Each of us nodded or voiced our agreement. "We need to get finished up here then so Prez can type up the constitution and mail it out. What song are we working on?"

"Don't Worry Baby." Mike said.

Keith chuckled and said, "I thought we decided not to play that one!"

Jessy offered, "We'll just rehearse it a little more. If it's ready for the frolics great, if not we'll play something else."

"You dudes are glutens for punishment," Keith snickered.

After telling Keith about the details of our PA and possibly getting a stage monitor, we started rehearsing again. As always, we followed Keith's lead into the song. Compared to our performance at the party, this time we did much better. We all agreed that a stage monitor was required. I left the garage for a few minutes to call Guitar Center and get an over-the-phone quote. When I mentioned it earlier, I figured my budget would be three hundred dollars. Between the money I had saved and the interest earned on my money market account, I figured I could deal with it. For a few moments, while I waited on hold for a salesperson, I wondered if I really needed to be spending this money. I wouldn't be touching more than what I had already saved and I tried to think ahead for summer weekends away with Keith. In about four weeks we'd be out of school and I would be working four or five nights a week for the rest of the summer. There would be plenty of money coming in soon enough, I decided. Finally a salesperson picked up the phone. I described what I was looking for and was pleased to learn that there were several good name-brand stage monitors that cost less than three hundred bucks. When Mike learned that a trip to Guitar Center would be made you could almost see his eyes glaze over! Before wrapping up for the day, we ran through the old Robert Palmer tune, Addicted to Love, a few times.

A little after four in the afternoon Jessy left to spend some time with Nelson. The remaining four of us went to Guitar Center, musical warehouse of the famous and hopelessly unthrifty! During most of the ride there Mike and D talked about how dark it was even with four flood lamps lighting the back yard. They went directly to the lighting area, asked questions and got some quotes. For just less than three hundred bucks, I chose a Yamaha stage monitor and got a one hundred-foot length of speaker cable. Afterwards, Mike and Derrick hung around long enough to try out our new toy then they left for home.

We had dinner outside on the patio. Spring had definitely arrived; the days were longer and warmer after a thoroughly drenching winter. Keith and I took Rush for a walk around the neighborhood afterwards. As soon as we were on our way, Keith asked if Mike or Derrick had talked me into buying the monitor. I told him no, that it was my idea in the first place and we really needed it for the frolics.

"Just as long as you don't feel like you had to buy it," Keith said, "we've still got Memorial Day weekend, the prom and tuxes and the whole summer ahead of us."

"All factored in already," I said then took his hand in mine. I thought it was great the way he looked after me. "What did you have planned for Memorial Day?" I asked.

"Nothing fancy, a trip to the beach, maybe down to Newport."

"Do you still want to rent the tuxes this week?" I asked.

"Yeah, after I get paid Tuesday."

I thought for a minute then reminded Keith, "We have rehearsal Wednesday and Thursday then the frolics Friday and Saturday nights."

Keith hummed thoughtfully then said, "How about we cancel this Wednesday's rehearsal?"

"Sounds good, three nights in a row off followed by three nights on. We'll talk with everyone tomorrow at school."

"Only a few more weeks left baby," Keith said joyfully, "this weekend's the frolics, next weekend's Memorial Day, then the prom, then finals week and then school's out! And then..." Keith exaggerated the pause, waiting for me to fill in the blanks.

"And then it's Canadian Flag Day!" I joked.

Keith immediately let go of my hand and started to briskly walk ahead and away from me! "Canadian Flag Day my eye!" he yelled back.

I started to speed up and Keith started to jog. "What?" I yelled as Rush and I trotted along behind.

Chuckling madly ahead of us, Keith then hollered, "You'd best start thinking really hard about what else happens in June."

Of course I knew what else happened in June! Rush and I chased Keith all the way back home and into the back yard where I tackled him to the ground. The Hundser's were quietly sitting at the patio table lazily enjoying the evening. In no time my giggles turned to hysterical laughter and Keith was straddling my mid section, pinning me to the ground while Rush licked every square millimeter of my face. "It's our anniversary!" I laughed loudly and got a mouthful of puppy tongue!

While I grimaced and sputtered, Keith laughed then pulled Rush away and asked me, "When exactly?"

"June twenty-fourth, of course! Did you really think I could forget?"

"I hoped ya didn't. Just the same, it was fun to make you chase after me."

"In the last year, when haven't I been chasing after you?"

"Yeah and the chase is fun," Keith whispered then kissed me softly. I pulled him down on top of me and kissed him hard.

As much as we might've liked to stay out there, rolling around in the grass while the sun inched below the mountains, we both had homework to finish and I had an e-mail to send. My version of the GSA constitution was little more than a compilation of good ideas from a bunch of others I found on the net, rearranged and reworded slightly. I helped Keith with his geometry homework then he quizzed me for a history test the next afternoon and we had an hour to spare to watch TV. Sitting on the floor, leaning back against the bed with Keith holding me on one side and Rush lazily gnawing on a rawhide to the other I got a chill down my spine. On instinct I looked up at my mom's pictures.

Silently, I asked, "Are you watching mom? Did you see what I did? What we all did yesterday?"

"Yes sweetheart, I saw. You were all wonderful! I'm so proud of you Preston."

"It wasn't easy but it was worth it. Wasn't Keith fantastic?"

"Yes he was. And although he might not be saying it directly, he's happy to share it with you. He wants to be a part of your life. Are you becoming a part of his life?"

"Yeah, I think so. I want to do so much for him and with him. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in day."

"Be careful Preston, you don't want to burn the candle at both ends."

"What do you mean? I'm not doing that... am I?"

"It's just a reminder. If you're feeling like there isn't enough time then maybe you need to look at how you're spending your time. Rest now sweetheart and remember, I'm proud of you."

The next thing I knew Keith was gently shaking me awake and helping me up onto the bed. It seemed my head barely hit the pillow before I became comatose.

As if he were way off in the distance, I faintly heard Keith speaking to me. "Bathroom's free baby. You ready?"

I grunted wearily then Keith leaned over, kissing my cheek.

"You feel really warm. Are you feelin' okay?" Keith said.

"Just really tired. It can't be morning already?" I said and started to sit up. My brain felt like it had sloshed around inside my skull and I groaned.

When Keith got out of bed it felt like the mattress was made of rubber and I was about to be bounced out onto the floor. He looked at me curiously for a long few moments then said, "Let's check your temperature. You look awful."

I started to get out of bed protesting, "I'm fine Keith. And I have a test this afternoon," but the room spun as I moved. Holding my head in my hands I wondered, what the hell had happened? I felt fine last night, even comforted by my imaginary conversation with my mom. Maybe I was pushing myself too hard? There was so much more to accomplish though and it was all very important to me. I couldn't put off school, work or the band. Something had to give though; the banging in my head and the queasy feeling in my stomach made that obvious.

Returning to the room with the thermometer, Keith popped it in my mouth then guided me back against the headboard and covered me with the blanket. He watched the clock and commented, "Someday we'll have to get one of those new thermometers that can give a reading in five seconds."

I nodded then mumbled past the glass rod in my mouth, "I really have to take that test today. If I don't then I'll have to stay after school..."

"Shush!" Keith interrupted, "don't worry about the test. If you get sick then it's almost guaranteed that I'll get sick too."

Remembering when Keith got sick during the winter and tried to sleep in the den, I grinned and mumbled, "My turn to sleep in the den."

Keith chuckled, "We already know that won't work. Neither one of us would get any sleep and we'd still both wind up sick."

A few moments later Keith removed the thermometer and held it up to the light to read the little silver band.

Feeling really bad about the whole situation, I said, "If I get you sick and we miss the frolics, Mike will have me tarred and feathered!"

"You've got a fever, almost one hundred and one."

"I've got to take that test today," I insisted.

"That's history, your last class of the day, right?" Keith asked and I nodded. "I'll get my mom to write you a note if you promise me that you'll only go to school to take the test."

"It's a deal," I said.

"Don't let me find you in school before sixth period Prez. There'll be no nookie for you if I do."

"If I don't get better fast there won't be much anyway."

"Don't remind me," Keith said sadly as he leaned over to open Rush's crate. Together they left the room. A few minutes later Keith went into the bathroom then Mrs. Hundser and Rush came into the bedroom. She was giving me that concerned look again as she reached and put her hand against my forehead.

"It's strange, you didn't seem to be acting sick at all yesterday." She commented and pulled her hand away.

"I know. I felt fine until I woke up."

Taking a seat at the edge of the bed, she asked, "Is there something at school today that worries you?"

"Nothing. There's a history test today but I'm ready for that. And I want to take it. If I don't, I'll only wind up staying after school to take it another day. This week is going to be busy enough without dealing with that too." I explained.

"How were you feeling last night?" she asked.

"Fine, really good as a matter of fact. I dozed off watching TV sandwiched between Keith and Rush. I felt like my mom was watching us, ya know?"

"You seem sad about that."

"No, I'm just feeling like my brain is sloshing around in my skull and that's making me a little nauseous."

"It sounds like a migraine headache. Sometimes that's a sign of too much tension."

"But I haven't been stressed. Last night I was so relaxed I nodded off thinking about my mom."

"What did you talk about?"

"The party and Keith. I feel like she saw us, like she was proud of us."

"It sounds nice."

"It was mostly."

"Was there something she said that worried you?"

"Not really. She asked if I was sharing Keith's life as much as he shared mine. I think I am but sometimes, it seems like he does so much more for me and with me."

"Does Keith know about that?"

"I didn't really know it myself until last night." I said softly and wiped a tear from my eye.

"I'll write you a note for school. Please don't try to drive if you're still feeling dizzy and sick. And if I might make a small suggestion?"

"Sure, anything."

"First, rest and get better," she said. Then, after a long pause she said softly, "Preston, it seems to me you haven't really considered how many things your mom is missing. This weekend was the party, next weekend is the frolics, and then it's the prom. Next year you'll be graduating. There will be a lifetime of important events. You can keep her with you in your heart and in your thoughts but she'll only be in your heart to share it with you."

I had no reply for that. No longer could I contain the few tears that had been building. "I know," I softly sobbed, "and it's not fair! We were happy for the first time in our lives!" I wanted to shout, curse and pound the living daylights out of something but I felt so sick and tired that all I could do was cry. Keith's mom held me and tried to comfort me for the umpteenth time. She was so good to me, all the Hundser's were. The more I tried to control the water works the harder I cried. All those months ago when Keith's mom told me about all the emotions I would be feeling, I didn't know that it meant I would always feel the anger, grief and sadness. For the rest of my life there would be times and places where I would really want my mom there. But that could never really happen. All I had left was memories and wishes of what might have been. My stomach started to flip and turn. Knowing it was only a matter of seconds before I lost it, I let go of Keith's mom and walked briskly past her. Passing Keith in the hallway, I lunged into the bathroom and heaved my guts up. Every time I thought I was done and lifted my head away from the bowl my stomach turned again. After a while I just let myself rest there against the cool porcelain throne.

It hurt to think but there was so much to think about. What could I tell Keith? He would understand about my mom but how could I explain the part that directly involved him? To believe that there was any competition between us was silly and stupid. Still, no matter how ignorant it may seem, I did feel like I wasn't doing enough, that I wasn't sharing his life as much as he shared mine. It was frightening in so many ways. There was no doubt in my mind that I loved him and I knew that I showed it but what I did hardly seemed like adequate compensation for all he's done. I didn't want to start an argument over something like this. What was he supposed to do? To try and do less with me because I felt he was doing too much would be ridiculous. The problem was mine. I wasn't exactly sure of the root cause but finding it meant happier days ahead and less time hurling my guts up. Obviously I needed help. I needed sleep. And I needed to brush my teeth to get the funky taste out of my mouth! If only I could lift my head and stand up without getting nauseous.

There was a knock at the bathroom door. "Prez, mom says I have to go to school. She wants you to rest and think. We'll talk later when I get home, okay?" Keith said.

Barely lifting my head off my arm, I turned my face towards the door and said, "Okay babe." I started to say, "I love you," but the room spun and my stomach flipped so I kept my mouth firmly shut. Seconds later, I heard Keith open the front door and leave for school. For a few minutes I waited for Mrs. Hundser to leave but she never came by the bathroom and I never heard the door close behind her. Finally, I slowly got up and washed my face, noting the red splotches all over it from heaving. I brushed my teeth then cleaned the toilet and sprayed some air-freshener before heading to the bedroom.

Rush wagged his tail practically in a circle as I walked in. I set the alarm clock so I could make it to school for my history test and carefully situated myself in bed. While I lay there confused and sick, Rush came over to the bed and rested his snout on the mattress. "You can come up but you have to lay still or I'll barf all over you and the bed," I warned him. In a second, Rush hopped up on the bed then curled up and lay beside me.

Closing my eyes, my thoughts began to drift around.

Whenever I dreamt or thought of my mom it was always a good experience until this time. She had become another side to my conscience, offering advice and helping me make decisions. I didn't even have to think about what she might say, her words just popped immediately into my mind as if she where there and actually speaking.

Our brief encounter last night seems to have touched something deep within me that I didn't even know existed. I was worried about my relationship with Keith. How could I talk with him about any of this? I began to run through scenarios in my mind.

First I would tell him about my mom and the party gig. That would be easy enough and I'm sure he would at least smile. He'd soon loose the smile though when I told him that I felt we were competing. He would ask, "We're supposed to want to do things for and with each other, aren't we?" or something like that. Then I'd have to find a way to say, "Yeah, but I can't keep up. You're doing so much for me all the time. What was the last thing I did for you?"

When I thought about that last question my stomach flipped again as I realized the answer was nothing. I had done nothing for him. He'd shared his life in so many ways but I haven't done a single God damned thing for the person I loved the most. Christmas and birthday presents don't count. Making love doesn't count since we're both getting pleasure from it. What I wanted was something I could say I had given him that was part of me. I couldn't find any thing that qualified. For a while I wallowed in self-pity, crying into the pillow until Rush sensed my unhappiness and started to nudge at me with his nose. Unable to refuse his attention, I rolled over and began petting him while he licked the tears off my face.

Around ten in the morning I got out of bed and went to the kitchen to feed Rush. I peaked in the master bedroom but found no one. Obviously Mrs. Hundser had slipped out while I was hovering over the bowl. On the kitchen counter I found the note she left for me to take to school. Half of me was glad she wasn't around but the other half wished she were home. I needed her kind of help, no matter how difficult or painful it might be. It would be good to talk with her before I talked with Keith, at least to make sure I didn't say something incredibly stupid that would hurt him.

