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

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A New Life Chapter 37

Combined Forces

Soon after Derrick went to work Saturday afternoon, Mrs. Gibbons and Lindsay also left to visit Mrs. Gibbons' sister in Santa Barbara. Earlier in the week, Mike had asked his mom for some privacy over the weekend. Without ever being bluntly told so, she assumed that her son wanted some intimate birthday celebration time with Derrick. She told her son and his boyfriend that there were leftovers in the fridge and that she would be home no later than nine on Sunday night. What she didn't know was that Derrick had invited a few other boys from school to join the celebration. Mike didn't even find out what was planned until after eight that night, when Derrick called home from Black Angus.

Mike answered the phone and Derrick asked, "Whatchya doin' dude?"

"Playin' guitar and watchin' the tube," Mike answered. He then asked, "What's up there?"

Carrying a bucket of dirty dishes on his shoulder, Prez walked briskly into the Black Angus kitchen. There was a lot of noise, partly from waiters, waitresses and cooks yelling orders to each other, and partly from the clang of dish washing machine. Derrick loudly said, "The place is packed. I might be a little late getting home," and smiled, waiting for his lover's reply.

Mike whined, "Don't be too late. I'm really trying to stay out of the bedroom. If I walk in there, I'm afraid the dildo will call to me and I'll be too pooped to pop for you later."

Derrick cracked up. Then he chuckled, "Remember that little surprise I mentioned?"

Melodically, Mike answered, "Yeah."

"Better not start messin' around, dude," Derrick warned, "You'll be getting company in a little while,"

Mike loudly asked, "A surprise party? Who's comin'?"

Derrick said, "Jerry and Mack for sure. They said they'd spread the word."

Nervously, Mike laughed, "Oh shit! Half the school will be here!"

"No dude, only those that meet select criteria are invited."

Mike wondered silently for a few seconds then said, "Select criteria?"

So no one in the kitchen would hear, Derrick cupped his mouth with his hand and spoke directly into the receiver, "Gay dudes only."

"OMIGOD!" Mike yelled. He could hear Derrick's stifled laughter on the other end of the phone. Mike loudly asked, "When D?"

"I called Jerry just before calling you," Derrick answered. "They'll probably start showing between nine and ten,"

Mike chuckled, "And you're going to leave me here alone with all these dudes?"

Again, Derrick covered his mouth and spoke directly into the receiver, "I'm gonna talk with one of the cooks and get us some smoke for later. Jerry's older brother is getting some beer too. I'll be home as soon as possible, I promise."

Caught off guard, Mike's thoughts and emotions were whirling around his brain. He could barely believe Derrick had planned a surprise party, never mind a "gays only" surprise party! Overwhelmed, Mike grinned, "I really, really love you and plan on showing it at the earliest opportunity!"

Things were getting more hectic in the Black Angus kitchen. Derrick's boss was giving him dirty looks for being on the phone. "I know dude, I love you too. I gotta go though. It's hittin' the fan here. See ya later, k?"

Mike said, "Later," and hung up.

At the end of the next week, on the last day of school, Mike and Derrick were hoping for permission to move in with Doug and Brian for the summer. If the house got trashed or anything got broken, their mothers would deny the request. Mike looked around the kitchen for a moment and then scanned the living room. On top of the entertainment center was his mom's Tiffany lamp and assorted crystal figurines. He had always seen his mom move that lamp when there was a party so Mike did the same, taking it upstairs to her bedroom. Then the crystal figurines were gathered and brought up to his mom's bedroom. Before he left the upstairs, Mike closed all the bedroom and bathroom doors. Next, his acoustic guitar was stored in its case but left in the living room where he could get to it easily. The dirty clothes were gathered then kicked under the bed, out of sight, out of mind. Mike stepped across the hall to Derrick's room. There were CD's to be put away but otherwise, the room was spotless. Even the bed was made. Derrick was way more neat and organized than Mike could ever hope to be.

Momentarily satisfied that everything was prepared, Mike went to the toidy and took a leak. After washing his hands and brushing his hair, he returned to the living room, turned on the stereo and switched to his favorite radio station. Hearing the last few bars of Helter Skelter, by The Beatles, Mike thought of Doug and Brian. It would be cool if they could come over and meet these other gay dudes, he thought. Immediately, Mike picked up the phone and dialed their number. On the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up the call. Mike left a message, telling them about the party and asking them to come over as soon as possible. Then he sat on the sofa and began flipping channels.

Watching the TV but not really paying attention, Mike thought of Derrick's seemingly endless string of birthday surprises. The new guitar was more than enough but he'd set up this party, he would spend more bucks on reefer and, hidden somewhere was another supposedly "small" gift. No wonder he needed help with his car insurance payment next month! Mike wasn't worried though. He could easily afford to pay all of D's insurance payment and was hoping to make Derrick's eighteenth birthday just as memorable.

The doorbell rang and Mike hopped up off the couch. Opening the door, he greeted Jerry and Mack like old friends. "Hey dudes! Come on in," Mike happily said.

Actually, they could've been old friends. Mike had known Jerry Sloan since grade school, almost as long as Keith. And Mack Valez has been a familiar face in the school crowd since junior high. But they were jocks; Jerry was on the basketball team and Mack was on the soccer team. Jocks didn't hang with musicians and they sure as hell couldn't be gay, or so it was once believed.

Jerry and Mack walked inside, each carrying a case of beer on his shoulder. They stopped in the living room and Jerry introduced the other three guests.

"This is my cousin Howard," Jerry said. "He's a freshmen."

Mike greeted Howard and invited him in, then grinned at the next two familiar faces in the doorway.

Jerry then said, "You probably know Shaun and Gil."

Recognizing his two classmates, Mike happily said, "Sure do!"

Once everyone was greeted and the front door closed, Mike went towards the kitchen saying, "Have a seat and make yourselves at home, dudes." Then he turned to Jerry and Mack saying, "Let's put those brews on ice before they get warm."

Jerry and Mack put the cases of beer down on the counter. They then began ripping open boxes and lining up cans.

Mike opened the fridge. Noticing all the plastic containers of leftovers, he said, "Well shit! Guess I'll store this stuff in the garage temporarily."

Mack said, "We don't need no food. There's another car load on their way with munchies."

"We could put the beer in the garage?" Jerry suggested.

Shaking his head while removing plastic containers, Mike explained, "It's a freezer only. Frozen beer has a tendency to explode."

Mack joked, "Beer slurpies, yum!"

Grimacing, Jerry nudged him and said, "That would be like alcohol abuse, wouldn't it?"

"The worst kind," Mack agreed. "It's bad enough we gotta pay so much for something we only rent."

Mike mumbled, "Drink one, piss one, drink one, piss one," and then picked up the plastic containers and went to the garage. Jerry and Mack began loading the beer into the fridge. Soon, Howard came out to the kitchen and helped himself to a beer. As the youngest person at the party, he felt self-conscious and simply wanted to be near his older cousin. Moments later, Shaun and Gil came to the kitchen. Shaun reached into the fridge, grabbed two more beers then handed one to Gil.

Returning from the garage, Mike found all five guests gathered in the kitchen. Assuming that there was nothing on TV, Mike said, "If anyone wants to take a dip in the pool, feel free."

"You've got a pool?" Shaun excitedly asked. Mike went to the back door and stepped outside. All five boys followed. Seeing the large, built-in pool, Shaun snickered, "Sweet!" then put his beer down, kicked off his sandals, took off his shirt and dove in. Jerry and Mack took off their T-shirts and dove in too. Hoisting himself back out of the pool, Shaun was the first to try out the diving board.

Mike noticed that Howard was wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Gil was wearing shorts and a sports shirt though. "You dudes can't swim?" Mike asked.

Shaking his head, Howard softly said, "I'm not really dressed for it either," and then went to lie on one of the lounge chairs. Gil only smiled and shrugged.

Realizing that these two seemed shyer than the other three, Mike playfully said, "Whatever dudes, swim in your underwear or in the buff, if ya want. I don't think anyone will complain."

Hearing that, Jerry splashed at his cousin and joked, "I'd love to see some skin!"

Howard and Jerry were more than cousins. All through Howard's life, he always looked up to Jerry as someone he wanted to emulate. With slightly more than two years difference in their ages, most of the time, they got along very well. But around the time that Howard turned thirteen, Jerry noticed that his cousin was coming over more often and watching him all the time. Jerry knew the look; he had made the same hungry look himself dozens of times. Saying nothing to Howard, Jerry assumed that his cousin was either gay or questioning his sexuality. So Jerry began inviting Howard to basketball games, to the mall or anywhere else he happened to be going, hoping that Howard would come out to him one fine day.

Howard did eventually come out to Jerry but not with words, as Jerry had expected. Instead, Howard decided to try and take what he wanted while Jerry was asleep one night!

Of course, Jerry woke almost immediately. He didn't know what to say or even if he should let Howard know he was awake. After several minutes of getting his dick sucked, Jerry opened his eyes slightly and began rubbing his cousin's shoulders to let him know he was doing the task very well.

Feeling like he had humiliated himself, Howard quickly backed away from the bed, apologizing profusely.

"It's okay," Jerry said, and reached out his hand.

Backing away, Howard sniffed, "It's not okay. You've got a girlfriend!"

"She's not that kind of girlfriend," Jerry snickered. "Laura's known me since kindergarten. She's my best friend, always has been. She noticed me watching other dudes in grade school, when I was still too young to know what it meant to be gay."

"I wish I knew a girl like that," Howard softly admitted.

"No you don't," Jerry said. "It hurts sometimes. She's straight and attracted to me. I like her a lot but not enough to have sex with her. That causes occasional problems, ya know? Someday she's gonna get serious about another dude and I'm gonna be left out in the cold. Lots of times I've wished she were a dude and she's probably wished I was straight."

"Have you ever?" Howard asked.

Uncertain what his cousin meant, Jerry said, "Had sex with her? Nope. Tried but couldn't go through with it." A few moments later, Jerry asked, "Have you ever?"

Shaking his head, Howard said, "Tonight was my first time."

This was a very delicate situation and Jerry wasn't sure how to deal with it. After a long few moments, he asked, "Why me?"

Howard stammered and balked uncertainly, "Because... you treat me better... you always make me laugh and we have fun... its like you're my friend and... well... umm... you've got a really big dick." Jerry couldn't help but laugh. Finally, Howard grinned, "I had to see how big it could get."

"Being hung isn't all its cracked up to be," Jerry snickered. Then he said, "Judging only from what I've seen while we've gotten changed together, you've got no reason to be embarrassed, ya know?"

Howard blushed and said, "Ya think?"

Jerry nodded, "I've seen lots of dicks and yours is probably above average for your age."

Howard liked hearing that and his dick began getting hard again.

Jerry looked at the pillows and blanket on the floor, where his cousin was sleeping. "Ya wanna sleep on the floor or here with me?" Jerry grinned.

Uncertainly, Howard shifted glances between Jerry and the makeshift bed on the floor several times.

Jerry chuckled, reached and pulled his cousin down, laying him flat on the bed.

After a few moments silence, Howard gathered up his courage and asked the question he meant to ask earlier. "Have you ever done it with another dude?"

"A few times," Jerry whispered. Another long few minutes passed. Then Jerry said, "Just this once, okay cousin?"

"I really like you a lot," Howard nervously said.

"I know cuz. I like you too. You'll find someone special someday," Jerry said, and then pushed his boxers off.

Watching his cousin lay back down and seeing his huge meat, Howard said, "Not too many are gonna have a cock like yours though."

Again, Jerry snickered, "Look for the other things, like someone that makes you feel good about yourself, someone that makes you laugh." Thinking carefully for a few moments, Jerry then rolled onto his side and kissed Howard's forehead. Then he kissed him tenderly on the lips.

Sitting up straight and pulling his legs back so he wouldn't get splashed; Howard recalled his first time as if it had happened only yesterday, glaring at Jerry in disbelief.

From Mike's pool, Mack and Shaun began taunting Gil. But Gil was a large, heavyset dude, which made him self-conscious. Mack knew what to say to get Gil though. Leaning closer to Shaun but speaking to Gil, Mack teased, "He's got a snatch!"

Squinting, as if straining to see Gil's package through his shorts, Shaun then began laughing.

Blushing fiercely, Gil argued, "I do not and you know it!"

Shaun giggled, "I'll need some proof here sooner or later."

Loving the playful taunting, Mike snickered and went inside to get a beer.

Wide-eyed, Gil glared at Shaun. The two boys had known each other since beginning high school but had only learned of their shared sexual preference very recently, thanks to Mack. Gil thought Shaun was one of the most attractive dudes in the whole school. He couldn't figure out why Shaun was showing so much interest, but it made him feel good, just the same. Shaun was as tall as Gil, but quite thin although he had large shoulders and a well defined, hairy chest.

