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 35

Getting There

Keith and I walked hand in hand to our room. Rush followed but I shooed him away before closing and locking the door behind us. I asked, "Well, has Derrick moved up a notch or down one?"

"Up two notches," Keith answered. Pulling the leather cock rings out of his shorts' pocket and then tossing them on the bed, he said, "One for the check out counter at the book store, another for the way he shot down Eric. We kind of had a rough time talking in the car though. The conversation was a little erratic, a few uncomfortable pauses now and then but I had a good time." Slithering to me, Keith asked, "What else did you and Mike do?" Then he started lightly rubbing my crotch through my clothes, completely destroying any chance of concentration.

"Only Carl's for lunch then Guitar Center," I answered calmly, playing hard to get.

While we were alone, I learned that Mike was concerned that Keith wouldn't be able to go through with the prom. He was afraid Keith would bow out or make up some excuse to avoid the frolics too though and I reminded him of it. But Keith's whole attitude and even his tone of voice had changed since our talk with Doug and Brian, I reassured him. Then Mike commented on how much Keith has changed in a good way over the last year. He said it was all because of me, making me blush. I told Mike that no one has changed more than I have. Compared to who I was the previous year at the same time, I was a completely different person. "From the first time I met Keith, it always seemed to me that we were extensions of each other," I told Mike. Our lunch at Carl's Junior lasted almost an hour.

"Did you get any ideas for his birthday?" Keith asked, searching my eyes for hidden reactions to his touch.

Letting him pull me closer, I answered, "A few actually, and everything's well under a hundred bucks." He began snuggling his face into my neck. I shivered. "What made you go with Eric to that café?" I playfully asked.

"Free lunch, nice clothes," Keith mumbled into my neck.

"So I have to watch you around guys that are dressed nicely, is that it?" I teased.

Keith chuckled and pulled back saying, "At first he asked about you and Mike, like he really wanted to get to know us. But I guess to him, it was just hot air. All he wanted was two dudes to play with in his Jacuzzi."

"That must've been hard to turn down."

Shaking his head, Keith replied, "Not at all. That dude Lee must've been an ex-boyfriend or something but Eric really treated him like dirt. If you want," he rolled his eyes up, "we could run back over there and see if he's still around? I'll play with you in his Jacuzzi and he can beat off!"

Shaking my head no, I chuckled and dove for his earlobe.

Running his hands up under my T-shirt, Keith held me tightly and returned my affection with a tender back massage. We kissed deeply then Keith turned on the TV and we started to undress.

The last week or so, since we put the bed on the floor, we could have sex on the bed without turning up the TV or stereo volume. Those large pillows we bought hadn't been used for a long while, it seemed. Best of all, if we controlled our voices, no one had a clue what we were doing behind the closed bedroom door any more! As long as no one tried to turn the locked doorknob, we were just watching TV before dinner.

Standing naked in front of the bed, we kissed and stroked each other until we were completely hard. Keith kneeled down, wrapping a cock ring under my balls and around my hard-on saying, "Supposedly these can only stay on for twenty minutes or until they're uncomfortable, whichever is less. How's that feel baby?"

"Tight at first but it's fine," I replied. Keith stood and I pushed him back on to the bed. Then I put a cock ring on him. To tell the truth, those cock rings were fun to put on and may have had some small effect on how long we lasted but not much else. While we fooled around, I made Keith promise to take me to North Hollywood the next weekend. I promised him that I would get us two dildos.

The best part of sex with Keith is how much fun we have doing it. For instance, the previous summer, when I couldn't squeeze his fat bone into my hole, Keith asked me to roll over. He began gently rubbing my ass. It felt awesome, totally relaxing but at the same time, I felt so silly lying there! We'll never forget those experiences and the goofy conversations we had while he loosened my butt. Honestly, I believe them to be a large part of why we have as much fun as we do.

Keith asked me, "What would you do with two dlidos?"

I grinned and said, "We'll get one about your size and one about my size. Then I can try out the smaller one and get to know what you feel and vise-versa." Then I asked, "What would you like to do with them?"

He thought carefully for a few moments then answered, "How about we use them while in a sixty-nine?" Liking that idea, I giggled happily.

Around six, we cleaned up, dressed, and then went to the kitchen.

"What's for dinner?" Keith asked his mom.

She grinned, "At the last minute, Drew decided to stay at Corey's. And John is at Kim's so the menu was changed mid stream." While she spoke, Keith and I surrounded her, peeking into the pots and pans on the stove as she lifted each cover. "Rice, steamed asparagus with cheese sauce, seasoned corn and your father is grilling prime rib out back."

Keith smiled, "Wow! What's the occasion?"

She whimsically said, "No occasion." Then she peeked in the oven saying, "Fresh dinner rolls too!"

I laughed loudly, "Now we know there's more than dinner cooking!"

Keith walked over to the back door and suspiciously looked out side. "Come here Prez," he giggled.

I went over and looked out the door. Mr. Hundser was at the grill; his back turned to us. But the patio table had been completely made up with a checkered tablecloth, four china place settings, the good crystal water goblets and wineglasses. There was even a small vase with four roses in the center of the table.

Walking back into the kitchen, Keith glared suspiciously at his mom.

"I just thought it would be nice, since it's only the four of us," she offered.

"This is really nice," I said and kissed her cheek.

Looking at Keith, she teased, "Preston gets a glass of wine with dinner."

Keith laughed then kissed him mom's cheek.

"You can have some too, I suppose," she giggled. Returning to the stove, she soon asked, "Roll the dumbwaiter in from the dinning room please."

Keith fetched the oak dumbwaiter and rolled it into the kitchen. I helped Keith's mom load up the various covered serving dishes. Then Keith and I lifted the dumbwaiter across the back door threshold, onto the patio then sat down. Mr. Hundser soon finished the prime ribs then joined us at the table, serving a whopping piece of beef on to every plate.

Sitting down, Mr. Hundser asked, "What was on TV?"

Taking a serving dish from Keith's mom, I answered, "A war movie."

"Some dinosaur show," Keith said, at virtually the same instant.

Mr. Hundser smiled and asked, "Which was it?"

"Both," Keith said. I handed him the dish of asparagus and took the cheese sauce from Mrs. Hundser. Asparagus has a very erotic shape to it, I noticed. Too bad they taste nasty to me. Only the melted cheese sauce makes them edible.

"We flipped back and forth," I added. Keith glared at me, grinning insanely. Quickly, I lifted my water glass and took a sip.

Mrs. Hundser sighed, "I don't know how you can concentrate on two things like that."

We always concentrate on two "things" at once, I joyfully considered. A chuckle escaped my lips; I blew a bubble and inhaled some water!

Keith answered, "It's easy," and patted my back while I choked.

I grinned and coughed, "It's swallowing I need a refresher course on."

Unable to take it any more, Keith cracked up laughing. And he kept on laughing for the longest time, his face getting redder by the second. There's no doubt a picture of my cum covered face flashed into his mind!

Smirking, Mrs. Hundser handed her husband a serving dish and said, "I don't think they watched anything on TV, do you?"

Shaking his head no but smiling widely, Mr. Hundser said, "Let's try a different topic." After loading his plate with rice, he passed me the bowl and said, "I noticed you left in separate cars earlier."

Keith and I smiled at each other. Then I said, "Since Mike's birthday is a few days away, I took him to Guitar Center, just to get a gift idea."

Nodding, Keith giggled, "I went with Derrick to get Mike's present. He'll love it, no doubt!" Then he busted up laughing again, probably remembering Mike waving that dildo around the Guitar Center parking lot!

Playfully poking fun at Keith, Mrs. Hundser said, "Someone's got a severe case of the giggles."

"Ya had to be there!" Keith roared.

Turning to his wife, Mr. Hundser asked, "Do you want to open door number three or shall I?"

"I'm afraid to, you'd better," Mrs. Hundser said.

"We were only wondering about the prom," Mr. Hundser cautiously said. Watching Keith carefully, he asked, "You're all set? Mike and Derrick too?"

Keith and I both nodded enthusiastically then Keith said, "There's a certain... apprehension I guess. Some jerk will say something to us, I totally expect it."

"You don't seem to mind as much," Mrs. Hundser said.

Keith shook his head slowly and said, "I wish they would just mind their own business. But if they want to start something, we'll be ready."

Mr. Hundser said, "We over heard Doug and Brian last night. Religion is an important issue. But don't forget the generations of social misunderstandings that have been festering the last hundred or so years."

"I wasn't too thrilled about the karate lesson personally," Mrs. Hundser said.

Swallowing a mouthful of prime rib, I then said, "That's just a last resort."

"Someone will have to come after one of us first mom," Keith added.

Mrs. Hundser smiled, "That's all I wanted to hear."

"Doug and I talked about what he was planning to say to you boys," Mr. Hundser offered. "It's good to know why people react the way they do."

I nodded then said; "They talked about Christian's, Muslim's and Buddhist's; a little about Hindu's and various other ancient religions. `Course I understood the Christian side but not the others very much."

Looking at both his parents, Keith asked, "Did you study any of that?"

Both his parents nodded. Then Mrs. Hundser said, "In College, we both had more than our share of ancient history. It was boring then but understanding different cultures has helped me do my job over the course of the years."

Mr. Hundser added, "When you're in college, you'll learn about some of the social implications of historical events, not just important dates. Classes like history and philosophy were more like mass discussions. It's a good way to understand people's individual perspectives and good way to learn how to disagree but not force your own beliefs onto that person."

"I wish my history class was more give and take," I said. "Unfortunately, I have the driest, most boring history teacher this year. He could make it more interesting but half the class seems to fall asleep on him."

"Did you know the word homosexual didn't even exist until the late nineteenth century?" Mrs. Hundser asked me.

I nodded and said; "I didn't learn that from Doug or Brian though. It's in the book I bought the other night." Keith turned my way and I nodded.

"I bought a book while I was out Saturday," Mr. Hundser said, "Its focus is on the history of homosexuality."

"Why'd you buy that dad?" Keith asked.

"Mostly for PFLAG events," His father answered. "It's not just a support organization for parents and friends. We'll be marching in the LA Gay Pride parade."

"Really? I just found out about that," Keith said.

Surprised, I asked, "You did?" I didn't know when it was but of course I knew that June was Gay Pride month.

Keith smiled and nodded; "Derrick mentioned it while browsing through those magazines." For a moment we looked at each other, hoping we hadn't disclosed too much information that his parents might question.

"Would you participate?" Keith's mom asked.

Unbelievably, Keith quickly nodded then asked, "When is it again?"

"Sunday the seventh," Mr. Hundser answered.

I thought aloud, "Right after school lets out."

Keith nodded then resumed eating. I watched him carefully but he didn't look over at me for a while. When he did, he tilted his head and looked at me curiously.

"We're going then? To march?" I asked.

He nodded, eventually swallowed then said, "Sure. We'll both have work that afternoon though."

I tingled all over! For a while, I'd been worrying about pushing Keith to do things and now he nonchalantly agrees to march in the Gay Pride parade! One or both of us needed therapy!

The remainder of the dinner conversation revolved around college. Keith, Derrick, Mike and I would each be talking with our guidance counselors sometime during the next two weeks. Our senior year schedules would be finalized and we'd begin discussing alternative universities.

After dinner, we rolled the dumbwaiter back inside. Keith then helped his parents' cleanup while I tended to Rush. In with his dry food, I mixed the last of the rice and the few scraps of prime rib. Rush growled impatiently, wagging his tail but otherwise sitting still while I prepared his dinner. Before setting his dish on the floor, I reminded him to stay and wait. Stepping back from his dish, I told him, "Okay, go ahead." He went to his dish and started wolfing down his chow.

Kicked back on the living room rug, leaning against the sofa, Keith channel surfed and I joined him. Playfully nudging him as I sat, I whispered, "I can't believe you sometimes! We're really going to march?"

He only smiled and nodded. If I weren't so full from dinner, I would've attacked him! Instead, I snuggled really close to him and wrapped an arm around him.

Keith's parents soon joined us, followed by a very satisfied hound dog. With his hindquarters up in the air, Rush rubbed his nose back and forth into the carpet.

"Omigod!" Keith giggled, "Aldo used to do that too!" As if hearing and understanding what Keith said, Rush then dropped to the floor and rolled over, grinning at us.

"Maybe his thievery is due to a lack of exercise? A walk around the neighborhood might burn some fuel." Mr. Hundser suggested.

There wasn't anything on TV except Memorial Day war movies anyway. Keith and I got up and Rush watched us walk towards the door. I grabbed his leash from the entryway closet. The second he heard the jingling of his leash and collar, Rush got up and ran to me.

A short while into our walk, Keith took my hand in his saying, "These last few days I've been thinking, examining my own motivations a little. When I called you a name the other night it was because of the, it was the thrill of your interest in that movie." He paused and I waited patiently. Although I didn't need additional explanation, Keith wanted to tell me. Then he said, "But I have to wonder, with the way I feel about effeminate dudes and the way I try to maintain my straight appearance, I probably should've called myself a fag. Worse, I'm a closet fag. Maybe my feeling jealous and threatened had more to do with my own fucked up perceptions of things. Earlier this morning, I talked with my dad and that just stirred up my thoughts again." Shaking his head, Keith continued, telling me about his conversation with his father.

I sighed and squeezed his hand. "Remember a few months ago, we were talking about how people imagine other folks having sex? Then we did just that as we wandered around the mall."

Keith chuckled, "A few times I tried to imagine what they were thinking about the two of us!"

"Me too. Even though my face flushed a little, it actually made me feel good. I've always wanted to be seen with you. That first night with my mom, the next night with your family, then with Mike and Derrick; everywhere, all the time babe."

Bumping against me, Keith playfully asked, "So I can wear that gay flag bracelet and you won't treat me like a queen?"

I snickered, "Even when you're playing and trying to act effeminately, its obviously forced and way out of character. That's what makes it so funny to me!" We both chuckled and teased each other. Then I said, "From my point of view, that bracelet won't change a damn thing."

"You're sure?"

"It'll only rattle the homophobes, Keith."

"I'll wear it to school and watch who reacts and how. If things get too whacked, I'll just take it off. How's that sound?"

"There's nothing more I could ever ask," I happily said.

Keith squeezed my hand. Then we started goofing on his parents, the fancy dinner spread and their plot to weasel information out of us! I was surprised when Keith asked me if there were any job openings at Black Angus. He loves working at Blockbuster but was worried about his cash flow situation. I told him that I'd love it if we worked the same job on the same nights. He squeezed my hand again and said that he was seriously considering making a job switch.

Just before sundown, we got back home. Retreating to our room for the night, we did our visualizations. Then we checked our e-mails, printing some pictures and poster ideas Mike had sent for the GSA club. I turned on the stereo. Keith sat down and started working on his summer budget, figuring how much would be left after car insurance, gasoline and maintenance. While he did, I kicked back on the bed and read my new book.

"This sucks!" Keith loudly said.

Not looking up from the book, I asked, "What's the matter?"

