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The following contains mild descriptions of sexual acts between young people. It is an original work of fiction, and has no basis in reality.

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Perry and Jesse

The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love

Part V Truths and Lies

Chapter 35b: Noah's Arc, Pt. 2

George Rauch and Noah Bainbridge had been lovers? That was enough to stop me in my tracks.

"Yes, in retrospect, it all happened rather quickly," he noted. "You see, that summer, we both entered a junior lifeguard program at the YMCA. Most of the classes took place at the local pool, but for the last two classes, we went on field trips to various local beaches, the first one being La Jolla Shores. We went through our drills with our class and then were given several hours free time to spend at the beach. It was the strangest thing, and hard to really describe. But somehow it just dawned on me that day, seeing Georgie like that, tall and tanned, those broad shoulders, that hard and hairy chest, that washboard stomach...and always with that amazing, effortless smile. And his incredibly tantalizing in his red swim trunks. My first thought was to find some secluded nook or outbuilding, and take turns jacking each other off. Somehow, I sensed he was thinking the same thing as I. The amazing thing was, neither one of us ever actually made the suggestion out loud. We just roamed the beach, casually moving further and further away from the rest of the group, and eventually wound our way to Black Beach--have you ever been?"

I shook my head.

"It's truly spectacular, Perry. Towering cliffs, rugged trails, no screaming children or fat ladies under umbrellas, just real beach people--surfers, wind surfers, a hang glider or two. Rumor has it that it was once a favorite haven of nudists, but we didn't spot any that day. What we did find, eventually, was a secluded place behind some rocks, just above the high tide line. And when we looked at each other, we were both tenting to such an extreme, I'm surprised we didn't burst the seams of our trunks."


"Yes, in a way, it was quite romantic, with the background of the crashing waves and the smell of the salt water in the air, but believe me, getting sand in your shorts is no picnic, regardless."

I realized that as curious as I was about this unusual pairing and the ensuing relationship, I didn't really want to hear graphic descriptions of their sexual activities. I had everything I needed with Jesse, and listening to someone else talking like that was just...gross. "You don't need to go into all that detail," I informed him.

Noah looked at me with puzzlement in his eyes, and then laughed his harsh, phlegmy laugh. "Of course! What was I thinking?  I forget your youth, and the fact that you're a straight shooter. I suppose, somewhere in my convoluted thought patterns, I had hoped that if you weren't at least bi-curious, you'd be aroused enough to...Haha!" I think he laughed to cover his embarrassment. "Suffice it to say, we went way beyond slapping each other's monkeys that day. And after that, it seemed like we became insatiably horny, and it was within a couple of weeks of our first experiment, that we were making passionate, sweaty love."  Noah stopped and sighed. "I think I need another ciggie," he said uneasily. "Perhaps the rest of the story should wait for another time."

"Please, I want to hear what happened when you guys came out, and why you're not together any more."

If my question sounded pointed or suspicious, I couldn't tell from Noah's expression. Instead, he looked at me like someone who was painfully uncomfortable in his own skin. I felt a twinge of sympathy, and toed off my sneakers, offering him a full view of my silly, bright red socks. His eyes widened and a broad, tight lipped smile spread across his droopy countenance.

"Thank you," he said with quiet gratitude. "I don't suppose...?"

I pulled my knees up and rested my heels on the edge of the sofa. "So you guys really fell in love?" I asked, idly curling my toes.

"Hmm? Oh...." Noah released a little snort. "Well, there's a discussion for the ages. Was it love?  Infatuation? Lust? All of the above? We were already best friends, and at the time, it seemed to be a physical manifestation of a relationship we had already had for a long time running."

"Were you guys freaked out about being gay?"

This seemed to finally leave Noah speechless, at least for a bit. For once he didn't look at me in that distastefully lustful way as he tried to form his thoughts. "Hmm, again, at the time, I don't think it's something that was high on our agenda. I suppose on some level, we both acknowledged it, but you know, Perry, having grown up together, having the relationship start in a natural, platonic sort of way, it almost seemed like it...evolved. Granted, the day at the beach was certainly a quantum leap forward." He stopped and stared at my red sock feet, poking out from the droopy cuffs of my dark gray dress pants. It was almost as if he was drawing strength.