Gil and Mack live only a few houses away from each other. Much like Mike and Keith, the two boys started experimenting sexually at a young age. Due to their families and other school friends, both boys had to keep their encounters totally secret. When weekend sleepovers began appearing strange to both sets of parents, the two were left to take quick chances whenever they could. Thanks to the stress of hiding and dealing with their families, Gil and Mack had several arguments and broke up near the end of the last school year. Mack moved on and eventually found Jerry. But Gil had no one special the entire school year. During the previous week, Shaun began going to lunch with Gil and spending afternoons doing homework with him.

Shaun didn't care about Gil's belly. It wasn't anywhere near as big as Gil believed it was. Gil simply wasn't into sports and only exercised during PE so his belly was loose. It wasn't hanging over his shorts but it wasn't as flat or muscular as many other boys' bellies so Gil was self conscious about it. To Shaun though, all of Gil looked fantastic; he had broad shoulders, strong arms, back, chest and legs, and a handsome face. To top it all off, Gil had a good sense of humor and a pleasant, easy going personality.

Mack, Jerry and Shaun began hooting and hollering as Gil giggled, raised his shirt over his head and turned around.

Having just popped his first can of beer, Mike heard the racket from outside and looked out the kitchen window to find Gil smiling widely and whipping his shirt around like a stripper. Mike laughed out loud and the front door bell rang. Taking a quick mouthful of his beer and glancing at the kitchen clock, Mike then went to answer the door.

Standing on the front porch were two more faces that Mike recognized and three that he couldn't recall ever seeing before.

"Hey Mike, happy birthday dude!" said Matt Morales. Matt was on the school JV baseball team and in Mike's English class.

Giggling because he never guessed that Matt was gay, Mike shook his hand and showed him inside saying, "Thanks! Come on in dude."

Matt then introduced his boyfriend and the other three boys. "This is my boyfriend, Eddie. And this is Graham and Francis and Rick," Matt said.

Shaking everyone's hand as they entered his house, Mike closed the front door and smiled widely, remembering how he and Keith once thought they were the only gay dudes in the whole world. Graham and Francis were both carrying grocery bags. Mike led them through the house saying, "Everybody's already hangin' out by the pool. Leave some munchies inside on the kitchen table and we'll take the rest outside. There's beer in the fridge too, so help yourselves."

Reaching in the refrigerator for a beer, Matt asked, "Who's already here?"

While everyone grabbed a beer, Mike answered, "Jerry, Mack, Gil, Shaun and Jerry's cousin, Howard." Then he laughed, "I can't believe we've gone to the same school all these years and I never even guessed!"

"I had some suspicions," Rick admitted.

Eddie chimed in and grinned, "Yep, me too!"

Laughing at himself, Mike said, "So I'm the only one with a totally screwed gaydar, is that it?" Matt, Eddie and Rick smiled and nodded but Graham and Francis shook their heads slowly.

Leading them outside, Mike asked, "How did you dudes find out about this party?"

Matt loudly said, "Jerry told me," so Jerry would hear.

Matt Morales moved from South Central LA to Woodland Hills with his family during the summer of 1992. After the so-called Rodney King riots that spring, Matt's father became frightened for his family's welfare. When school started in September that year, Matt met Rick and Eddie. They lived close to each other and the threesome was practically inseparable by the time they started Junior high.

Rick loudly added, "Jerry's a slut! He knows all the valley gay boys!"

Hearing his name taken in vain, Jerry grinned and shouted, "I am not a slut! Some of you dudes would've never met if it wasn't for me, so quit yer bitchin'!"

The whole back yard erupted with laughter, the loudest from Mack and Howard.

Mike picked up his beer and took a large gulp. Swinging around and peaking into the kitchen window, he saw it was half past nine. Keith would be home and he wanted to call but he needed to greet his guests first. Turning around again, he saw Francis and Graham standing on the steps at the shallow end of the pool. Already standing face to face in the shallow end were Gil and Shaun. In the dim light it was difficult to tell, but it appeared that Gil was wearing only dark colored briefs. Matt, Eddie and Rick stood near the edge of the pool, shoving and grabbing each other while Jerry and Mack splashed at them. Within seconds, the threesome lost their balance and tumbled into the pool.

Knowing enough to time his beer intake, Mike put the can down then wandered over to Graham and Francis. Mike wasn't sure if they were in the same graduating class. Taking a seat at the edge of the pool near Graham and Francis, Mike asked, "Are you dudes juniors or seniors?"

"Tenth grade, sophomores," Graham said with a pleasant smile.

Francis and Graham shared some unspoken words for a moment, and then Francis said, "We saw you at the Frolics. Good band."

"Thanks," Mike happily said. "We're just exploring lots of different tunes by different artists. Our lead singer, Keith, has a lot to say about which songs we choose."

Graham grinned, "He doesn't like new music?"

Nodding, Mike said, "Mostly new ballads but his boyfriend, the bass player, is a major classic rock freak."

"There's no accounting for taste," Francis said plainly.

Mike giggled then tried to wipe the smile from his face but only began laughing harder. "'Scuse me," Mike giggled, and tried to explain himself, "Brain fart ideas, ya know?"

Graham snickered and Francis smiled weakly then shrugged and turned his attention back to Graham.

To Mike's left, in the deeper side of the pool, he noticed that the others had split off into couples, leaving Rick at the patio table. At the far end of the yard, beyond the diving board and near the pool house, Howard lay back on a lounge chair, nursing a beer.

Mike thought it was odd how the two remaining dudes weren't even trying to notice each other. They could at least sit nearer to each other and talk, he assumed. Going over to Rick, Mike nodded towards Howard and asked, "Not interested?"

Rapidly shaking his head, Rick whispered, "Been there, didn't work out." Noticing Mike's frown, Rick said, "It's cool. I ain't leaving `cause he's here and I'm sure he won't leave until Jerry's ready."

Then Jerry came up to the table, leaned forward and softly asked, "Is there someplace where Mack and I could go?"

It took only a second for Mike to understand Jerry's question. Wide-eyed and grinning, Mike said, "Sure, grab some cushions from the chairs and use the pool house." Then, more loudly so the rest of the people in the yard could hear, he said, "The pool house is for couples."

"No threesomes?" Rick grinned slyly.

Mike laughed and said, "I've gotta be at least invited to all orgies!"

"What would Derrick say about that, I wonder?" Jerry chuckled, and then jogged over to the pool house. Gathering some cushions, Jerry then went inside the pool house. Mack followed and locked the door.

Seductively, Rick repeated, "What would Derrick say about that?"

Mike shrugged and said, "He'd either want to join in or would take me someplace private instead." For a moment, Rick and Mike smiled at each other. There was no doubt that Rick was flirting. But Mike wouldn't chance hurting Derrick; especially with someone he had just met and knew virtually nothing about. Smiling and nodding, Mike silently informed Rick that his message was received and appreciated. Mike stood, chugged the remainder of his beer and then went inside to call Keith.

Shaun, Gil, Graham, Francis, Matt and Eddie followed him inside.

Only about a year ago, during Mike's sixteenth birthday, Mike and Derrick talked about having sex with Keith. Derrick wanted to but didn't want to stray and hurt Mike in the process. Mike had no intention of leaving Derrick for Keith and made that crystal clear. They agreed that since they would both be included, that some extra fun would be possible with their friend. Over the course of the next week, while they talked about that one night, they confirmed that while they were a monogamous couple, it could be fun to include some very close friends on extremely rare occasions. To Mike and Derrick, it was a much more realistic way of dealing with their hormones but still remain a couple.

Seeing Mike pick up the phone, Shaun asked, "Who're ya callin'?"

Remembering Prez's earlier phone call, Mike grinned, "Gonna try to get Keith and Prez out of the freakin' bedroom!"

While Mike dialed, Graham and Francis went to the living room. They changed the station from hard rock to hip-hop and turned up the volume. Shaun and Gil grabbed another beer each then opened the bags of munchies on the table. Matt and Eddie joined them.

Peeking in the living room while he waited for Keith to answer the phone, Mike saw Graham and Francis dancing. He could barely hear anything other than the music but it seemed that the phone had stopped ringing. Mike shouted, "Hi! Is Keith there?"

"This is me, bro," Keith giggled.

Wandering back into the kitchen, Mike yelled, "Dude! Get your ass over here!"

Shaun commented, "He could bring the other attached body parts too, if its not too much trouble." Gil stared at Shaun. Shaun snickered and squeezed Gil's thigh.

"Did you start alone? Where's Derrick?" Keith chuckled.

Mike answered, "D's at work still. But he invited Jerry and some of his homies. They showed up early so get your fucking ass in gear!"

Gil chuckled, "Ooo! Fucking ass?"

"Hope he lubed it up first!" Shaun cackled.

Mike heard both comments and giggled. But the stereo was too loud to really carry on a phone conversation so he headed for his bedroom.

"Didn't Prez call you?" Keith asked.

"Huh? Oh yeah, he called," Mike answered. Then he stepped inside his room and closed the door. Mike said, "There. I might be able to hear now. What did you say?"

"We'll be over in a little while, after Prez gets home," Keith repeated.

Mike sighed then said, "Come on bro! Yeah, that's important but there's ten gay dudes here!"

"TEN?" Keith shouted.

"That's right, ten. All from our school!" Mike said. What he didn't say is that all of the boys fell into Mike's `very cute' classification. He was really having a difficult time playing the pleasant host without appearing too pleasant!

After a few moments, Keith said, "Prez is expecting me here."

Mike wanted to explain that Prez could drive over by himself and said, "But..."

Keith interrupted, "I'll check with him and if he wants to, we'll be right over."

Giving up, Mike growled, "You're so married! Get over here as quick as you can."

Then he opened the bedroom door and Keith giggled, "We'll be there!" As Mike stepped out of his room, he saw Derrick standing by the kitchen table and hung up the phone. Stealthily, Mike approached Derrick with the intention of grabbing him around the waist then taking him back to the bedroom for a proper thank you. But eyes around the table were looking past Derrick as he spoke. Unexpectedly, Derrick spun around. Mike jumped but grabbed Derrick anyway. Derrick giggled and pulled his lover close for a kiss.

While they kissed, Shaun turned to Gil and joked, "I don't know but I think they're a couple."

Gil nodded and grinned, "What I wouldn't give to be able to live with my boyfriend."

Shaun smiled and hoped that someday soon, he and Gil would be swapping spit in his kitchen.

Breaking their kiss, Derrick and Mike turned to their guests and smiled.

"You dudes are out?" Eddie asked. Mike and Derrick nodded. "My parents would have a fit if they knew," Eddie said.

"That's why we spend so much time at my house," Matt grinned.

"My dad was a total asshole and threw me out of the house," Derrick said.

Mike happily added, "As long as there's some place cool to be, things work themselves out."

Gil turned to Shaun and said, "My house is definitely not cool. How's yours?"

"I haven't come out yet. But I think once the right opportunity presents himself, I probably could," Shaun answered.

Letting go of Mike, Derrick turned to their guests and said, "I'm gonna get changed." Mike watched Derrick walk down the hall and into his room. Then he turned around and saw four smiling faces. They didn't need to say a word and Mike didn't even say, "Excuse me," before running down the hall. Gil and Shaun chuckled then went outside, hoping to be next in line to use the pool house. Eddie and Matt checked on Francis and Graham then started dancing as well.

Derrick had kicked off his shoes and was unbuttoning his shirt when Mike ran up to him and skidded to a halt. "You made it home early," Mike said, and began unbuttoning Derrick's shirt for him.

"I kinda hinted to Prez that I really needed to be here. He's finishing up at Black Angus for me," Derrick said. He then asked, "How many people showed up?"

Mike giggled, "Ten,"

"I only saw six. Where's the others?"

Playfully bouncing his eyebrows, Mike answered, "Jerry and Mack are in the pool house. There's two other dudes out there but they're busy avoiding each other, the last I looked."

"Avoiding each other?" Derrick grinned, "Like how I avoided you last year?"

Removing Derrick's shirt, Mike answered, "It's really hard to tell. They could at least talk to each other..." Trailing off, Mike remembered the most serious argument he had ever had with Derrick. Then he smiled and said, "Maybe they are like we were but I don't really know."

Unbuckling his belt, Derrick said, "Its obvious Gil and Shaun are getting really close."

Mike unbuttoned Derrick's pants and lowered the fly saying, "They've been leading each other on since they showed up." Mike then chuckled, "You missed Gil's strip tease."

Letting his pants fall to the floor, Derrick pulled Mike close and hugged him tight. "He's not really my type," Derrick softly said.

"You've made this the best birthday I've ever had," Mike whispered. Feeling a bulge forming in Derrick's boxers, Mike stepped back then closed and locked the bedroom door.