He sighed then said, "Well, there's car insurance payments due in June and again in September. The car gets oil changes and tire rotations both of those months too. And I'm guessing that I'll use a little more gas during the summer, so I budgeted for a fill up every week. The bottom line is a whopping thirty dollars spending money per week for the whole summer!"

"I could help."

"No you can't! You're fronting the money for the tuxes. I just paid you back for the prom tickets!"

"It's not a problem babe. I want to do it. It's for both of us, after all."

"But it's not right!"

Returning to my book, I softly reiterated, "Then apply at Black Angus. Earlier you said that two nights of tips would be the same as a week's paycheck from Blockbuster."

Keith sighed again. "It looks like I'm going to have to change jobs."

I could tell that the situation wasn't making him too happy. Inside, I was ecstatic with the idea of working with Keith. But I tried to give him space to make up his own mind and presented another option. "What if you worked Friday and Saturday nights at Blockbuster but worked Thursday and Sunday at Black Angus?" I suggested, and returned to my book.

After a few moments, I realized that Keith hadn't said whether he liked my idea or not. I finished reading the page I was on and looked up. He wasn't sitting at the desk anymore. He had silently taken his clothes off and was gently swaying, dancing in place at the foot of the bed, beckoning me to join him.

I guess he liked my idea! My heart started beating in triple time! While he danced, I closed my book, stood on the bed and started removing my clothes. I tossed my T-shirt at him. Keith caught it, raised it to his face and inhaled deeply, his eyes glazing over. As I fumbled with the button and fly on my shorts, Keith stepped up on the bed and joined me. Dancing with your lover is great but naked bed dancing is even better!

We swayed and played a short game of erection fencing, our hard cocks slapping against each other. Then Keith whispered in my ear, "I want you inside me again but I'm a little sore down there."

I slowly nodded and whispered, "We had intercourse a lot the last few days. I'm a little sore down there too."

"How long can we make foreplay last?"

I grinned, "All night if we take it really slow."

Keith gently kissed my neck, right below the ear, and then whispered, "I love you baby."

"Always and forever babe."

Remarkably, we danced then fooled around under the covers for almost two hours and neither of us ever came. He'd stop fondling me, then I took over while he rested and enjoyed himself then I'd rest and he'd start again. Eventually we fell asleep.

The next morning was like any other school day. We waited for John and Drew to finish in the bathroom, did our morning grind-athon then showered and got dressed. Keith drove that day. Both Mike and Derrick were wearing shorts, T-shirts and sandals. Their gay flag bracelets were on their ankles; Keith and I had ours on our wrists.

As usual, Rebecca came over to talk with me before homeroom. I caught her glancing down but she never said a word about the colorful little statement on my wrist. Finally, I could breathe a heavy a sigh of relief and figured she was just looking for a friend, not a boyfriend.

I made it to my first period class without a single rude commentary in the halls. Glancing at the faces of some students and teachers, it was apparent we were all just going through the motions, eager for school to end. After first period, I passed Derrick in the hall. He was grinning so I knew all was well with him. Outside our second period English class, Keith's happy expression sparkled in the crowd.

Stepping up to me, he excitedly said, "You won't believe what just happened!" I shrugged and Keith softly continued, "Jerry Sloan, the really tall dude on the basketball team, he noticed." My smile must've waned too quickly and Keith said, "It's okay Prez. He's one of us!"

"You're kidding!" I said a little too loudly.

Keith shook his head saying, "He's going to the prom too." Then he leaned forward and whispered, "With a girl but that's just for show. She knows it too!"

Stunned, I whispered, "I would've never guessed in a million years."

"I can't believe this is happening!" Keith said. "I saw Jessy earlier. She said Nelson would be watching us."

"That's nice to know but somehow I don't think we'll need a guard dog."

"I think you're right but having these big jocks on our side, it sure makes me feel good," Keith said.

Then the bell rang and we went into the classroom. The teacher began reviewing stories and plays, preparing us for next week's final exam. We both took notes but after a while, Keith seemed a little fidgety. Curious, I glanced over. Sheepishly, he smiled and blushed then glanced down then back at me. I got the message. He popped a bone! Obviously one of those unexpected school day erections that just wouldn't go down. It might've been because we fooled around last night and again this morning without having orgasms. Naturally, I felt a little embarrassed for him. No sooner did that feeling pass, I noticed my own dick swelling. For the rest of the class we sat there, occasionally glancing knowingly across the aisle. When the bell rang, he whispered, "Can you tell?" before standing up.

Glancing quickly at his crotch as I stood, I shook my head no and asked, "Can you?"

Keith stood and snickered, "I can imagine!"

I nodded, waited for someone to pass and whispered, "It's all your fault!"

"I couldn't help it!" Keith whined.

I walked out of class and Keith followed me beyond the point he usually does, right into the science wing boy's room and into the big handicapped stall! By that point, we had to suck face and swap a few breaths! We were barely in there a minute before we heard the door squeak and two voices enter. I couldn't hear exactly what was being said beyond the stall door.

Keith whispered, "Teachers?"

I shrugged because I couldn't tell.

"You're gonna get me in trouble," Keith whispered.

Glaring incredulously at him, I wondered how things suddenly became my fault! He buried his face into my neck, snickering.

A toilet flushed. Water was turned on at the sink. My heart was thumping painfully against my ribs. I wondered if whoever was out there even realized that there was anyone else in the lavatory. Momentarily, my question was answered when a man loudly said, "Who ever is back there, you've got about thirty seconds to make it to your next class!" Then the door squeaked closed.

Keith sighed, quickly kissed me and said, "See you at lunch," then unlocked the stall door and headed for his next class. I loitered for a few seconds then exited the boy's room and walked across the hall, into my next class just as the bell rang. My nerves were rattled and it took a few minutes before it felt like I was breathing normally.

At lunch, we were all grins and giggles. We told Mike and Derrick about our close call in the boy's room. It turns out they've had their share of close calls. I might've guessed as much! Mike seems to thrive on taking risks, more so than Keith or me.

The four of us, Cathy, Maria, Julie, Sharon, Jessy and Nelson all sat together during lunch. A few people came over to briefly talk with Sharon. As usual, Nelson's buds stopped by too. Then Jerry Sloan came over and pulled up a chair on the other side of Keith. He seemed real friendly and he was the only one that had said a word about the bracelets we were wearing. Suddenly they were the topic of conversation! About five minutes before the end of lunch period, Will and Zach came over. Will was having a party Friday night after the prom and we were all invited.

Later that afternoon, I walked into utter chaos in the boy's locker room. There were guys screaming out their cock sizes, others were shouting rebuttals, some promising blowjobs, others wanting their butts fucked! Things like this seriously fuck with my gay-dar! It was all in good fun and everybody I saw was smiling or laughing. Then someone hollered, "Hey O'Brian, do you like boxers or briefs?"

A little cautiously, I answered, "Umm... it depends who's wearing them. I like both so it's boxer briefs now."

Mike was already in there, his face red from laughing so hard, sitting on the bench, untying his sneakers.

"What the hell happened?" I asked.

Mike giggled, "What did you expect? We're wearing gay flag bracelets in the locker room!"

I started to get changed, grinning at the stupid sexual commentaries made from every corner of the room. After I pulled up my jock and shorts, I was sitting next to Mike, tying my sneakers when a guy named Greg Kovak came over and nonchalantly said, "Mike says he likes to fuck and get fucked too but won't say which he prefers. What's your story?"

I looked over as Mike lay down on the bench, laughing hysterically.

Glancing back at Greg, I quickly considered what little I knew about him. This was the only class we shared but Greg had always been cool with everyone. I've never heard him say an unkind thing to anyone and the question he posed was asked playfully. So I answered, "It's the same here."

"Damn!" Greg shouted, "I'm totally off track on this whole homo scene dude."

"That's `cause you're a dumb-ass!" someone yelled.

Someone else hollered, "You say you like eating pussy but not everybody does that!"

"That's fuckin' gross, dude!" a very deep voice added.

Another voice commented, "What do you know dude? You say you fuck your girlfriend's ass. How stupid is that with a warm wet pussy a few inches away?"

Mike sat up, looked at Greg and said, "Not everybody likes to do the same things in bed. Homo or hetero doesn't matter. We're all just looking for the right mixture, someone we can have sex with and still have a conversation with afterwards."

Greg nodded then smirked, "So you won't suck me off?"

Matter-of-factly, Mike said, "Derrick would develop a major attitude about that. Then we'd both be in deep shit." The coach came in and blew his whistle, ordering us to get out of the locker room.

Greg looked at me and I could tell he was about to ask me the same question. "Forget it dude," I chuckled, and walked out to the gym.

After calisthenics, while walking to the softball fields, Greg caught up with me again. "Who's your boyfriend dude?" he asked.

Beside me, Mike chuckled.

"You'll meet him at the prom," I answered.

"Come on dude!" Greg chuckled.

I glanced at Mike and he shrugged indifferently. Keith had been in such a great mood for the last few days, I thought. It would be really bad to mention his name thus fucking up his mood just before the prom, so I only grinned at Greg and shook my head.

"Whatever dude, it really doesn't matter," Greg said. Then he jogged past Mike and I to catch up with some of his friends.

During the softball game, I recognized how cool everybody was. This was the same class where the fateful confrontation with Jake had begun. But none of these guys seemed freaked out. It seemed to me, the fact we weren't virgins was more important than the fact we were gay.

While we were changing though, a few guys had left the locker room, choosing not to participate further in the conversation. Most of the class remained though, taking their time getting dressed and enjoying the insanity. All this made me wonder; out of the sixty something guys in my gym class, only Jake and his two buddies were malcontents.

Getting sliced by Jake during the fight was the one thing that made me question going to the prom. But the majority of these guys seemed to have their personal sexual act together. It was possible that some of the guys who left the locker room early had a problem with the conversation, I reckoned, but obviously not so much that they would get violent about it. That soothed my fears even more.

Back in the locker room after class, while we were showering, I asked Mike, "Do you really want to jam on your birthday?"

Mike looked at me, obviously confused and said; "My birthday is Monday, June first. We're not jamming that day."

"I thought it was tomorrow!" I loudly said.

Shaking his head, Mike explained, "D's taking me out birthday present shopping tomorrow night. I hope he buys me something too. If I have to wait until Monday for it, I might get a little pissy about it!"

I laughed, "What's he getting for you?"

"I'm not sure really. One day I overheard my mom talking about beds and Derrick was in the room with her. That was pretty weird. He's been telling me that he'd get me a Fat Strat for a long while now. That would be cool."

Considering Mike's twin size bed, I hummed thoughtfully then said, "If I were you, I'd hope for a new bed."

"Either one would be good but a new axe would be the best. The bed could wait until September since we'll have a nice bed a Doug's." Mike said with a hopeful gleam in his eyes. We grabbed our towels and walked back to the lockers.

There was one other question I desperately wanted to ask Mike but naked under the showers in our gym class wasn't the place for it.

I took a short nap during my history class then finally the day was over. Mike and I met then walked out side together, randomly chitchatting about tunes, his birthday and the prom. As soon as we stepped outside, I asked the question I had been holding in.

"How's that toy working out?" I grinned.

Mike's head snapped my way and he giggled, "Awesome dude! D may have told Keith it was for me but we take turns using it. He likes it too." Grinning insanely, Mike paused then softly said, "And it's so fucking hot to watch him jack off with it jammed up his butt!" He tugged at the front of his shorts and I cracked up laughing.

When Mike and I caught up with Keith and Derrick by the parking lot, I was pleased to see the bracelet still on Keith's wrist. We piled into the car. I tapped the bracelet on Keith's wrist and asked, "Did you keep it on all day?"

"Just about," he answered, "I took it off before PE but put it back on again right after."

"I wish I had thought of that!" I giggled. Mike chuckled from the back seat.

"You kept it on during PE?" Derrick asked.

Mike nodded and replied, "It was way cool too. Everybody in the locker room went crazy."

Keith looked at me, grinning slightly but with concern in his eyes. I squeezed his hand and said, "Everybody was extremely cool about it. There wasn't any problem."

Mike and Derrick started whispering in the back seat as we drove off. I heard Greg Kovak's name mentioned. Then suddenly Derrick shouted, "That son of a bitch!"

Mike softly said, "Chill dude. He was just fucking around, probably testing me."

"Yeah, well if he ever says any shit like that around me, I'm gonna tear him a new one!" Derrick stated.

Keith looked at me with wide, wondering eyes. Then he asked, "Is there something I need to be concerned about?"

Simultaneously, Derrick said, "Fuck yeah!" and Mike said, "No."

I didn't want Keith's attention dragged too far away from driving and traffic so I suggested, "Let's head home. We can talk about it there and I can give them the Queen CD."

Mike said, "I almost forgot," then handed me a cassette tape. "It's on the `A' side, I think."

The next few minutes were relatively quiet until we pulled in the driveway. As soon as the motor stopped, Keith asked, "So what's the deal?"

"That fucker Kovak asked Mike to blow him!" Derrick loudly said. He had that homicidal look in his eyes. I could tell we would be talking about this during work later.

Keith's jaw dropped and he stared at Mike.

"It was no big deal!" Mike sincerely said. "You dudes know. Straight dudes expect homos to suck on any cock that wanders by. Well, I told him to forget it. Kovak was grinning and he didn't press the issue. I'm sure he was just goofin' on me."

Turning to me as he unlocked the door, Keith asked, "No one said anything like that to you, did they?"

"No," I answered, "Greg only asked who my boyfriend was. I told him that he'd find out at the prom and dropped it right there."

Keith searched my expression then said, "We don't need any additional hassles now."

"There won't be any," I reassured and gave him a tight hug. God, I hoped I was right and there really wasn't something to worry about.

Facing Derrick and reaching for his hand, Mike added, "This was nothing like Jake's fucked up outbursts last month. Everybody in the locker room was goofing around. If you ask me, straight dudes are a bunch of size queens. Amazingly, most of the class has twelve inches or better. Fuckin' liars."

Derrick exhaled a very long breath, like he had inhaled deeply three times more than his lungs could hold. Shaking his head sadly, Derrick said, "I don't know how you maintain after someone says shit like that."

"Just answer the question bud," I said. "The only time its worth stressing is when someone gets belligerent about it."

Reaching and turning Derrick towards him, Mike explained, "First off, I happen to know Kovak. At least well enough to tell he was just yankin' my crank." Then Mike stepped closer and whispered in his ear. Derrick's eyes just about shot out of their sockets! Knowing Mike, he probably said something about more enjoyable crank yankin' and maybe mentioned the dildo. Whatever it was, it wiped the anger off Derrick's face.

Keith kissed my check and said, "Do me a favor?"


"Take the bracelet off before PE?"

I nodded then kissed Keith deeply.

"The cats already out of the bag, so to speak!" Mike giggled.

Keith turned to Mike and said, "Let's not press our luck." Then he let go of me, stepped back and sighed, "I gotta get ready for work."

"Do you want me to bring home an application?" I asked.

"Yeah, please. I'm still not sure how I want to work things..."

Mike interrupted, "If ya still don't know how to work yer things, I'd give it up!" Derrick giggled heartily and sat down on the edge of the bed, seemingly relieved.