Rush finished eating and sat by the back door to be let outside. I let him out then wondered if I should call Mrs. Hundser at work. It wasn't an emergency but I needed to talk so I picked up the phone, started to dial but hung up before finishing the number, deciding last minute to let it wait until she got home. As I wandered around the kitchen looking for something light to eat that wouldn't upset my stomach, I began to think, I should call her before I talk with Keith. I picked up the phone again but hung it back up before dialing a single number. Making a decision of any sort was turning into a major hassle! Grabbing the box of Saltine crackers from the cupboard, I then sat down and snacked on a few before letting Rush in and returning to the bedroom.

When I walked in the room it was like I had never really paid attention before and all the furniture seemed wrong. There was Keith's bed, dresser and desk, my mom's entertainment center, TV, stereo and all the other stuff of hers that used to be in the living room at the apartment.

"This just isn't right," I mumbled then asked myself, "Did I even ask anyone before bringing all this stuff here?" I honestly couldn't recall. The room spun again and I sat down quickly before I fell. "What's going on? Why am I so fucked up today?" I asked the four walls. Lying back, I looked up at the ceiling to try and focus on one spot but I couldn't without getting dizzier. I closed my eyes.



"It's okay sweetheart, I'm here."

"It's not okay mom. I feel bad, like I've hurt and bothered everyone."

"You're not hurting or bothering any one. You've just got to rest. Lately you've been doing so much. For someone that stayed alone in his room for so long, this is quite a change in lifestyle."

"Is that all it is mom?"


"Only mostly? What else?"

"You know, do you really want me to say it?"

"It's about Keith?"

"Almost but not quite. It's about you Preston. Why do you feel like you haven't given him enough?"

"Because I haven't. The Hundser's took me in after you left. That was because of Keith. I got into a fight and Keith saved me from that too. Keith's always saving my ass from one mess or another. What have I done to help him? I've forced him to do things he wouldn't ever do. It's because he pities me."

"Stop that!" she yelled, "The only one pitying you around here is you. Now think back with me. Remember the night Keith helped you find your way home?" I nodded and she continued, "You two were inseparable from the very first night. I heard you two joking around in your room. How long had you known each other?"

"Less than an hour," I answered truthfully. A smile crept across my face thinking about how silly we were."

"And during dinner when I was asking him to tell me about himself, you kept looking at each other in the cutest ways. It was like Keith was your best friend and you'd known him for years. You're two peas in pod and you know it."

I smiled and nodded but said, "That still doesn't answer why I feel the way I do."

"Don't you understand Preston? It's give and take, every day, through every crisis no matter how large or small."

"We do that but he does more than that." I argued.

"For now that might be true. But think about the future, think about who will be there when he wants or needs something. It'll be you."

"But what does he want or need that I can give?"

"Companionship, first and foremost. That's all he ever wanted or needed from anyone. For a long time he disliked himself. Some part of it was because of the situation with Mike but as he became more aware of his sexuality then it grew. He hated himself. He wanted to play guitar with Mike as a boy but didn't have the natural skills that Mike has. He wanted to be better at roller-blading but gave that up. Keith lacked confidence in him self because he tried so many things but never saw any of them through long enough to get the rewards. You're giving him unconditional love and friendship is what turned him around. Now his school grades are better, he's taken the SAT's with you, he fought for you, he's singing in the band with you, and his relationships with his family and friends are better because he's not so lethargic any more.

"You were basically the same way back in Texas," she continued. "You hid in your room, did your homework and practiced your bass. You didn't hate yourself but you didn't really like yourself too much."

"Kids made fun of me," I said softly, "then my only friend told me to stay away from him. And dad... well, it was kind of embarrassing."

"But you had experiences that gave you more confidence in your self. Keith gets that from you too."

"I can't just sit here and do nothing with all he's done for me."

"I wouldn't expect you to. Something will present itself, it always does."

The clock radio went off and I snapped out of my trance. My God, I thought, another two hours passed while I was phased out! Without thinking, I threw the covers back, got out of bed and went into the bathroom. After taking a leak and brushing my teeth I took a quick shower. Not until I was half dressed did I realize that my brain wasn't sloshing around anymore and I didn't feel nauseous. Quickly, I let Rush out back, pocketed the note for school then locked Rush away in our bedroom before bolting out the door. Not until the radio announcer told me did I realize the date. It was Monday, May eighteenth. Being so busy and concentrating so much on the miscellaneous tasks I had for the last few weeks, the anniversary of my mom's accident slipped right past me! And it was about a year ago that she told me we were moving from Texas to California!

Pulling into the school parking lot, I wondered about how strange the day had been so far. All the memories of my mom that came rushing back since late the previous night without even knowing the date, it was all a little eerie. But I felt like we had actually talked and for the longest time since before the holidays. I understood why the day had started off so badly and felt better inside. There was still a lot to talk about with Keith and with Mrs. Hundser but at least I felt like I could do it without getting stressed out.

After a brief stop at the main office, I went to my locker. Then Mike saw me in the hall on the way to my history class.

"Dude!" he shouted across a sea of bodies. When we caught up with each other he asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Much better," I answered.

"Keith has been a complete waste of space all day worrying about you. You're not getting sick now, before the frolics? Damn, I'll have to drive out to the desert and get you an Indian medicine man!" Mike ranted.

I laughed then said, "No man, we don't need to take any extreme measures."

Glancing at his watch he said, "Shit! I have to be on my way, algebra on the other side of the school. We'll talk later, okay?"

"Sure bud, see ya," I said and walked around the corner into my history class. Thank goodness there's a test and the teacher won't be lecturing me into a coma, I thought as I took my seat. Kids that were in a few of my other classes asked where I was and why I had bothered to show up at all. Telling them that I had morning sickness and if it weren't for the test I wouldn't have shown up at all got me a few giggles and confused stares.

Mister Heavy Sedation walked in and I involuntarily yawned! Just looking at his expressionless face could put me back into a trance! Remarkably slowly, as if it were a great effort, he counted out test pages at the front of each row of desks. By the time he got to my row I was counting dots in the tiles on the ceiling! Someone better give this guy a shot of B vitamins or something really soon, I mused.

The test was really easy. There were only two questions that were worded in such a way that I had to think before answering them. I finished with about fifteen minutes left to class. Absentmindedly doodling to pass the time, I caught myself writing phrases like `Who is John Galt?' from Atlas Shrugged and `Y is a crooked letter,' between the scratched out images. Why did my mom have to die? Why do I feel like I have to do something more for Keith? Why did I get myself so worked up and stressed out that I was sick all morning? Because Y is a crooked letter, I answered myself and started to chuckle. Sometimes asking why is just plain stupid, I realized. Noticing the teacher looking over at me, his barren, expressionless face set me off giggling just as the bell rang. His lifeless eyes followed me as I left the room, struggling to contain myself.

On the way to my locker all I thought about was Keith. It was then that the idea struck me to ask him if he really enjoyed singing with the band. He said he did the other night but I felt guilty for pushing him to do it and for not mentioning the frolics to him before Mike signed us up.

Usually Mike and I meet by his locker and then leave the school by the nearest doorway, catching up with Keith and Derrick outside. Not today though, I thought as I closed my locker and started briskly walking towards Keith's locker. There were other kids making their speedy exit from the school, sliding into each other as they rounded corners while teachers monitored the halls and yelled for everyone to slow down. There were only four more weeks to school and, after the winter from hell, we finally had decent springtime weather. It seemed that we all wanted to get the heck out of the building as quickly as possible. Just as I rounded the last corner I barreled right into Keith and we bounced off each other!

"I was just on my way..." Keith said.

"To find you," we both said simultaneously.

Looking concerned he asked, "Are you okay?"

I glanced around and waited for two kids to pass us then whispered, "I'm fine babe. The next time we're that close I'm gonna grab hold and never let go."

Keith smiled and blushed. Looking nervously around, he then shook his head and chuckled, "Guess your feeling better."

"It was all in the mind," I said as we started to walk towards the nearest exit. We passed a few more students then I continued; "You know how sometimes I talk with my mom?" Keith nodded and smiled. "Well this time she got me thinking about a few things. Stuff that deals only with me and one thing that pertains to us."

"What did she say?" Keith asked.

I recounted my imaginary conversation with my mom from the last night for him. For a moment Keith looked hurt and I quickly added, "That's why I felt like shit this morning, because I was really worried about a lot of things. Worried that you might get sick and tired of me pushing you into things and we'll start having arguments. You've done so much for me and I feel guilty that I'm not doing enough to return the favor." Keith started to protest but I continued, "There's more. This morning I kind of fell asleep but wasn't completely asleep and we talked some more. That's how I figured out I feel guilty. She helped me to understand a few things about relationships. Now that I think about it, they're things I already knew but they were only words, like an abstract concept I hadn't completely grasped. She called us two peas in a pod and commented on how we acted the very first night we met. Then, on the way here, on the radio I heard the date. It's been about seven months since the accident and about a year since we first talked about moving."

We walked out of the school and Keith smiled then asked, "So you're feeling less guilty now?"

"A little bit. You've got to answer two questions for me first," I said then asked, "Before we rent tuxes, are you absolutely sure you want to go to the prom?"

Without any hesitation Keith said, "Absolutely. Sure I'm nervous about it but I want to go. If it were only the two of us I'd be a lot more scared but there's safety in numbers. At least we'll find out who's got an attitude about it, right?"

"Right," I said, "and if it gets really bad we'll leave right away. But I don't think it will be bad at all."

"What's the other question?" Keith asked.

I stopped, turned to face him and asked, "Do you really want to sing in the band?"

After a moments pause Keith answered, "Yes and no. Yes, it's fun and it kind of makes me feel good afterwards but I was a complete basket case Saturday morning. I'd expect to be a total wreck this Friday and Saturday, at least until after we've finished. I don't want to do a lot of performing this summer. Not so much that I'm thoroughly tweaked like that."

"I understand," I said and we started walking again. "Hectic schedules were another thing my mom and talked about. We've been working two nights a week, band practice three nights a week with school on top of that."

"That doesn't leave much time to chill, does it?"

"We need to make plans for the summer, get our schedules aligned so we can enjoy more of it. We'll adjust the rehearsal times back to twice a week and I'll wait for you to say when it's cool to do any gigs." I said and looked his way.

"Sounds cool to me. I already talked with Mike and Jessy too. No rehearsal until Thursday night."

"Excellent!" I shouted with my best Valley accident and Keith chuckled. Stopping at Keith's car we loitered for a few minutes just looking at each other. We had to split up into separate cars but didn't really want to be separated for ten minutes. Glancing around, we waited while the parking lot emptied before we took a chance for a quick kiss.

Jumping out from behind a nearby the van, Mike and Derrick yelled, "Ah ha!" practically scaring the piss out of Keith and me!

"Bastards!" Keith yelled. He started to stalk them and I followed.

"Fags," Mike chuckled softly as he backed away.

Derrick was practically in tears laughing and barely choked out, "Wankers."

The full-fledged verbal assault continued. "Queens," I said then Keith tore ass after Mike, chasing him around the parking lot. Derrick was a much easier target for me because he was laughing so hard. I caught him and had him in a headlock in no time.

"Now that you've got me all I can ask is, be gentle," Derrick half laughed through my hold and I cracked up.

A teacher was approaching and looked at us forbiddingly. But hearing our laughter, she only shook her head and continued towards her car.

When she was out of range I chuckled softly, "You're such a perv!"

"Umm... heehee!! Who's crotch is grinding into who's butt dude?" Derrick countered and I busted up laughing, pushing myself away from him. We smiled at each other while Derrick adjusted his shirts; finger combed his hair and the pink flush drained from his face. Slowly our smiles faded. Man, he smelled good, I thought. Our eyes locked briefly then we both looked down at the ground, embarrassed. "Umm... Prez?" Derrick said and I looked up briefly to see him still looking sheepishly between the ground and me.

Believing that I knew what Derrick wanted to say I nodded and said, "It's okay bud. I felt it too for a second or two."

"It k-k-kinda t-t-took m-m-me by surprise," Derrick admitted.

Never before have I heard Derrick stutter. He must be really scared, I thought. "Me too," I said softly. Thinking about how Derrick and I immediately hit it off last year I added, "I can't say why it surprises me though."

Derrick cautiously explained, "I c-c-couldn't ever..."

"Me either. There's no way I'd ever hurt Keith."

"You're not angry?"

"No way bud," I said and looked around for Keith and Mike. Finding them about fifty yards away and walking together towards us I turned back to Derrick and said, "We've both known there was something there for the longest time."

Letting out a long breath, Derrick said, "Sometimes I feel weird about it, ya know?"

I nodded and said, "There's no rule that says we have to do anything about it. It's just nice to know. Don't you think?"

"You're right," Derrick said more cheerfully. "Just look at those two," he said loudly, pointing at Mike and Keith. I did look at them and saw them in a different light. There were two old friends. They had had sex once but the relationship didn't work out. Still, they were the best of friends even though they had both found other boyfriends. It was weird because when I turned back to Derrick for a second he also appeared a bit different.

"What are you two doing?" Mike yelled.

"Talkin' trash," Derrick said quickly.

"About you two!" I joked.

"Heaven help us," Keith said sarcastically.

Briefly I looked over at Derrick. I could see a little fear in his eyes and I'm sure he saw the same in mine. However, one thing was certain -- I would not wait too long before telling Keith about what had happened between Derrick and I. After a perfectly shitty morning caused by several layers of built up guilt, I wasn't in any hurry to have that happen again.

"There are two cars here," Mike stated then asked, "Who wants to drop us off at home?"

"I'll take ya home," I offered. Turning to Keith, I said, "I'll be home right after. Let Rush out for me please?"

"Sure baby. Hurry home." Keith said then got in his car. I started to walk towards my truck with Mike and Derrick following right behind me.

I heard Mike say to Derrick, "He sure don't seem too sickly to me. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was faking the whole thing."

Derrick asked, "Prez, what happened today anyhow?" During the walk to my truck and all the way to Mike's house I told them what had been going through my mind. We talked about how hectic things had been and I even told them how I was feeling guilty about the frolics and the prom."

"Dude! I'm sorry about the frolics thing," Mike said sincerely.

"Don't worry about it Mike," I insisted, "I know why you did it but the bottom line is, I hid something from Keith and probably shouldn't have."

"You know he'd just argue that we're not ready though," Mike said.

"That's just it bud, he has a say in how ready we are. Remember last summer? Our three-piece band was going nowhere fast. We were just having fun. If it weren't for Keith we might still be playing the same kind of tunes. Not that they were bad songs, it's just so much better now." Then I told them about my talk with Keith on the way out of school. Mike was not exactly pleased but he understood. As far as I was concerned, this was how it had to be.