Derrick giggled, "Heehee! We've got company dude!"

Shoving Derrick back onto the bed, Mike grinned, "Five or ten minutes, max."

Noticing the tent forming in Mike's shorts, Derrick asked, "What about you?"

Mike said, "After all you've done for me the last few days, I can wait." Then he knelt in front of Derrick, took his boxers off and swallowed his lover's tool. About a minute later, Derrick pushed Mike away, just long enough to make room for him on the bed. Lowering Mike's zipper, Derrick reached inside. Finding no underwear, he grinned and put Mike's half hard bone into his mouth.

About this time, Prez, Keith, Drew and Corey were on their way to Mike's. Prez was really looking forward to talking about the gay-straight alliance with the other gay boys at Mike's party. But since they left the Hundser's, Prez had this notion that he had forgotten something. Just before crossing the 101 freeway, Prez glanced at Keith and said, "I never even asked your folks to watch the hound dog for me."

"Don't worry about it, baby. They won't mind at all," Keith said.

Prez shrugged, "But he's my dog and my responsibility." As soon as the light turned green, Prez made a U-turn and headed back home. He explained to Keith, "We'll bring Rush too. He's a gay hound dog and should get along with everyone."

Recalling a recent South Park episode, Keith cracked up and reached for his lover's hand.

Noticing they were heading back home, Drew leaned forward and asked, "What's wrong?"

"Gonna bring Rush along," Prez answered.

Keith turned around and giggled, "He's a gay hound dog and should get along with everyone!" Shaking his head, Drew giggled uncontrollably. Beside him, Corey roared laughing.

Pulling in front of the house, Prez got out and opened the 4 Runner's tailgate. Then he ran up to the front door and stepped inside for just a few seconds. Soon, the door opened again and Rush ran outside, prancing around the front lawn, watching Prez walk towards the truck. "Ya gotta take a whiz?" Prez asked Rush. The dog only bounced around more. "Lets go for a ride then," Prez said. Rush didn't need to be told twice. The dog immediately ran for the truck and jumped in the rear. Rush stuck his wet nose in Corey's ear then turned and licked Drew's face, causing them both to groan and giggle. Prez closed the tailgate and got back in the driver's seat saying, "Now I feel like everything is copasetic!"

Minutes later, Prez pulled in front of Mike's house. There were at least three other cars that Keith didn't recognize parked in the street. As soon as Prez turned off his stereo and the engine, he could hear loud music coming from the house. Keith, Prez, Drew and Corey got out and noticed that every light on the ground level of the house seemed to be turned on. Rush jumped over the back seat and followed Corey out then immediately put his nose down and started sniffing the new environment.

They headed up the walkway and Keith knocked on the front door. And they waited. Obviously no one could hear the knock over the loud music. Rather than pound on the door, Keith sighed and started to walk toward the back yard.

The gate was open and every outside light was on. There were a few dudes hanging out around and in the pool. Immediately, Keith recognized Jerry Sloan's tall form running around the side of the pool. Getting on the diving board, Jerry noticed Prez and Keith. Jerry waved and shouted "Hey! Glad you could make it!" then pushed off the diving board and went hands first into the water.

Before Jerry made it back to the surface, Mack popped up, laughing hysterically! He was sitting on the bottom of the pool, waiting to watch Jerry's dive. Once under water, Jerry gave Mack a quick show, lowering the front of his shorts and surprising Mack.

Then Jerry popped up, swam over to the ladder and hoisted himself out of the pool. Jerry chuckled, "You dudes made the prom fucking excellent! Only a few even bothered to talk about it, like it was no big thing."

"So you'll go with a guy next year instead of faking it?" Prez playfully queried.

Grinning, Jerry shrugged, "I hope so. There's still scholarships to work on and plenty of homophobes to impress. We'll see how it goes."

Keith wrapped his arm around Prez and smiled, "We understand."

"It would be so cool if there were twice as many gays and lesbians at our senior prom," Prez said. Catching himself acting too forcefully, Prez grinned, "I can't help but dream."

Keith looked around the yard. There was someone laying on a chaise lounge that he didn't recognize. Rick was sitting at the patio table, gobbling munchies and nursing a beer. The two recognized each other, smiled and waved. On the other side of the pool, laying on a chaise lounge were two dudes, sandwiched one on top of the other. Keith turned to Jerry, pointed at the couple and asked, "Who's that?"

Furling his eyebrows, Jerry tried to determine who it was from shorts alone. Obviously he couldn't figure it out and shouted, "Hey you two, get a room someplace!"

The dude on top rolled over and glared menacingly at Jerry. Turning to Keith, Jerry grinned, "That's Eddie Chan on top and Matt Morales on the bottom."

Keith recognized Matt from school and had seen Eddie around the halls. Before Keith could say anything, Matt hollered, "The pool house is occupied! We're just waiting our turn!"

Corey softly giggled, "Omigod!" Drew looked curiously at Corey. Then Corey softly chuckled, "Remind me and I'll show ya some time." Catching on, Drew's eyes opened wide and his whole head rolled! Corey's parents didn't build a permanent wooden pool house but erected a cabana every spring. The idea of having sex in there never crossed Corey's mind before. It seemed like a great idea though and Corey wondered if he could get Drew to try it out some time.

Peering over and behind Keith, Jerry asked, "Who'd ya bring?"

Turning slightly, Keith said, "This is Corey." Then he noticed Drew looking down sheepishly. "And this is my brother Drew," Keith said quickly, nudging his younger brother, causing him to look up.

A big smile swept across Drew's face and he was definitely blushing. Quizzically, Corey looked at Drew, wondering why he was embarrassed again.

"They're not from our school, yet. They start next year," Prez offered.

Jerry nodded, "Ah, fresh meat." Then he pointed at the dude who was kicked back alone on a lounge chair but wearing jeans and a shirt. "That's my cousin Howard, over there," Jerry said, "He's just finishing his freshman year."

Corey nodded and started to pull Drew away. But Drew was looking up at Jerry rather oddly. Finally, Drew's feet started to move and he went with Corey to the other end of the yard.

When Keith turned again, Prez and Jerry were grinning at him. "I don't have a clue what that was all about," Keith smiled.

Jerry laughed and softly said; "I think your kid brother's got the hots for me dude."

Stunned, Keith glanced back and forth between Jerry and Drew. Then Prez and Jerry started chuckling at Keith's expression. Keith grinned, "Drew better watch out. Corey's gonna slug him, if he's not careful."

"Well I won't encourage anything," Jerry chuckled, "unless he's got a ten incher! Then I won't be able to control myself!"

Derrick and Mike walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. "Someone was knocking on the front door a few minutes ago," Graham informed them.

Grabbing two cold brews from the fridge, Derrick said, "Probably Prez and Keith."

Mike went to the kitchen window and looked out back. Taking a beer from Derrick, Mike popped it open and took a big mouthful then looked at the kitchen clock. Grinning insanely, Mike loudly said, "I called him over an hour ago!" Then he hummed thoughtfully, turned around and grinned, "Watch this!"

Still absorbing Drew's apparent interest in Jerry, Keith laughed and suddenly heard a scream. Jerry spun around and Prez jumped. Still yelling, Mike barreled toward Keith like a charging bull. With his back towards the pool, Jerry to his right and Prez on his left, Keith had nowhere to run. By the time Keith figured it out, Mike had tackled him around the waist and was pushing him towards the pool!

"Don't you do it, you fucker!" Keith grunted.

Mike cackled, "You're getting wet, bitch!"

Then Keith felt a hand reach into his back pocket. He looked up and saw Prez with his wallet a second before falling backwards into the pool. Under water, Keith punched Mike several times but of course they had no effect whatsoever.

They pushed away from each other and rose to the surface. There seemed to be lots more people around the pool and they were all smiling or laughing. Prez was almost doubled over in hysterics and Jerry was leaning on Prez's shoulder with a shit-eating grin on his face. Snickering, Mack floated by.

Turning to Mike, Keith playfully complained, "What'd you do, announce your intentions?"

Mike laughed and nodded then bolted for the ladder. He practically flew out of the pool! "Next time I tell you there's a party and I want you here, maybe you'll listen!" Mike joked.

As Keith climbed out of the pool, he playfully ranted, "Is it midnight yet? No! Did I get any nookie after work? NO! We've been here at least ten minutes! Where were you? Pounding yer pud someplace?"

Mike giggled, "Heehee! I wasn't poundin' it!" then glanced briefly at Derrick. A few others noticed their exchange and giggled heartily.

Keith took his wet shirt off and flung it at Mike. Jerry went back into the pool with Mack.

Almost standing upright, Prez was still snickering as Keith walked over to retrieve his wallet. As Keith stopped in front of him, Prez tried to wipe the smile off his face, forcing his lips into a cute little circle.

Grinning mischievously, Keith grabbed Prez, lifting him slightly and pressing his wet body against him. Both of Prez's back pockets had wallets in them, Keith noticed.

Holding on to Keith's shoulders, Prez giggled, "You're getting me wet too! Maybe we should've stayed home for a bit!" Keith put Prez back down and kissed him deeply.

Mike and Derrick came over. As if it were an ordinary thing, Mike said, "There's beer and more munchies inside."

Wide-eyed, Prez asked, "Where'd you get beer?"

"Jerry's older brother got it," Derrick answered.

"How'd all these people get here?" Keith asked.

Reaching for Derrick's hand, Mike said, "This is D's surprise!"

Derrick smiled and shrugged, "But the surprise was on me! They showed up before I got home!"

"D invited Jerry and Jerry spread the word," Mike said happily.

Derrick grinned, "We've been wanting to know who's cool for months. Guess I picked the right dude to talk with about it."

"Including you two, there's thirteen gay dudes here!" Mike gleamed.

Keith pointed over to the other side of the yard and said, "Fifteen, well, fourteen and a half, anyway."

Mike's gaze followed Keith's arm and he saw Drew and Corey. Mike smiled and nodded, "Excellent!" Drew then picked up the gym bag and Corey followed him inside.

"Well..." Prez droned, "its a little less than excellent."

Derrick's brow furled and he asked, "What do you mean?"

Keith grinned playfully at Mike and backed up a step. "Remember when you called earlier? You said there were ten dudes here?" he asked.

"Yeah," Mike melodically answered.

"And I shouted, ten," Keith said, and backed up another step.

Tilting his head slightly, Mike glared, "Yeah."

"Umm... well... the `rents were in the other room and heard me."

Doubling over like he had been kicked in the nads, Mike growled. Then he straightened up and yelled, "You shit head!"

"That's not all," Keith giggled.

Derrick groaned and looked curiously at Prez.

"You never said a word until tonight! I didn't know about this party or that there'd be beer here," Prez softly chuckled.

Looking down and appearing defeated, Mike huffed, "What's the deal?"

"My dad will be here at eight for Drew and Corey," Keith softly offered.

"And..." Mike prompted.

"If the house is wrecked, he'll be a little disappointed," Keith grinned.

Louder, Mike asked, "And?"

Prez reached down and held Rush's collar.

Shuffling his feet, Keith whispered, "Something about needing the house painted."

That was all Mike could handle! He tore after Keith and, like a shot; Keith was in the pool and across to the other side with Mike barely a body length behind. Running around towards the pool house, Keith laughed loudly, "I'm sorry! I didn't know!"

"Fuckin' lotta good that's gonna do you when I catch you!" Mike yelled.

"You'll never catch me, you never have," Keith laughed, and jumped over the diving board.

"There's a first time for everything," Mike countered. Jumping off the diving board at Keith, Mike's hands slid from Keith's shoulders down his back. Keith turned up the juice, tearing ass out of yard. Behind him, he heard the gate slam. "HA! See how you like being locked out," Mike shouted.

Stopping and turning, Keith grinned at Mike, "Do you want us to leave?"

From the other side of the gate, Mike huffed and ranted, "I can't believe I called you. If I had just left it alone, you'd eventually have gotten here and everything would be so rad but noooooooo! I just had to call."

Walking towards him and feeling a little more sorry, Keith said, "We could leave, dude. Or I'll take Drew and Corey home."

Opening the gate again, Mike said, "Come on Keith! You know your dad will be here anyway."

Keith nodded, "You're probably right."

After a few moments, Mike sighed, "Nobody's really drinking that much any way. There's only two cases for fifteen dudes."

"Drew won't drink any, he hates beer. He won't let Corey drink either. Prez and I will probably only have one or two each."

"I've only finished one. Opened another but lost it somewhere. Derrick's got a little weed too but that's just for the four of us later."

"Did you party proof the house?" Keith asked.

Mike nodded and said, "I put my mom's favorite stuff up in her bedroom and made the upstairs off limits."