Keith rolled his eyes and continued, "but filling out the application won't hurt."

"You're going to apply at Black Angus?" Derrick asked.

Keith nodded then took off his shirt.

Mike yelled, "Awesome dude! Me too!"

On his way to the closet to get his Blockbuster polo shirt, Keith mumbled, "Shit! I can't now."

As Keith pulled the shirt over his head, Mike cackled, "Aww, come on, you know you want to!"

Staring at Mike and trying to hold his serious expression, Keith soon smiled widely. He then walked over, kissed me goodbye and waved to Mike and Derrick saying, "Later dudes," as he left for work.

Looking up at me, Derrick said, "Get changed bro."

"You want to drive?" I asked.

Derrick nodded, "You dudes hardly ever let me drive any more."

"You hauled us all around last summer," I said, and then walked over to the closet. I took out my black pants and a white shirt, lay them on the bed and started to undress. Unbuttoning my shirt and lifting it over my head, I heard Derrick begin desk drumming and Mike singing a strip tune!

Chuckling, I turned away, tossing my shirt over my shoulder at them! "Grow up!" I laughed.

As I started to unbuckle my jeans, Mike stopped singing and said, "We are, just two growing boys. Growing..."

"And growing, and growing, just like the Energizer bunny!" Derrick chuckled, and continued drumming on the desk.

After kicking off my sneakers, I bent over and started to take my jeans off.

"By the way, I like the CK boxer briefs dude," Mike commented.

Before I could say, "thank you," Derrick thoughtfully giggled, "The backside looks nice. I wonder what the front looks like?"

I laughed so hard that I lost my balance! "See if I ever get undressed in front of either of you ever again!" I hollered.

"Hey! We gave you a show!" Mike countered, "A much better one, full frontal as I recall, so quit your bitchin'! Jeez, you're getting as bad as Keith!"

"It could be worse, like Ben the other day?" Derrick softly recalled and stopped drumming.

Picking up my black work pants, I turned around and asked, "Who's Ben?"

Mike sighed, "This dude we met at Doug's Friday night."

Derrick added, "He was so shy; his voice barely above a whisper. Sort of feminine sounding too, I suppose."

Immediately, I thought it would be good for Keith to meet this guy.

Hanging his head lower, Mike said, "He actually attempted suicide. More than once, from the sound of it."

Shaking my head sadly, I then pulled up my pants and asked, "How old is this dude?"

"About our age," Mike said.

I picked up my shirt and started putting it on.

Derrick turned to Mike and said, "While we're at Doug's, maybe?"

Mike nodded, "If he'll let us."

I glanced quickly between them. "If he'll let you?"

Mike explained, "You'd have to meet this dude to believe it. We get there, get introduced then go over to sit by him and chat. He about freaked! He barely answered us, got up, went into the house and didn't come back out for a long time."

"It's sad dude," Derrick commented, "If I had given in to my father, maybe I would be the same way."

Shaking his head, Mike smiled at Derrick saying, "I doubt it."

I finished dressing then we all left for Mike's house, continuing the conversation on the way. Mostly, I drove, listened and thought seriously about telling Keith. Judging by what Mike and Derrick had said, Ben seemed just as average as any of the four of us. I could only wonder what kind of things transpired to make Ben hate himself so much though. On one level, I really wanted to know but at the same time, I worried about Keith meeting a boy that had attempted suicide.

At Mike's house, they both got changed into their work clothes. We dropped Mike off at Marie Calendar's, the restaurant where he works, then headed for Black Angus.

Derrick seemed real quiet so I asked, "Are you okay bud?"

He sighed and shrugged, "I'm just thinking about Ben. Sorry dude."

"Is the shit that went on in the locker room bugging you?"

"Yeah, a little," he said. After a short pause he continued. "Ya know, there's straight dudes that have steady girlfriends. Then there are straight dudes that are lookin', dating a different girl almost every weekend. And there's a bunch of dudes that I've never seen with anyone. But they all automatically assume we're gonna kneel in front of every dick we see. We don't but I guess I feel a little guilty."

"Because you like lookin'?" I asked, and Derrick nodded. "Isn't that just as natural as straight guys checking out boobs?" I asked. Then I remembered something and snickered. "A few months back, Keith and me were with his dad, driving to the hardware store. At one point this extremely endowed lady jogs past, her hooters bouncing in the breeze!" Derrick chuckled and I said, "Mr. Hundser whispered, `Omigod!' I cracked up and Keith yelled at his dad, `You're married DAD!' Mr. Hundser only grinned in the rearview mirror and plainly said, `When I stop looking you can box me up and bury me.'"

We both laughed and admitted that, on occasion, our eyes have the ability to knock our entire bodies off course and into new directions. As we pulled into the Black Angus parking lot, Derrick chuckled, "I actually like it when Mike notices me distracted! I think he likes it when I notice his attention is someplace else too."

Enthusiastically, I nodded, knowing that Keith and I were very much the same. We parked and walked to the restaurant, noticing that the parking lot was already more than half full. "It's gonna be a busy night," I commented.

"Good," Derrick said, "there's one more big payment left on Mike's present."

"What are you getting him?" I grinned.

With a wide smile, he countered, "What are you getting him?"

Bouncing my eyebrows playfully, I answered, "Something he was trying at Guitar Center the other day."

"I figured that!" Derrick said, "But what exactly?"

"I'll show you mine if you show me yours?" I chuckled. Derrick shook his head and laughed evilly. Neither of us ever answered the questions though. We went in through the back loading dock, through the kitchen, clocked in and started to work.

Later that night, Derrick and I were walking out to his car when I remembered that I had to get an application for Keith. I ran back inside to get it. During the drive back to Mike's to get my truck, I learned that Derrick was extremely enthused about all four of us working together. Few busboys last very long at Black Angus. I don't know why so many quit since the tips are almost always good. Maybe it's just too dirty a job or the buckets of plates are too heavy. Whatever the reason, I knew that someone would eventually quit and make openings for Keith and Mike.

When we pulled in front of the house, Mike came outside, wearing only a pair of tight shorts. Quickly, he walked up to Derrick, hugged him and said, "I quit my job tonight. That butt-meister wanted me to clean puke in the lady's room!" We all cracked up! I winked at Derrick, knowing he was happy that Mike would be joining us soon.

Then I said goodbye and drove home. I popped in the tape Mike had lent me and listened to Sign Of The Gypsy Queen about three times. Lately, I can listen to a bass part and actually see fingers moving along a fret board. The amazing thing is, I'm usually really close to having the song learned in key before I even touch my bass! I brought the tape in the house with me to see if I was close.

First I went into the living room to say hello to Keith and his parents. Before the eleven o'clock news started, we said goodnight and went back to our room.

Emptying my pockets, I started counting my tips. This time though, I wanted Keith to know exactly what I had brought home and counted aloud, "Ten, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, six, seven, eight, nine, forty, one, two, three, four, fourty-nine, fifty, one, two, three, four, five, six. Fifty-six bucks in six hours. And the two bucks an hour I'll have in my paycheck, that's sixty-eight bucks in one night."

Sliding over to me, Keith playfully whispered, "What else is in your pants?" and slid one hand deep into my front pocket, fishing around my crotch!

Pulling the application out of my back pocket and putting it on the dresser, I giggled, "Mike quit his job tonight."

He said, "A hundred bucks a week spending money sure sounds better than thirty."

Stepping closer and resting my head on his shoulder, I whispered, "I want you there too." Involuntarily, I shivered and he felt it.

Squeezing me tight, Keith said, "I talked to my boss tonight and explained the situation. She's been really cool the last few months so I told her... well, everything. About the summer schedule, about bills but wanting to still work there but needing more spending money so I could do stuff with you."

It took me an extra second to comprehend that last part. Wide eyed and surprised, I pulled back, smiled then kissed him hard.

Then Keith told me his plan. "On Saturday's and Sunday's I'll pretty much work the entire day at Blockbuster; from ten till two and then from four till ten. Monday's and Tuesday's I'll work from four till ten. Leaving the rest of the week for us. How's that sound?"

I was a little surprised he was working Monday and Tuesday, not Thursday and Friday like we planned, so I asked him about it. He said, "It was my boss's idea. She said that since I might be getting a second job, she'd rather loose me on slow nights than on busier nights."

I stepped back, began getting out of my grimy work clothes and said, "Cool, I'll tell my boss Saturday night." When I was down to my underwear, Keith glanced up and down the length of my body, practically leering at me!

"You like?" I asked with a wicked cackle.

His eyebrows raised then he licked his lips!

It seemed that everyone liked Calvin Klein boxer briefs on my ass! Smiling, I stepped into his arms and started unbuttoning his shirt.

He said, "I was reading your book for a little while. The author, Jack Nichols, was one of ten gay people to protest in front of the White House in 1965."

Nodding, I asked, "How far did you get?"

"Through the foreword and a little into the first chapter. They haven't gotten into the talking back to fundamentalists part, just the history and politics."

"Skip ahead to chapter five," I recommended with a grin. Taking his shirt off, I tossed it onto the pile in front of the closet.

"Do you think they're will be any of those fundamentalists at the prom?" he asked.

"If there are, I can handle them. After eight years of Catholic grade school and reading that book, no problem." I confidently said.

"Why aren't you more religious?" Keith asked.

"Believing in God or whatever spawned all this is more than going to church every Sunday. Coming out of church, it always used to surprise me how people went from this holy little angel routine and immediately back to their lives. Grown ups and kids, everyone acts so pious in church. When they get out, all hell breaks loose!"

Keith chuckled and I continued, "I asked my mom about it. To me it seemed hypocritical; using the new word I'd learned that year. She said I was right. Soon, I only had to go to mass on Christmas and Easter, because my dad demanded we all go. Isn't that stupid? Demanding that your wife and son go to church? If it's not in your heart, then why bother?" I was starting to raise my voice and Keith giggled, raising a finger to his lips.

Lowering my voice, I said, "There's got to be something else, something more than ceremonies and holidays. I don't know what it is but I keep looking, noticing things."

Keith unbuttoned his shorts and pushed them to the floor. He wasn't wearing any underwear. "Bed time?" he asked and turned off the lights.

I nodded and started to get into bed with him. Then I remembered the song I wanted to try. There was rehearsal the next afternoon too so I slid back out of bed again. "Just a sec babe, I forgot something," I said and turned the light back on.

Getting my bass out, Rush came over and sniffed the case. When he was a puppy, he would lay down in there. I shooed him away and closed the case before he climbed in and busted it.

Keith giggled, "What are you doing?"

"I just have to try this song before tomorrow afternoon," I explained, and then went to the stereo to play the tape. When I turned around, Keith was laying completely naked on the bed, his hands behind his head, the covers kicked down to his toes. The song started and I completely missed the whole first few measures! His cute soft dick was just lying there! And I was holding this stupid bass! I sighed and began playing the song dutifully, so I could be ready for rehearsal. My heart really wasn't in it, not with Keith lying there grinning at me. At the first chorus I started to sing and Keith joined me in perfect harmony. Then he started singing the second verse while I played. On it's own; his dick shifted and began thickening during the guitar solo. I frowned. "I wanted to make you hard," I said.

Keith chuckled, "You did!"

Then he sang the final verse. I cut the final chorus short, turned off the stereo, checked the back of my bass for erection scrapes and put it away. Crawling into bed with him, I finished making that cute dick of his fat, long and shiny wet with spit.

It always amazes me how we can get so physically excited but then, when we're cuddled up, get so peaceful and relaxed. Spooned up behind me, his erection nestled against my rear end, Keith whispered, "G'night baby," then kissed my neck.

Wednesday was a trying day. The day started out normally enough. I drove us to school; we had plenty of time to make it to our homerooms. Rebecca saw me in the hall. She didn't come running over but glanced directly at me, making eye contact. There was no smile. No one else was around distracting her. She finished in her locker, turned and went into her homeroom.

This was not good. Was she angry? Her face didn't show anger. Maybe she was uncertain? She might've been hoping to slowly build a closer relationship with me. In my homeroom, I was so deep in thought that I missed my name being called out! Suddenly, about five kids turned towards me yelling, "O'Brian!" That snapped me out of my trance and I pushed thoughts of Rebecca as far back as I could.

Second period finally arrived. Keith was fine, just a little concerned about me after I relayed the incident before homeroom. For the first ten or so minutes of class we concentrated on the lecture and taking notes. Keith's arms then swung wide, like he was stretching. A small piece of paper wafted gently beside my desk. Snatching it out of the air, I then opened it. "Str8 boi!" it read.

Briefly, I snickered out loud but caught myself before I caused a major commotion! I muddled through the class, considered writing an obscene note back to him, got a boner thinking about how I would get him back that night, then tried to make it go down before the bell rang! Finally outside the classroom, Keith walked with me down the hall as I taunted him with promises of retribution! He chuckled, obviously loving everything I said! But at the next hallway he said, "See ya later," and headed towards his next class.

Outside the cafeteria, Keith looked horrible. His color was off and he was slouching, looking down more than he was up.

"Lets get out of here for a while," he sighed.

Mike, Derrick and I were all concerned as we quietly headed out the door. As soon as he had space to talk freely, Keith said, "On the way to fourth period, this dude gets right in front of me. I try to go around him but he moves in front of me again. At first I thought it was just one of those things, the crowded hallway cha-cha, ya know? I said, `excuse me,' but he looked angry." Keith paused, sighed explosively then continued. "Practically in my face, he yells, `I don't dance with dudes! Are you a fuckin' homo?'"

Stunned silent, Mike, Derrick and I continued walking toward my truck. I'm certain that we were all thinking the same questions but none of us said a word. I wanted to reach for Keith's hand but, although the coast would be considered clear, I decided against it. Tears welled up in my eyes and I turned to look away.

Keith continued, "So I said, `Yep, I am. What's it matter to you?'"

Obviously just as shocked as I was, Mike walked into me and stumbled.

Keith explained, "I was shaking like a leaf, staring at this dude for what felt like an eternity but was probably only three seconds. For a while there, I thought he was gonna take a shot at me. The dude's lip curled in disgust and he said, `Just stay the hell away from me!'

"I don't know what came over me. Maybe it was anger; maybe I was just as disgusted with him since he obviously went out of his way to start something. Just as he started to move, I yelled, `You got in my face for that? We don't even know each other! Who the fuck are you?' By now, I noticed people were starting to gather, watching us both. Then this girl comes up and tries to drag him away. `My name's Donofrio, Don Donofrio. Don't forget it!' he said."

I unlocked the truck, we all got in then Keith sighed; "I need serious chill out time. Get me through this day dudes."

That's when I reached for his hand. We looked at each other, made eye contact and the water works started. In the back seat, Mike and Derrick whispered quietly while Keith and I tried to compose our selves. After only a minute or two, I started the truck and triple checked the path behind me before backing out.

"I know that dude," Mike said.

"Me too, he's not any bigger than any of us," Derrick added.

There's a whole chapter of my new book outlining the different ways people try to control and dominate each other. I immediately recognized a dominator. "He just wants to be King Shit of Turd Mountain," I said sadly.