Derrick backed me up by saying; "We may not even have too many gigs this summer. We each have our own lives. Jessy's gonna want to do things with Nelson. We're gonna want to do stuff alone too."

Mike sighed and said, "You're right. I guess it's just something I've wanted for so long. I'd hate to see a good thing come to an end."

"Nothing's ending Mike," I reminded. "Keith and I haven't gotten our SAT scores yet. We don't know what schools we'll be applying to. We might wind up staying right around here and the band could continue past high school."

"It's the uncertainty of every thing I guess," Mike said sadly. "Don't you wish everything could stay the same?"

Before I could reply, Derrick moved closer to Mike and softly said, "There's one thing that's not changing any time soon. I love you dude."

"There is that," Mike said happily.

I glanced up and caught Derrick looking at me in the rearview mirror. He then started whispering to Mike. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what Derrick was whispering. Mike chuckled and asked, "Then what?" There was nothing I could say or do. Derrick was telling Mike about our parking lot encounter. Every thing solid in my body felt like it was turning to fluid. We were almost at Mike's house when Mike said loudly, "You're kidding! Really?"

Concerned, Derrick asked, "You're not angry?"

I didn't hear Mike reply right away and looked back in the mirror to find that they were kissing deeply and passionately. Pulling in front of Mike's house I set the emergency brake and waited. And kept on waiting! I coughed and they kept right on kissing! Exasperated, I finally said, "Enough Olympic tongue wrestling already! I gotta go home and talk with Keith now."

They broke it up and Derrick said, "I don't think we'll be over until after dinner dude." Then he got out of the truck and walked around the truck.

Mike leaned forward saying, "He's the greatest. You're pretty great yourself ya know."

Relieved, I said, "Thanks Mike. I'm sorry if..."

"There's nothing to be sorry about," Mike interrupted. "Maybe later tonight we'll all talk about this, if you're into it?"

"Sounds good to me. I'll give you a call later." I said. Releasing the emergency brake as Mike got out of the truck, I watched him run up to the front door, slam against Derrick and fall into the house.

Heading home, I wondered about all my friends and myself. First of all, why was I suddenly feeling something more than friendship for Derrick? And when Mike didn't get angry, I felt a shiver run down my spine and thought he was very understanding. I don't know if I could be as understanding. Then I considered Mike and Keith's friendship. On occasion they had been alone together and I trusted them. Now Derrick and I have reached a point in our friendship where we feel attached to each other, much like Mike and Keith. We're all pretty lucky to have each other I mused. Derrick and I share a lot of our worries, ideas and concerns; Mike and Keith must do the same. Suddenly, as I parked in front of the house I had this warm feeling like I was being hugged.

The feeling faded though as I walked up to the front door and remembered that I had another little something to confess to Keith. Usually, after school we head right for the kitchen, at least for something to drink and maybe for some munchies. Naturally, I expected Keith to be there, sitting at the kitchen counter waiting for me. The fact that Rush wasn't gallivanting around the back yard was not normal. When I didn't find Keith in the kitchen either, I grabbed a can of 7-Up from the fridge and wandered back to our bedroom, not even thinking twice about my missing boyfriend and dog. I was preoccupied with plenty of other thoughts racing around in my mind.

I opened the bedroom door and stepped in the room, finding it odd that Keith and Rush were nowhere in sight. Walking across the room, I put my books and soda down on the desk then started to unbutton my shirt.

"Get him Rush!" Keith hollered. Frightened, I gasped and must've jumped a foot in the air! The next thing I knew I was under attack, with Rush bouncing around at my feet and Keith snaking his arms around me! "You need an attitude adjustment," Keith said playfully, spinning me around and pushing me backwards toward the bed.

Falling to the bed, I protested, "No, I've been stupid." Rush jumped up on the bed, curled up and lay down beside me, his tail still wagging a mile a minute.

"That's right, you sure have," Keith said softly as he crawled over me. "Getting your self sick over that shit was pretty dumb. But I love you for it."

"I screwed up pretty bad though," I said sadly. "There's something else I want to tell you about too." Hovering over me, Keith smiled down as if he didn't really need to hear what I had to say. I pulled him down on top of me though and started my confession. He never interrupted. I never felt him shiver or quake at anything I said.

When I finished, Keith half chuckled, "So, did ya pop a bone?"

"Of course not!" I said loudly.

"Then what are you worried about?"

"Because, I want us to trust each other. It's hard to explain but I just feel like I've been letting you down a lot. And when I'm not letting you down, I'm making you do things you wouldn't want to do."

Keith rolled off me and looked at me curiously, holding his gaze for a long few moments. "You've never let me down baby," he finally said. "There's only the singing that you helped me to do. You didn't make me do it, you made me want to do it someplace other than in the bedroom." After a short pause he continued, "What about the things you do with me? Do I force you to go anywhere or do anything? Am I making you learn to surf? Do I force you to go mountain biking? You said it your self, there's not too many hills in north Texas, never mind mountains. Mountain biking was something I always did alone, to get away and think. And there aren't any beaches either. Why are you doing those things?"

"Because they're fun doing with you," I said without any thought.

"Exactly. So please stop feeling like you're a bad person. We all make mistakes. They're over and done with, forgotten. Derrick's your best friend and Mike's my best friend. We can't live in a bubble, completely separated from everyone else, as much as I'd sometimes like to."

Hearing that, I smiled at him. "Ya wanna know what I did today?" he asked and I nodded. "I worried about you mostly. At lunch, I called my mom at work and we talked about you for the entire period. She's really worried about you too, ya know."

"Worried about what?" I asked.

"Come on Prez," Keith exclaimed, "you made your self sick. That's not such a good thing ya know. Did you forget that we know all about you? You were an only child and pretty damn lonely too. Now you've got me and two little brothers and Mike and Derrick too. It's a big adjustment. Mom thinks that you're trying too hard to please everyone, pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. When you get sick like you did this morning, I'm inclined to agree."

"I'm doing it all because I want to, no one's forcing me."

"But the timing isn't all that critical baby. Like the alliance; you're pushing your self to get as much done as you can before the school year ends."

"Don't you think it's important?"

"Sure, but not so important that working on it makes you sick. We've got the whole summer to deal with that."

For the rest of the afternoon Keith and I lay there on the bed talking, bouncing ideas around and making plans for the summer. Sometimes I wonder about him. I felt like he had every right to hold off and smack me but he would only smile and keep on talking. Then, after dinner, Keith's mom took me into the den alone. She knows just what to say to make me really think about things. And with those thoughts come the tears. Each day I want to live my life as best as I can, just like my mom would want; never allowing myself to be sad for too long because I'm afraid that if I let myself, I'll drown in a sea of my own tears.

I'm in a no-win situation, is what it boils right down to. I don't ever want to forget my mom but remembering her and how she was taken from me will periodically make me angry, cheated and sad. All I can do is try my best, Mrs. Hundser reminded me. Occasionally I'll trip up, everybody does. But how long you stay down is what makes all the difference and the lesson my mom tried to teach.

As soon as I returned to our bedroom I lay down next to Keith. Silently, we both did our homework then kicked back for the night. When I was about to get up and check my e-mail, Keith held me firmly in place then, as I started to wiggle away, he rolled over on top of me, reminding me that it could wait.

It occurred to me while Keith smiled down that maybe I don't know how to relax. My idea of relaxation includes doing something. Whether that means playing my bass or dancing to music on the stereo or playing a video game, my mind has to be occupied. Resting is not the same as relaxing. When I'm at rest I fall asleep. I can relax but still keep my mind busy. Is that such a bad thing?

"I promise not to wander off," I said and Keith rolled partially off me to one side.

He brushed the hair from my eyes and said, "I wish I could do something to make you feel better."

I sighed and said, "You do make me feel good and you know it. This time though... I don't know. There are so many ideas that crossed my mind in the last day. It's gonna take a while to sort it all out."

After a long pause between us, Keith said, "I'm listening."

Not knowing where to begin I stammered around before saying, "Like this morning, I came in here and the room looked wrong, like my mom's living room entertainment center doesn't belong here. It looks fine now but I don't remember asking anyone if I could even bring this stuff here."

"Of course you asked, Prez. With everything else you were doing back then it doesn't surprise me that you don't remember asking. It's kinda small potatoes in comparison to everything else you were dealing with."

"But I did ask?"

"Yep ya did. Drew and John confiscated my stuff and took it to their room right after school."

"I don't remember that." I said sadly.

"Well they did. The first time you mentioned bringing this stuff here they were ready to take all my stuff that night after dinner," Keith chuckled.

I shrugged my shoulders and, though I could imagine Drew and John tearing everything down in a mad rush to take ownership, I barely saw the humor. "What about Derrick?" I asked.

"He's your best friend and you're his. It took you both long enough to figure it out. Mike and I knew it a while ago."

I looked at him curiously and asked, "When?"

"Last summer, before school started."

"And it never bothered you?"

"You never gave me a reason to be worried. It's not like you ever hid it from me. You always told me where you where going and with who. I never asked you; you just told me. That's just the way you are."

I wondered, how could he be so understanding? It's great but also a little annoying since I felt like such a clod. "I just feel weird about almost everything today," I explained. What I said was the truth, everything, including the reason why I was questioning my relationship with Keith, was chomping away at my sanity.

"Please try not to," Keith said softly. "There's never been anything that you've done that's so horrible. We always talk about every thing, don't we?"

"The idea that's been in my mind all day is how I can ever repay you or your folks for all you've done."

"You sure don't need to repay me," Keith said stubbornly, "and my parents like you. So do my brothers and my friends. No body wants anything more from you than what you already give them. There's really no major problem, Prez." He got up and took his T-shirt off then set the clock radio.

Getting out of bed I half-heartedly agreed, "If you say so but I'm still looking for something. I don't know what yet." Then I called Rush and took him out for the night. Afterwards, I said good night to the Hundser's and returned to bed. Keith held me close and soon drifted off to sleep. For a short while I tried to talk with my mom but she wasn't answering. Eventually, I drifted into a restless sleep.

The next day at school I was like a split personality. Half the time I was trapped with my thoughts, unable to concentrate on much of anything. The remainder of the time I was trying to at least appear cheerful for Keith and my friends. But as soon as they were out of site I returned to my topsy-turvy world of ideas. I knew I should feel happy because I had everything I could ever want but the conversations with my mom kept me wondering, looking for some way to give something back.

Right after school Keith got changed and went to work at Blockbuster. An hour later Derrick and I were at work at Black Angus. It wasn't too busy a night, leaving Derrick and I some time to talk on the back loading dock. While standing there in the night air I told Derrick more about some of the things that stirred me up the previous day.

He shook his head and said, "Dude, I could tell you some things but I'll leave out the details for now. You're my best friend. I hate to see you beating your self up."

"Believe me, I wish I could just forget it. But something tells me there's some thing I have to do or learn, I don't know which yet."

"It might be that there's nothing you need to do or learn just yet. We all have our moments in the limelight and then other times we're in the toidy, swimming in the sewer systems of our minds."

"What do you do when you get like that?"

"I just keep paddlin'. Eventually I'll come up for air and get out of the muck. Mike helps, you help, my mom too. Even Doug and Brian have pointed the way to the surface."

"I'm getting tired of paddling," I said.

"Then float. You can't fight the current forever so just go with it until you're strong enough to paddle some more."

It didn't seem like much when he first said it but later that night, after Keith and I went to bed, I closed my eyes and drifted, releasing all the thoughts that had been plaguing me just long enough to completely relax. Lying in the bed I felt like I was floating on the ocean, feeling the tide lift and lower me, hearing the sound of the water as it rushed towards the shore. It was the first night I had slept soundly and peacefully in days.

At school the next day I vowed nothing would stir me up. When I saw Derrick during lunch he seemed to notice my change in attitude and asked how I was doing. "Just floating around," I answered with a thankful smile. My history test was returned to me with a score less than I expected, a B plus. Considering the day it was taken, it was still a good grade.

That afternoon the four of us went to the mall and rented our tuxes for the prom. We loitered around the mall for a while then went over to Mike's and hung out there. Mrs. Gibbons invited Keith and I to stay for dinner and we accepted. After dinner, Mike called Doug and Brian and asked if we could visit for a while since we needed to work on our harmonies. Minutes later we were knocking at their door. We greeted each other and made small talk about the day while watching re-runs of M*A*S*H on TV. Everyone got quiet but I didn't think anything of it, believing we all needed time to relax. Since I wasn't sure if I knew how to relax I just went with the flow, content to be kicked back next to Keith.

Then Brian said, "You're all way too quiet. What gives?"

I looked at Keith and we both shrugged our shoulders then glanced over at Derrick and Mike.

Brian and Doug looked at each other curiously then Doug joked, "There's something going on here, I can tell. Mike hasn't asked to play any of my guitars." Hearing that, Keith and I chuckled but Mike barely cracked a smile. I noticed Derrick was glancing at Mike then at me. Silently, I questioned Keith but he only shrugged his shoulders. Obviously he didn't know what was going on either.

Brian chuckled and said, "Okay, how about we open things up alphabetically? Derrick, is there anything you need to say?"

Surprised and on the spot, Derrick quickly looked at each of us while stammering, "Err... umm... well..."

"A good start," Doug chuckled then turned our way and said, "Keith?"

"There's nothing wrong here," Keith said quickly. Then he turned towards me for a second and said, "It's just... well... Prez had a bad day on Monday. He's the only one I'm thinking about."

Doug nodded then turned to Mike and said, "Your turn."

Mike never looked up, fidgeting with a toy on the coffee table and asked, "Why didn't you dudes call Monday night?"

"I told you yesterday, Prez had some things to talk about with me and my mom," Keith quickly explained.

During gym class the last two days, I remembered, Mike had been pretty distant. Believing he was preoccupied with other things, I never worried about it. Between the frolics and the prom we all had a lot to think about. I looked at Mike and asked, "Is this why you've been so quiet the last few days?"

Mike nodded and said, "Sometimes it feels like your dissin' me dude."

Quickly I apologized, "I'm sorry bud, I never meant to."

"We've still got some stuff to talk about, don't you think?" Mike suggested.

Feeling a little out of place, I glanced at Doug and Brian then answered, "Yeah we probably do. I've just had other things to think about. I didn't mean to make anyone feel bad."

After a few moments pause, Mike said, "It's just that I want to give some back, ya know? It seems like you don't want me to."