Drew and Corey had changed into their swimming trunks. They were teasing each other at the diving board. Rush was laying down at the edge of the pool with Prez standing very close by. The dog looked up at Prez and wagged his tail. "Its a really big bath tub, huh boy?" Prez grinned. Then Corey dove in the pool. Rush barked and ran around the edge of the pool. Watching his dog, Prez chuckled as Keith and Mike stepped up to him.

Mike grinned at the dog and asked, "Does he know how to swim?"

"Probably so but I'd rather we didn't find out," Prez smiled.

"Its no biggie dude," Mike said, "If he does jump in, let me know so I can backwash the filter tomorrow."

Then Drew jumped in the pool. It was a shallow dive and Drew skimmed just below the surface for as long as possible before starting to swim. Rush whined the whole time that Drew's face was under water. When Drew finally stood at the shallow end of the pool, Rush seemed relieved that one of his favorite humans didn't drown and ran to Prez.

Mike noticed the pool house door opening. Gil and Shaun stepped outside and headed back into the house. Turning to say something to Derrick about them, Mike noticed that Derrick wasn't even in the yard any more. "Where'd D go, Prez?" Mike asked.

"While you and Keith were tormenting each other, he went inside to keep an eye on folks," Prez smiled. Out of the corner of his eye, Prez saw Matt and Eddie get off the chaise lounge and head for the pool house. Barely turning his head, Prez watched Matt and Eddie enter the pool house and close the door.

Nodding, Mike said, "It's a good idea, I guess." But Mike wanted to be with Derrick. Although he didn't say it, Keith and Prez heard a little bit of despair in Mike's voice.

Keith said, "Let's go inside and say hello to everyone, Prez."

Prez nodded and said, "I'll send Derrick out. We'll watch the inside, okay Mike?"

Smiling widely, Mike said, "Very cool! Thanks dudes." Then he sat at the edge of the pool with his feet dangling in the water while Keith and Prez headed for the house.

"Did you see Eddie?" Keith grinned.

Prez giggled and nodded, "Matt's much cuter."

Keith laughed, "I figured you'd say that! He looks a little like me!"

Prez hummed in agreement then said, "At the chest and stomach, yeah, a lot like you."

Opening the back door and allowing Prez to go inside first, Keith then snickered; "Eddie's got a cute little bubble butt, just like yours!"

"We probably should've stayed home and did what we planned to do!" Prez laughed.

Looking deep into Prez's blue eyes, Keith smiled, "When the pool house is available?"

"Maybe later?" Prez asked, but nodded enthusiastically.

Closing the back door, Keith chuckled evilly.

As they walked towards the table, Shaun loudly said, "I heard what you two did!"

Wide-eyed, both Keith and Prez grinned. Keith recognized Shaun and Gil and asked, "What is it that we're accused of doing?"

Shaun laughed, "Two dudes, a red head and brunette were kissing in the school hallways?"

Gil seemed surprised with this news and said, "That was you two? Oh man! Were you trippin' or what?"

Prez roared laughing and Keith snickered, "You could say we were trippin', yeah. From that moment and for the rest of the day!"

"And the next day too! We went to the Junior Prom last night!" Prez giggled.

Shaking his head but wishing he might've been able to do the same, Gil grinned, "Jerry mentioned that on the way over here."

Reaching into the fridge, Prez tried to sound hopeful and said, "It would be great if there were more of us at our Senior Prom."

Knowing that Prez wouldn't be satisfied until there were at least eight gay couples and eight lesbian couples at their Senior Prom, Keith giggled.

Turning slightly and looking up at Keith, Prez asked, "Coors or Coors light babe?"

Not liking either choice, Keith said, "Coors light, I guess." Prez handed him a beer and Keith softly said, "Thanks baby"

Prez reached for his own beer, closed the refrigerator door and turned around as Shaun and Gil started laughing again.

Opening their beers, Keith and Prez only glanced at each other, wondering what Shaun and Gil found so funny.

Gil laughed loudly, "Babe and baby? It sounds like those names have been used often enough!" Caught once more, Keith grinned and Prez snickered insanely.

Still smiling but looking deep into Gil's brown eyes, Shaun said, "You taste like honey. How does honey sound?"

Stunned silent for a few moments, Gil reached up and wiped his eyes then choked out, "You're serious."

Shaun nodded and said, "About everything."

Noticing that Shaun and Gil were obviously just beginning their relationship, Keith started towards the living room and pulled Prez along.

Prez eventually turned around, leaned close to Keith then said, "That was so great to watch!"

"We had stuff to talk about. About three hours worth on a beach blanket, as I recall," Keith said.

Knowing Keith was right, Prez wrapped his free arm around and went with him towards the living room. Prez then pulled Keith into the hallway and giggled, "Who are they? They obviously know you but I don't know either of them."

Keith grinned, "Oops! Sorry baby, the shirtless dude is Shaun. The other dude is Gil."

Derrick walked past Keith and Prez saying, "I'm goin' outside."

Prez nodded, "We'll watch the inside, D." Noticing Graham and Francis dancing in the living room, Prez pulled Keith along and they said hello then started dancing too.

Out in the back yard, Rick and Howard had decided to at least try to talk a little bit and were sitting at the patio table. Derrick walked past them and went directly to Mike. Gently running his hand across Mike's neck, Derrick then leaned forward and fell into the pool. Mike immediately joined him. They held each other close and kicked to stay afloat for a few minutes. Over in the shallow end of the pool, Drew and Corey were floating around, occasionally trying to sink each other and giggling.

Mike grinned at them then turned to Derrick and said, "Chicken fight?"

Kneeling down, Derrick chuckled then Mike climbed up on his shoulders. Derrick then suggested, "Keep an eye on my parents bedroom window, ok?"

"Definitely! I don't want any cops coming around," Mike said.

Derrick walked over to Drew and Corey then asked, "Ya wanna chicken fight?" Up on his shoulders, Mike imitated a chicken and taunted them.

Corey nodded and chuckled, "Yeah, we'll take ya's on!" Pulling Drew to the center of the pool and pushing him down, Corey then climbed up on Drew's shoulders.

At the edge of the pool, Rush's head tilted as he watched. When the humans began struggling, Rush growled then got up and ran around the side of the pool. Rick and Howard laughed when Corey took his first tumble off of Drew. Rush barked and Rick called the dog. Turning to look at the human that called him, Rush walked uncertainly over to him. But then Rick stood and Rush ran back towards the pool. Rush knew that humans had to come down to his level if they wanted to be his friend.

Things quickly got a little loud in the pool.

While battling Derrick, Drew loudly said, "I'll bet you're not a real blond, are ya?"

Surprised that Drew would say anything like that, Derrick began laughing. Drew shoved Derrick and swung one leg to knock him down. Derrick staggered back with Mike waving his arms around and yelling, "Whoa shit! Whoa!" Then Mike slid off of Derrick and into the water. Drew and Corey were hysterical. For a few more minutes, both couples battled, eventually switching partners then beginning again. But then, a short while later, Derrick noticed the light turn on in his parents' bedroom.

Before getting out of the pool, Mike and Derrick explained the situation to Drew and Corey.

"We have to keep the noise down now, dudes," Mike softly said.

Pointing over the back fence, Derrick explained, "My dad wouldn't think twice about calling the cops." All four boys then saw the light in the upstairs window go out.

"Can we stay out here?" Drew asked.

Mike nodded and said, "Just whisper and be real quiet."

"Diving would be bad. Just keep an eye on that upstairs bedroom light," Derrick added.

Mike and Derrick then went inside. Rick and Howard followed them. Grabbing beers, Mike saw that at least half of the beer was still in fridge. Leaning against the wall between the kitchen and living room, Derrick heard Prez ask if anyone would come to the gay-straight alliance meetings.

Prez had been telling everyone about the gay-straight alliance he was planning on starting in the fall. It was pretty easy to get on the topic because Graham had asked about the fight.

"I'll attend some meetings but I can't really come out at home or at school right now," Jerry said.

Mack said, "I'll be there. No one's ever harassed me at school. No one would be surprised to learn I went to the meetings either."

Continuing around the room, Gil uncertainly said, "I'll go and see how things are."

Shaun smiled and said, "I'll be at every meeting. If ya need help with anything, let me know."

Speaking for himself and Mike, Derrick said, "You know we'll be there."

Rick said, "I'll check it out," but beside him, Howard only shook his head.

Francis and Graham were undecided and unanimously said, "Maybe."

Surprised that there wasn't more enthusiasm about the club, Prez held a weak smile.

Seeing the disappointment in his lover's eyes, Keith looked down so no one could see the sadness on his face. Then Keith said, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that there are more than us. There are almost seven hundred kids in our graduating class. That's almost three thousand kids in the whole school. If only one in ten is gay, then where's the rest? Why aren't they here too? We're the ones that were comfortable enough to even come to this party." Looking up, Keith asked, "Jerry, has everyone that you told about this party shown up?"

Jerry shook his head and Keith continued, "We've got to support this club. If we can't do it, then what about the others like us? Who'll get confronted? Who'll be knifed next? Who'll go home totally depressed and swallow a bottle of sleeping pills?"

Prez saw that Keith was getting bummed out and took over. "If for no other reason, do it for your own piece of mind. Out of my entire gym class, only Jake was a radical homophobe. Out of all my classes, Jake and Tim seem to be the only two that can't seem to accept me as I am. That's two out of around two hundred. They're more of a minority than we are! The big difference is, they choose to enforce their will violently. We don't need to do that. They're the ones that need to open their hearts and minds a little. At least enough to stop fighting, hating and even killing people like us."

Rush ran in the living room, following his nose right to Prez. Noticing Drew and Corey in the doorway, Keith said, "It's only been a little over a year since I came out to my folks. Just a few months later, I met Prez. Since the holidays, we've been unintentionally outing ourselves practically everywhere we go!" Everyone in the room chuckled or laughed.

Shaun giggled, "You're so obviously a couple!"

"But I never expected it to be like this," Keith chuckled. "I always thought I'd be in the closet my entire life. Part of me still resists coming out. But how can I fully resist when Prez is right there? The part of me that loves him is stronger than the part that wants to stay hidden."

Mack asked, "What would we say to dudes that still don't feel comfortable with their sexuality?"

Prez quickly answered, "Just be supportive. Get to know they guy's situation a little. How accepting are his parents and family? Does he have a boyfriend? Does he want a steady boyfriend soon or would he rather play the field a while?"

"What if someone's getting harassed or bashed?" Howard asked.

"Get the dude some help, quick!" Keith answered.

Prez added, "Get a teacher or a cop, whatever it takes."

Looking at his younger cousin, Jerry said, "Sometimes just interfering is enough to make the problem stop." Howard grinned and nodded.

"The idea is to help everybody though," Prez said. "It's not just for gays and lesbians, its for anyone that feels separated or different. There's a guy in our school in a wheelchair. I've never seen anyone bug him. I've never seen anyone even talk to him. There's room for him in the alliance."

Derrick said, "There's a dude in my gym class that got burned. His arm is totally fried. Most everyone avoids him because the burn looks so nasty. I'll bet feeling alone hurts as much as that burn did."

"Look around the cafeteria some time," Keith suggested. "There's a group of Goth kids, a group of metal head-bangers, there's the student counsel, the thespians, football, baseball and basketball jocks. Most everyone has a place to be and people to be with, except for a few. I'm pretty sure that we separated ourselves to an extent. I have to wonder why those few loners are separating themselves."

After a long pause in the conversation, Francis softly asked, "What if someone's thinking of suicide?"

"For real?" Keith asked.

"Just hypothetical," Francis answered.

Keith said, "Someone that mentions suicide is reaching out for help. You've gotta stay with him, talk some sense into him. Don't let him be alone until there's some sign of hope."

"Bet it's real depressing," Francis said.

Crossing the living room, Mike said, "If he goes through with it because you blew him off, imagine how depressed you'll be then. But the good thing is, when he gets over it and things get back to normal, you can bust his chops for the rest of your lives!"

Keith snickered hysterically, rolled over onto the carpet and Rush started licking his face

Prez noticed that Mike was heading for his guitar case and asked, "Itchy fingers, Mike?"

Taking his acoustic guitar out of its case, Mike grinned, "Gotta do something with my hands."

Seeing the perfect opportunity, Derrick grinned and mumbled, "I can think of few things." Mike swung around, smiling widely.

Francis looked at the VCR clock, saw it was half past midnight and said, "Shit! I gotta go." He and Graham stood up.

"Where's Matt and Eddie?" Graham asked.

Prez chuckled, "Might be out in the pool house still." Graham and Francis then started towards the back door to ask their friends if they wanted a ride home.

"I'm gonna head out too," Rick said, "For once, I'll be home before my curfew."