From the back seat I heard Mike and Derrick giggling.

Stopping at the next corner, I looked in the rear view mirror and said, "I wasn't trying to be funny."

Derrick cleared his throat, leaned forward, patted my shoulder and chuckled, "Sorry dude. You just have those great Texas sayings and sometimes..." Giggling, he trailed off.

I glanced over at Keith and saw him, face down with a big smile, shoulders bouncing slightly. Suddenly he squeezed my hand tightly, threw his head back and roared laughing! In the back seat, the other two maniacs fell all over each other in unbridled hysterics.

Then Mike flipped out, mumbling like a Mafia boss. "He's da Don. Don Donofrio!" He giggled, leaned forward and stared at Keith saying, "Donta forgeta da Don!" Derrick went berserk beside him, bending into the fetal position.

Keith chuckled but shook his head. "My mom would be so mad, but thanks bro," he said.

None of us were really hungry anymore. Deciding to just grab some sodas and fries, I pulled into the Carl's Junior drive through lane. We drove back to school, parked and talked until the bell rang. Separating from Keith and walking to my next class, I felt like I was tearing in half. One of his biggest fears is facing homophobes while alone. For the rest of the day, he occupied my every thought.

In gym class, my Irish temper was boiling over. I couldn't care less about the silliness going on around me in the locker room. Mike joked around a little but soon realized he was only going to get a weak smile. On the softball field, I surprised everyone when I swung at the ball and got a standing triple. By that point, I just wanted the school day over with and to get Keith home. Maybe rehearsal would take his mind off things, if he even felt like participating. I hoped that we could do some visualizations and restore those great feelings we had most of the weekend. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in my history class for another forty-five minutes. There were other, more important things to take care of.

After class I raced to my locker. Mike was usually there before I finished but not this day. Closing my locker, I figured that something must've delayed him and headed towards the parking lot. Keith was leaning against the tree closest to that exit door. Derrick and Mike were not with him.

Stepping closer to Keith, I asked, "How're you doing?"

He nodded, "Okay. Ready to get the heck away from here though."

"Did Mike say anything to you about needing to stay late?"


I sighed, "We'll wait a few minutes but they had best get their asses in gear. I want to get you home and relaxed."

We started walking towards the parking lot. Off to our side, we noticed Jessy heading our way at a brisk pace.

Once she was closer, I said, "Hey Jessy! Are you still coming over?"

She quickly glanced at me like I was insane for asking about our afternoon rehearsal. Then she looked sadly at Keith and said, "I've been asked to bring you around the other side of the school."

We stopped in our tracks and Keith said, "Me? What for?"

Uncertainly, she said, "It's supposedly a surprise."

Keith huffed, "I don't need any more surprises today, thanks."

"I know. You may like this one though," Jessy said. Then she jerked her head for us to follow. Quickly she headed back behind the main gym and across the field. She said, "I heard about what happened this morning. So has Nelson."

"Don't worry about it," Keith said. "I just want to kick back and veg for a while. The sooner we get this surprise over with the better."

Hearing that, Jessy hurried along. In the distance we could see a crowd around a palm tree. As we got closer, I recognized Mike, Derrick, Nelson and Greg Kovak.

Keith pointed out Jerry Sloan to me then whispered, "Oh no."

I looked at him and back at the crowd.

"That's Donofrio in the center, against the tree," Keith sighed.

My focus zoomed in on my boyfriend's tormentor. We could hear he was being harassed from every one surrounding him. I wanted my chance to verbally slam this guy around!

Over the other voices, one male Mexican voice hollered, "You got a problem with queers dude? Maybe you got a problem with dark skin too? Do Chicano's bother you? I'm third generation Valez, a fuckin' American and proud of my heritage! You fuckin' make me wanna puke man! Maybe I should puke on you!"

Keith and I double-timed it over there. Standing in a circle were Mike, Derrick, Jerry, Nelson Greg, and about six other guys I didn't know. There were some other people, mostly girls, hanging around nearby but they weren't directly involved. In the center stood a frightened Don Donofrio.

As soon as he saw Keith and I approaching, Nelson said, "Here comes the reason for this little lesson." Donofrio looked up and obviously recognized Keith.

Unbelievably, Keith's face appeared sad. He moved into the center of the circle, staring at the kid that ruined his day. Then he softly said, "How does it feel? A little overwhelming? That's how I've felt all fucking day, thanks to you. I probably shouldn't care but I have to ask, why dude?"

Keith waited. Donofrio said nothing; he barely glanced up. Shaking his head, Keith turned around. Weakly smiling at the crowd, he asked, "Who set this up?" I caught the guys smiling at each other then Mike pointed at Nelson, Nelson pointed back at Mike, Jerry pointed at Derrick and so on!

"Thanks," Keith smiled. Then he came over to me and said, "Let's jet."

Sounding surprised, Derrick asked, "That's it?"

Keith nodded, "I'm not wasting any more time on someone that can't even explain his own actions."

"You should kick his ass! Knock some sense into that white trash!" the Mexican guy shouted.

Walking over to him, Keith asked, "Why?" Before the guy could answer, Keith said, "He never hit me. There's no reason to escalate this. If you have an issue with him, fine. Please don't go doing anything on my account though."

Mike and I smiled at each other knowingly. That's Keith! Mister Modest strikes again! Glancing over at Derrick, I saw him shaking his head but smirking. I softly asked Mike, "Who's the Mexican dude?"

"His name's Martin but he hates it. Call him Mack."

I glanced towards Mack and caught him glaring with extreme hatred at Donofrio. Then he huffed and walked out of the circle, followed by another guy. One by one, the circle dwindled until only Nelson, Jessy and the four of us remained.

"Can I leave now?" Donofrio asked timidly.

Keith sighed and nodded.

As the guy started to walk away, Nelson loudly reminded, "There's no such thing as minority versus majority anymore dude." Donofrio turned back, appearing confused. Nelson shook his head sadly and said, "A little advise, go read about the sixties civil rights struggles and Doctor Martin Luther King."

Jessy hugged Nelson tightly. "Why do dudes always have to do shit like this?" she asked sincerely.

Nelson shrugged, "If you ever find out, make sure you let me know."

I don't know why he simply didn't tell her. Men are thick. Every one of us, at some time or another, has to have something slammed into our skull. It's one sure way of learning things. Hopefully, Donofrio learned to keep his hatreds tucked away.

We started towards the parking lot again. Jessy asked, "Keith, do you want to rehearse today? We don't have to. Tomorrow might be better."

Mike whined.

"If you want, but I'll just hang out this time I think," Keith answered.

Derrick showed his watch to Mike. Suddenly Mike had a change of heart. "Tomorrow's cool bro," he said.

Keith and I looked at Mike strangely.

"We have things... umm... stuff to fill... err... to occupy... hmm... just take us home!" Mike stammered.

I rolled laughing and Keith chuckled, shaking his head knowingly.

"Why not just jam on Friday?" Nelson asked. Uncertainly, we all turned to him. "Friday's the junior prom. Its also junior class skip day. Only the folks not going to the prom might show up. Girls are going to be out getting their hair done and all."

Jessy slugged him, "What about me?"

Quickly, Nelson explained, "You don't need to rehearse honey, you're perfect."

Smiling widely, Jessy giggled, "Tomorrow we'll rehearse, Friday you dudes can jam."

"Thank you for your permission ma'am!" I laughed. Unlocking the truck, I noticed Nelson pulling Keith aside. While Mike and Derrick got in, I eavesdropped.

"You and who else?" Keith asked.

"Just the dudes sitting at our table. No more than four, including me."

Keith nodded, "That's cool. How about around one?"

"Good. See ya tomorrow," Nelson waved.

I got in the truck and so did Keith. Buckling up, he said, "Nelson and a few of his buds will be over Friday afternoon."

Mike suggested, "We could make a party out of it?"

"We'll see. I'm just not in the frame of mind to think about it right now," Keith said.

Keith sat silent for the rest of the drive to Mike's house. Once Mike and Derrick got out, Keith asked, "Did you have anything to do with that?"

Unsure what he meant, I asked, "With what babe?"

"After school, with Donofrio."

Shaking my head, I said, "Nope."

"I didn't really need or want any of that," he softly admitted.

"I know. But he did deserve it. I'm hoping he does some serious thinking too, maybe even take Nelson's advice."

"What if he's a moron though?" Keith asked. Then he said, "The dude could turn around and get a dozen people surrounding me."

"Don't think about it babe."

"I'm trying not to," he sighed.

"Think about this. Mike and Derrick cared enough to try and get this guy off your back. So they told a few people. They accomplished a hell of a lot in only a few hours. The method may not have been perfect but good intentions were there."

"I guess."

The first thing I did once we got home was let the dog out. As if in a daze, Keith followed me around the house. After the dog was taken care of and I had poured us two sodas, we went to our room. From then until dinner, we pretty much stayed locked up in our room. I noticed the gay flag bracelet came out of one of his pockets. He glanced at me, smiled weakly then finished getting undressed.

I knew he was depressed and thoughtful so I slowly began getting changed. In his boxers, Keith flopped on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

I wondered what I could do to help him out of his funk. Unable to decide on a course, I turned on the TV, flipped to the Cartoon Network, turned on the stereo to his favorite soft hits station then snuggled up next to him. Finally, after a good thirty minutes of silence, he chuckled, "Anime explosions set to love songs is very strange!"

Grinning, I glanced up and asked, "How about soap operas set to cranked grunge?"

"No! Please, I couldn't take that!" he giggled.

Pulling myself closer to him, I asked, "What can I do for you babe?"

He smiled down at me and said; "Just what you've been doing is fine," then kissed my forehead. A few moments later, he said, "How did you get past that fight and being knifed? Just a verbal confrontation has my mind spinning."

"You and Derrick appearing out of no where saved the day. Shit! You saved my life! Then I had to worry about getting stitches and being in that damned hospital again. By the time we got home, I was relieved that none of us got too horribly hurt."

"No one was around to help me," he whispered.

I reminded, "But you didn't back down."

"There is that. It was rough though. I honestly didn't want to deal with it at all and considered just waking away."

"Ya know what I think?"

Keith hummed curiously.

"Imagine growing up with a name like Don Donofrio!" I giggled. "I'll bet they called him Don-Don for the longest time in grade school. No wonder he's got an attitude!"

Keith smiled widely. I asked him to close his eyes. When he did, I started leading him through a visualization. This time I only described peaceful places and events. He was stressed out enough and didn't need to slay any old demons so I kept it simple. Not even the prom was mentioned, only the beach and the mountains, described in vivid detail. After a while, he fell asleep and I zonked off beside him.

It was almost five. I wondered where John and Drew were. I got up, pulled on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt then called Rush and left the room. First I checked Drew and John's room. They had been home; clothes and books were carelessly tossed on the beds. Rush followed me to the kitchen. Drew had left a note on the counter. They had gone swimming at Corey's. After pouring myself a soda, I went out back with Rush. Naturally, he didn't want to be mellow, he wanted to play fetch. I tossed his rope toy, wondering if I should just call off the prom.

Soon, John and Drew returned home. This time they made a racket that I could hear through the closed door. I got up to quiet them but by the time I made it inside Keith was already awake. Still in a fog, he wandered into the living room, sat Indian style on the sofa and started channel surfing. He was still only in his boxers. I went over to sit by him. He pulled me closer and leaned against me.

He said, "When my dad gets home, I'm gonna go talk with him."

Without thinking, I asked, "Can I come with?"

He smiled, kissed me gently then nodded.

John came into the living room, noticing me dressed and his brother only in boxer shorts. This obviously confused him to no end! The two brothers stared at each other for a few moments.

"This is way different. I'm glad I didn't invite Kim over," John grinned.

"I just didn't feel like dressing," Keith loudly said.

John's grin faded and he went to the kitchen. I felt bad for John. Worse, I couldn't tell him why Keith was being mean.

Then Drew came in the room. He didn't seem phased by anything. Sitting down on the other side of Keith, he asked, "Are you really watching this?"

Without a word, Keith handed Drew the remote.

Cautiously, Drew looked at us and asked, "What's wrong?"

Frowning, Keith wiped his eyes and stood. Stepping into the middle of the room, he looked up at the ceiling and said, "Ya know what? I don't give a fuck anymore. Why am I fighting?" He sniffed then yelled, "I'm a fuckin' fag." John poked his head around the corner and Keith loudly proclaimed, "I like cock! Wanna fuck me? It's okay, I love it! Want your dick sucked? Whip it out!" The front door opened and Mrs. Hundser walked in to hear, "Every fucking time I have to stand up and admit that, another piece of me dies. Why does everyone care? Some day I'm sure I'll be bashed and killed by some fucking whacko and ya know what? Nobody will care. He'll get away with murder because its okay to kill fags, all at once or a little bit at a time. I'm a second-class citizen, step all over me. Fucking kill me and get it over with already! I'm so fucking tired of it all!" Then Keith quickly walked to his room and slammed the door closed.

Beside me, Drew began sniffling and wiping his eyes.

I sat there, shedding bitter tears. There was no time to say anything, no way to try to stop him. On many levels, every word Keith said was right.

That's the way we're treated; like freaks of nature that no one understands. Further more, so many don't even want to try and understand. When confronted about your homosexuality, you feel like less than a second-class citizen does - you feel like a bug waiting to be squashed.

"What happened?" Mrs. Hundser asked, quickly glancing around at Drew, John and me.

John quickly said, "I didn't do it!"

Catching my breath, I finally was able to say, "No, something happened at school today."

Keith's mom beckoned me and I followed her to the den. No sooner did she close the door and sit down beside me; Keith came in the room. He flopped into the desk chair, totally drained of strength.

Mrs. Hundser handed me a box of Kleenex.

Cynically, Keith began outlining his day. "And, for the cherry on top, Mike goes and gets a bunch of dudes to detain this Donofrio for me. They harass and insult him, thinking that maybe they could teach the dude a lesson. Like you can really teach someone like that!

"Now I've got to wonder, is he gonna try and get me back? Am I gonna be at the mall with Prez and get surrounded by a dozen gay bashers? That whole thing only made matters worse.

"Tomorrow I get to deal with the whole thing all over again, trapped in that asylum with who knows how many homophobes." Keith sighed, "I just want to be left alone." He stood and headed for the door saying, "Why can't they just let me live my life without explaining anything to them? I can't do it anymore."

He closed the door behind him. Mrs. Hundser stood and yelled, "Keith, please come back." She turned to me, sighed and began comforting me. Moments later, there was a loud crash. I tore ass out of the den and across the hall to our room then pushed open the door.

Lying in a heap on the floor was Keith. Next to his head was the entire ceiling light and fan assembly. He had wrapped a tie around his neck and hung himself.

Collapsing to the floor, I wailed, "Noooo!" Looking up, I closed my eyes and prayed.

When I opened them again, my face was in the carpet. Swiftly, I rolled over. Keith was looking down at me. He said, "Are you okay?"

I cautiously asked, "You're okay?"

He smirked, "I didn't fall off the bed."