"Give some back?" I asked but Mike was still looking away. Why did he want to give anything to me? I'm the one that was accepted into this group. If anyone needed to give something back, it was I. I looked at Keith and then at Derrick then at Brian and Doug. "I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean."

Again there was a long pause. Exasperated, Derrick said, "Remember last night I said I could tell you a few things?" I nodded and he continued, "This whole thing's a string of misunderstandings. Last year you dudes started off on the wrong foot. You eventually got past that. Then when your mom died, Mike offered to help but you only talked with him once or twice. I know you don't want to bum anyone out but he knows where your at, probably better than Keith or me. At the fight Mike didn't back down because you didn't back down and because he wanted to prove to you that he really cares. The bottom line is, you two dudes need to stop talking to each other through Keith and me. Start talking to each other about important stuff."

Damn, I felt like a complete asshole. Mike and I share music and have fun together but Derrick was right, besides music, we didn't often discuss anything too serious. For some unknown reason, it never seemed appropriate. If there were anything weighing heavy on my mind then I'd usually talk with Keith first and maybe then Derrick. Feeling like warmed over shit, I sighed and wiped a tear from my eye.

"In some ways you two are a lot alike," Keith said softly, glancing between Mike and I. "Neither of you lets too many people know how caring and considerate you really are. Instead you hide behind smiles and wacky commentaries. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just not the right thing for you two, not anymore."

Mike looked over at Doug and Brian saying, "I'm sorry dudes. I didn't mean to bring this here." Then Mike looked over at me, wiped his eyes and said, "All by your self you lifted Keith out of a deep depression. I tried but couldn't do it. D tried too. No one else was able to do it. It might even be that you saved his life. For that reason alone, I'd do just about anything for you, did you know that?"

Softly, with a quivering voice I said, "No," and wiped the tears off my face.

Keith wiped his face and chuckled, "Why couldn't you two find a less stressful way of doing this?"

"It's just the way they are," Derrick said cheerfully.

"Communication is a very difficult concept," Doug said. "It takes us years just to learn how to form coherent sentences. Then we learn to be careful of what we say, especially around certain people because they'll use our own words against us, to embarrass or humiliate us. Eventually we find people we can trust."

"They're called friends," Brian said. "Acquaintances are people we're deciding whether or not they can be trusted."

It didn't take me long to distinguish Mike as a friend and I quickly said, "I trust you Mike. You were right there during the most difficult times in my life, helping me cope with loosing my mom. I heard you cursing up a storm, trying to get away from those guys during the fight too. I'm really sorry that I made you feel bad."

"I'm sorry too dude," Mike said softly. "I wish I hadn't signed us up for the frolics without telling Keith. Maybe I broke your trust and this is all my own fault but you know that wasn't my intention."

"It's not your fault bud, it's mine," I said sadly.

"Placing blame is another good way to destroy a friendship," Brian said. "It weakens the foundation of trust. Sharing the blame, on the other hand, usually strengthens the bond. And by having that friend around as a reminder, you'll have a better chance of avoiding the same mistake."

I smiled weakly and said, "Okay, we're both to blame."

"Just a bunch of fuck-ups," Mike added.

"Yeah, but we love you just the same," Derrick said.

Keith nodded then appeared thoughtful, turned to Mike and said, "The next time you sign me up to sing someplace without asking me you'll be chased out into the rain and much worse!"

Mike laughed and said provocatively, "Ooo, ya promise?"

Rolling his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief, Keith said, "I would spank you but I'm afraid you'd like it too much!"

"We'll take turns holding him down, get those cheeks nice and rosy!" Derrick laughed.

Mike turned and smiled evilly at Derrick. "It seems to me that I'm not the only one deserving a good spanking," he quipped and quickly turned to me then back to Derrick with an accusing expression.

Since we were at Brian and Doug's, I immediately put on my best innocent, angelic face. Keith roared with laughter then suggested to Mike, "I'll hold down Prez for you if you'll hold down Derrick for me?"

When Keith looked back at me with possessed, hysterical eyes I said, "You'll have to catch me first," then glanced over at Doug and Brian. Their eyes were getting so wide that they might pop out of their sockets at any second! Suddenly it dawned on me that this wasn't exactly the best place to be discussing any of this! Thinking that maybe I could diffuse the situation, I got up and began backing slowly away from Keith, towards the front door.

"Where are you going?" Keith chuckled.

I backed up another step and teased, "You think you can catch me?" The second Keith moved to get up from the sofa I bolted for the door! I ran across the street into the park and turned my head back for a second. Keith was gaining fast with Mike and Derrick both running after him, laughing their asses off! Sprinting past the picnic tables, I thought this worked out better than I had planned. My intention was to just get Keith away long enough to suggest continuing the conversation elsewhere. But with Mike and Derrick in tow, we could get everything aired out once and for all. Past the playground I ran and continued on to the far corner of the park, where the baseball diamond is. That's where I waited for Keith to come barreling towards me and grab me around the waist, taking us both spinning to the ground.

With Keith sitting across my midsection and pinning down my shoulders I laughed, "You're right, the chase is the most fun." He laughed only for a few seconds more before kissing me hard.

"Damn, I was hoping to see some white Irish butt tonight," Mike light-heartedly complained.

"Bet ya that moon glows in the dark, even before it's spanked!" Derrick teased.

I turned my face towards them and Keith continued kissing my cheek, making me giggle even harder. "What's with all the spanking talk?" I giggled, "You've got Doug and Brian believing we're all into kinky sex!"

Hearing that, Keith stopped kissing me and smiled down at me knowingly. "So that's why you took off," he said and I nodded.

"Spanking isn't kinky," Mike commented loudly.

Derrick chuckled, "It could be if taken to extremes."

"Oh! Well we don't do that," Mike admitted candidly.

Keith and I looked at them and then at each other bug eyed and busted up laughing. Falling off me to one side, Keith grabbed his stomach and rolled around on the infield grass; laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath. When I regained some measure of composure, I looked up at Derrick and said, "You never told me that!"

Smiling insanely, Derrick shrugged his shoulders and said, "It never came up. We haven't progressed to toe sucking or foot nibbling yet though."

"Omigod!" Mike shouted and doubled up in a fit of laughter, wobbling away, pointing at us as if we had been accused, tried and found guilty of some eccentric perversion. Beside me, Keith roared again and assumed a fetal position, laughing hysterically. For a long few minutes we laughed at each other. Keith and I helped each other up and the four of us went over to the benches. Even when we thought we were done laughing, a simple look would start us going again.

During a lull in the storm, I looked over at Mike and said, "I really was busy talking with Keith and his mom the other night. It's not that I forgot. It just got too late to call. Do you still think I'm dissin' you?"

Mike shook his head and said, "Not really. I was just hoping... I could at least listen and understand. I've been there too dude. There have been tons of things I wish my dad were around to see."

"Does it ever change?" I asked.

Mike shook his head saying, "It just hurts less after a while."

After a long pause I said, "Sometime you'll have to tell me how it happened."

"I'll tell you now, it's no biggie," Mike said. Then he took a deep breath and said, "One morning my dad was home sitting at the kitchen table while my sister and I got ready for school. It was weird because he was usually on his way to work by then. I asked him if he was feeling all right. He said he only had a cold. By the time I got back home from school, my mom had taken him to the hospital. A few days later she told us he had a heart attack. He was having bypass surgery and things got complicated but he made it. My sister and I went to visit him a few days later. He seemed fine. A few days after that, my mom picked my sister and me up from school. She took us home and told us he had died. We weren't prepared for it. Worse, I don't think he was ready either."

Silently I sat and absorbed all Mike had said. Then I softly asked, "Did he know you were gay?"

"Back then I didn't know," Mike answered, "but I remember asking a lot of questions, mostly about boys it seems to me. Maybe he knew, I think he suspected but he never treated me any differently so I don't know for sure."

"It wouldn't have mattered," Keith said.

Mike nodded and said, "There's no doubt in my mind about it."

"It's fucked up, don't you think?" Derrick asked. We all turned to him and he continued. "My father doesn't give a shit about me but Mike's dad and Prez's mom were cool and they were taken. There's something not right about that."

We all sat quietly for a few moments, each of us thinking. In my own case, my father was as good as dead. I didn't want to hear from him ever again. There was no excuse or explanation he could give to justify his actions. It's sad but I'll bet he's happier then ever now that he's alone. My mom and Mike's dad had so much to live for, families that miss them. I wondered, what I would do if my father ever saw the light and decided to apologize, to try and make up for the past? Could I forgive him and give him the chance to be my dad, not just a father? I'd like to think that I could, if he would only make a small effort.

The alarm on Keith's watch beeped and Mike asked, "What time is it bro?"

"Nine o'clock," Keith answered.

"Why don't we say good night to Doug and Brian then head home?" Derrick suggested. We all agreed and walked back to Doug and Brian's house. For a few minutes we hung out and thanked them for helping us. With Mike's acoustic guitar accompaniment, we ran through Don't Worry Baby about four times, which is what we were there for in the first place. Then we piled into the 442 and headed back home.

In the back seat, I slid close to Keith and he wrapped his arms around me. The radio was blasting and we kept virtually silent most of the way home. Then I leaned back and asked Keith, "Do you think it was wrong to ask Mike about his dad?"

"I don't think so but why don't you ask Mike?" Keith replied.

I nodded but waited until we pulled in front the house. Derrick turned off the engine but before anyone got out of the car I said, "Are you okay Mike?"

He answered, "Couldn't be better dude. Why?"

"Just checkin'. I thought maybe talking about your dad got you depressed."

Mike smiled and shook his head saying, "Nope. I've been waiting to talk with you about that since October. Are you bummed out?"

"No, just a little confused -- again!" I said with chuckle.

Derrick turned in his seat slightly and asked, "What's got you twisted dude?"

I sighed and said, "A little bit of everything I guess. Like you said, it's fucked up that your dad and mine are such assholes. Then I think how lucky I am to be away from him but at the same time I almost wish he'd try to patch things up." Keith tightened his embrace around me and I smiled at him before continuing. "Then I look around and see Keith and you two. We're a great mix but even that confuses me. It's as if I'm the one creating problems and y'all are dealing with me the best you can."

Mike chuckled and said, "You're creating problems? Yeah, right. And I just like dealing with a problem child almost every day of the week."

"You know better than that dude," Derrick said. "You're just taking your turn through the doldrums. Now if we could just find out why we'd be able to help get you out of the muck."

I though carefully for a few moments and Keith whispered, "Take your time baby."

"Sometimes I wonder about you guys," I said with a smirk. "And I wonder about myself too. How can I be so hopelessly in love with Keith but at the same time, care almost as much about both of you? Something deep down tells me that's wrong but at the same time it feels so right. I feel like I'm letting each of you down and I'm letting myself down too."

Derrick and Mike looked at each other then started whispering. Keith pulled me closer and held me tighter and said, "You've never let me down, not once in all this time. You've got some great principals and I love each and every one of `em." Hearing that made me feel good. To say thank you, I turned and kissed his cheek.

Then Mike turned and asked, "Would you do something for me Prez?"

Without even thinking, I said, "Sure, anything."

Mike looked me square in the eye and said, "After the frolics this Friday night, would you go out with me?"

"Huh?" I shouted, "What made you ask that? And why would you want to?"

Then Derrick turned to me and said, "How about you and me go somewhere Saturday night?"

My brains nearly spun right out of my head! I looked at both of them as if they had sprouted purple polka dots and had antennas growing from their heads. Before I knew it they were both laughing at me and Keith was giggling behind me. A smile crept across my face but I still didn't get it. "What's the joke?" I asked loudly.

"Why haven't you ever asked me out before?" Derrick said.

"Because you've already got Mike," I answered quickly.

"And that's why I've never asked you out before," Derrick chuckled, "because you've already got Keith."

"If none of us were already hooked up, I'd ask you out in a heartbeat." Mike said. I swear I blushed so hard my face would've caught fire if I weren't sweating so much!

"Do you get it yet?" Keith asked from behind me. I thought for a few seconds then shook my head no.

"Its simple dude," Mike said, "D's just what I always wanted. He's a little bit taller and thinner than me; his personality is a perfect match for mine. You have most of the same traits as him. We could probably do pretty well together but D and Keith would have major fits so it won't ever happen."

"We can't help but be attracted to each other dude," Derrick softly explained. "I'm gay. It took me a long time before I let myself believe that I like other dudes. But I like strong arms hugging me; I like all the physical qualities that other dudes have. The most difficult thing to accept was how much I love looking at dicks!" We all started giggling when he said that. "I can't help it!" Derrick continued, "small soft ones or long hard fat ones or any where it between, I'm absolutely amazed by all of `em. I practically have to put blinders on to keep from looking around the showers at school! Try and prove to me you dudes are any different."

Mike said, "This what me and D talked about Monday night. We've skirted around the topics before but that night it was really great. I wanted so much for you both to be there. That's why I was disappointed when no one called Monday night. Prez, I'm glad you feel something for Derrick. Believe me, I know all the reasons why you do. But guess what? Ya can't have him!" Mike giggled then continued, "If it weren't for him I'd be hitting on you and Keith daily, making a total pest out of myself so count your blessings! Face it dude, we're a bunch of horny teenage homos! We recognize the limits though. If we ever let the little heads start dictating to the big ones we'd be in a shit load of trouble."

"So that's why you asked about a four-way?"

Mike nodded and said, "Yep. That's just fun sex between gay friends. A chance to check each other out and play silly games for a few hours. No hiding anything from anyone, everyone's limits observed. It'll be phat dude. Then, when it's all over and time for bed, I'll be snuggled up next to D. Right now there's no one else I want holding me close while I sleep."

It was all starting to make sense to me. Since I didn't often consider myself gay, just in love with another boy, I hadn't made the same connections or come to the same conclusions. My desire to be faithful to Keith always seemed to be in direct conflict with what my hormones wanted. More, sitting in front of the Hundser's house while Keith playfully licked my neck, I remembered there were two parents and two little brothers waiting inside. They mattered to me and I mattered to them. For the longest time all I had was my mom. Not that she wasn't enough or she was unimportant, only that I could now understand the difference in lifestyle I had gone through, never taking the time to notice before. I wished she were still around to see how much I was cared for. But somehow I think she knew. A warm fuzzy feeling enveloped me.

Paired up and making out, the four of us stayed in the car for a while until Derrick suggested we call it a night. As I stepped out of the car, I found myself on the receiving end of a tight, rib-cracking hug from Mike. It was the first time in many months we had hugged each other. Not a word was said. I returned his hug then stepped back smiling. Tapping on the hood of the car, I then waved to Derrick and turned to follow Keith into the house. We sat with his parents in the living room watching the last few minutes of Speed on TV. When the late night news came on I got up to let Rush out back then we said good night to his parents.