Graham grinned, "And next weekend you'll stroll in the door around four in the morning."

"Oh well!" Rick snickered.

"You dudes okay to drive?" Derrick asked, and then he started to stand up. Mike signaled for Derrick to stay and put his guitar down, leaning it against the sofa.

Realizing that he had polished off about seven beers in about three hours, Rick grinned, "Thankfully, I'm not driving."

"We only had one beer each when we first got here," Francis said.

With Rick in the lead, Mike followed Graham and Francis outside saying, "I'm really glad you dudes came. We should get together this summer some time."

Graham said, "Sounds good to me. Thanks for having us."

The nearer the boys got to the pool house, the louder the creaking got, and the more obvious it became that the occupants were occupied. Graham knocked on the pool house door.

From inside, Eddie giggled, "Yeah?"

Smiling insanely, Graham turned to Mike and Francis then asked, "Are you dudes leaving or staying?"

"Staying. Definitely staying!" Matt groaned.

Graham couldn't hold in his laughter anymore and cracked up.

Francis smiled at Mike and asked, "Is it cool for them to stay?"

Mike nodded and chuckled; "No problems here." They then started toward the gate and Mike said, "My mom won't be home till tomorrow night anyway."

"Sorry we can't stay. Tell Prez we'll be thinking about the alliance," said Francis.

"You dudes will be up most of the night telling stories?" Graham grinned.

Mike snickered, "Never can tell. There'll be a recap at school Monday. I'll give you my phone number there, when I'm more likely have a crayon and some paper."

At the gate, Francis turned to Mike, smiled and then hugged him saying, "Happy Birthday. See ya at school." Quickly, Francis released his hold and stepped back, leaving Mike visibly dazed.

Rick waved and said, "See ya dude. Thanks again," then walked down the driveway.

Graham extended a hand for Mike to shake. Giggling but trying to sound disappointed, Mike said, "What? No huggles?"

Graham laughed, "He does all the hugging. I get slugged when I give out hugs," and shook Mike's hand.

Wide-eyed, Francis sternly said, "I do not hit you for hugging!" then held off and cuffed Graham on the shoulder! "Just for everything else," Francis smiled, and then turned to head for the car.

Rubbing his arm, Graham softly groaned, "Ow!" then followed Francis.

Snickering at them, Mike closed the gate and headed back inside. Before he made it to the back door, Drew, Rush and Corey came outside, followed by Prez, wearing red Speedos, and Keith in black Speedos. Seeing this, Mike lost it entirely and roared laughing.

Prez and Keith stopped immediately and watched Mike, holding his belly and staggering around. Drew and Corey stopped and grinned. Then Keith whispered to Drew, "He needs a birthday splash, don't you think?"

Still laughing, Mike leaned against the house before he fell down. Then he noticed they were all moving towards him. He could see it coming but didn't really give a fuck. Four pairs of hands took hold of Mike and lifted him off the ground. Mike only laughed harder.

Drew giggled, "Shh! You'll wake the neighbors!"

"You're getting wet, bitch," Keith happily repeated.

Stopping at the edge of the pool, Prez said, "On three?"

Mike heaved and cackled, "On four please?"

The back door opened and Derrick stepped out. Seeing his boyfriend hanging, about to be thrown in the pool, Derrick laughed, "I wish I had a camera!"

Looking back at Derrick's upside down form, Mike giggled, "Remind me in December!"

Keith then loudly said, "Ready?"

Swinging Mike back towards the house, all four boys said, "One!" then swung Mike towards the pool.

"On three or four?" Corey quickly asked.

"Two!" the other three chanted, and Prez quickly said, "On three!"

"Four!" Mike chuckled.

Four voices loudly said, "Three!" then released their grip and flung Mike over the center of the pool. Flailing his arms and legs, Mike laughed, "Four!" then hit the water.

Joining the others but watching his parents' bedroom window, Derrick giggled, "He never likes playing three-four time."

Mike came up laughing and coughing within two seconds. But Drew and Corey hadn't forgotten their losses during the dirty chicken fight. So they jumped up, grabbed their feet and hit the water, ass-end first, cannon-balling Mike from both sides. Mike laughed loudly again then started backstroking towards the nearest ladder. Keith and Prez went over to the steps leading to the shallow end of the pool. They waited for Drew and Corey to move aside then dove in and began doing laps. At the edge of the pool, Rush paced back and forth.

Mike lifted himself up the ladder and Derrick said, "Did you know Shaun played guitar, dude?"

Surprised, Mike said, "He never told me!"

"He's pretty good," Derrick grinned.

Hopping on one leg to get water out of his ear, Mike asked, "He's playing my acoustic?" and Derrick nodded. "What's he playing?" Mike asked, and stopped hopping.

Derrick said, "Lyin' Eyes, by the Eagles, the last I heard."

"Guess I'll have to get my electric out. I'll hook up the PC speakers to the GT-3," Mike said.

Derrick wondered if he should give Mike his last present. Turning toward the pool, Mike got Keith and Prez's attention. "Shaun's playing my acoustic, dudes. Ya wanna come inside for a few minutes?"

Climbing up the ladder, Prez said, "I didn't know he could play. Then again, I didn't know him at all until tonight."

Following Prez up the ladder, Keith asked, "Do we want another guitar player?"

Mike said, "D and I have been thinking."

"Uh oh," Keith groaned and Prez giggled.

Sneering at Keith, Mike said, "We could have two different bands?"

"Really, we already do," Derrick added, "Jess isn't always around. And there will be more jams during summer beach parties."

With Rush underfoot, the four headed towards the house. Prez said, "Both with and without Jessy, we play the same kinds of tunes though."

"I don't see it as two different bands either," Keith said.

Mike said, "For some tunes, we could use a rhythm guitarist though." Opening the back door and stepping inside, they heard Shaun singing Best Of My Love, by the Eagles.

"Guess he likes the Eagles," Derrick said.

"The Eagles have lots of good songs," Prez said. "I never mentioned them before because almost all the tunes need multiple guitars."

Mike nodded, "I saw a concert clip on VH-1. Some songs have three or four guitars, like Hotel California."

Since everyone but Derrick was wet from being in the pool, they stopped at the doorway between the kitchen and living room to listen.

Gil was sitting at one end of the couch with Shaun playing and singing at the other end. Taking advantage of a pretty ballad, Mack and Jerry were making out on the floor.

Eddie and Matt came inside, grabbed a beer each, and then gathered in the doorway to listen. As Shaun moved into the final chorus, Keith, Mike and Derrick started singing harmony vocals. Prez leaned against Keith and started swaying to the music. Hearing other voices without a CD playing, Shaun looked up, momentarily confused but then grinned and kept playing. Shaun soon ended the song, looked at Mike and said, "Sorry dude. Guess I should've asked first."

Shaking his head, Mike loudly asked, "Why didn't you tell me you played guitar?"

Shaun smiled, "Because I only know a few easy tunes. I'm not as good as you."

Gil quickly said, "You're good enough," and Shaun blushed.

"I totally agree," Mike said. Derrick, Keith and Prez all grinned and nodded. Turning to Derrick, Mike said, "I'm gonna put some dry clothes on and get my guitar."

Over in Agoura Hills, Doug and Brian had just returned home from dinner, a movie, drinks and dancing. As they walked in the house, Brian noticed the flashing light on the answering machine and played the message.

"Hey dudes," Mike's voice said, "I just found out that D planned a surprise birthday party." Mike giggled then continued, "A gays only surprise birthday party! I'd really like it if you two could make it. By the way, I got a really sweet axe from D for my birthday I haven't shown you yet. I'll bet you'd like to hear about our prom too. We'll probably be awake most of the night so, any time would be cool. Hope to see ya later!"

Doug grinned at Brian and said, "Shall we?"

Smiling at Doug's playful grin, Brian answered, "If Mike forgets to clean up the party mess, we'll have to listen to him whining all summer."

"Why have I got a bad feeling?" Doug asked.

Brian smiled, "When you were a teenager, what did you do?"

Doug answered, "Everything I could possibly get away with."

Brian nodded and Doug got the message. Flashing back to 1978, Doug remembered parties with many drunken teenagers staggering about, some looking for a quiet place to throw up. Then there were the junkies that just got stoned and then passed out. Doug hoped that he wouldn't find anyone like that at Mike's party.

Back in the living room of Mike's house, Prez turned to Keith and asked, "Ya wanna get changed or go back outside?"

Keith answered, "Lets go back out," and led Prez back to the pool. Drew and Corey were sitting on the edge of the pool, quietly talking. For a brief moment, Keith thought his brother would appreciate some privacy. But at the same time, he wanted to hold Prez close and have a quiet conversation too. Using the same ladder, they climbed back in the pool. In the middle of the deep end of the pool, Keith began telling Prez about the things that he thought of while at work. Starting with a joke, Keith grinned, "I was in bitchy queen mode this morning while you wandered around."

Prez grinned knowingly and said, "I was hoping to avoid having it effect you. Sorry I worried you babe. Everyone has their moments."

"But this morning, when my mom told me where you went and why, I got bitchy. Then, on our way to return the tuxes, my dad started talking about gay couples he knows and I had few ideas."

Smiling and listening while his lover shared thoughts, Prez paddled to keep himself afloat, occasionally adding short comments. When Keith had finished his tale, Prez swam closer and wrapped an arm around him. Keith also wrapped an arm around Prez then the two began paddling with one arm, keeping themselves afloat but slowly spinning around in the pool.

Prez whispered, "Starting that night you found me, you've been implanting ideas in my head. You're the one that told me how you thought it should be. It was you that taught me about real friendship and intimacy. Everything sounded so perfect. I wanted those things with you."

"Do you think we're giving up our independence?" Keith asked.

"To a certain degree, yeah, I guess. But we gain so much more than we loose," Prez answered.

Keith giggled, "All I lost is my bitchy queen attitude!"

Prez snickered, "You've put aside way more than that and you know it. I think your dad was trying to talk about intimacy."

Keith thought for a few moments then said, "Gay intimacy versus straight intimacy?"

Prez nodded, "What's the main thing that all men fear?"

"Being weak, considered less of a man some how," Keith quickly answered.

"My dad and grandpa used to tell me how much of a sissy I was," Prez admitted.

Keith softly said, "You are far from a sissy, Prez."

"I know but its those words, those accusations, that cause a lot of men so much pain," Prez said.

Keith admitted, "A long time ago, in junior high, I think, one of my teachers said something like that to me. No one in my family ever said anything like that. But still I remember what that teacher said. If I had known better and told my folks, mom would've raised all kinds of hell with that teacher."

Prez said, "I think that's why so many men have attitudes; myself included. I know I've been pressing the alliance tonight. This seemed like the right place and time to talk about it."

"But you understand that they've each got their own issues to deal with. Jerry wants to play college basketball. That's his ticket to an education," Keith reminded.

"I know and completely understand. If I were him though, I'd limit my search to more tolerant colleges and universities," Prez said. He then grinned, "Thankfully, it's a full time job just being me."

"Uh oh," Drew softly groaned.

Beside him, Corey watched Keith and Prez. Then Corey turned and asked, "Is something wrong?"

"They're doing it again," Drew whispered. Noticing Corey's confused expression, Drew softly explained, "It goes like this. They start talking. Then they get closer and hold each other while whispering stuff. The next thing ya know, they're racing towards the bedroom!"

Corey closed his eyes and covered his mouth, giggling uncontrollably. He thought it was great that Drew noticed such things. For the longest time, Corey has watched Keith and Prez because he wanted to someday have the same with Drew.

"It'll only take a few more minutes, guaranteed," Drew softly giggled.

The two boys sat at the edge of the pool and watched Keith and Prez, wondering what they were talking about and how long it would take before they ran into a bedroom.

Growling for attention at the side of the pool but getting none, Rush stood and then jumped in! He went straight for Prez. Laughing at his dog, Prez swam over to the shallow end of the pool then stood on the steps, showing the dog how to get out. Rush climbed the steps then shook the water out of his coat. Drew called the dog and Rush trotted happily towards him. Giggling, Prez swam back over to Keith.

Keith quietly joked about the little things he does less of because Prez is living with him. Prez was sharing the same. Then Prez said, "They were your ideas to start with. You're the one that told me all those things at the beach. And then, two days later, you sang to me. Do you remember?"

Keith hummed and then whispered, "At Big Bear. Change The World."

Prez nodded, "That's another idea you implanted. We think it should be more accepted. In our lives at least, we've made it that way. Maybe we can't change the whole world but we can do some things about our little piece of it." Then Prez softly sang, "I would be the sunlight in your universe."

Keith grinned and whispered, "Baby, if I could, I would change the world... for you."