Reaching to touch his warm face, I began to cry.

Crawling down off the bed to me, Keith softly asked, "What?"

"A stupid fucking horrible nightmare," I bawled.

"It's not real baby," he reassured.

I pulled him down to me and held on for dear life. After a minute or two I stopped crying but still held him. The last thing I need was to add drama to my day with a nightmare.

"Was I dead again?" he asked.

"Not at first," I answered.

Keith chuckled, "You're not getting off that easy!"

We chuckled softly. Then I whispered, "Let's forget the prom, okay?"

After a long few moments, Keith pulled his face back and looked in my eyes. Smiling, he said, "You don't mean that."

"You never wanted to and you were right. It's too risky."

Surprised, he said, "Because of Donofrio? He's not a risk, not by himself anyway," and pushed up off me. He offered his hand to help me up and I reached for him. With a tug, I was standing in his arms. He kissed my neck and whispered, "Besides, we've already made moves to come out. We're going."

I grinned, "Nope, don't want to," and tried to push away but he held me firmly in place.

As I struggled to get away from him, he giggled, "Yeah, we do." I stopped pushing away and looked in his eyes. They were the happiest I'd seen since second period English class. Putting his head on my shoulder Keith daydreamed aloud. "Friday we're going to wake up and have lots of great sex while John and Drew are at school. Then we'll shower, get dressed and entertain some friends."

"Will we tell your parents?" I asked.

He nodded and hummed then continued. "Around four, it'll be time for everyone to get into their tuxes. After everyone's gone, we'll take a long, hot shower. We'll wear the silk boxers and help each other dress. Then we'll get some pictures taken and take a ride in a stretch limo. Then we'll walk into The Palace Banquet Hall. We'll be holding hands, squeezing real tight. People will look. They'll whisper. We'll sit at our table and try to act respectable. No one will say an unkind word; it's totally cool. The DJ starts playing Always and Forever. I take your hand and lead you onto the dance floor."

It sounded so perfect! He was speaking in such a dreamy tone; I wanted him to continue. "Then what?" I whispered.

"Then everyone watches, they applaud," he said, and his chest heaved. "Then they start throwing roses at us and we're elected King and Queen of the prom!" he laughed.

Shoving myself away from him, I fell back on the bed and he ran out of the room! Barking at the sudden burst of activity, Rush followed then came back to get me and ran back after Keith again. I stood and slowly walked from the room, stalking my teasing boyfriend. I could hear him trying to shush the dog through his giggles. I noticed the time on the living room VCR. John and Drew would be home any second but there was a good twenty minutes before either of his parents made it home.

"Where are you, your highness?" I melodically yelled. From the garage I heard him laugh. When I got to the garage door, I remembered that it locked from inside the house! There was another door leading to the back yard though. Quickly I locked the garage door, ran to the dining room sliding glass doors and locked them too! I sat at the table and waited. Seconds later Keith came to the sliding glass doors, laughing hysterically as he tried to open the locked door.

The front door opened. Drew and John walked in, wearing swimming trunks and T-shirts. As if nothing else was happening, I said, "You were over at Corey's? We didn't even hear you come home."

Seeing Keith wearing only boxers outside the locked glass door, Drew smiled, "We did but then turned around and left again. Probably a good thing too, huh?"

"Lemme in!" Keith laughed loudly.

John snickered, "The front door's open bro."

"How long are we keeping him out there?" Drew giggled.

Loudly, so Keith could hear, I said, "Until he tells me who the prom queen is!" Keith laughed hysterically. Then in a more normal tone I said, "Or until your parents come home and let him in, whichever comes first."

"I could turn the sprinklers on?" John teased.

Keith heard and through broken giggles warned, "You'd better not!"

Drew nodded and said, "The controls are in the garage though. You'd never make it back."

"Damn skippy!" Keith laughed.

"Who's the prom queen?" I yelled.

Keith laughed, pointed at me then went to get a patio chair. John and Drew started whispering. With distrusting eyes, Keith watched his brothers, huddled together, plotting against him. John and Drew both laughed then quickly went out the front door.

"What are they doing?" Keith asked.

Grinning, I shrugged my shoulders. Then I decided to put a pair of shorts on before his parents got home. While in our room, above my head, I heard the pitter-patter of big feet. Drew and John were on the roof! If they fell, I'd never forgive myself so I ran out front.

As soon as I opened the door, I noticed Derrick's 442. To my left, Drew had John on his shoulders and John was passing a hose up. On the roof sat Mike and Derrick, waving down at me, grinning madly. I chuckled, "Be careful!"

"Don't worry, we will," Derrick said.

A car honked loud and long behind me. I turned around to see Keith's dad pulling in the driveway. Before the car was stopped he yelled, "Get off that roof! Are you nuts?" Running to his dad, John tried to explain that Keith was locked out of the house, wearing only his underwear and the idea was to hose down his horny ass!

"Not from the roof! It'll get wet and slippery and someone will inevitably tumble off," Mr. Hundser said. Then he looked up at Mike and Derrick and asked, "Where's the ladder? How did you get up there?"

Mike said, "I gave Derrick a boost then Drew and John helped me."

Turning to Drew, dad said, "Get the ladder please, before my hair turns gray and falls out!"

"But dad!" Drew and John whined.

Sternly, he looked at his son's and said, "Not from the roof, forget it!"

"We can get down on our own," Mike said. Before Mr. Hundser could argue, Mike stood and jumped off the roof onto the grass, rolling twice before he bounced up onto his feet.

Derrick chuckled and stood. Mr. Hundser closed his eyes. Just as Mike had, Derrick jumped and rolled then hopped up.

Mr. Hundser sighed, "You guys are going to cause me to have a nervous breakdown," and went into the house.

Still brushing himself off, Mike asked, "How's Keith doin'?"

"Better after a short nap," I answered. Briefly, I considered telling them about my nightmare but decided against it.

Looking at me oddly, Derrick asked, "How're you doin'?"

"I'm okay." I answered. How he suspected anything was wrong with me, I don't know. Drew and John went into the house. "Let's go inside," I suggested.

"We need to get home dude," Mike said.

Derrick nodded, "We only stopped by on our way to check on Keith."

"I thought you were already home playing with your toy. Where'd you go?"

Derrick grinned and explained, "We decided to check out a dinky little hole in the wall music store in Thousand Oaks."

"Dinky little hole in the wall," Mike softly snickered.

Derrick grinned and shook his head saying, "Let's hit it dude. We already called and said we'd be home for dinner. If we miss it..."

"We're screwed! And not in a good way!" Mike added.

As we walked to the car, I asked, "How about after dinner?"

Getting in the car, Mike nodded. As he walked around to the driver's side, Derrick said, "We'll call."

I waved and watched them drive off then went back inside. Much to my surprise, no one had let Keith back in the house yet! He was out back playing with Rush. For a few seconds I watched Keith's cute butt while he ran around with the hound. Then he noticed me standing at the door and walked over.

I unlocked and opened the door. He pulled me outside and kissed me hard! Moments later, when we broke our kiss, I noticed Keith's mom was watching us. She said, "Don't bother explaining, I don't need to know," then went towards the master bedroom.

"Where'd you go?" Keith asked.

"I thought Drew and John were climbing on the roof but it was Mike and Derrick up there. They were going to, and I quote, hose down your horny ass!"

"Oh really? They all need to be taught a lesson!"

Leading him in the house, I said, "Let's get you dressed before dinner." Back in our room, Keith pushed off his boxers and replaced them with cotton sport shorts. Both of us put T-shirts on then returned to the kitchen. Keith's dad was in the living room warning John and Drew about taking practical jokes too far. Letting go of my hand, Keith stayed in the living room.

I opened the fridge and looked around. Usually, Keith's mom takes something out of the freezer for dinner. There was a big package of short ribs so I took them out and over to the sink. When I saw her walk out of the master bedroom, I checked to make sure that they were intended for dinner. She nodded; said thank you then headed for the living room. Snickering softly, I guessed that John and Drew went a bit overboard and started rinsing off the ribs.

From the living room, I heard John say, "Keith was already locked outside when we got home. Ask Prez what started it!"

Oops! I was being implicated! Then I heard Keith giggle loudly, like he does when he's caught off guard and momentarily embarrassed. That's when I could no longer contain myself and laughed out loud.

Seconds later, Keith dragged me from the sink and into the living room! "This is a family meeting!" he laughed.

As punishment, the four of us had to cook, serve and cleanup dinner. It didn't really bother me much. But since Drew and John were more displeased, I made angry faces then laughed at them all through dinner!

Right after we finished cleaning up, Mike called Keith. Judging by the sounds of things, Keith wanted to go over there but Mike wanted to come over our house. Finally, sounding very surprised, Keith said, "You did? What?" Then he turned and grinned at me saying, "I won't tell Prez." After a short pause, Keith said, "That's good? I never heard of it. No I won't tell him! See ya."

As soon as Keith hung up the phone, I asked, "He got his birthday present from Derrick?"

Keith nodded and smiled, his mouth firmly closed. Then he stood saying, "I want to do some presses before they get here," and led me to the garage. While I spotted him, Keith did his usual set of thirty-five reps then we switched. That night, I wasn't able to do my usual twenty-five reps. In my mind, I pictured Donofrio, my dad, and the truck driver that killed my mom, all in an effort to get psyched and push that bar. But it was no use. I could only do twenty the first set and eighteen the second set.

I heard Derrick's car pull in front of the house and opened the garage door. Watching them get out of the car, walk around and get stuff from the truck, I noticed that Mike was practically attached to Derrick. They even walked up the driveway hand in hand, swinging them in high arcs. In Mike's other hand was a new guitar case. It was the happiest I had ever seen them.

Excitedly, Mike said, "Wait till you see it dudes! Omigod! It's awesome! It plays at least as well as any of Doug's axes! Say adios to the Ibanez!" He put down the case and reverently opened it.

It looked sort of like a Fender Stratocaster but it wasn't by Fender. The nameplate on the headstock read Carvin. I had seen their ads in Guitar magazine. They make custom guitars down in San Diego. This one had a custom curly maple finish that looked incredible!

Derrick opened the gig bag, took out Mike's effects processor and handed Mike a strap. Keith kneeled down close with me.

Giddy, Mike rambled on. "The neck goes completely through the body. Hit a note and hold it. It'll sustain forever until you release. There are twenty-four frets, two more than a Les Paul has, three more than a Strat." He pointed to the tailpiece, "This is a Floyd Rose tremolo, the very best there is. Now I can do Van Halen dive bombs and I won't cuss the bitch out for going out of tune!" We all started laughing but Mike turned and beamed at Derrick.

"You picked it out," Derrick softly said.

Mike shook his head. "I picked out a Fat Strat at GC. This is a million times better!"

Derrick giggled then turned to Keith and I. "After dinner we went back out to Guitar Center. While Mike was preoccupied, I snuck out and went over to the Sherman Oaks Carvin store to pick this up. Then I went back to get him." Derrick paused and laughed; "He wouldn't leave! He kept stalling, asking if I was going to get him that Strat for his birthday."

"You've been telling me that you would for months!" Mike chuckled loudly.

Derrick giggled, "I said that I'd try to get you a guitar. I didn't qualify it." Grinning and shaking his head, Derrick sighed. "Ya know all those days I had to leave early for work or had some other lame errand to run?" Mike nodded then Derrick softly said, "That's where I was going. If I don't take you someplace, it's because I can't, not because I don't want or need you there." They held a long stare.

Keith and I grinned at each other. Leaning closer, they kissed more deeply and passionately than I had ever seen. Softly, but not so softly that they couldn't hear, Keith said, "It's a pool house night."

I nodded, "We could decorate the place?"

"With heavy duty soundproofing foam!" Keith laughed. But Mike and Derrick never stopped kissing! I stood and pulled Keith up with me then hugged him tightly. It took a great deal of restraint to keep myself from going out and burying him in presents! While hugging him and forcing myself not to say anything, I remembered my nightmare. The dream was obviously a reflection of what I felt. Hearing about Ben also affected me. Keith was going to get a nice present very soon whether he liked it or not, I finally concluded and playfully kissed him.

The garage door opened moments later. "Woops!" Mrs. Hundser loudly said.

"It's okay mom," I giggled. Keith looked at me completely amazed. Finally, after almost eight months, I could call her "mom". I smiled at her.

She smiled back giggling, "Now I forgot what I came in here for!"

Keith laughed knowingly and, to my surprise, Mike and Derrick began chuckling behind us.

Moments later, she hollered, "Bleach!" remembering her original purpose. Taking the bleach bottle, she then left the garage.

Mike plugged in and powered on his amp. Instead of taking his taking his place behind the drums, Derrick stood by us.

"Remember how Eruption used to sound like shit at the end and I'd always have to stop and retune? Not any more," Mike said, and then started shredding, playing the solo better than any of us have ever heard before. Derrick proudly smiled. With the push of a button, Mike went right into a beautiful classical guitar solo, nothing Keith or I had ever heard him play before. Holding the final tones at the end, he then flipped a switch on the guitar, pressed another button on the floor and started playing rockabilly licks, like on my mom's old Elvis records.

When Mike finished and powered off the amp, I turned to Keith and said, "I need to practice more." He grinned and reached for my hand.

Derrick nodded, "He's been doing that stuff on Doug's guitars a lot lately."

As he was putting away his guitar, Mike said, "It's the neck mostly. Like putty in my hands, the strings bend easier, everything's much more responsive." Then he flashed an evil smile at Derrick and said, "Much more responsive!"

Blushing, Derrick laughed, "Let's jet!"

Mike quickly unplugged his GT-3, put it in the gig bag, picked up his guitar case and announced; "We're outta here!"

Keith and I about fell all over each other laughing. Moments later, he chuckled, "Mike's more awestruck than I've ever seen him. Did you hear the tone in his voice?"

I nodded, "He's plenty revved up alright. They'll both be tuckered out tomorrow."

"But very happy!" Keith laughed.

Longingly, I looked in his eyes. "Let's get happy too," I seductively suggested. With a nod of his head, I was like white lightning! The garage door was swiftly closed and we headed for the bedroom.

Walking into the house, he asked, "Was that really a good guitar?"

"An excellent one judging by the difference in sound."

"I just know name brands." Keith admitted.

"Smaller labels are sometimes better. But I like my Levis."

Walking through the living room and past his parents, Keith nodded, "Bugle Boy's look better on my butt though."

Leaning back to look at his ass, I said, "Definitely. Maybe I could learn to play trumpet?"

Wide-eyed, Keith glanced back at his parents and giggled, "We gotta shower first then."

Gently pushing him into the bathroom, I closed the door behind us and trapped him against the wall. Wrapping his arms around my waist, Keith whispered, "Make me feel better Prez."

"I will babe. Then I'll give you a chance to get your confidence back."

He lifted my T-shirt off and raised it to his face, inhaling deeply before tossing it aside. "You smell so good to me lately," he admitted as I tugged the T-shirt off him.

"It's that after shave you pointed out."

"Drakkar Noir? When did you get that?"

"At the mall when you weren't looking," I grinned.