Keith immediately began removing clothes as soon as we got in our room. So many times since I've moved in we've changed in front of each other but I rarely let myself notice how incredibly handsome he is. If I did let myself notice then we'd be lucky to ever leave the bedroom! This time though I allowed myself to watch as each article of clothing was removed. The loose fitting sport shirt he wore was tossed to the pile of dirty laundry in the bottom of our closet. Then he reached down and pulled the T-shirt up and over his head. Turning to toss it on to the pile, he noticed me standing there watching him and smiled.

While pulling his sneakers off, he nonchalantly asked, "See anything ya like?"

Uncertain whether it was his front, back or profile view that I liked most, I started to say, "Oh yeah, everything," but I swallowed my own saliva while taking a breath and only wound up choking.

"Heehee! You okay?" Keith giggled while I coughed. Taking a seat on the corner of the bed, I nodded and watched as he lowered his fly and unbuttoned his jeans. Then he turned around, bent slightly forward with his butt pointing at me, and took them slowly off. Twirling his jeans around like a stripper before tossing them aside, he strutted to the stereo, turned it on and began scanning through stations. He seemed to like when I watched him at least as much as I enjoyed looking. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Rush sitting beside me, watching Keith as intensely as I was. Only then did I ask myself, why the hell am I sitting here in a fog with all my clothes on? I've spent far too much time in a chronic vegetative state lately!

Standing up, I started to unbutton my shirt. Keith finally settled on a soft rock station and turned to face me, grinning from ear-to-ear. As we stepped closer to each other I said, "God, I love you," for the millionth time.

Glancing down at my crotch, he looked up again saying, "I can tell," and helped me take my shirt off. As I unbuckled my belt Keith said, "For someone that's had so many things on his mind, you were really great tonight." I looked at him curiously, believing that I had done nothing special, only what needed to be done. It was he, Derrick and Mike that made everything happen the way it did.

"It was Doug and Brian that started things rolling," I said.

"Yeah, but it was you that apologized to Mike even though you did nothing wrong."

I shrugged and let my jeans fall to the floor then kicked them towards the closet. Mike was hurt because of something I did. Even though it wasn't intentional, it was no skin off my nose to apologize.

Keith stepped forward and rested his head on my shoulder. He whispered, "I'm gonna say this again and get it into that thick skull. You are not an asshole or a bad person in any way. Sometimes you're so stubborn I feel like smacking some sense into you but I never would because you beat yourself up more than enough. And for no good reason either."

Standing there holding each other my mind drifted. I'm not that stubborn but I know that I'm my own worst enemy. Maybe I could use a smack once in a while. Maybe we all go through periods of indecision about one thing or another.

His body heat felt so great against me and he was softly running his hands up and down my back, from the shoulders to my ass and back again. I rested my head on his shoulder, humming contentedly while my fingers traced little patterns around his back. I giggled when I thought of Mike and Derrick both asking me out just to prove a point. Suddenly it occurred to me that when they asked me out, Keith never said a word! My hands rested on his ass for a minute while I considered what had happened earlier. Keith laughed after they asked me out!

I must've shook or shuddered because Keith then asked, "What are you thinking?"

"Just remembering some things," I said casually, "I don't want to forget any lessons I learned tonight," then pinched his ass!

Jumping back, Keith yelled, "Oww! What was that for?"

"They both asked me out and you just sat there, with big shit eating grin on your face!" I said loudly. He tried to look hurt but the big grin slowly reemerged. Rush began bouncing around and growling between us. Keith remained silent, grinning from ear to ear. "Uh huh, I see, and would it bother you if I had said yes?" I ranted and started for the door.

"Oh no ya don't!" Keith said and grabbed me by the waist. "I'm not chasing after you again!" He spun me around, partially bent me in half and cracked my ass hard! "You've been a very bad boy lately!" he yelled and spanked me again! Rush, my faithful white German shepherd guard dog barked and jumped on me!

"Not me you stupid hound!" I yelled and got a third smack across the ass! "Ow! Help!" I yelled to the four walls and struggled to get free.

He held me firmly in place and laughed hysterically, "You know you like it," he teased.

"No I don't!" I half laughed. Then I felt my boxers being tugged down and hollered, "Nooooo!" at the top of my lungs! With a bit less force, he slapped my bare ass again! "Kinky bastard!" I muttered softly. Reaching around, I pulled his boxers down then pinched ass really hard.

"Yikes! Oh yeah baby! Make it hurt so good!" Keith laughed.

The battle commenced from there with Rush jumping around barking at us. With every slap of my ass, Keith's ass got pinched. The scary thing was, I was enjoying the hell out this play fighting and my buns were getting toasty warm! After a few minutes of roughhousing and rude commentaries there was a knock at the door. Before either of us could say anything or let go of each other the door swung open.

Bleary-eyed John yelled, "Knock it off!" then wandered sleepily back to his room.

Drew stood there with his eyes wide open and his chin on the floor, completely shocked. Keith and I separated and laughed harder, as much for Drew's expression as what we were caught doing.

Shaking his head Drew stated, "We're gonna have to have a long talk about this," and went back to his room. Keith fell back on to the bed in a fit of laughter.

I closed the door, crawled over him and chuckled, "YOU forgot to lock the door!"

"You were the last one in the room!" Keith playfully argued.

"Bitch, bitch, bitch."



"Eat me."

"I'd love to," I said provocatively and started nibbling on his nips. After we made love, Keith sighed contentedly and pulled me closer to him. "Are you still looking for a way to make things a little more even?" he asked. I nodded and hummed affirmatively. "I think I have an idea but let me think about it some more."

Snuggling closer to him I said, "Sure babe, whatever you want."

The next morning, before our alarm went off, I felt Keith grinding slowly against my butt. For the remaining minutes until our clock radio turned on I lay there tingling all over in a semiconscious state while my lover pleasured himself.

As I drove to school the sky seemed brighter. The usual morning haze had burned off early and there wasn't a cloud to be seen anywhere on the horizon. Even the traffic lights were going my way, Keith noticed. We picked up Mike and Derrick and made it to school in record time. Like any other day, Keith and Derrick went in one direction towards their lockers and homerooms while Mike and I headed in the opposite direction. On the way, Rebecca, that girl from our neighborhood, saw me and came running over, chattering up a storm about the frolics amongst other random topics. Almost every morning since we met she'd come over and chatter away. She's a nice girl. Apparently she has a very positive attitude and the gift of gab.

I don't mind being friendly with her. I only hope that she doesn't expect me to ask her out! She might ask me out, I silently considered as she rambled on. That could be a bad scene if she did. Thank goodness the bell rang and she took off for her homeroom.

At second period English class, I noticed Keith walking towards me in the hall. He was giving me those looks again. My breathing and heartbeat quickened slightly. The front of my jeans suddenly felt very confining and I cursed myself, wondering if there would ever be a time in my life where my dick gets some amount of control.

"I've had about enough of this day," Keith said as he walked up to me. "I'd just as soon get the heck out of here," he said with a big smile. Judging what he had said and how he said it, it was obvious nothing bad happened. His eyebrows were bouncing up and down and he was tilting his head, motioning for us to make a break for the nearest exit. His playful demeanor told me that he wanted to go home and have some fun with me alone. I rolled my eyes and chuckled, casually moving the hand holding my notebook in front of my bulging crotch. Keith caught me covering my privates and smiled insanely, nodding his head and whispering, "Let's go, maybe we'll come back after lunch."

I shook my head saying; "You should've said something before we left the house. We can't leave now." He whined softly and my cock throbbed. It took every ounce of self-control to softly say, "You know we'll wind up getting detention or worse. We'll skip whole days or not at all." I grabbed his arm and guided him into the classroom before he said another word to break my resolve. The last straggling students entered the room and took their seats.

"I'm a bit behind on paperwork," the teacher explained, "I was going to review sentence structure, grammar and punctuation today. I'll leave it up to you though. We can do that or I can leave you to work on your book reports that are due Monday?"

"Book reports," several students chattered.

The teacher nodded and said, "Fine, please work quietly. If anyone needs assistance just let me know."

Fucking wonderful, I thought. She rarely ever lets us read in class. The Fountainhead, the novel I've been reading, I left at home and my essay is on our PC hard drive. I should've listened to Keith and made a swift exit. Now I get to sit here for forty-five minutes with virtually nothing to do but wait for my boner to either deflate or explode.

Keith and I sit side-by-side in the first two rows of the class near the middle of the room. I looked over and whispered, "I left the book at home."

"Me too."

"Is your essay almost done?"

He nodded and whispered, "About half way."

"Is there a problem?" the teacher asked. I turned and found she was looking at Keith and me.

I nodded and stood up, motioning for Keith to follow me. We went to the teacher's desk and explained our situation. She looked at us suspiciously for a moment then took out two passes. As she was filling them out she said, "Go to the school library. You can at least spend the time reading."

We returned to our desks and got our stuff then hurried out of the class.

"How much do you have left to read?" I asked.

"I'm done reading, just gotta finish writing the report."

I smiled and instead of making a left turn towards the library I went right, picking up my pace.

"Where are we going?" Keith asked as he hurried to keep up with me.

"Home. We've got about thirty five minutes."

Relieved, Keith loudly said, "Yes!" and I laughed at his exuberance.

Swiftly we made our way out of the building. As soon as we were outside Keith said, "I've been so horny all day. We barely have enough time."

Heading into the parking lot, I asked, "Would you rather stay at school and wait until after rehearsal tonight?"

"No way!" Keith laughed, "I couldn't last that long. You'll be lucky if I wait to get home."

During the ride home Keith held my hand, playfully stroking my palm. Then he kissed me while stopped at a traffic light and started feeling me up the second we turned into our neighborhood! Screeching to a halt in front of the house, I had to push his hand away before I came in my pants. We raced into the house and I quickly let Rush out back. When I returned to our room Keith was already naked in bed, on top of the covers and stroking his fat cock. I couldn't contain myself, practically ripping my shirt off before diving onto the bed and reaching for his meat.

Minutes later, on our way back to school, Keith said, "Thanks baby."

I chuckled and said, "No problem. Was there anything in particular that got you going?"

Keith thought for a moment then said, "Nothing really. It's not like we didn't have plenty of fun last night. Still, I woke up with a stiffie and the friggin' things been getting hard on and off all morning."

Quietly I considered all the great ways we make love. It's never the same. Sometimes it's because we're happy, other times because one of us is sad and needs something to brighten the day, other times still its a direct result of the days events or a conversation we had. Then there's just a physical need. Even those times are sweet because we both understand the need for release very well and we're not just going through the motions (so to speak), we're giving the very best we have to give. The reasons how or why we make love don't really matter. Keith is there to share the experience with me and I'm there for him.

I parked the truck but before getting out, I leaned over and stole a kiss. Keith kissed me back then, as we were walking towards the school, he took my hand in his and asked, "What if my wiener needs more attention around lunch time?"

I laughed and said, "Then we'll have another high protein meal, I guess."

Keith yelled, "Woohoo! I can't wait!" We both walked into school chuckling and satisfied, waiting till the very last minute before separating and going to our third period classes.

There was quite a gathering at lunch that day. The four of us, Jessy and Nelson, Sharon and Julie, Maria and Cathy pulled together a bunch of tables in the cafeteria. With that many people talking it's hard to keep up with any one conversation. My efforts were split between discussing tunes for the frolics, making plans for Memorial Day and talking about the prom. Maria and Cathy were awfully quiet during the prom conversation, I noticed. Since I didn't know them very well and they were kind of shy anyway, I thought nothing of it. Hearing Keith and Mike discussing holiday plans, I switched gears and joined that conversation. When Mike suggested going to Venice Beach instead of Newport I said, "Venice sounds good to me. I haven't been there yet."

"There's a lot of gang-bangers around there," Derrick said. "It's not exactly gay friendly."

"Either is Newport," Mike said indifferently.

"What does it matter?" Keith asked. "It's not like we're gonna go for it on the beach."

Looking for a way to compromise I asked, "Are we going surfing? Which beach has better waves?"

Derrick answered, "It depends on what direction the swells are coming from that day."

Mike whimpered and softly said, "Please don't mention swells or swelling."

Derrick blushed and chuckled but didn't say another word. Keith and I looked at each other then started laughing, thinking of our earlier escape from school and the previous night's escapades.

"You dudes have no idea what I'm talking about," Mike said. "What's so funny?" Keith and I shook our heads, both refusing to answer. Mike badgered us for the remaining few minutes of lunch then the bell rang. Later, while getting changed for gym class, he asked more questions, trying to piece together what had happened. I never gave him any clues and his guesses were way off base. While stripping off my jeans and boxers Mike began chuckling. I pulled up my jock and looked at him curiously then pulled up my gym shorts. Mike couldn't contain his laughter and cracked up, falling back against the lockers. I put on my gym shirt and smiled at him, believing he had taken the final excursion into some demented alternate reality. All through gym class he couldn't face me without giggling or laughing at me. On the way back into the school Mike softly chuckled, "You'd better take a shower with your back turned towards the wall. You've got hand prints all over your buns dude."

Oh no! I thought, panicking. The warm tingling on my backside from last nights roughhousing with Keith had disappeared by morning. Naturally, I had no idea there were any marks back there.

"Was that what you and Keith did today?" Mike asked.

Blushing bright red, I answered, "Nope, it's from last night. And all your fault I might add!" Mike snickered all the way back into the locker room, obviously quite pleased with himself. Needless to say I was very careful about changing my clothes and took the fastest shower ever, barely rinsing the sweat off my body before grabbing my towel and hurrying to get dressed.

Not until the drive home that afternoon did Keith and I decide to tell them that we skipped second period for a quickie. Derrick and Mike both went off screaming at us, complaining how they have to be so careful of when, where and how they mess around while we get all the lucky breaks! As we walked into the house, Keith reminded them of our birthday party and how they snuck away leaving us wishing for fifteen or twenty minutes alone.

While I went to take care of Rush, Mike hollered, "See! You had to go back almost a year to find the last time we got lucky and you didn't!" Keith chuckled and led them back to the garage. I let Rush out back and played with him for a few minutes before taking him back inside and feeding him. Hearing knocks on the front door, I went to let Jessy and Nelson in then we headed for the garage. Hearing everyone laughing hysterically in there, I braced myself for another embarrassing situation. Thankfully, no one mentioned my tanned bottom in front of Jessy and Nelson. But Derrick occasionally glared at me, making me blush.