Hearing Keith say those words so sincerely, Prez slid his face over and kissed him deeply. Taking full breaths, they stopped paddling, held each other tight and then slipped beneath the surface of the water. After a few moments of shared breaths, they started getting dizzy and let go of each other, rising to the surface. Smiling, they swam over to the ladder and got out of the pool then walked directly to the pool house!

Wide-eyed, Corey glared at Drew.

Watching the pool house door close, Drew then began laughing.

Corey chuckled evilly, thinking that when Keith and Prez get out of there, he would drag Drew in!

Suddenly, Rush ran to the gate and began barking up a storm. Corey and Drew got up to see why the dog was flipping out. Then Rush whined and spun around happily.

"Good boy," Doug softly said.

Brian opened the gate, looked at Doug and asked, "Is there any dog on the planet that doesn't like you?"

Grinning and shaking his head, Doug went into the yard then squatted down to reassure the dog. Rush lay down and flipped over on his back.

Drew stood there, his mouth agape, not knowing why Doug and Brian were there or if it was a good thing. They were adult men, after all.

"Hi Drew," Doug said.

Drew stammered shyly, "Umm... Hi."

Noticing Drew's nervous expression, Brian explained, "Mike invited us."

Drew nodded and watched Doug give belly rubs to Rush.

"Where's your brother?" Brian asked.

Smiling widely, Drew looked up at Brian then looked back down again, not knowing exactly how to explain where Keith was.

Noticing Drew blushing, Doug stood and snickered, "It's okay, Drew. We get the picture."

Brian noticed how Corey and Drew were looking at each other. Taking hold of Doug's shoulders, Brian walked him towards the back door. "Next years project?" Brian softly asked.

"It might not even take that long," Doug suggested.

In the living room, Derrick and Mike were getting good ideas of what Shaun was able to do with a guitar. At first, Derrick just listened and played close attention to Shaun's rhythm. He was able to hold a steady beat and was easily fingering the chords in each song. Mike started to play along with Shaun. Then Derrick went back to his room for bongos and a tambourine. Along with many other good reasons to move to Doug and Brian's, Derrick desperately wanted to have a full drum set again so he and Mike could jam whenever they pleased, like they used to. Passing through the kitchen, Derrick had to fight temptation so that Mike would get at least one present on his actual birthday. Sitting down on the floor, Derrick joined Mike and Shaun playing Tequila Sunrise.

Only moments later, Doug and Brian walked in the back door. Sitting close together at the kitchen table and seeing two adult men walk in, Eddie and Matt almost had heart attacks! Quickly, they separated and tried to hide their beers.

Doug cracked up and Brian snickered, "Take it easy! We're not cops. We're gay too so, as you were, gents." Then Brian introduced himself and his hysterical partner, telling the two boys that they were friends of Mike's and that they had been invited. Eddie and Matt briefly introduced themselves. Then Doug looked in the refrigerator, grabbed two Coors lights and handed one to Brian before moving towards the living room. Derrick saw them but Mike's back was turned.

Quickly, Doug held a finger up to his mouth so Derrick wouldn't say anything. Then Doug crept up behind Mike and reached for the guitar fret board. Snapping his neck and seeing Doug, Mike smiled widely then dropped his left hand so he and Doug could try to play the song. Considering the fact that Mike was strumming the strings while Doug fretted the notes, they managed pretty well. With a little more than a year's experience, Shaun was totally impressed. Brian strolled around the room introducing himself and Doug.

Leaning closer to Mike, Doug said, "Happy Birthday!"

"Thanks!" Mike giggled. He then asked, "Does this axe play great or what?"

Doug nodded and asked, "Derrick got you this?"

Nodding, Mike grinned, "I've been saying thank you several times a day since Wednesday!"

"Make sure he knows that it has no bearing on your relationship, that you'd still love him if he only got you a card," Doug softly said.

Looking into Doug's eyes, Mike saw a young boy that had been abused by his father, very much like Derrick's situation. Momentarily, Mike lost his rhythm and flubbed up his strumming. Suddenly, the beautiful new guitar Mike was playing was far less important than his need to talk to Derrick. Mike had repeatedly shown Derrick how much he appreciated the guitar but had never said that the gift wasn't a requirement for his love. That much was assumed, he thought, but it would be good to actually say that to Derrick. Mike nodded and waited for Shaun to end the song. Then he gave his new guitar to Doug and beckoned Derrick to join him. Derrick got up and Jerry slid over to play the bongos.

Leading Derrick back to his room, Mike closed the door and reached for his lover's hands. Smiling widely, Derrick wondered if Mike was horny again. He seemed to get horny every time he played the new guitar!

Softly, Mike asked, "Ya know what I want for my birthday, more than any thing?"

Uncertain, Derrick shook his head.

"To live with you, every day, for the rest of this year and the rest of our lives. The guitar, this party and anything else you might be planning, all of it matters because it came from you," Mike said, but then stopped talking because Derrick was getting emotional.

Reaching to wipe his eyes, Derrick forced a grin and said, "I love you, Mike. My seventeenth birthday wasn't so great, ya know. You deserve much better. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate everything."

Beginning to break down, Mike sniffed and said, "Having you here is all the pay back I'll ever need. We've helped each other in lots of ways. All our lives people have said, big boys don't cry, or other lame ass shit like that. I didn't hear it too much but you and probably lots of others heard it too many times. It makes us feel inferior, like we can't be real men if we allow ourselves to feel things. Well, I love you because you can cry, because you do have feelings and you share them with me."

"Without you, I wouldn't have been able to deal with it," Derrick admitted.

"It's the same for me," Mike said.

"But you had Keith to talk with too," Derrick softly reminded.

Mike sighed, "Maybe we learned some things but it was never any where near as intense as what I learned with you. People that say demeaning shit like that are stupid." Pausing for a moment, Mike remembered something that Brian had recently said and repeated, "Have pity on them and forgive them."

"I just wish I could've caught on earlier, ya know?"

Mike nodded, "I'll bet that everybody that's been here tonight has had to sift through the same bullshit to find the truth. If they haven't done it yet, then they eventually will, when it's right for them."

"Wish I knew why some people have to be so antagonistic," Derrick said.

Smiling widely, Mike asked, "What did Prez say the other day in the car?"

"They've gotta be king shit of turd mountain!" Derrick chuckled.

Derrick pulled Mike to him and held on tight. Nuzzling his face into Derrick's neck, Mike turned into a big mass of Silly Putty. For a few minutes, they stayed like that. From the living room, they could hear Doug and Brian entertaining their guests. Then Derrick whispered, "We should get back."

Mike hummed his agreement but didn't move or let go.

Feeling Mike's chin stubble tickling his neck, Derrick snickered, "You need to shave."

Grinning madly, Mike rubbed his chin across Derrick's neck and shoulder! Laughing hysterically, Derrick forced his chin down to Mike's neck. They were both laughing so hard; they didn't hear the first knocks on the bedroom door.

"I don't hear any slurpin'," Prez loudly chuckled. Slurpin' was exactly what he and Keith had just finished doing in the pool house. When they didn't find Derrick and Mike in the living room, they changed out of their Speedos then purposefully went down the hallway to harass them.

Keith smiled, "How can they laugh so loudly with their mouths stuffed?"

"Maybe they've got really small weenies?" Prez snickered.

Mike pushed away from Derrick and flung open the bedroom door. Smiling evilly, Mike said, "That's game number one - who's got the longest cock!"

On his way to the fridge for beers, Jerry over heard the comment and veered off course to listen to the rest.

Hysterical, Prez laughed, "Who's got the fattest is game number two!

Grinning mischievously at Prez, Keith then snickered, "Who can shoot the farthest is game number three!"

Since Prez never spoke of his power shooting abilities, Derrick glared at him and challenged, "You think you can shoot pretty far, huh?" Prez only blushed and leaned against the wall, laughing hysterically.

Keith exaggerated, "Two feet, on average, with the occasional three footer, over the shoulder and hitting the wall!" Derrick was grinning at him, obviously in disbelief, Keith thought. But then he noticed Jerry standing behind him.

"When's the orgy?" Jerry grinned. Hearing that, Prez roared laughing, slid down the wall, heaving and gasping for air. "I think Prez has had one beer too many," Jerry commented.

"Then one is his limit!" Mike joked.

Derrick grinned, "If one is his limit then its gonna be a really short orgy. Oh! Wait! We were talking about alcohol consumption, weren't we?"

Snickering, Keith extended a hand and helped Prez stand up.

Turning towards the kitchen, Jerry asked, "Anyone else want a beer?"

"Alcohol impedes sexual performance, or so I've heard," Mike smiled, toying with Prez. Then he and Derrick followed Jerry to the kitchen while Keith slowly guided Prez along.

"I want to be ready for tomorrow so I'm gonna pass, thanks," Derrick grinned. Turning to look at Derrick, a huge shiver ran down Mike's spine.

Regaining his composure, Mike mumbled, "Maybe I should've called Jess and canceled rehearsal?"

Prez glanced at his watch, saw it was a little after three in the morning and giggled; "We won't be going to bed much before dawn, if at all. It'll be a short jam anyway."

Leaning close to Prez, Keith grinned, "A short jam?" and Prez started laughing loudly again!

Mike and Derrick heard this, shook their heads and smiled. "I'm not sleeping in the same room with them," Derrick said.

Prez cackled, "Aww, we know you want to."

"We haven't forgotten the morning you dudes crawled into bed with us," Keith grinned.

Jerry snickered and beer shot out of his closed mouth onto the side of the refrigerator and everyone in the room cracked up laughing. "No more beer for either of ya's!" Jerry laughed, wiping his chin.

Surprised, Mike stared at Jerry then laughed, "Nice shot dude!" and went to get a towel to clean up the mess.

Derrick looked up into Jerry's eyes and saw they were glassy. Derrick grinned, "You're planing on staying the night, aren't you?"

Drew and Corey had finished their turn in the pool house. Corey opened the back door and they stepped into the kitchen.

Jerry shrugged and teased, "Depends on when the orgy starts."

"Omigod!" Drew whispered, and turned around to go back outside. Everyone, including Corey cracked up!

Loudly, Corey laughed, "There's gonna be an orgy? Really?"

Over the sound of Doug's guitar playing, everyone in the living room heard Corey's question. Brian and Doug immediately stopped as their audience quickly got up and went to the kitchen. Howard looked at his cousin; unable to determine anything from Jerry's laughing face.

Gil turned to Mack and said, "You didn't say a thing about any orgy!"

"I didn't know either dude!" Mack yelled.

"I don't think I want to participate in this," Gil said to Shaun.

"There's not going to be any orgy!" Mike loudly laughed.

Derrick went along with Mike and giggled, "Has everyone here been in the pool house?" Around the room, everyone nodded and giggled at each other.

"We haven't!" Brian and Doug shouted from the living room. Then Doug played a short lick on the guitar, making it sound like a crying baby.

Everyone laughed then Derrick shouted, "It's your turn then!"

For a few moments there was silence from both rooms. Then Doug made the guitar cry out, like someone in the throws of orgasm, and ended with a low fading groan. Everyone started laughing again.

Shaking his head, Mike finished wiping off the fridge and mumbled, "I've got to get Doug to show me how he does that shit."

Glancing at Keith and then in the living room at Brian, Prez snickered, "Brian may not want to share any secrets!" Keith giggled hysterically.

The two men joined the rest of the party in the kitchen. Nonchalantly changing the subject, Doug grinned and asked, "How was the prom?"

Keith and Prez turned around to face them then said, "Excellent!"

Mike nodded, "It was really good."

"There was one religious whacko that tried to stir up shit," Derrick added.

Prez smiled at Derrick and said, "They never got a chance to say much of anything though. We stuck together

Jerry swallowed a big mouthful of beer and said, "As soon as they started dancing together, some folks started whispering, cracking dyke and fag jokes and shit."

"They did?" Keith asked.

Nodding, Jerry explained, "This one cranky bitch asked Jessy how she could believe in God and go to church every Sunday but still hang with you dudes. Jessy and Nelson went off, reminding her how some passages of the Bible were used to justify two hundred years of slavery. Right after that, you dudes started dancing with the girls. That really confused the shit out of `em! Just to add a little fuel to the fire, I asked Nelson if I could dance with Jessy." Snickering at himself, Jerry then grinned, "Just to give them a little interracial propaganda to gossip about, ya know?"

After a few chuckles, Prez said, "I didn't notice any of that."

"Course not dude. You dudes had way too much to be aware of. You couldn't possibly have seen and heard everything," Jerry said.

Keith turned to Prez and said, "Well, despite all that, I had a great time."

Glancing around the room, Brian asked, "Every one is set for school on Monday? No worries or concerns?"

Everyone nodded or shrugged. Then Shaun said, "There might be some extra-curricular kissing going on in the hallways though." Keith and Prez cracked up.