"You smell as tasty as you look," he hungrily said, and pushed off my shorts.

Pushing his shorts off, I grinned, "I'll have to use it everyday then."

While I took off my CK's, he went to turn the water on and giggled, "I'm pretty sure that's what got me hard in English yesterday."

Keith was partially bent over, testing the water temperature. I went to him and gently caressed his back and buns. He sighed then turned to me with a look of acute desperation in his eyes.

He couldn't know how much making love and having sex meant to me that night. My nightmare scared the daylights out of me! Keith's situation was more real though and it worried me as much as it did him.

After a steamy hot shower, with towels wrapped around our waists, we said good night to his parents around nine o'clock. The moment he passed our bedroom doorway threshold, I grabbed his towel. I paused to admire the view and then stepped inside, closing and locking the door behind me. Keith turned on the stereo. Then he took my hand, removed my towel and led me to bed.

A little after four in the morning, Keith sat upright in bed.

"You okay?" I groggily asked.

He hummed and sleepily said, "Forgot to tell the `rents about Friday." Then he started to get out of bed!

Unable to tell if he was asleep or awake, I reached for his hand and held him back. "It can wait till tomorrow," I softly suggested.

He hummed again then lay down again. "Don't wanna go to school," he yawned. Then he said, "They don't act right there. Too weird."

I giggled, "Are you awake?"

Keith yawned again and said, "Unfortunately." Then he snuggled up close to me.

I wrapped my arm over him and whispered, "Everything's gonna be fine babe." While I waited for Keith to fall asleep, I kicked some ideas around in my mind.

First on the plate was that nightmare. There was absolutely no way Keith would ever give up on everything and kill him self. Still, the fact that I dreamt it, whether Ben had anything to do with it or not, meant that I felt guilty. We'd gone round and round about it and he always said I was being silly. No one can easily change those feelings though. I would continue to speak freely with him, sharing every thought and doubt. I was also picturing him beside me when I went and withdrew several hundred dollars from my money market account. He would be right there with me when I started collecting every DVD that he looked at for more than a few seconds! I'd get a sales person to explain DVD player features then pick out the one with the most bangs for the buck. Anything and everything he wanted would be his just by mentioning it.

The clock radio seemed to go off only minutes after I closed my eyes. This time, I didn't wait for Keith to show any sign of consciousness before I began getting him up! And I kept him up all through our shower! While we were finishing toweling off, he grinned mischievously and said, "Bursting bladder baby." Stepping in front of the bowl, he giggled, "Please don't say or do anything."

To him, my mission to keep his attitude positive was complete. But I had only just begun. Naturally, Keith didn't wear his gay flag bracelet to school but I wore mine. When we got to school, I followed him to his locker and left him in his homeroom before racing to my own. After homeroom, I slid down the stairway banister and caught up with him as he walked to first period!

"Are you going to do this all day?" he giggled. I grinned and nodded. He picked up his pace saying; "Don't you dare get detention. I don't want to be in this nut house any longer than necessary."

At second period, I walked past the classroom and met him at the other end of the hall. Afterwards, I followed him upstairs and stayed with him until Derrick joined us and escorted him the rest of the way.

Our school has the math and science wings on one end of the school. In the center are the cafeteria, gymnasiums and the assembly hall, which is where the frolics were held. On the opposite side of the school is the languages and history wing.

My fourth period class was Computer Literacy, in the science wing. Keith's fourth period class was history, at the opposite end of the school. There was only one way to make it and that was outside. I flew out the doors and sprinted at top speed. Heaving and panting, I found Keith and walked up from behind.

Turning to me, he grinned then slowly began chuckling.

"I'm glad you can laugh! I'm gonna pass out right after dinner."

"There's rehearsal after school, remember?"

I huffed, "Shit! I wanted to get Mike's present tonight."

"We can still do that. I'll drive. Or you can cancel rehearsal?"

"Mike and Derrick wouldn't consider it. They'll be over whether we're there or not." Hearing myself say that, a light went on in my head. "Hey!" I drawled.

Stopped in front of his history class, Keith's eyes sparkled as he laughed at my suggestion. "I'll see ya soon," he chuckled.

I said, "In forty..." and looked at my watch. Shocked at the time, I yelled, "forty-seven minutes! Shit! See ya!" and took off for the nearest exit. While I hauled ass back to the other side of the school, I wondered how time always seems to fly when I'm near him.

I slid into my Computer Literacy class just as the last bell ring finished echoing. Half the class broke into hysterics! I paused, caught my breath and smiled at the teacher before I headed for my seat. Luckily, I was getting straight A's in the class and the teacher only nodded that pathetic, patronizing teacher nod.

That day at lunch, a small caravan left the parking lot headed for Carl's Junior. I couldn't believe it! For almost the whole year it was only the four of us. Then Jessy started joining more and brought Nelson. Then Sharon, Julie, Cathy and Maria joined. And finally, Jerry and his girlfriend, Will and Zach and Alex! We weren't a small group anymore. This had become a mob!

The people working at Carl's had this look of horror as fifteen teenagers entered the place at once! Old people and women with small children hurriedly finished their food and headed for the door!

Who knows what we talked about? With at least five different conversations going on simultaneously, I have no idea! Perhaps it was the prom, or the band or the prom, or football or the prom, or basketball or the prom, or the fight or the prom? Maybe it was all of the above. With food in my stomach, my brain had decided to shut down.

Keith drove us back to school and he followed me to my locker then to the locker room. He noticed how drowsy I had become. "A few jumping jacks and some softball will wake you up," he said.

"Or put me flat on my back," I wearily joked.

With wide eyes and a wicked grin, Keith looked around then whispered, "Don't put pictures in my head."

My smile slowly faded. Right then, the homophobic mentality and dealing with all their stupid perceptions annoyed me to no end. I wanted to kiss my boyfriend, damn it! Only a few feet away, guys were walking past us into the locker room. I desperately wanted to take the chance. But I couldn't, not after Keith's bad day and with him looking and feeling so much better. My eyes filled with tears.

Keith's smile quickly vanished. "What's wrong?" he softly asked.

Leaning back against the lockers, feeling defeated by a faceless enemy, I only mouthed the words; "I love you."

He nodded and we both reached up to wipe our eyes. "The day's almost over," he whispered.

Greg Kovak stopped at the locker room door and did a double take our way. Grinning, he took a few steps toward us and said, "Well? Are you going to kiss or not?"

I glared at Kovak with disbelief and horror. When I turned to look at Keith, I didn't see fear. His nose was flaring with each quick breath. He was angry! Holding eye contact with him I tried to calm him down. He sighed then calmly turned to Kovak and grinned; "You wanna see a kiss? I'll show you a kiss!" Then he stepped closer to me. His nose brushed my cheek. My eyes closed, my mouth opened and he kissed me! Our arms slid effortlessly into their usual positions. We were shaking so bad! I heard giggling. And laughing.

Then I heard Mike yell, "OH! MY! GOD!"

Opening my eyes, I saw Keith, his eyelids barely open. Beyond him I saw bodies moving around the hallway. There wasn't a crowd! Slowly, our kiss became smaller lip smacks and nibbles.

Then I saw Kovak stop the first person in the hall he saw and ask, "Do you give a fuck?"

The guy glanced our way, shrugged then shook his head and said, "Whatever!"

Kovak stopped a girl and asked, "Do you give a fuck?"

Her head went back and she glared at Kovak incredulously, like he was nuts for stopping and asking her. "Hell no!" she loudly said.

Kovak stopped someone else and, hearing another disinterested comment, Mike laughed insanely. Then he yelled, "Let's hear it for `em folks!" and started clapping! A few more people clapped. Others walked right on by. Forehead to forehead, Keith and I grinned at each other, huffing like we had run miles.

"Nobody gives a fuck dudes," Greg announced. Then he walked into the locker room.

Taking his place beside us, Mike looked at us, his head snapping back and forth. The bell rang then Mike said, "For the first time ever I won't get an A in PE. But I have to hear every detail of how this happened!"

I turned and grinned at him.

Keith said, "I'm late," and slowly wandered around, wondering which way he was supposed to go! He eventually got his bearings and took off down the deserted hallway.

Silently, Mike and I went to his locker then stuffed both our gym bags inside. Then we returned to the gym. We walked up to the bleachers to tell the coach we were lazy fuckers.

"Sorry coach, can't make it," Mike said.

He glanced at us and asked, "Why not?"

"Does it matter?" Mike grinned.

"I have to write down something," he said.

Mike nodded understandingly then said, "Feminine itch," and scratched his crotch.

I almost busted out laughing!

The coach turned to me and asked, "What's your excuse?"

I grinned, "Dysentery," and quickly turned away before I fell into hysterics.

Taking seats on the bleachers, we started whispering.

"Well?" Mike asked.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I smiled and said, "I don't know. We were talking and got a little silly. I wanted to kiss him goodbye but held myself back, cursing every homophobe that ever walked the face of the earth. Keith held back too. Then Kovak walked up. He pretty much dared us to do it. I couldn't believe it!

"Keith got pissed, extremely pissed by the look in his eyes. I expected him to say something rude and socially unacceptable. But he didn't. He calmed down, basically announced he was going to kiss me, then he did!"

Relaying the story, I couldn't believe what I was saying. My brain felt numb.

Somewhere in the distance, Mike asked, "Did you hear what I said?"

Giggling like a schoolgirl at the reality of it all, I shook my head.

Mike repeated, "I said that Kovak deserves at least a hand shake and a thank you. If you don't do it, I will."

"You're right." I said but my brain was still stuck in a temporal causality loop, replaying the events over and over again.

The coach blew the whistle, everyone began lining up to exercise and the class began.

I began daydreaming. Keith kissed me in the school hallway. He kissed me! In school! In front of dozens of kids! Omigod! He loves me. For the rest of gym class I was caught up in euphoria.

Once we were outside, Kovak caught up with Mike and me. We both thanked him and made sure he knew that we were sincere.

Greg grinned and playfully lisped; "Silly fags!" then went to play softball. Mike roared laughing but I only smiled. How could he be so cool and then say something demeaning like that, I wondered?

Straight people are extremely strange!

By history class, I was regaining some cranial capacity and wondered what our kiss would mean. Would it make matters worse or would they get better? Would more kids yell slurs or would they really not give a fuck? If they did shout slurs, now I had to wonder if they really meant it and had a problem with homosexuals. Keith would be frazzled and freaked when I saw him again. The final bell rang. I walked out of the class and went to my locker, still in a partial daze.

Stopping at my locker, Mike asked, "Ready to rock?"

Looking in my locker as if it were a great void, I nodded and smiled.

Mike giggled, "You're totally worthless, aren't you?"

I nodded and smiled.

Mike watched as I stared into my locker, uncertain if anything needed to come home with me. He huffed then rattled off each of my classes by name. I retrieved my geometry book then Mike slammed the locker closed and dragged me away.

Outside, Keith was waiting by the tree with Derrick. For some reason, my eyes filled with tears again when Keith looked my way.

"It's all over the school ya know?" Derrick said.

"And nobody gives a fuck," Mike added.

Keith smiled at me and nodded. I lost it right there. Smiling insanely, happy tears flowed freely down my face. He came to me, wrapped an arm around my waist and tossed his car keys to Mike. "Don't cry," Keith softly said.

I sniffed and asked, "Aren't you worried."

"A little," he admitted, "but mostly I'm happy."


"No one said anything Prez, not for the whole afternoon. The same people greeted me in the halls like nothing happened."

Derrick said, "This schools too big. We don't know everybody and they don't know us."

"Since we're all so anonymous, I could lay one on you," Mike teased. "It wouldn't be too much of an effort, really."

Derrick grinned and asked, "Did you like your present?"

Mike quickly nodded.

"Do you want the other one?" Derrick asked.

Mike yelled, "What other one?"

Derrick giggled, turned and headed for the parking lot! Going after him, Mike yelled, "There's another one? Really?"

Wiping my eyes and face, I chuckled at Mike and Derrick.

Taking my hand in his and leading me to the parking lot, Keith said, "I think we need some chill time, don't you?"

I answered, "Definitely."

After a few more steps, he reminded, "No school tomorrow."

"We'll wake up late."

"And get out of bed, oh, around noon, I guess."

Glancing his way, I saw him smiling widely. In Keith's car, Mike and Derrick pulled along side us. I opened the door for him. Keith slid in the back seat and I followed.

Heading out of the parking lot, Mike said, "I'm actually jealous."

Derrick added, "There's got to be dozens of times we wanted to kiss."

After pulling into the street, Mike asked, "What made you do it bro?"

Keith smiled at me and giggled, "Prez really needed it and I really wanted to. That dude dared me and I just went for it."

I told Keith, "That was Greg Kovak, the guy me and Mike mentioned the other day."

"He's seriously disturbed," Keith giggled, "but in a good way."

"How many people do you think know we're going to the prom?" Derrick asked.

Mike shrugged and chuckled, "A few more than yesterday!" Heading to his house, Mike picked up his gear, stowed it all in the trunk and took us home.

Keith shifted and leaned against me saying, "I could get used to having a chauffeur!"

I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed tightly. "I'm really looking forward to the limo ride," I whispered.

"I almost wish we were going to school tomorrow," Mike said. Derrick snapped his neck turning to look at Mike. "I said, almost!"

"Why?" Keith and I asked in unison.

In the front seat, Derrick and Mike glanced at each other and grinned mischievously.

"Oh no you don't!" Keith loudly proclaimed.

Finally catching the drift, I pretended to be highly annoyed and said, "If you two start kissing in school, and we keep kissing in school, the next thing ya know, all the guys will be hugging and kissing in the hallways! Then where will we be?"

Derrick thoughtfully said, "It's a scary idea. Maybe equal to the straights?"

"Don't say that word!" Mike laughed loudly. "It's gaily forward! Never straight!" We all laughed and Derrick turned to Mike saying, "You're so gay!"

"Thank you!" Mike chuckled proudly.

By the time we got home, Jessy and Nelson were already waiting there. We piled out of the car. Mike and Derrick grabbed the stuff from the trunk and we headed towards the house.

With her arms wrapped around her chest, looking very much like an annoyed teacher, Jessy said, "You had to stop for a few kisses along the way, right?" Nelson's massive shoulders bounced as he tried to hold in a belly laugh.

Stopping in his tracks, Derrick held Mike back saying, "We forgot one," then stepped in and laid a whopper on Mike!

Continuing towards the door, Keith and I chuckled. They were holding the kiss too! Suddenly they dropped the things they were carrying and really got into it!

"It's not the same!" Jessy yelled. "It's got to be in school, where I can see it this time!" Nelson finally lost it and roared laughing, the sound echoing around the small front porch.

From behind us, Drew yelled, "What are you doing?"

Keith's head lowered and he snickered uncontrollably as he poked around to put the key in the lock.

"Have you lost it completely?" Drew screamed as he ran across the lawn.

Keith finally handed me his keys then turned, headed towards his brother and loudly chuckled, "Chill out!" I unlocked the front door then showed Jessy and Nelson in. They sat in the living room and turned on the TV.