Our rehearsal went very well. Drew came home and joined us in the garage, taking a seat by the PA system and adjusting the levels for us. He would be backstage running the PA during the frolics. We ran through Open Arms, Don't Worry Baby and The Boys Of Summer. During a short break, Keith asked if I would do that little favor for him. Since I had been looking for something special for days and drawing a blank, I enthusiastically agreed.

"Do The Joker at the frolics?" Keith asked hopefully.

I smiled and nodded, thinking that for Keith that was a good pay back. Since I pressured him into singing with the band and withheld Mike's intention to sign us up for the frolics, my singing one song was appropriate compensation from his perspective. But from my point of view it was hardly any effort at all so I still felt like I needed to do something special for him.

We ran through The Joker and Addicted to Love then began debating which songs we would do at the frolics. Open Arms and The Boys Of Summer were definite. Deciding on the third song took some time. Keith wanted me to sing The Joker. Mike was okay with that but would rather do Addicted to Love. Derrick and Jessy thought that Don't Worry Baby would go over well if we could manage to keep our harmonies together.

Noticing that we weren't getting anywhere, Nelson asked, "Is there a reason why you have to do the same songs both nights?"

"It's just a little bit easier for Keith," Jessy said, "but if he doesn't mind?"

Keith said, "I don't mind but I'd really like for Prez to do The Joker one night."

"Not a problem bro," Mike said. Then he suggested, "How about if on Friday we do The Joker. Then on Saturday we'll plan on Don't Worry Baby but if any of us feels like they can't sing it, we'll quickly substitute Addicted To Love.

"Sounds like a winner to me," Derrick said and we all agreed. We ran through all five songs once more before calling it quits. That night Mike and Derrick loaded up the 442 with guitars and amps. Nelson stowed Jessy's stuff in his car. We packed the drums and remaining equipment into the back of my 4-Runner and tied the drum risers to the roof. Before Jessy, Mike and Derrick left, Keith asked if we could take a break this Sunday and cancel rehearsal. No one had a problem with that and Mike mentioned that we could probably start making plans for summer rehearsals, adjusting the days and times as necessary. By the time everyone left, Drew, Keith and I were late for dinner; just sitting down to eat while everyone else worked on desert.

Keith and I cleared the table while Drew carved out some Streusels for us. Out of the corner of my eye I caught Mrs. Hundser taking a swipe at Keith's ass! Keith pulled his buns out of the way just in the nick of time. Oh God, I thought. Their bedroom is on the other side of the house! Did they hear us last night? I wondered. Taking two plates from Drew, I went back to the table and sat down. Dad was sitting quietly, drinking his coffee and leafing through a magazine. Drew wandered off to the living room to eat his dessert. Keith joined me at the table and dug into his Streusel. We ate silently, immersed in our own thoughts. Apparently finished with his magazine, dad shifted slightly in his chair.


Dad slapped down his magazine against the table very hard, scaring the daylights out of Keith and me! Smiling slightly, dad said, "Did you see that fly?"

"Jeez, give me a heart attack, why don't ya?" Keith said breathlessly.

Pulling my heart back into my chest I said, "Funny, I never heard any buzzing."

Appearing to look around for his fly, dad said, "I'm gonna whack that bugger but good, right across the ass," and took a swat at the air.

Keith and I looked at each other. Then we looked at dad. The smile was creeping ever so slowly across his face while he hunted his imaginary fly! Grinning widely, Mrs. Hundser joined us at the table, quickly lifting her cup of coffee to hide the smirk.

Embarrassed, we retired to our room to do some homework. Since we had already lifted and moved a lot of heavy equipment, we skipped our workout time. Keith had a geometry test the next day and we both had those book reports to work on. And we both had to think of how we could be more careful in the future! While I was quizzing Keith for his test, there was a knock at the door.

"Come in," Keith said and Drew opened the door.

"How's it goin'?" Drew asked shyly as he entered the room, closing the door behind him.

"Just finishing up some home work," Keith said and turned his attention back to the geometry.

Drew and I glanced at each other briefly then I looked down at The Fountainhead, pretending to read but occasionally catching him looking at me out of the corner of my eye. He must've seen me grinning but I patiently waited for him to speak. Not surprisingly, Drew sat on the floor and played with Rush while Keith finished his homework. Wondering what Drew might say, I couldn't concentrate, reading and re-reading the same paragraph over and over.

Never letting myself look up from my book, I chuckled, "It's not how you think, Drew."

"Try and explain it then," Drew said dryly and Keith started giggling.

I asked, "Don't you and Corey wrestle or play rough?"

"Yeah but not like that! Definitely not loud enough to wake anyone up either!" Drew said loudly. Sitting at the desk, Keith's shoulder's bounced as he tried to hold back his laughter.

I chuckled, "We got a little carried away."

Smiling evilly, Drew shouted, "I guess so!"

His concentration totally blown, Keith turned and chuckled, "I didn't pop a bone doin' it. Did you Prez?"

Shaking my head, I answered truthfully, "Nope. The only part of me that got hot was my biscuits!" Keith roared with laughter. Drew turned crimson red and I slouched down on the bed hysterical.

"Hopefully that won't be happening again any time soon. At least make sure I'm not around to see it, okay?" Drew yelled over our combined laughter.

"I'll make an effort but no promises," Keith teased.

"Don't knock it until you've tried it," I chuckled.

Defeated, Drew stood up saying, "You dudes scare me sometimes," and left the room.

My primary concerns on Friday morning, the first day of the frolics, were to keep an eye on Keith and to try and keep him from getting a bad case of the jitters. In the shower we took a few extra minutes to play. During the drive to school I reached for his hand, holding it most of the way. Pulling the truck up behind the school auditorium, we began unloading the gear. Mike and Derrick soon showed and helped us with the risers. At second period English, when we met again, I could tell the tension was starting build. He only got milk and an oatmeal cookie for lunch. Mike and Derrick were talking about what they were going to wear on stage; making matters worse for Keith. I wolfed down my lunch and actually finished before Keith. As soon as he was done, I asked if he'd like to take a walk with me. He smiled weakly and nodded. We headed outside for the courtyard. Opening the door I asked, "How're you doing babe?"

Keith shrugged his shoulders and said, "Feeling like I could jump out of my skin again."

"It's okay Keith, I'm nervous too. We've got nothing to worry about, you know? No one lobbed any tomatoes at us last week. And this time we'll be doing only the songs we play best."

"Thank goodness it's only for fifteen minutes."

"Try not to let those fifteen minutes mess with you for the rest of the day."

"I'm trying baby. It's just those same old feelings."

He meant the feeling of not belonging with us, that he was less talented or less able than the rest of us. "It's been about a year since I last played on stage," I reminisced. "Three times a year our school jazz band would put on shows at school. During the day it would be for the whole student body and at night there would be another performance for the parents. I've been doing this stuff since junior high. That first time on stage I was almost ready to cry I was so mixed up inside."

"Why do you still do it then?"

"Because I didn't cry. I concentrated on the sheet music and the teacher during the whole show. There was even a short bass solo. I just knew my fingers would get all spastic and I'd fuck it up but I didn't."

"That's what I'm scared of, hitting a wrong note or forgetting a lyric. In front of all those people, I'd piss my self"

Ordinarily I would've laughed at a statement like that but Keith was too serious. I smiled and said, "You managed to remember a lot more lyrics last weekend and there weren't any notes that you missed. The frolics are going to be a breeze in comparison."

"There's just gonna be way more people. I guess that's what's freaking me out."

To try and lift his spirits I asked, "Did you hear what Mike and Derrick said they were going to wear?" Keith shook his head no. "We're the boys of summer. They're going to wear beach clothes!" I laughed. Finally Keith chuckled and shook his head in disbelief. "Derrick's not going to wear a shirt, just shorts and sandals. Mike's thinking about wearing his wet suit!"

"Show offs."

"Why don't we show off too? We'll get Jessy to wear a swimsuit too. Of course, it'll be obvious that she's not one of the boys if she does."

Keith actually laughed but all too briefly and became thoughtful again. After a short pause he turned to me and said, "Maybe I'll wear my jeans real low with my boxers showing."

"No shirt?"

He grinned and said, "Nope."

"I'll have to turn a fire house on those brazen hussies that'll be following you around."

"They can follow all they like. Will I get another reward when we get home?"

"Anything you want babe."

"More spanking?"

I laughed and said; "Only if you can catch me!" then took off running for the school. He caught me at the doors. For a brief moment I thought he was going to kiss me. Man, it was so frightening! Like the first time he kissed me, was I doing it right, should I be kissing him at all? But he only hugged me, turned me around and, as I entered the school, he slapped my ass!

"What will you wear tonight?" Keith asked.

"Anything that covers the hand prints on my buns!" I chuckled and Keith busted up. I walked with Keith most of the way to his next class just to make sure he was less stressed. Judging by the jokes he was cracking about Drew catching us spanking each other, I'd say he was doing very well.

When I caught up with Mike for gym class it was apparent he was more than a little hyperactive. "Dude, you forgot about meeting with the frolics committee," Mike said as he got undressed. "It's all right though, Jessy, me and D met with them and got everything lined up. We'll have blue and green lights from the sides and above when we start. The spotlights will be center stage on Keith when he starts singing. During the second song they'll add more yellow lights. By the time we get to the last song all the stage lights will be on." All during gym class Mike rambled on endlessly about the frolics. Since there would only be a few minutes between acts to get everything set up, there would be a bunch of people helping us get everything in place on the stage so everyone involved needed to know where to place the equipment. He was a kick to watch and listen to, raising my anticipation a few notches.

That afternoon Mike and Derrick disappeared for about an hour. Jessy came over just before they did. Then we all gathered around in our bedroom for a last minute rehearsal. The frolics were scheduled to start at seven that night. We had to be back at the school by six. Keith was doing okay, only showing his tension by pacing around, unable or unwilling to sit still. By five-thirty we had accomplished as much as we could. Jessy, Mike and Derrick headed for school in the 442 while Drew, Keith and I went in my 4-Runner.

The room with our equipment was crammed with all the props for the show. Our stuff was in the back of the room and we couldn't get to it. I was hoping to at least be able to play my bass while we waited.

I asked Mike, "When do we go on?"

"We close the show both nights," Mike said proudly.

Keith turned to Mike and, with a completely blank expression asked, "Have I mentioned that I plan on killing you on Sunday?" Mike giggled and backed away. "It'll be a slow, painful death." Keith ranted, "Chinese water torture, maybe dismemberment, I don't know yet but I'll think of something." Although it was funny to watch Keith harass Mike, I was worried that Keith would only start getting stressed out again having to wait so long.

Around six thirty some of the members of the junior class student counsel came and led those of us that would be performing up to the auditorium balcony. Until it was our turn and someone came to get us, we would wait there and watch the show. Parents, family members, students and their friends began shuffling into the auditorium, filling up the seats. Seeing the place fill up, Keith began glancing over at Mike, shooting death rays from his eyes. Mike only laughed in the face of danger. "I'm going to kill him," Keith mumbled. "He'd best be praying we do well or he may not survive the night." Mike laughed harder. Keith turned to me and asked, "How far do you think it is to the floor below?"

Struggling to contain my laughter, I answered, "About twenty feet."

"Good. I could a get a few wallops in, toss him off the balcony and it we could say he slipped."

Drew was quietly reading the show's program beside me during all of this. He nudged me and pointed to the program. "A scene from Romeo and Juliet? Wake me when it's over," he said with a look of disgust. The lights went down and Keith slouched back in his seat. His leg began bouncing up and down nervously and I reached over to hold it still. Surprised, Keith smiled at me and whispered, "A little higher." It was dark and no one could see so I did what he asked, sliding my hand higher and leaving it rest near his crotch. If it would keep him relaxed or at least preoccupied it was worth the risk, I thought.

The show started with an introduction by the senior class president then he turned over the show to the junior class president. After a short monologue the first act was introduced, a rip off of Saturday Night Live's "The Killer Bees" skit. It was pretty cute but honestly the funniest part of the skit was when one of the bees lost his antennae! The next act was a scene from "Death Of A Salesman" followed by another comedy act that poked fun at the conversations between Noah and God. That one was pretty funny and had all of us laughing. The next act was Rebecca's line dancing. They had improved dramatically from what Keith and I saw in the garage and got a nice round of applause. The Romeo and Juliet scene was next followed by another sad, obviously unrehearsed comedy act. The next act was Kid Vicious; a guy that faked playing heavy metal guitar while Metallica songs played loudly through the PA system. The best part of it was the black lights, strobe lights and powder explosions he used. Even though it was all show and very little talent we all applauded. Mike even stood up and cheered!

"Don't get too near the edge bro," Keith sarcastically warned. "You wouldn't want to slip and fall. Oops! There lies the never to be famous Mike Gibbons in a twisted heap." I couldn't hold back any more and laughed hysterically. The four of us were all getting fidgety waiting for our turn. Jessy seemed perfectly relaxed though and obviously found watching us more entertaining than the show.

Another comedy act based on Wayne's World started and the next thing I knew Drew was tapping me on the shoulder. I looked over and saw Jessy, Derrick and Mike heading towards the balcony doors. When I turned around Keith was already standing, waiting for me. We filed out into the hallway and went downstairs to the prop room where we got our costumes for the act. Jessy met up with Nelson briefly before ducking into the girl's room to get changed. The remaining five of us went into the little ceramic room across the hall. Keith looked at Drew curiously for a moment or two while he took off his shirt and adjusted his jeans.

Leaning against the wall by the door, Drew said softly, "I just don't want to wait around alone."

Keith nodded and smiled knowing that while that may be part of the reason, there was also the added bonus of seeing Derrick, Mike and me getting changed. Drew got a good show, I'm sure because I wasn't even prepared for seeing Mike and Derrick put on black Speedos!

Keith and I laughed then Keith said, "I didn't know either of you even owned Speedos!"

"We didn't," Derrick admitted.

Smiling widely, Mike said, "We bought them just for this occasion."

"Partly for your benefit," Derrick added.

Surprised, Keith asked, "For my benefit?"

"I know you're feeling self conscious bro," Mike said. "This is our way of letting you know we understand. With my guitar on, it'll look like I'm naked up there."

Drew whispered, "Omigod!" then started giggling. Thinking that was a really good idea, I moved closer to Keith and wrapped my arm around his waist.

"That should take some eyes off of you," Derrick chuckled.

Feeling a little left out, I loudly said, "I wish you had told me! I would've worn Speedos too!"

"Get some for tomorrow dude," Derrick suggested.

"I will!" I said. Keith looked at me for a long few moments as I stuffed my clothes into my gym bag. Somehow I got the impression he was undressing me with his eyes, picturing me in Speedos.