Mike grinned at them then turned to Derrick and said, "Be prepared dude. If I feel like kissing you, I'll probably go ahead and do it." Derrick smiled and nodded understandingly but said nothing.

Obviously confused, Brian and Doug grinned at each other. Then Doug asked, "Is there some story behind this?"

"Keith and Prez were kissing in the school hallways Thursday afternoon," Shaun giggled.

Stunned, Doug glared at Keith and then Prez.

Keith then explained, "Wednesday I was confronted by one dude. It was scary, ya know? Then the next day, another dude caught me hanging out with Prez outside the boy's locker room. He dared us to kiss. After being bothered the previous day, I got a bit perturbed and figured what the fuck? If I'm gonna be bashed and bothered anyway, then it might as well be for something real."

"But no one cared that we were kissing," Prez said. "The guy that dared us went around asking other kids in the hall if it bothered them. No one said yes. They all seemed completely indifferent about it."

"Things sure have changed in the last twenty years," Brian said.

Doug added, "We would never have gotten away with that when we were in high school."

Brian looked at Keith and asked, "Do your parents know about the kissing incident?"

"Yeah, we told them at dinner that night. But recently I can never tell how much they know about anything," Keith grinned. Confused, Prez tilted his head. Keith then reminded, "How did my dad know to get a corsage for Maria?"

Wide-eyed, Prez hollered, "Oh shit!"

Mike and Derrick cracked up.

Keith then glanced at Corey and said, "Go get Drew please. I have a question to ask him."

Corey snickered and went outside to find Drew.

After Corey closed the door, Doug and Brian began looking around the kitchen and living room. The kitchen floor was covered with muddy footprints and small puddles of water. The living room rug also needed a good vacuuming.

Derrick noticed them glancing around and said, "I know dudes. There's some stuff to clean up."

"And thanks to Keith, we have to do it before his dad gets here at eight in the friggin' morning!" Mike loudly added.

Keith snickered then buried his blushing face in Prez's neck.

"We gotta do something about the beer situation then," Jerry thoughtfully reminded.

Doug and Brian glanced at each other briefly. Then Doug said, "We could get Ben to pick up the mail for us but we'd rather the house looked lived in during the month we're gone."

Not surprisingly, Gil, Shaun, Howard, Jerry and Mack wandered back into the living room.

Brian added, "And we sure don't want to see Michael crying all summer because he screwed up."

"How much beer is left Mike?" Doug asked.

Opening the fridge, Mike soon answered, "Thirteen cans."

"Have you got any pitchers?" Brian asked. While Mike went to find a pitcher, Brian said, "Fill up a pitcher or two with beer for you dudes. Then we'll take any remaining cans and the dead soldiers home with us."

"I totally forgot about the garbage!" Derrick said.

Doug added, "Explaining a recycle bin filled with crushed beer cans would be a bit difficult. This place needs to sparkle by the time Keith's dad shows up." Brian and Doug then started telling horror stories about parties from when they were teenagers.

Corey opened the back door and pulled Drew inside with him.

Still holding Prez, Keith looked at his brother and said, "I'm wonderin' something here, bro.

"What's that?" Drew innocently asked.

Keith melodically asked, "How did dad know to get a corsage for Prez to give to Maria?"

Drew blushed and grinned, "I dunno."

Corey cracked up then said; "We were talking about it Thursday while we set the table for dinner. I guess your mom over heard us."

Keith grinned knowingly at his brother. Then Prez said, "It's a good thing it slipped. I would've spaced it and Maria's dad might've had a fit."

Mike put two small pitchers down on the counter. Matt opened the fridge and began passing cans of beer to Mike. Keith went to get the mop and bucket from the garage. Matt softly asked, "Can Eddie and me crash out in the pool house?"

Emptying two cans of been into a pitcher, Mike grinned, "Sure dude. You got first dibs, its yours."

Matt looked up and nodded at Eddie then put two more cans of beer on the counter. Prez and Eddie then began helping to fill up the pitchers. Keith returned from the garage and put the bucket in the sink. Looking under the sink, Keith found a bottle of Mr. Clean then poured a healthy amount into the bucket and started filling it with water. Derrick went to get the vacuum cleaner from the entryway closet.

Drew stepped up beside Mike and said, "Where can we crash dude?"

Mike hummed thoughtfully for a few seconds. He then said, "Take my bedroom Drew."

Drew smiled, "Cool. See ya in the morning," then got Corey and they went to bed.

Filling the last pitcher with beer, Matt said, "G'night dudes." Then he and Eddie went back out to the pool house. Rush was waiting by the door and ran inside, directly to Prez.

Prez laughed, "Aww shit Rush! You're a messy, wet hound dog!" reaching down, Prez led the dog back outside. Sitting down on the patio, Prez began wiping the dirt and grass off the dog knowing full well that the dog would need to be bathed sometime before school on Monday.

Mike said, "There's only three beers left. Who wants them?"

Doug and Brian both hollered, "Here please." Doug took one beer and Brian took two saying, "One for Preston, if he's thirsty." Then they both went outside.

Mike reached for glasses from the cupboard then poured beers for himself and Keith. They then began reminiscing while they took turns mopping the floor.

The vacuum cleaner turned on in the living room. As if it were a sacrilege, Mack hollered, "You're drowning out Close Encounters, dude!" and turned up the TV volume.

Derrick paused and loudly laughed; "You've only seen it what? A hundred times? You could vacuum later, if you'd prefer?"

A chorus of shouts and lame excuses erupted. Derrick kept right on vacuuming. When all that remained was the area where Mack and Jerry were sitting, Derrick pushed the vacuum right against Jerry's ass and hollered, "Move it!"

Jerry grinned but didn't move. Derrick pushed the vacuum against Jerry again and Jerry laughed, "I've never been goosed by an appliance before! I kinda like it!"

Mack snickered, "My first blowjob was at thirteen by a Hoover vacuum."

Simultaneously, Gil, Howard and Shaun yelled, "Omigod!" then all hell broke loose.

Out in the back yard, Brian handed the last can of beer to Preston.

Prez shook his head saying, "Thanks but I've had enough. I don't ever want to get like my dad."

"You won't be," Doug confidently smiled. Prez looked up at him and felt a chill of excitement run down his spine.

Brian put the extra beer down on the patio table then he and Doug pulled out chairs and sat down. "I'm part Irish," Brian said.

"Me too!" Doug excitedly said. Then he grinned, "We're born with an extra stomach, for alcohol absorption only."

Snickering, Prez shook his head. Actually he was thirsty. But because he knew Derrick had some weed, Prez decided to wait for a soft drink and not get totally wasted.

"Has it been a celebration?" Brian asked.

Again, a chill ran up Prez's spine and he excitedly answered, "Hell yeah! This whole week has been great. We've been practicing those visualizations you taught us. The other day, when Keith was confronted, I think it helped him a lot. Guiding him through it helped me too, in some smaller way, maybe."

Doug turned to Brian and, in a thick Scottish accent smiled, "He's not murky any more."

Brian snickered, "Aye, bright white with gold and silver sparkles."

Remembering the last time this came up, Prez laughed, "What are you talking about?"

Doug softly recalled, "About five months ago, there were these four gay teenagers. They were happy in most ways but still had some fear of the world. Fear of how the world would react to their sexuality. But things started happening, seemingly all by themselves. You began making small public displays of affection. Some people noticed."

"Only a few cared enough to talk with you about it." Brian continued, "Coming out to them was probably necessary. Then kids at school starting noticing how close you all are. Most didn't care but some became overwhelmed with disgust and hatred. You were confronted, violently."

Doug said, "By sticking together as couples and a group, you overcame that. One at a time, you each came to the same conclusion. You're happier, more comfortable with your selves and each other. Now others like you are gathered together in one place, celebrating what many others condemn."

Beaming up at them Prez snickered, "It's been pretty cool, a little scary at times though."

Brian said, "Every time you attempt something new for the first time there's going to be apprehension. Rather than giving in to it, you try something new. You learn you can do such-and-such a thing. With each triumph you pay less attention to any failures. Soon the apprehensive feelings don't even matter any more. You look forward to the triumph, the hell with any possibility of failure."

Doug then asked, "Have you noticed anything different lately?"

"How do you mean?" Prez asked uncertainly.

Brian said, "Earlier, Keith told us about your kiss at school. How did that happen? More importantly, how did you feel when it happened?"

Without even thinking, Prez answered, "Stunned at first. A little betrayed by the guy that did it."

"It worked out to your advantage anyway though," Brian reminded.

"Something new. It had to be tried," Doug said. Then he snickered, "It's gonna be tried again too, I'll bet."

Softly Brian wondered aloud, "What else might we use for an example?"

"Driving," Doug said.

"You're a new driver, yeah!" Brian excitedly said. Then he asked, "What do you think?"

"About driving?" Prez asked. Both men grinned and nodded. Prez said, "Mostly its fun but it gets kinda crazy at times. I see people doing the most idiotic stuff; crossing lanes of traffic without a directional, speeding twenty or more miles an hour over the speed limit, its nuts!"

"Seen any fender-benders?" Doug asked.

Prez nodded, "A few."

Gotten into any fender-benders?" Brian asked and Prez shook his head. Then Brian asked, "How's the truck look? Any parking lot bumps or scrapes?"

"None that I've noticed," Prez answered.

"Two months in the valley and not a scratch," Brian wondered aloud.

Doug then asked, "When you're driving along, do the lights seem to go you're way a lot?"

Another cold chill ran up Prez's spine. "Keith just mentioned that earlier tonight. He noticed that during our trip here, we had to stop at every light before I turned around to get Rush. Then, on the way here again, all the lights were green and we made it in record time," Prez recalled.

Silently Prez wondered. I can't make the traffic lights do what I want, can I? I just watch the traffic around me, take my foot off the accelerator or even completely out of gear when I need to. But it is kind of odd that my car doesn't even have a parking lot scratch yet.

"Don't change a thing Preston," Brian softly said.

"Things aren't always that way though, are they?" Prez asked.

"Nope," Doug quickly answered. Then he explained, "When you're out of balance, concerned, worried, angry or feeling any other negative emotion, things are less likely to fall into place. Like a malfunctioning doorbell, it might be a petty little something. Or it could be something bigger, more dramatic, if you get way off kilter."

Brian said, "Its not just you, its Derrick, Mike and Keith too. Each of you is celebrating more than Mike's birthday. Just go with the flow, be the best Preston O'Brian you can be."

Prez smiled and nodded, his brain buzzing with questions. The first one he asked was, "Thinking of it you're way, the fight was brought upon by things we did."

Doug said, "It's more like sets of choices clashing. You four probably got caught whispering something or some other petty homophobic pet peeve. Then there was some verbal clashes before the actual fight, correct?"

Prez nodded.

"The guy that pulled the knife made his choices too," Brian reassured.

"I wonder why he singled me out?" Prez softly asked.

"Hopefully you'll find out at the trial," Brian answered.

The back door opened and Keith stepped outside. He smiled warmly at Prez then turned to Doug and Brian. "Has anybody claimed that beer?" Keith asked.

Doug shook his head and handed Keith the last Coors light.

Sitting down next to Prez, Keith softly asked, "Wanna share?" and Prez nodded.

"How goes the cleaning effort?" Brian asked.

Keith swallowed, handed the can to Prez and answered, "Just about done. There's some stuff hidden away upstairs. Mike said he'd take care of that after everyone leaves."

Brian nodded and Doug said, "He should probably do a quick spot cleaning just before his mom comes home."

Seeing Doug beginning to stand, Keith said, "Wait!" Doug sat back down and Keith glanced at Prez then said, "We've been wondering something since we met you. And seeing as how I'm just buzzed enough to ask..."

Prez laughed out loud. Doug and Brian snickered. Then Doug asked, "What's on your mind?"

"We've been wondering how to make it last, like you two have, like forever?" Keith asked.

"Every day is forever. Just string the days together," Doug waxed poetically.

Brian laughed and said, "Jot that idea down for later." Turning back to Keith and Prez, Brian then said, "It might be better to think of every day as a section of forever."

"We really want it to last though," Prez insisted.

"It can and will last, partly because you both want it," Doug said.

Brian added, "The important thing is not to let it get pressured. No one wants to be coerced or forced into anything."

"Open lines of communication is a must," Doug said.

"That's the first step to intimacy in all relationships," Brian added.

Keith and Prez glanced at each other. Then Prez said, "We've been talking about intimacy."

Keith continued, "For such a little word it sure seems to have lots of meanings."

"Yeah," Prez said, "there's emotional intimacy and physical intimacy but even those two can be further subdivided. It seems almost endless."

Happily surprised, Doug and Brian looked at each other. They were in their mid twenties when the started analyzing the ramifications of intimacy.