The two brothers approached and Drew pointed at Mike and Derrick. "I thought it was a few close friends and family only! What the fuck is this?" Drew said.

Smiling, Keith answered, "A public display of affection."

"On the front lawn?" Drew yelled. Keith only nodded. Drew softly commented, "Oh fuck! If John had seen this..."

"I'll talk to John," Keith quickly said.

Taking Keith's hand, I corrected, "We'll talk to John."

Separated, Mike and Derrick walked towards us. Derrick said, "A few things have changed in the last couple of days." Each carrying something but holding hands in the center, they headed for the house.

"To say the least!" Drew loudly said.

"Where's Corey?" I asked.

"He's home," Drew calmly answered. Then he yelled, "Don't change the subject!"

Taking his brother's shoulder, Keith guided him to the house saying, "We'll talk about it when the `rents and John get home."

"Tell me now," Drew insisted.

"I've got company now," Keith reminded as he gently pushed his brother backward onto the porch.

Looking down so he wouldn't trip, Drew said, "So? They seem to already know."

Smiling at me, Keith said, "We kissed in school today."

Stopping in the entryway, Drew hollered, "YOU WHAT?"

The four of us cracked up laughing. Once Drew came out of shock and we all got into the house, we headed for the garage. Leaving Derrick, Mike, Jessy and Nelson behind, we went back in the house to talk with Drew.

Sitting at the kitchen counter with a soda, Drew asked, "How'd it happen?" I started to relay the story then Keith told the last part. Sitting there wide-eyed, his mouth slightly open and holding grin, Drew shook his head in disbelief.

In the backyard, sitting on the patio with his tail wagging, Rush whined and barked. Briefly, I wondered how he got outside but figured Jessy or Nelson had let him out. As I went to let him in, Keith suggested, "Why don't you call Corey?"

Drew said, "I'm going over there to go swimming."

Sitting on the floor to say hello to my hound, I said, "Invite him for dinner."

Slowly, a devilish grin swept across Drew's face. "I don't know if I wanna," Drew smirked, "He'll expect me to start doing the same stuff!"

Keith chuckled, "It wasn't so bad."

Watching Keith closely, Drew finished his soda then rinsed the glass out in the sink. "I'll try to get Corey to come for dinner," he said.

As he walked past me, I commented, "Bet it takes all your persuasive powers."

He stopped for a moment and glared down at me. Then he smiled and went to his room.

I looked up at Keith and music started to fill the house. Mike was playing, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, by Queen. I yelled over the music, "Do you still wanna lay down for a few minutes?"

Nodding, Keith came over and offered me his hand. I bounced up and kissed his cheek. Once we got back to our room, closed the door and could talk normally, Keith pulled off his shirt and asked, "Do you feel light headed?"

Kicking off my sneakers, I nodded and said, "The last few hours. I can barely recall the last half of the day." Between us, lying on the floor, Rush contentedly shredded a rope toy.

We crawled onto the bed and I snuggled closer, resting my head on his chest.

Wrapping an arm around me, Keith softly said, "I just couldn't take it anymore. After that shit yesterday, I thought, what the fuck. If I'm going to bashed and bothered then it might as well be for something real. For some reason, I'm not very scared though."

"More like relieved," I said.

He giggled, "Yeah. It's pretty much out in the open now!"

I squeezed him and said, "The job will be finished tomorrow."

"Ya know what it's like?" he asked. I hummed no and he said, "It's like a crusade against hate mongers. I want to know who they are. I want to know who's cool too."

I reminded him of our lunch caravan. Keith reminded me that during his freshman and sophomore years, it was only the three of them sitting together at lunch. I wondered aloud, "Do you think we separated ourselves from everybody else?"

Keith hummed thoughtfully then said, "I don't know. Maybe. We thought it was necessary though."

We lay there quietly for a few more minutes. From the garage, it sounded like they were doing a good job of pulling together the song. I started tapping my feet. Keith began humming softly but, with my ear against his chest, I heard it clearly. I sighed and a moment later so did Keith. We hugged then kissed and crawled out of bed. Rush ran out the door and headed for the garage. He always does but it's way too loud in there for a dog. I called him and let him out the back door. Then Keith and I then went to the garage.

Later that night, there were a few moments of pandemonium at the dinner table when we told our story. Mrs. Hundser beamed across the table at us. Mr. Hundser laughed out loud. Corey's eyes about flew across the table! Then his head swung to look at Drew, who was still eating but smiling.

John said nothing for the longest time. Finally he said, "What about me? I'm gonna be hearing about this."

Mrs. Hundser stopped eating, wiped her mouth then said, "When we're young, it's natural to pick on people who are different. I remember in my school, the jocks picked on the choir and marching band. Some of the whites picked on the blacks, the Mexicans picked on the Orientals and every little group you could think of had another group to pick on. Sooner or later you grow up and realize that everyone's different. As close as your father and I are, we differ. Preston and your brother differ. Do we make a scene every time we disagree? No, of course not. There's no reason it needs to be that way anywhere.

"It seems most of the people didn't care in high school. More of them won't care in college. So few people really care about other people's sexuality because it doesn't directly concern them. There are so many more urgent things to take care of.

"But some people never really finish growing up. They don't appreciate the diversity of humanity. So they try to fight it by imposing their personal beliefs on others."

John sat there eating slowly and really listening to his mother. Then Mr. Hundser said, "I think its love. People that haven't really been in love don't have to deal with relationships. It's like there's an invisible shield around them. Nobody ever gets inside that shield; not their best friends and maybe not their wives or husbands. That's such a lonely way to live, don't you think?"

John nodded and swallowed. Then he asked, "What do I do about the people who aren't grown up?"

"Same as always," Drew said. "I'll watch your back. You watch mine."

"I'll have a lot to say at PTA meetings if my sons aren't safe at school," Mrs. Hundser said.

"And I know a few lawyers that have bones to pick," Mr. Hundser said.

"You're covered bro, we'll make sure of it," Keith reassured.

"I just don't want to have to deal with it," John sighed.

"That's exactly what we've been saying for the last year," Keith said.

A few moments later, John looked at me and reminded, "You wound up in the hospital and got stitches."

"I couldn't help that. He was an immature jerk that needed to prove something," I explained.

"How to land in jail for twenty years," Mr. Hundser sadly stated.

We ate silently for a few moments then John looked across the table and said, "I wish I didn't have to worry. I do worry, about all of us. Can I be excused?"

Seeing that John had finished eating, Mrs. Hundser nodded. Moments later, she wiped her mouth and excused her self. She took her plate and glass to the kitchen then went to talk with John.

Drew sighed, "I'm going to have to move the PlayStation to the living room."

Corey started giggling and nudged Drew with his elbow. One by one, we all began chuckling and laughing out loud. Then Keith told his dad about junior class skip day and asked if we could have a few friends over.

After dinner was cleaned up and loaded into the dishwasher, Keith and I decided to go to the mall. Okay, I suggested it! The warm feeling of money burning a hole in my pocket got my buns in gear! We invited Corey and Drew along since their video game plans were on hold. In our bedroom, I gathered all my tip cash from the dresser drawer. Keith noticed and smiled, "Birthday money?"

I nodded enthusiastically.

When I pulled into the Wells Fargo ATM, he loudly asked, "What are you doing?" Without answering, I smiled and got out of the truck.

The damned daily withdrawal limit was two hundred dollars. I got the maximum and went back to the truck. The first stop was Guitar Center to pick up Mike's present. While we were in there, Keith decided to get Mike a few sets of strings. He asked what else he could get for another ten bucks and I asked the salesperson for a glass slide. My present was an electronic toy called an E-Bow. It vibrates the strings on electric guitars, sort of like a bow vibrates a violin string. The thing used nine-volt batteries so I picked up a pack of them and we checked out.

At the mall, we wandered around, in and out of SunCoast Video, B. Dalton's, Blockbuster music, where I bought a few CD's I had wanted to get, then finally into Nordstrom's. We chatted and goofed around. Keith had no idea there was over two hundred dollars still in my pocket. He stopped to check out a polo shirt. I noted it. Then Keith stopped to admire a suede jacket. It was one hundred and fifty-five dollars. I asked him to try it on. He did but quickly took it off saying, "I can't afford this," then moved on to look at some other shirts.

Holding back with Drew and Corey, I softly mumbled, "Get your brother's attention."

"What for?" Drew asked loudly.

I smiled at Keith then glared at Drew and whispered, "Just take him away and show him something. Anything!"

In a few seconds, Corey giggled, looked up at me and whispered, "I'll stay with you so he doesn't suspect." Then he pushed Drew away.

Corey and I made like we were looking at swimming trunks and waited till Drew led Keith off. Then I went back to the suede jackets and a salesman came over. He snootily asked, "Can I help you with something?"

I held up the chain connecting all the jackets and said, "Yeah, unlock this thing and let's get rung up quick!"

The salesman unlocked the chain and I sent Corey to get one of the polo shirts. Quickly, I did some math in my head. We went to the checkout counter and rang up the bill. Once I handed the man the cash, I handed Corey the bag and the keys to the truck. The second Corey had the receipt; he took off running for the parking lot. Then I went to find Keith and Drew. They were heading back my way, through the women's lingerie department, talking softly and laughing loudly.

Once we were within a few yards of each other, Drew asked, "Where's Corey?"

"The men's room," I quickly answered with a grin.

Near the exit doors, we caught up with Corey. After a trip to the food court for sodas and a snack, we left the mall. I dropped Corey off at home. From the rear view mirror, I watched Corey steal a kiss from Drew before he exited the truck. It was extremely difficult for me to think about anything but Keith's reaction to my presents. I wondered if he would get angry and refuse them. I didn't think he would. Certainly I would hear about it for the next few days!

I pulled in front of the house, got out of the car and headed for the house.

Keith had walked back to the rear of the truck and hollered, "You forgot the CD's and Mike's presents. Hey! What's that?"

DOH! I wanted to bring it in later, when I could show him alone in our room.

Walking back to the truck I asked, "What's what?" as if I didn't know.

Keith smirked, "In the big Nordstrom's bag?"

Gently shoving him back away from the truck, I grinned, "You'll find out!"

Drew giggled and I unlocked the truck. Keith was there in a flash and we struggled for possession! I practically had to climb in the truck and onto the bag! Laughing hysterically, Drew pulled his brother back; just enough to let me grab the bags and get a head start towards the house.

Pushing, tripping and stumbling over each other, the three of us barged into the house. Keith's poor parents were relaxing in the living room.

"What's going on now?" Mr. Hundser yelled.

Holding the bag tightly, I laughed, "Some people want things they don't deserve!" then tugged the bag from Keith's grip. Reaching in the bag, I felt around for the forty-dollar Ralph Lauren polo shirt and pulled it out. "I think you deserve this," I said.

Smiling widely, Keith said, "Aww, Prez," and took the shirt.

While he was holding it up and his mom commented how nice it was, I pulled out the suede jacket. "And this too," I softly said.

Keith's face went blank. Then he smiled and happy tears rolled down his face. As if it were a great effort, he stepped closer to me. He looked at the jacket in my hand and back at me. Then he hugged me tightly and picked me up! I held on and could feel him trembling. When he finally put me down, he wiped his face and sniffed; "Now I wish there was school tomorrow too so I could show this off." Keith tried on the jacket and struck a few poses, giggling hysterically at himself.

"Do you need to get that water and stain proofed?" Mr. Hundser asked.

Keith looked at the label hanging off one sleeve and shook his head no. He was speechless, reduced to smiles and giggles. It was perfect! Keith kept the jacket on for the rest of the night until we went to bed.

Once we were alone, Keith crawled over me menacingly. "I'm never going into Nordstrom's with you again!" he playfully complained.

"Did you suspect anything?"

"Not until we got home and I saw the bag." He kissed my forehead then said, "Please, save your money for college."

"There's plenty for college." I said.

"You paid for so much already baby. Please save presents for birthdays and Christmas."

I grinned, "I won't promise that but believe me, I'll make sure we can go to college." Keith's eyes searched mine for a long few moments. I could tell he was reading my thoughts and giggled hysterically. Gently lying down on top of me, he began grinding our woodies together.

The next morning we slept in until about nine, made love again then showered and went to pick up our tuxes. The line was huge! There weren't that many juniors in our school!

"Every teenager within a five-mile radius must be here," Keith softly commented.

I grinned and leaned over then whispered, "Some of them don't look half bad either!"

Keith chuckled and glared at me.

It took almost an hour to get our tuxes. We grabbed lunch at Taco Bell then went home. Mike and Derrick were sitting on the front porch waiting. It was only half past noon!

Carrying our tuxes, we headed for the house. Keith glared at Mike and said, "You're early! You seem to notice the time for guitar playing and sex only!" Derrick and I smiled widely but held back any comments or laughter.

Grinning, Mike asked, "Is there a problem with that?"

Shaking his head, Keith unlocked the front door saying, "But if you're late tonight, I swear, I'll get out of the limo and drag your partially dressed ass out of the house!"

Humming thoughtfully, Derrick then teased, "I'll have to make sure he's running late then."

Keith and I headed for our bedroom. As usual, Rush was happy to see us and bounced around. Dreading going to the prom covered in white dog hair, I hollered, "No! Down!"

I felt bad immediately but Rush paid attention and went back into his crate. Then he turned around and peered out the front, his tail slapping the sides of the pet apartment. We hung up our tuxes in the closet then I called Rush and said hello before he had a doggie tantrum.

Returning to the living room, Derrick grinned and said, "I don't know about you two, but I am so fucking hyper inside! I really need to unwind a little." Then he pulled his one hitter out of his cargo pants!

Covering his face with his hands, Keith chuckled. Then he nodded and said, "Not in the house. Let's go out back."

Our little get together with Nelson and his buds turned into a pretty big gathering. Not only did they show up but also, while we were in the garage, Zack and Will showed up too. If that wasn't a nice enough surprise, we were floored when there was another knock at the front door. Keith and I went to answer it together, leaving the others in the packed garage. Waiting patiently to be let inside, Greg Kovak and Don Donofrio stood on the front porch!

I'm sure we stood there, chins hanging to the floor for a good ten seconds.

Greg laughed at our expressions and mimicked us. Then he put a hand on Don's shoulder and said, "It's cool."

Glancing down and back up at us, Don softly said, "I'm sorry. I learned my lesson."

Greg offered, "There's probably more to learn but a dude's got to start some where."

Keith smirked and nodded. Stepping aside to let them in, I smiled and shook both their hands.

For the next few hours, we jammed and partied in the garage. We played the ZZ Top tunes and some Hendrix and Stevie Ray. Then Nelson got up and shook his huge ass like Elvis and joined Keith singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Greg joined in too while Will and Zack danced around, further fucking with my gay-dar! By the end of the song, eight straight dudes were singing and dancing around our garage! The four of us about died laughing.

Then Derrick did something totally unexpected and started pounding on his drums. In between Derricks beats, Mike began clapping. I clapped along and recognized the song immediately. All the other guys began clapping along.