Nelson stuck his head in the bathroom and asked, "You dudes ready?"

We gathered our stuff and headed out into the hallway behind the auditorium. The second Derrick and Mike came into view the whistling and catcalls started. Keith, Drew and I cracked up. Although they were embarrassed, Mike and Derrick were grinning and seemed to handle it well.

Jessy walked up behind them wearing a one piece fluorescent green bathing suit with a brightly colored beach towel wrapped around her waist. She gave them a good looking over then shook her head and started giggling! Beside her, Nelson was also grinning from ear to ear, making me wonder if perhaps there was some joke I had missed. Straight people are strange, I silently thought as we walked to the backstage door and up the stairs.

There were at least a dozen people scurrying around the stage setting up our stuff. "Go ahead out there, you're being introduced," one of the stagehands said. Mike, Derrick and Jessy quickly walked out on stage but Keith was dragging behind.

I walked beside him slowly and asked, "Are you okay babe?"

"My legs feel like they weigh a ton," he said softly.

Trying to comfort him I softly said, "It's okay, just walk with me and sit down next to Jessy. Picture yourself in our bedroom. It's just you and me."

"He can't sit there," Mike whispered excitedly, "they're expecting him center stage."

"They'll just have to figure it out!" I said a little too loudly. From beyond the curtain we heard the audience chuckling. Guiding Keith to Jessy's piano bench, I sat him down facing forward next to her, handed him the microphone and kissed his cheek then went and picked up my bass.

Over the PA, our class president said, "Sounds like there's someone back there. Finally! I was starting to run out of things to talk about!" The audience laughed and he continued, "I've heard various rumors about this next act. I hope you're all into boy bands. This one's actually got a girl in it so I guess there not too gender conscious! Ladies and gentlemen, The Boys Of Summer." The audience applauded, the curtains started to open and Jessy began playing the introduction to Open Arms. I watched Keith carefully, oblivious to everything but him. Right on queue he began singing but remained seated. His voice was shaking a little more than usual but it really made the opening verse of the song sound even better, like he was genuinely upset and singing to someone. At the first chorus we all joined in and Keith finally stood. He slowly strolled across the stage towards Mike. I noticed a bunch of camera flashes from the audience. Keith's parents, John and his Aunt and Uncle were right in front of the stage. His parents were taking pictures and his Uncle had a camcorder! I hoped that Keith kept his eyes closed and wouldn't notice. That would surely blow his concentration to hell, I thought. He turned and slowly walked back across the stage towards Jessy and me. As we continued into the second verse, I looked around the audience and also saw Mike's mother and sister and, sitting beside them, Derrick's mom. Briefly I wished my mom were there but quickly pushed the thought aside. Keith put the microphone back on the stand and stood center stage to sing the last chorus. When he finished singing he stepped backwards and the spotlights shifted to Mike and Jessy as they played the last few notes of the song.

The audience applauded loudly and I walked up to the microphone. Derrick gave a count then played the opening drumbeats of The Joker. I started playing and singing at the same time so my concentration was limited. The only thing I noticed during most of the song was Keith standing beside me singing the harmony vocals and shaking his maracas. The stage monitor I bought made a world of difference keeping our harmonies together. The next thing I knew Mike was playing the closing guitar solo and the song was over. The audience gave us another warm round of applause.

Before they finished clapping, Derrick started The Boys of Summer. Just like we had rehearsed, Keith started clapping his hands over his head during the introduction. Then he went center stage and said, "Come on, let me see your hands," practically ordering the audience to participate. Derrick played the opening bars a second time then we went into the song. It was a trip watching the audience clap along while we played. Some kids and even parents were dancing in place by their seats and others were dancing in the aisles. All those years of learning and all the months we practiced for these few minutes of performing seemed well worth the effort to me. Everyone seemed to be having such a good time that we signaled each other and repeated the ending bars, dragging out the song an extra minute or so before finally ending. The audience clapped and whistled, the curtains closed and we started to turn off our gear.

From beyond the curtain our class president spoke to the audience. "You liked that huh? Do we have tonight's winner?" The audience cheered and he said, "I would've worn Speedos and taken my shirt off to get this kind of reaction!" The audience laughed and continued clapping. Keith looked happy and tired, eager to get home. The five of us were quietly congratulating each other; standing around the middle of the stage when our class president said, "Let's see if we can talk them into an encore," and the curtains started opening again! Mike and Derrick high-fived each other and went back to their instruments. Jessy went back to her keyboards leaving Keith and I standing center stage. With his back to the audience, Keith was shaking his head no. I held up my index finger, signaling Keith to go for one more song. The audience started laughing hysterically. I nervously looked around to find Mike down on his knees; hands clasped together, begging Keith to please sing one more song! I pointed to Mike and Keith looked over at him.

When the audience is laughing you can either stand there and let them laugh at you or you can see the humor in the situation and laugh along. I chose the latter.

Seeing Mike on his knees, Keith said loudly, "Oh all right!" and the audience roared with laughter! Derrick immediately started the opening drumbeats of Addicted to Love. Keith turned around to face the audience and I hurried to pick up my bass. At the start of the song Keith swayed gently and clapped his hands. When he started singing he stood almost motionless, only bouncing his head around while he sang, very much like the video. Little by little he started moving around, dancing in place very seductively like he would alone with me in our bedroom. Watching him was making me crazy! Then he grabbed the microphone and strutted over by me, moved on to Jessy then across the stage by Mike and over on to the risers by Derrick. The audience went nuts! People were dancing and singing in various groups all around the auditorium. To tell the truth, I started getting a woodie and scraping the finish off my bass! I know we play the song really well. After all, it's a very easy tune to learn and everybody has heard of it. But all of us dancing around on stage is what I think made it go over so well. Perhaps Keith being shirtless made a difference. It sure made a difference to me! I was definitely addicted and in dire need of a fix! When we finished the song to loud applause, Keith said, "See you tomorrow night," and waved to the audience. The curtains closed and we really went nuts hugging and congratulating each other. Even Keith was completely into it.

Waiting for us back stage were our families and friends. Keith was surprised to see his Aunt and Uncle. Seeing the camcorder in his uncle's hand, Keith's eyes opened wide and he said, "Please say you didn't." His Uncle laughed hysterically and packed the camcorder in its case, as if he were hiding it from Keith so it wouldn't be destroyed! I noticed Jessy's parents were talking with the Hundser's, Mrs. Gibbons and Mrs. Siebert. I over heard Mrs. Hundser invite all the other parents over for cake and coffee. Our class president, Will Parkhurst, came over and invited us to join him and a bunch of others at Denny's for a late night snack.

"Sounds good to me, I'm starving," Keith said excitedly. Of course he was starving, I thought, he had only eaten a bagel and an oatmeal cookie all day! We had all skipped dinner though and readily accepted the invitation.

Turning to Mike and Derrick, Will said, "You can go in your Speedos but even Denny's requires a shirt."

Derrick chuckled and said, "No, I think we'll get changed first, thanks."

While we were in the boy's room getting dressed Mr. Hundser came in. He tapped Drew on the shoulder and said, "Let's go home."

Drew said, "Aww, come on dad. Everyone's going to Denny's. Can't I go?"

Mr. Hundser patiently explained, "It's almost eleven and they probably won't be home until after one in morning."

"It's okay with me dad," Keith said.

"Dad, please?" Drew whined, making a final plea.

Smiling but shaking his head, Mr. Hundser led Drew towards the door saying, "In September you'll be a freshman in high school. Let me have you for one more season, please."

As he was guided away, Drew sighed and said, "Good night dudes, I'll see you tomorrow." We all said goodnight and Keith followed his dad out to the hallway while we finished getting dressed.

When we stepped into the hall, Keith said, "Will said that everyone's going to the Denny's on 101 in Agoura Hills. We can meet them there."

Minutes later we were there with about thirty other students. Before joining Nelson and Jessy at a large corner table, we waved at Will and introduced ourselves to a few people, including the two guys that did the Noah skit we enjoyed so much. Rebecca smiled and waved at us -- at me, I mean. She tried to call me over to her table but I shook my head no and pointed at the table where Nelson and Jessy were waiting then rubbed my belly and yelled across the room, "I'm starving. Later, okay?" Suddenly I realized I was standing alone. Keith, Mike and Derrick were already sitting at the table looking at menus while I was the social butterfly! Quickly I joined my friends before Rebecca got suspicious. I slid into the booth next to Keith and he handed me a menu. I opened it, leaned over and whispered; "I think I'm going to have to have a heart-to-heart talk with her someday soon."

Confused, Keith asked, "With who?"

"Rebecca. Whenever she sees me she tries to get my undivided attention." As soon as I finished speaking I looked over to see his reaction. He was smiling but not laughing or calling me `straight boy'. "She's a nice girl," I explained. "I don't want to give her the wrong impression."

"I don't know how she could've missed our holding hands that day," Keith said seriously.

"Maybe she thought it was a joke?" I suggested. Obviously uncertain, he shrugged his shoulders.

"What are you two whispering about?" Derrick suspiciously asked.

"Nothin'," Keith answered quickly.

I hid my face behind the menu and searched for something to eat, all the while wondering if I was making a big deal about Rebecca for nothing. The waitress came to our table and started taking orders. While waiting for my turn, I looked around the table remembering what Doug and Brian said about friends and trust. I trusted all of them, even Nelson, who I didn't know too well. But he's Jessy's boyfriend and I know her well enough. She definitely wouldn't be dating a jerk for all these months, I thought.

When the waitress left I noticed my friends looking at me strangely then turning away and continuing whatever conversations they were having. Maybe the looks were my paranoid imagination as well. Being somewhat preoccupied, I wasn't paying much attention. I felt certain that their glances were because I was hiding something so I decided to come clean and ask for their help. Feeling content and safe I leaned back, put my arm across the back of the booth behind Keith and waited for a chance to speak. The waitress returned with our drinks and everyone stopped talking. When she left I said, "I'm a little confused about something," and started to explain the situation with Rebecca, not without some teasing from Derrick. When it was suggested that it might be only my imagination I said, "I've already thought of that and that's exactly why I'm confused."

Keith said, "I don't think it's his imagination."

Without my even asking, Jessy said, "I'll play detective for you Red."

I smiled and thanked her for helping, feeling very relieved.

Mike turned to me and asked, "What are you going to do if it turns out she's got the hots for you?"

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Then I'll definitely have to have a talk with her," and took a sip of my soda. I then looked over at Keith and saw him beaming. Under the table, his foot softly brushed against mine. Our eyes met and locked.

God help me! He's so fantastic, so thoughtful, so humble, and so incredibly sexy in every conceivable way.

My hand nervously tapped out a rhythm on the seat while Keith burned his desires into my soul. The urge to leave for home was becoming overpowering and we hadn't even been served our food yet!

"They're doin' it again!" Mike chuckled.

Derrick whispered, "Googoo eyes in a public place."

Smiling wickedly, Keith turned their way and softly said, "Shush!"

"We're not yelling," Mike said more softly.

"No one's complaining either," Derrick commented.

Our food was served and the guy that played Kid Vicious came over to our table to talk with Mike for a while. Those two were heavy metal birds of a feather! After Kid Vicious went back to his own table, we had a conversation about the gay-straight alliance club and how people are classified into minority groups. Even if you're in a majority group, you can still have beliefs or attributes that land you into a minority group. It's totally alien to me why anyone would ever say anything derogatory or treat anyone poorly based on a paradigm. I saw enough of that living with my dad. My life was much better now that it's not around as much.

Some kids started to leave and stopped by our table on the way out, congratulating us and wishing us luck on Saturday night. The waitress came by to check on us and got us another round of sodas then she left the check on the table.

Will came over to our table and pulled up a chair. "I was thinking, and a few people agreed with me, that one act was totally unprepared and really lame. I'd like to give them the boot but if I do, I'll need to fill up some time. Can you dudes manage say, another three songs for tonight's show?"

"Yes!" Mike and Derrick chanted simultaneously.

I looked over at them, a little disappointed. Mike quickly caught my meaning then looked over at Keith, batting his eyelashes.

Derrick smiled at Keith and asked, "What do you say dude?"

Keith remained silent for a few moments but started rubbing his foot against mine. Immediately I knew he was going to get as much mileage out of this as he possibly could!

"I don't know," Keith said then yawned. "We really didn't prepare for it, ya know?"

Mike rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, what's it gonna cost me?"

Laughing evilly, Keith started rubbing his hands together.

Will witnessed this exchange with obvious amusement.

"There's a few small tasks I can think of," Keith said, "It will probably take both of you." At that statement, I slouched down in my seat and laughed hysterically. I had no idea what `small tasks' Keith was talking about but if I knew him at all, they were anything but small!

Mike and Derrick looked at each other then turned back to Keith. Mike said, "Okay bro, we'll talk about it. Just say that you'll do it."

Keith giggled and said, "You'll take care of those little tasks for me?"

Backed into a corner, they both reluctantly said, "Yeah."

Keith looked at Nelson, Jessy and me saying, "You're all my witnesses." Then he turned to Will and said, "Okay then, we'll do it."

Relieved, Will said, "Thanks dudes. I was a little worried there for a second."

We paid our bill then Will followed us out to the parking lot where we chatted for a while before he left for home.

Mike and Derrick walked past the 442, following Keith and I to the 4-Runner. "So what are these `little tasks'," Mike asked.

Keith smiled at me and answered, "The other night my dad suggested that the garage get cleaned out before we put all the equipment back in there."

Mike softly said, "You're kidding me?" Keith shook his head no.

I said, "The four of us could get it done in no time," but I couldn't hold back my laughter and a few chuckles escaped.

"Umm... when was your dad expecting to see it done?" Derrick asked cautiously.

Keith answered, "Before the equipment gets moved back into the garage is all he said. It could be done tomorrow or, if you want to take your stuff home, it could be done another time."

Derrick sighed and said, "We were planning on doing other things on Sunday, definitely not cleaning a garage." He then turned to Mike and said, "Lets do it tomorrow."

I chuckled and said, "We were planning on doing other things Sunday too."

Keith turned to me and put one hand on my waist saying, "Yeah, doing your thing and my thing."

To our left stood Mike, staring at us in disbelief. Keith and I both turned and smiled.

Batting my eyelashes at Mike, I said, "While we're at it, we could also figure out which songs we're playing and rehearse the vocals a little bit."

"You'll help us?" Mike asked.

I turned to Keith and he only smiled evilly at Mike. They're both such teases! It's a battle of wills between them. Nodding at Mike, I then turned, unlocked my truck and said goodnight.