Turning back to Keith and Prez, Brian asked, "What is intimacy?"

"Familiarity," Keith said.

Prez added, "With the deep stuff, what I would otherwise keep private with just about anyone else."

"Good," Brian said. "What I liked most about your answers was the way you kept it personal. You have to know your self pretty well to be intimate with someone else."

Doug added, "Intimacy lets you know yourself and the other party better than you otherwise could."

"Now that we know what it is, let's consider what prohibits intimacy," Brian said.

"How conflicts are resolved is one point," Doug said. "Some people let one difference of opinion become a huge battle because that topic is important to them. My parents would get angry and stay angry with each other for many days. It had to be a huge strain on them as individuals and as a couple."

"Not all disagreements require a resolution. It's okay to have different opinions. Opinions are very changeable," Brian said.

Doug said, "My parents steadfastly believed abortion was a sin until my cousin was raped. She got pregnant and aborted the fetus immediately. They had to learn tolerance the hard way."

"Inability to show mutual respect would also inhibit intimacy," Brian said.

"Mutual respect means you act with awareness of the possible effects of your actions on the other person," Doug said.

"Like how I reacted the other day when I fell out of bed," Prez whispered to Keith.

"Not feeling free to express warmth and affection is a major barrier to intimacy," Brian said.

Keith smiled, "No problem there!"

Doug grinned, "Are you comfortable with asking and offering? Feel free to offer and accept things. Realizing, of course, that you might ask for something you might not get or offer things the other person might not accept."

Prez nodded, "Give and receive abundantly, my mom used to say."

"Do you welcome change and growth? All relationships are constantly in a state of flux. Attitudes, ideals and values change over time," Brian said.

Prez and Keith grinned at each other. Several times over the past year they've recognized changes and enjoyed most of them. They nodded at Doug and Brian.

"For some people, each of those issues might have presented some kind of major problem, leading to some disagreement. So why then do people want to become intimate?" Doug asked.

"There's lots of benefits," Prez said.

Keith nodded, "I've been happier since me and Prez got together. I've learned a bunch of things about myself and feel better about myself too."

"Good answers!" Brian happily said. "Joy, self-awareness and enhanced self-esteem are big reasons."

"There's more though," Prez said. "Without Keith, I don't know how I could've handled my mom's death."

Doug nodded, "Healing is another important benefit, sure."

"There's lots more possibilities in life now, way more options than I ever dared to dream of," Keith said.

Both men nodded. Keith and Prez were ecstatic, feeling like they were now more certain of their future than ever before.

After a long pause, Doug said, "There are other benefits to intimacy."

Brian waited only a few seconds before saying, "Personal growth and spiritual fulfillment. Think of yourselves as diamonds in the rough. Only with successful intimate relationships will the diamond get polished and shine."

Then Doug said, "Since the dawn of humanity, while we were still throwing stones at the moon, we've always wondered, how did I get here? What is my purpose in life? What happens after death? Did God really create man in his own image? Or did man create God in his own image? I tend to believe it's a little of both. Something extraordinary set the universe in motion. Man created God to fill the gaps. Who cares if Adam and Eve really lived in the Garden of Eden? Does it matter if there really was a Noah that gathered two of every creature before the apocalyptic flood? Probably not but archeologists still search for clues to the remains. And so do we each search for meaning and purpose in our lives."

Brian asked, "You want to know how to make it last?" Without much of a pause, he then said, "Rule one, express your differences, don't suppress them. Learn to be individuals together."

Doug added, "Rule two, no one person can be everything all the time. We need other friends and to form other intimate bonds. It's good to have other close friends."

"Accept change and growth," Brian said. "Change is inevitable. And there are all kinds of risks in life; going to college, taking a new job, moving across country. Choose to face the risks as individuals together. Then let each day take care of itself."

"It sounds easy enough," Keith said.

"But each day presents new circumstances and challenges," Prez added.

Doug nodded, "Looking ahead a few months, what if Preston gets accepted to Juliard but Keith, you don't want to move to New York. How do you work that out?"

Brian then suggested, "You make it past that crisis any one of a dozen different ways. Then, a few years later, Prez lands a job in L.A. but Keith; you wind up working in San Francisco. Neither of you can financially afford to live alone, even if you decided you wanted to try it for a while. See how complicated it can get?"

"Anything that effects Keith will effect me any how," Prez said.

Keith nodded, "That's how it goes for me too."

Doug said, "Because you communicate, obviously expressing more differences than are suppressed. But what if one of you works days and the other works nights. Being twelve hours out of sync, opportunities for conversations become more rare. Don't suppress the feelings, don't let them build up or hide them behind alcohol or drugs. We each have to feel some of the benefits to intimacy or the relationship begins to fail."

The back door opened and Mike staggered outside. "Beers gone now!" he happily announced.

Wobbling out behind him, carrying a bag of empty beer cans, Derrick grinned, "Jerry can chug down a beer in four seconds flat!" He dropped the bag of cans and shushed them when they rattled loudly.

Shaking his head, Doug grinned, "It only takes a little bit of throat control."

"That's exactly what Jerry said!" Mike giggled.

Grabbing Mike roughly around the waist, Derrick snickered, "I got lotsa throat control dude. You've never complained before. I woulda won but I spilt a little bit down my chest and belly." Mike giggled and half-heartedly tried to break away from Derrick's grip.

Keith laughed "Omigod!"

"They're trashed," Prez giggled.

"Where's everyone else?" Keith loudly asked.

"Snoozin'!" Mike laughed.

"Let's hit the road before the sun rises," Brian said.

Prez looked up at Doug and Brian and said, "Thanks for the chat."

Nodding, Doug stood and said, "We're outta here gents. Remember to make the place sparkle before mom gets home." Brian grabbed the bag of cans.

"No problem," Mike snickered.

"We're moving in next week!" Derrick cheerfully slurred.

Prez and Keith stood and waved goodbye as Doug and Brian walked out of the yard. As soon as the two men were out of site, Derrick let go of Mike then reached his hands into his pocket. Pulling out his one hitter, Derrick grinned and chortled.

Prez bounced his eyebrows playfully and said, "Sorry, can't toke out with ya's."

Keith quickly grinned, "Me neither."

Frowning and sounding annoyed, Mike asked, "Why not?"

"It's against my religion," Prez snickered.

Suspiciously, Derrick asked, "Since when?"

"We're gonna become Druids," Keith chuckled.

"That's trees!" Mike loudly said.

Prez rambled, "Trees, shrubs, weeds, its all the same. Thou shalt not incinerate any plant for recreational purposes."

"Gimme a break!" Mike laughed.

"Think of it as a burnt offering," Derrick smirked.

As the sun rose early that Sunday morning, the four boys passed around the one hitter, talking and joking around like never before. Prez recalled his earlier conversation with Brian and Doug. Then Keith joined in and added his thoughts about the intimacy discussion. Kicked back and relaxing under the stars, they discussed the benefits and roadblocks of intimacy.

Across town, Mr. Hundser was getting out of bed. Before he was out of bed, he snickered at fond recollections of high school parties from the mid-seventies. Jim Hundser was only about four years older than Doug or Brian, he had graduated high school in 1975 while they had graduated in 1979. Disco music was all the rage and everyone was getting into discos, no matter what their age, it often seemed. Liquor and every conceivable drug was everywhere, available just for the asking. How many times had he thrown up and passed out before he finally caught on? He didn't even want to try and count the times. Now here he was trying to keep his kids from doing what he did as a teenager.

He was prepared for the worst. Furniture would be broken. There'd be stains in the carpet. Every bed would be slept in. They would be spending the rest of the day repairing the damage! While standing before the mirror shaving, Jim Hundser practiced making annoyed and disappointed faces. They'd probably need to rent a steam cleaner and he should bring a few tools along.

At seven in the morning, Derrick's watch alarm went off. All four boys sighed then went inside. Sprawled out asleep on the living room floor were Jerry, Mack and Howard. Prez called Jessy and postponed rehearsal until three that afternoon. A few glasses needed to be rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Generally the floor looked clean, except in front of the doorway and the fridge. Derrick grabbed the mop and re-cleaned most of the kitchen floor anyway. Mike washed down the counters a second time then dried them off. Prez then got the Windex out and wiped down the front of the fridge. Keith carefully tiptoed across the wet floor and checked for sticky beer spill remnants on the counter and refrigerator. Derrick then took the mop and bucket into the bathroom and cleaned that floor. Prez followed him and cleaned off the mirror, counter top and around the toilet bowl rim. Finally, Mike turned on the dishwasher while Derrick and Keith returned all the containers of food to the kitchen refrigerator. Derrick then passed around a tin of peppermint Altoid breath freshners. Satisfied that things were as good as they were going to get, they each grabbed a soda then all went back outside and waited.

After a quick shower, Mr. Hundser made a pot of coffee. After having a small cup of coffee in the kitchen, he poured a large spill-proof cup for the ride then went to the garage. Picking up his tool belt, he then opened the garage. He got into Keith's car and drove over to Mike's house. A few minutes before eight in the morning, he pulled up in front of Mike's house.

There were no visible signs of destruction. The street was mostly quiet except for the distant hum of a lawnmower. No one was passed out on the front lawn either. Checking the trash and recycle bins, nothing incriminating was found, only bags of chips. Walking around the house, he looked for bottles and cans under the shrubbery but found nothing, not even a crumpled cigarette pack or a few butts.

Rush heard someone coming toward the back yard. Perking up slightly, he growled. Prez looked down at the dog and saw the fur on his back was standing up. Then Rush shot up and ran for the gate, barking like crazy.

Opening the gate and seeing the boys acting like they had been sitting around that table all night, Mr. Hundser cheerfully said, "Good morning!" As he stepped closer, he then said, "This looks innocent enough." Walking past the patio table, he inspected the corners of the yard. Noticing towels drying over the fence and cushions missing from a few chairs, he then said, "Wash, dry and fold those towels. There's a few cushions missing too."

"There's people sleeping on them in the pool house," Mike grinned.

"I'll check in there last then," Mr. Hundser softly said as he returned to the table.

"There's some folks sleeping in the living room too dad," Keith said, and then stood up.

Mike led Mr. Hundser and Keith inside but Mr. Hundser stopped at the doorway and looked closely at the floor before actually stepping inside. The countertops looked clean and felt clean. The sink was empty and the dishwasher was in dry mode. Walking across the room, Keith watched his dad inspect the refrigerator. He even opened the doors and checked the rubber seals! The small dinette table was also spotless.

Moving on to the living room, Mr. Hundser peered into the corners. The carpet had been vacuumed recently. Cushions from the sofa were nestled under each sleeping boy's head. "Make sure the cushions are fluffed and put back right before your mom gets home," was all Mr. Hundser said as he headed down the hallway. After a quick peak in the dining room, he moved on to the bathroom. The sink, counter, mirror and toilet were all clean. Stunned silent, Mr. Hundser turned around and nodded suspiciously. He then asked, "Where's Drew and Corey?"

"Sleeping in my room," Mike answered.

"Is that everyone?" Mr. Hundser asked.

Thinking of his house as some sort of gay brothel, Mike grinned, "There's two more crashed out in Derrick's room."

Keith smiled and nudged Mike.

After a few moments, Mr. Hundser said, "Make sure the bed sheets are cleaned and the rooms look normal. I probably don't want to check the pool house, do I?"

Remembering the potent smell of sex and the small trash can lined with used rubbers, Keith snickered, "Probably not, dad."

Shaking his head and trying to hold a straight face, Mr. Hundser reminded, "Clean it up before mom gets home."

Keith waited for his dad to pass then leaned close to Mike and whispered, "Leave the door open to air it out too bro."

"Does it reek that bad?" Mike softly asked.

Keith nodded and grinned, "Intoxicating at first. Soon it's overpowering."

They walked back outside and Prez asked, "Do we pass or do we paint?"

Mr. Hundser grinned, "You pass." Then he looked at Mike and Derrick saying, "You might actually get to move in with Doug and Brian this summer."

Derrick's chin hit the ground and Mike yelled, "You know?"

"I work with him. I probably knew before you even did," Mr. Hundser replied.

Totally confused, Keith and Prez looked at each other.

"Does my mom know too?" Mike asked.

"I didn't tell her," Mr. Hundser answered.

After a few moments, Keith asked, "Did you tell mom?"

Shaking his head, Mr. Hundser said, "I didn't know whom he would finally ask to watch the house so I figured, I'd cross that bridge when I got to it. It might've been either couple. Not that it matters which two actually moved in, the other two would be there often enough."

Mike grinned at Keith and said, "After Doug and Brian leave, that whole first week of July, plan on us being busy."

"Bastard!" Keith whispered.

I hope you enjoyed the story.
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