Keith stepped up to the mic, grinned at Don and sang, "Buddy you're a boy making big noise playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday. Ya got mud on your face, you big disgrace. Kicking your can all over the place, singin' we will, we will rock you! We will, we will rock you!"

Smiling, Greg glanced at Don, shoved him playfully and then began laughing his ass off!

Blushing, Don grinned and yelled, "I get the fucking hint!"

We laughed and Keith continued on. "Buddy you're a young man, hard man, shoutin' in the street, gonna take on the world some day. Got blood on yer face! You big disgrace! Wavin' your banner all over the place. We will, we will rock you! We will, we will rock you!

"Buddy you're an old man, poor man, pleadin' with your eyes, gonna make you some peace someday. You got mud on your face. You big disgrace! Somebody better put you back into your place. We will, we will rock you! We will, we will rock you!"

Unbelievably, Mike wailed the solo! Everyone yelled and Greg started playing air guitar while leaning against Mike! Before Mike even finished, everyone began hooting and hollering! It was awesome!

The afternoon flew past and by four thirty, everyone including Mike and Derrick, had left for home. Keith and I took a long shower, shaved and started to get dressed. The limo would be at our house first at seven sharp. We had almost two hours to get into our tuxes but there are so many pieces and we were fumbling along uncertainly until Keith's dad came home and helped us.

Then came the photos. In the living room, we took pictures standing alone and then together. Drew snapped a few shots of us with Keith's parents. Then we went out side and repeated the whole process again!

A sparkling clean, black stretch limo pulled in front of the house. Suddenly, I had to pee. It was urgent too! I quickly went back into the house and fished around for my dick. There was six inches of it just a little while ago! But I was so overwhelmed with anxiety that it shriveled up to nothing. Once I found it though, I began leaking into the toilet as soon as it was aimed. Nearing the bottom of my bladder, I forced a little more. Then I shook it. Then, so I wouldn't get a drop on the tux, I grabbed toilet paper and wiped it off! Quickly, I shoved it back in my pants, zipped up and ran back outside.

The chauffeur patiently waited outside the opened back door. Mrs. Hundser was pinning a carnation on Keith's tux. Mr. Hundser pulled me aside and pinned a matching one on my tux. He whispered, "Do everything you want to. Don't leave there with a single regret." I smiled and nodded. My voice was hiding the same place my dick was! Stepping back and looking carefully at the carnation, he then handed me a corsage saying, "You'll need this."

"Omigod! I totally forgot Maria!" I yelled. Grinning and shaking my head at my own ignorance, I said, "Thanks," then went over to Keith. He kissed my cheek then got in the limo and I followed.

It was huge in there! Two seats faced backward and two seats faced forward. There was also a small TV and an unstocked bar. Keith picked up the remote, turned on the TV and then wrapped his arm around me and got comfortable.

We were so nervous! All we could talk about was the limo!

Our driver got in and we pulled away from the curb. The first stop was Cathy's. Then we picked up Sharon and Julie. At Maria's, I got out of the limo and went to the door.

Her father answered the bell. Thankfully, he forced a smile and let me in. At the stairway landing stood Maria; wearing a beautiful sky blue gown and looking nothing like the girl I had been occasionally hanging out with the last two months. I went to her and took the corsage out of the box. Thank God Mr. Hundser got a wrist corsage! I would've been fumbling for an hour! Her father then took a few photos. Then her mother kissed her cheek and led us to the door. Dutifully, I took her hand and got in the very back seat after her. We both heaved heavy sighs of relief as soon as we sat down!

The limo pulled away but after the second turn, it pulled up to the curb again. I turned around to see what the problem was and Keith grinned, "You're sitting here with me!"

Then we went to pick up Mike and Derrick. They looked fabulous in tuxes with tails! I noticed that Mike was wearing his white sneakers and poked fun at him.

"They're clean! I wasn't about to drop a hundred bones on white shoes that I'd only wear once!" He plainly stated.

For the next few minutes, until we got to the banquet hall, we chattered about the jam earlier in the day and how long it took to get into the tuxedos, then we where there. Other limos were in front of ours but soon enough it was our turn. The chauffeur opened up the rear door and let the girls out first. He opened our door next.

Mike looked at each of us and asked, "Ready?" After hearing three positive replies, he stepped outside. Then Derrick went out, took his hand and they started to head inside.

Keith turned to me, smiled widely and said, "We are going to have a blast, no matter who gets weird."

Unable to find my voice, I smiled, nodded enthusiastically then stepped out of the limo and waited for him. Keith gave the driver a tip then instructed him to be back by eleven. Taking my hand in his, we walked inside the banquet hall.

Ahead of us, there was a line waiting to enter our room. Everyone was being sorted, guys on the right, girls on the left. I wondered why they were doing it and what they would do when they got to us! Keith snickered, shrugged and shook his head to both questions.

Finally we were close enough to see and hear what was going on. Inside the room, every couple was announced by Zack then greeted by Will and his date. Sharon and Julie were the first in the room, followed by Cathy and Maria, Mike and Derrick then me and Keith. It might have been my imagination but the applause seemed louder for Keith and I than it did for our friends. My head must've been spinning on my shoulders as I scanned the new environment.

Around the perimeter of the room were fifty large round tables, each surrounded by eight chairs. The first two tables, nearest to the entrance and the DJ, were for the student counsel members and their dates. Thankfully, our request to be seated together was met. We were seated at table number nine. I noticed Greg and Don at the other side of the room. Sitting at our table, we applauded as others entered the room. Jerry and his date entered, followed shortly thereafter by Jessy and Nelson.

Once most everybody had arrived and been announced, Keith then turned to me, grinned and whispered, "I need to leak bad! Wonder where the men's room is?"

I pointed to the restroom sign and Keith excused himself saying that he'd be right back. Glancing around the room again, I noticed a few couples hadn't shown up and briefly wondered what could have kept them from their prom.

Moments later, to one side, Mike and Derrick started giggling. Turning to them, I saw Mike playing with our table numbers. There were two number nine tags on the table. Mike had taken one and turned it upside down, making it table 69! I was so glad Keith wasn't around. He most certainly would've cuffed Mike upside the head!

Then I realized that Keith was breaking the two-minute piss record and started to wonder where he disappeared. Just as I started getting really worried, he sat down next to me, smiling mischievously.

"Did everything come out alright?" I playfully asked.

"Perfect!" he chuckled.

Judging by the twinkle in his eyes, he had gone someplace besides the men's room. "What took so long?" I asked.

The DJ turned the music louder just as Keith was about to answer. Keith leaned in closer and said, "Just stopped to say hello to Jerry," then he pointed over at their table.

It was after eight o'clock already. Waiters and waitresses scurried around the room delivering dinners. Noticing the tight vests they were all wearing, I turned to Derrick and commented, "Thank goodness we don't have to wear stuff like that at work."

"Too confining," he grinned, "like this stupid tux!"

Hearing Derrick complain, Mike said, "You look great though." After a short pause, Mike grinned, "I'll get you out of it quick enough!" and made scissor cutting motions with his fingers. Blushing, Derrick nodded enthusiastically and chuckled.

Our dinners were served. Although Keith and I had barely eaten all day, we weren't very hungry. The food was good. Our stomachs were too tight from being nervous for so long though. Derrick and Mike at least finished most of their meal, leaving only the mixed vegetables behind.

As dinner ended, a few couples got up and started dancing. Waiters and waitresses began clearing tables. Then a few more couples got up and headed for the dance floor. Sharon and Julie went out there and so did Nelson and Jessy.

Nervously, like we never danced before, I turned to Keith and asked, "Ya wanna?"

He nodded and took a deep breath then we headed for the crowd and started dancing. At the next song, Derrick and Mike joined, followed by Cathy and Maria. Another fast song was played and we kept on dancing. Then the DJ played a remake of the ballad, Without You. Grinning, Keith shook his head and led me back to the table.

Once we were seated and had a little something to drink, Keith leaned close and asked, "Are you having a good time Prez?"

Since we had already done some dancing, I was having a great time but didn't want to seem overly enthusiastic. I nodded and asked, "Are you?"

"Hell yeah! It's half over and no one has said a word."

"I haven't seen a single dirty look or curious stare," I told him.

Derrick and Mike came back to the table and finished the pitcher of ice water.

"I keep feeling like I'm gonna trip over these tails," Derrick playfully complained.

Mike nodded and said, "It could be worse. We could trip over our dicks!"

Wide-eyed, Derrick chuckled and nudged Mike to stop. The four of us went off the deep end, goofing around and teasing each other for a few moments.

Suddenly everyone stopped joking around and looked up. Behind me stood Tim Sheffield, my personal tormenting bigot, and his date.

Tim was a born again Christian and periodically reminded me that my eternal soul would be damned because I was queer.

More than any other types of homophobe, the religious radicals rattle me the most. They're self righteous, condescending mutants, I swear!

For a long while, Tim hadn't said a word to me since I'd made it quite clear that I didn't care what he said on the subject. People like him give God, Jesus and religion in general a foul odor. It was beyond annoying to see him standing behind me, ready to say something to my friends and me. My temper started to flash over and I stood to face him.

"Don't say a word," I softly warned. "Just turn around and walk away."

Grinning, he glanced at his date. "Aren't you the snotty queer bastard?" she giggled.

Trying to calm myself but with the fires of hell burning in my eyes, I plainly told her, "Don't you ever call me a bastard again. You don't know my mother, my father or me. Just run along and go find someplace else to preach your antiquated, flimsy values." She seemed shocked, as if I had somehow blasphemed!

Looking back at Tim, I noticed that another guy had taken a stand an arm's length behind him.

Behind me, I heard chairs moving and turned briefly. Keith and my two friends were now standing behind me.

Mike teased, "So these must be the true believers. Start any good wars lately crusaders?"

Grinning, I said, "You won't win any battles here."

Finally, Tim spoke, "I can't believe you would flaunt yourself like this. Don't you have any self respect?"

Keith thought aloud, "Lemme see... I'm here with my boyfriend, my best friends and some very cool acquaintances, present company excluded. Yeah, we've all got self respect."

"And realistic self images, completely different from any one that would take the time to force their views on any one else. As if you're any better than any one else," I added.

From our right, Zach approached saying, "How's it goin' dudes?" Will was still chatting at the next table, only a few paces behind Zach.

Tim loudly asked, "Who's forcing their views more than you?"

"Ooookay!" Zach softly said and went back to Will.

I laughed loudly for a few moments because Tim was loosing control already.

Keith said, "You're here with someone you wanted to be with and be seen with, I assume." I turned and beamed at him. For a moment, I felt wobbly because Keith implied that he wanted to be seen with me!

"It's the same deal for us," Mike added.

Zach returned with Will.

There was silence from both sides.

Turning to Tim and appearing disappointed, Will said, "Go back to your table or out to the dance floor, your choice."

Shocked, Tim's date loudly exclaimed, "You're standing up for them?"

Will paid her no mind and said, "Didn't we talk? Didn't you say you'd let it rest for tonight at least?" He paused then nodded his head toward the doorway and said, "See those bouncers back there? Don't make me."

Defeated, Tim shook his head sadly and said, "It's not right."

"That's not for you to decide!" Will sternly said.

"A chaperone's coming over," Zach warned.

Quickly, Will repeated, "Your table, the dance floor or home?"

The guy behind Tim started to wander off. Then his date tugged on his arm. Glaring menacingly at me and Will, he finally turned and walked away.

"Asshole!" Zach whispered.

Smiling widely, Will turned around and waved off the chaperone. Then he turned back to us and playfully grinned, "Is everybody having fun?"

Laughing my ass off, I leaned back against Keith. He wrapped his arms around my waist and all the tension simply seemed to drain off me.

He kissed the back of my head and giggled, "We're fine."

Next to us, Mike forced Derrick down into a chair. Then he smiled innocently and said, "Just peachy dude."

"Just wanna kick some fundamentalist boodie," Derrick grumbled, and we all cracked up.

"Party at my place," Will reminded.

I nodded and said, "We'll be there."

Behind me, Keith nodded and said, "For a little while."

Standing, Mike and Derrick began walking around the table. "We'll be there," Mike said.

Will suggested, "Bring your guitar, Mike."

Mike turned and smirked, "Of course!"

Noticing Mike and Derrick headed for the door, I recognized that Derrick probably needed some fresh air.

Zach asked, "Are you dudes really okay?"

Nodding, Keith said, "Perfect!"

Reaching for a chair, I grinned then grimaced, "The punch is really bitter."

"It does suck," Zach chuckled.

Keith and I sat down. Zach started to pull out a chair when Alex walked up to us. The ballad, If, began playing. Smiling at us, she pulled gently on his arm. Zach immediately took her in his arms and began slow dancing. Slowly they turned and danced their way away from the table. I watched Zach. There was a familiar peaceful expression on his face. They looked perfect together.

Turning to Keith, I innocently asked, "Do you think she knows that Zach has the hots for you?"

Keith cracked up then loudly insisted, "He does not!"

"I'll have to find out," I grinned and quickly got up. Keith chased me right out to the dance floor, exactly where I wanted to be!

Though others might've disagreed, I thought the DJ was great! He played a wide variety: some Will Smith rap tunes, a little hip-hop and newer pop tunes, a big band tune or two, old rock from the fifties, classic rock and sprinkled them all with ballads. Keith and I were dancing to the end of Satisfy My Soul by Bob Marley, when Mike and Derrick slid onto the floor beside us. The four of us danced to another fast tune. Then Cathy, Maria, Sharon and Julie danced over to us and each grabbed a partner! Maria took my hand and pulled me towards her. Cathy and Keith paired up, as did Sharon and Derrick.

Mike was too stunned to call what he did with Julie dancing! It was more like she held him while he tried to escape! Then the Scorpions power ballad, Still Loving You started to play and Derrick took Mike in his arms.

The girls all started back to our table. Reluctantly, I went with Keith off the dance floor. "That's their song," he explained as we sat down at our table.

I glanced at my watch and pouted, "There's only forty five minutes left. I hope they play our song."

Keith shrugged and smirked.

I should've known something was up but it flew right over me. For the next twenty or thirty minutes I tried in vain to get Keith back onto the dance floor but he kept saying, "The next one." I didn't understand it. We had been dancing most of the night. I guessed we would only dance to fast songs. Just as I had convinced myself that fast songs were enough, I heard the opening chords of Always and Forever. Keith stood and took my hand. He wrapped his arms around me and we danced our way on to the floor. Certainly, other folks must've been dancing but I didn't notice. There was only the soft music and Keith and me. We danced like we would've at home alone. At the end of the song, he tenderly kissed me. Another ballad started to play.

As we walked back to our table, Keith leaned close and said, "I planned that."

For a long few moments I looked at him and saw the playful, mischievous smirk spread across his face.

"I bribed the DJ," he giggled.

I nodded, "You'll need a wheelchair for work tomorrow night, ya know?"

His eyes got wide and he excitedly said, "Kewl!"

I hope you enjoyed the story.
Please note the new site location! Update your bookmarks or favorites for The Glass Onion.
Comments and constructive critisisms are always welcome.