The next day we got the garage cleaned up in only three hours. Afterwards, Mike and Derrick followed Keith and me to the mall. At Nordstrom's, I found a pair of black Speedos in my size and went to the dressing room to try them on. When I checked myself out in the mirror and realized I would be on stage in front of about one thousand people, I started to get really self-conscious. It just didn't look so good on me to my eyes.

In the mirror's reflection I saw Keith come in behind me. For a second I was tempted to jump back into the booth and hide! Frowning, I turned around slowly to face him.

"What's wrong?" Keith asked.

Turning back to the mirror I sighed, "It looks like shit."

"Yeah, right." Keith said sarcastically.

Our eyes met in the mirror briefly. Watching him closely, I asked, "You like it?'

"A lot," he whispered breathlessly in my ear. He stepped closer to me, held my waist and pushed his groin against my ass. There was no doubt about it; he was getting a stiffie in the Nordstrom's men's dressing room! Keith smiled at me happily in the mirror then stepped back and sighed as if he was fighting temptation!

"Wearing this on stage is gonna be rough," I said.

"You don't have to. You're still going to sing tonight, right?"

"Yeah. All I'm worried about is my string bean legs. I just don't fill this thing out, ya know?"

Keith shook his head sadly saying, "Only if you really want to Prez. You're already doing something for me."

"If I bought them, I'd never use them again. Unless..."


"Do you want a pair too? Not for tonight, for some other times."

Keith's eyes got wide and he nodded. I went back into the booth and, while getting changed, I started to picture Keith in Speedos - a very bad move. Adjusting my cock into a more comfortable position only made it twitch more. Thank goodness for loose fitting jeans, I thought as left the dressing room. Mike and Derrick followed us back over to the counter where the Speedos were.

"What's wrong, too loose?" Derrick asked.

I shook my head and found another pair of black Speedos that would fit Keith. He shook his head and rummaged through the pile. Mike and Derrick were chuckling evilly behind us. Keith held up a pair of fire engine red Speedos, checked the size and said, "These will do."

I smiled widely thinking, yeah, they'll do me in! Dial 9-1-1, get the paddles and resuscitate me!

Surprised, Mike asked Keith, "You're going to wear those? Really?"

"Not on stage. Later." Keith answered. Stepping up to the checkout counter I fumbled with my wallet, almost dropping it. Mike and Derrick were in fits of barely controlled hysterics as we walked out of the store! As soon as we got outside the commentaries began! All the way home we goofed on each other! It appeared that I wasn't the only one that got his Speedos for more than the frolics!

When we got back home, Drew and Corey were in the living room, watching the video made by Keith's uncle.

"Oh sweet!" Mike yelled and hurried into the living room.

Derrick quickly followed and asked, "Can we rewind it please?"

Keith rolled his eyes, turned to me and said; "I can't watch." Torn between watching the video and staying with Keith, I looked back and forth between the two. "Go ahead Prez," Keith said; "I'll watch it tomorrow. I just can't right now." Then he started to walk towards the kitchen. I went into the living room but never sat down. Watching him sing Open Arms is all I needed to see and went to join him in the kitchen.

Keith was carefully snipping the tags off our Speedos. He looked up and asked, "That bad, huh?"

I took a seat at the counter and said, "That good! If I watch any more, I'll be hard as rock for the rest of the night!"

"You're exaggerating but thanks baby," Keith said softly. There was only one way to prove I wasn't exaggerating. I walked over next to him and, when he was finished with the Speedos, I took his hand and put it on my crotch. Feeling my hardness, Keith eyes opened wide. "Is that for me?" he asked.

I nodded and softly said, "To do with as you please."

Keith whimpered and stuffed both pair of Speedos back in the Nordstrom's bag. Holding the bag up for a second, Keith said, "Seeing you in these later tonight is gonna destroy me."

Not really thinking, just returning the compliment, I said, "They'll look better on you."

Keith looked hurt for a brief moment. Then he said, "Would you stop that please." I looked at him curiously and he softly said, "Stop beating up on your self. Stop thinking that you're somehow less attractive than everyone else. It pisses me off that those dudes in Texas said that shit to you. Even worse is that you've believed it all these years." He came over and sat beside me, lifting my face so he could look into my teary eyes. "You're mine," he said, "I wanted to be with you from the very first night. It's your heart; the things you say and do that make me love you. And from where I'm standing, anyone that thinks you're not attractive is either blind or not looking very hard."

"What happened?" Mike said as he came in the kitchen.

I wiped my eyes, forced a smile and said, "Nothin'."

Mike opened the refrigerator and grabbed a Coke but didn't leave. Instead, he came over and leaned against the counter across from me.

I couldn't say it. Who could talk about something so intensely personal? The fact was that I considered myself less than average looking. Only Keith and my mom knew that. Not that I ever said much of anything to either of them about it, they just knew from living with me I guess.

I watch what I eat like a hawk. God forbid if I notice more than a two or three pound deviation on the scales! And my hair! What a cruel joke to be a redhead! I'd give anything to have been born with any other color hair. Dying it is out of the question for me. I don't want to deal with red roots showing through. My arms and chest have only started to look presentable since I've been dating Keith. I could go on but it won't change a thing.

Keith tapped Mike on the shoulder and asked, "Who's the absolute hottest male star you know bro?"

Mike's eyebrows furled for a moment then he said, "That's easy. Ike Hanson."

Keith affirmed his answer, "So Ike's a ten in your book?"

Personally, I was surprised by that answer. Taylor's much cuter.

Derrick walked in the kitchen and asked Mike, "What happened to my Coke dude?"

Mike turned around and said to Derrick, "Sorry D. Just got a little side tracked." Then he turned back to Keith and said, "Yeah, definitely a ten."

"Where's Prez on your scale?" Keith asked. Hearing something that caught his interest, Derrick came over to listen in. I was totally shocked and embarrassed. So was Mike by the looks of it. He actually blushed for a second there! Then Mike started giggling, "Why are you asking me this now? Again!"

I thought, again? They've had this conversation before?

"Because I want Prez to hear it," Keith answered with a smirk.

"Say it dude," Derrick prodded.

Mike started to laugh and turned as red as I've ever seen him. "Okay, let me put this in perspective," Mike giggled. "Ike's a ten, sure, but totally unrealistic. I don't know him - only what he looks like. Fantasies are always tens." Keith rolled his eyes and took a seat at the counter, as if he were ready to grow roots! "D's like a 9.9," Mike giggled. Derrick tried to look shocked but he was smiling too widely. "We've been living together for going on five months and dating over a year. It's working out great," Mike explained and Derrick nodded. "Keith's an eight, on his best days." Mike said and Keith laughed. "I just don't like the buffed up chest, or his shoulders or his chest. Way too big, but that's my opinion. Not to mention how he tricks me into cleaning his garage!" Mike said loudly then turned to Keith and said, "Come to think of it, you're a seven!" We all cracked up laughing. Then Mike turned to me saying, "You're a good eight and a half or close to nine dude."

"Why?" I asked.

Mike said, "Because, you taught me about music theory last summer. That took some time and infinite patience, I'm sure. Since the accident you've been incredibly independent, which is a good thing but maybe you've taken it to the limit. You took the time to help D out with his dad. That was phat dude! And you helped put a smile back on my best friends face." Mike stopped explaining then started chucking. He walked around the counter and paced around behind me. Chuckling, Keith watched Mike. "Nice slope on the shoulders to the neck, strong back, nice buns," Mike commented. Both Keith and Derrick cracked up! I turned candy apple red and Mike continued, "strong legs but not too big around the thighs, hairy but not bushy arms, strong but not too buffed around the chest, a nice flat tummy too, yeah. You're an easy 8.5 dude." Mike walked back to the other side of the counter again saying, "On any given day you could go down to an eight or lower, especially if you keep hanging around Keith."

I smiled at Mike's rating system and Keith said, "I knew I shouldn't have asked him. D, in twenty words or less, is Prez good looking?"

Derrick nodded, smiled at me and said, "Definitely."

I chuckled and turned to Keith saying, "Okay, I get the hint."

As I got up and headed towards the toidy, Keith tapped Mike and said, "Check out the walk dude. Is that some stride?"

"His buns kinda wiggle a little too," Mike commented and all three cracked up laughing.

"I'm so glad I moved here for everyone's amusement," I mumbled sarcastically to myself as I left the room. Just before I stepped into the bathroom Keith came running up to me. He gently pushed me and followed me inside.

"There, maybe now you'll believe me?" Keith said.

"I always believed you before," I said and pulled my dick out to leak. "Its just part of the way I am. Using my own rating system, I would never go after someone that looks like me."

"Either would I," Keith said as he unzipped his fly. Stepping up beside me, he aimed his dick at the bowl and started to pee. "I guess we're all looking for something different, someone that has some of the qualities we wish we had in our selves?"

I nodded and started to relieve myself. When Keith was done, he left his meat hanging out and watched me. In the middle of leaking, I started to get hard again! It took me forever to finish pissing! Finally I finished but by then Keith was completely hard and so was I. We stepped closer to each other and kissed deeply. I was ready to go for it right there in the toidy and Keith made it obvious he wouldn't stop me.

"Other people have to leak too, ya know!" Mike yelled from beyond the closed door.

"We're also a little late for the frolics," Derrick said.

Keith sighed and whispered in my ear, "We'll pick up where we left off later." Stuffing our stiff cocks back in our pants, we quickly washed our hands then stepped out of the bathroom. Mike, Derrick, Drew and Corey were all lined up in the hallway, waiting patiently, smiling at us knowingly.

"Are you coming to the frolics Corey?" I asked. Mike and Derrick stepped into the bathroom together.

"Yep." Corey replied and snickered.

Drew said, "He's gonna be my assistant at the PA."

"And in the bathroom and hopefully after the frolics too!" Corey chuckled. Drew smiled and turned red.

Eventually we all made into and out of the bathroom. Keith grabbed the bag with the Speedos. Mike and Derrick left in the 442. The rest of us packed into my truck and headed to school. There was a cop directing traffic at the parking lot so it took even longer to get parked. To let Will know we were there; we stopped backstage briefly before heading up to the auditorium balcony where we met Jessy. The first sign Keith gave of being stressed was about half an hour before we went on. He started hic-cupping like crazy, driving all of us to the point of hysterics! Then his leg started bouncing again! I knew how to take care of the bouncing leg and we tried everything to make the hic-cups stop but Keith only hic-cupped more loudly. He continued to hiccup all the way down stairs and into the boy's room while we got changed. Briefly, I prayed for courage before dropping my boxer shorts and putting on the Speedos. Avoiding the mirrors, I glanced around at my friends. They all nodded their approval.

In the hallway we got another blast of catcalls and whistles before going on stage. I swear, I could've crawled under a rock and died! Both Keith and I walked slowly to our places on stage, both of us feeling exposed. Being so preoccupied, I barely heard anything Will said beyond the curtain. Suddenly Jessy started playing Open Arms and the curtain started to open. Keith sang the opening verse from Jessy's piano bench then started strolling around the stage just like the previous night. Having the music to concentrate on helped me forget how under dressed I was. Our parents were in the audience again, armed with their cameras but no camcorder this time. Hearing Keith sing made me remember other more intimate times alone with him singing to me. We finished Open Arms and went right into Weird. Then we played Don't Dream It Over. The audience roared with approval for both songs. Keith turned around smiling and signaled Derrick to give him a count then we all started singing Don't Worry Baby. After another warm round of applause, we finished with The Joker, Addicted To Love and The Boys Of Summer. Everything went really well again and we congratulated each other as we packed up our gear. Mike, Derrick and Jessy were talking about making up some posters for our band to hang around school. Keith and I both said that was fine and hurried to the boy's room. I couldn't wait to get my jeans back on!

There was another party at Denny's that night but we didn't want to leave our stuff in the cars to be ripped off while we ate. We had our own party back at the house though. Keith's parents had ordered a few pizzas and got a cake from the bakery for us. Jessy's parents, Mrs. Gibbons and Mrs. Siebert were there too.

It was a great night but there was one person missing. I fought the sadness for as long as I could, trying to follow the conversations and realizing I was safe at home with my new family and friends. It seemed that I was wiping my eyes a lot though. Feeling a little unstable, I excused myself and went back to our bedroom to pull myself back together. After a few minutes of sitting there on the corner of the bed, looking deeply into the photographs of my mom, I heard the toilet flush across the hall. Then there was a knock at the door. Assuming it was Keith, I said, "Come in."

Mike peeked in and said, "We were wondering where you disappeared to." I couldn't speak without my voice cracking so I just forced a smile and sat there. Obviously Mike sensed that something was wrong. He came in the room, closed the door behind him and sat down beside me. For a few minutes we sat there quietly while the sounds of the party drifted in from beyond the closed door.

Without turning to Mike, I softly said, "I don't know how much longer I can cope with this. She should be here tonight. It really hurts."

"I know dude."

"Sometimes I even get angry at her. Then I feel guilty about it."

Mike sighed and said, "Yeah, I know dude."

"She would've loved to have been there."

Mike nodded and said, "I know dude."

I turned, smiled at him and asked, "Can you say anything other than, `I know dude'?"

Mike chuckled and said, "Yeah, I know dude."

I couldn't help but laugh. "After all these months I thought you had something really important to say."

Shrugging his shoulders, Mike said, "I already said it. If you want, I'll say it again? I know dude. I felt the same stuff a few years ago, every Christmas I feel it again. My mom feels it more on their anniversary. If you didn't ever feel it I probably wouldn't hang with you. That would be really cold."

"Being moody doesn't seem too great either."

"Maybe not but you can't always push it aside. Little things set it off, ya know? Like lawn mowers on summer Saturday mornings. I hated that sound for the longest time. My dad would always mow the lawn first thing in the morning, when it's cooler out. Of course I was also trying to be a lazy fucker and sleep in so I'd curse him under my breath while he mowed. Talk about feeling guilty! I was planning on stealing every lawnmower in the neighborhood at one point."

I chuckled and said, "There's a sure way to get famous."

"I'd be on the ten most wanted list if it wasn't for Derrick and Keith."

Hearing their names I said, "We should get back to the party before they come looking for us."

"Are you feeling better?"

I grinned and stood saying, "On a scale of one to ten, I'd say about 8.5."

Mike bounced up and said, "We could stay right here and try to improve your rating?"

I laughed and said, "Some day we'll get to play all the ratings games but with our boyfriends around."

"Wait till you see how wild D gets," Mike commented as we left the room.

"I don't need to hear this," I warned.

"You might not need to but I'll bet you want to anyway," Mike teased.

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