"Well, needless to say, the rest of that summer was pure bliss. We both got work at the local Y as junior life guards, and I suppose during those long hours of watching people of every age, but mostly the young--and mostly boys for that matter, I came to the inevitable conclusion that I really was gay. I suppose I had my moments of quiet consternation over that conclusion, but really, there was no hair pulling or deep soul searching involved. In all likelihood I already knew, subconsciously, and now it had simply come to the attention of my conscious mind as well. I knew I was supposed to get excited seeing the wet bosoms and sensuous curves of the young ladies, but I found my attention focusing much more on the broad, muscular chests and wet, clinging swim suits of the young men. I became intrigued by imagining what their packages looked like under their wet trunks or Speedos, and I made certain to visit the locker room for inspections as often as I could justify them without attracting undue suspicion."

"And George, did he accept it too?"

"Georgie was different--of course.  He was born and bred a jock--something he took pride in and deservedly so, I might add. I think it took him longer to come to terms. It was during our sophomore year that we had finally satiated our sexual lust enough that we could actually sit and discuss our situation with some perspective. Georgie desperately wanted to believe that it was a passing thing, simply a different way for two friends to express their feelings for one another, but I think even then he realized it was more than that. Still, we were very careful about keeping our physical relationship a secret. It was already well known that we were close friends, despite the apparent differences in our nature, and so people took no notice when we paired off together for school, or social activities. We even did some heterosexual dating!" Noah smiled and his cheeks seemed to flush slightly. "That was simply surreal, Perry. I mean, imagine forcing yourself to go on a date with someone you knew--a good friend perhaps--but not someone you're physically attracted to--say someone in your class like Eugene Rauch, or the Kipner boy perhaps. Imagine forcing yourself to flirt with those boys simply for appearance's sake. If you can picture that, you would have some idea of how uncomfortable it was for us. Fortunately, we did most of our dating together, and were able to support and cover for each other as we bungled our way through those ridiculous charades."

I pictured in my mind Jesse, Merissa, Jessica and myself, going to a movie, or to the mall, or to the beach together...yeah, definitely the beach. I knew whose swim suit I'd be looking at all day!

"Those red socks look incredibly delicious," he noted hesitantly, as if he was actually afraid I would respond angrily to his remarks.

But I guessed he meant it as a compliment, and I tried to keep the anger from my voice. "Huh?...Oh, those.  My mom packed them.  Guess she wanted me to be in the Christmas Spirit."

"And I suppose you're wearing those delightful silk boxers with the little Christmas Trees embroidered on them, hmm?"

"You looked in my overnight bag?"

He gave me an exaggerated wink. "Wonderful."

"So no one found out you guys were gay?" I asked, trying to steer the conversation back to what was interesting while trying to shrug off the uncomfortable stares.

"At that point, no. Like I said, we were careful and believe me, we were very discreet.  I know Georgie is no longer afraid to declare himself part of the homosexual community, and while I don't generally go around advertising my sexual orientation to complete strangers--present company excepted, of course--I also don't go to any great pains to hide it. Fortunately, a university campus is a much less stifling environment than a high school campus."

I took heart in that, knowing that someday, Jesse and I would be able to come out without a horrible Scarlet Letter being plastered to our foreheads. Sure, there would still be those that refused to accept us for who we were, but what would it matter then?  How many people had the great fortune to find their one and only soul mate so early in life, if ever? 

"That summer, having graduated to fully-rated life guards, we tried to find a beach where they would hire us both.  And thus we ended up at Mission Bay Park, although assigned to separate beaches: me at Bonita Cove, and Georgie at Crown Point. Still, by then I had my license and was able to drive us back and forth every day. It was almost an hour during the afternoon traffic. But it was nice. We were still doing all those wonderful things that one associates with a passionate and loving relationship, but we were also spending time talking. I think that summer, Georgie finally made peace with himself about who and what he was, and it got to the point where we were seriously considering our future together.  And along with that came the inevitable discussion about coming out--if we should do it at all, and if so, to whom. As I said, we didn't make a school wide announcement and...oh my, I so want to see your toes, Perry."

"Huh?" I had gotten so caught up in his story and the hopeful feeling it gave me about my relationship with Jesse, that I had forgotten that we were sitting in the Bainbridge pool house and that Jessica was waiting for those damn tables.

Noah got up and was suddenly kneeling right in front of me, his eyes focused on my feet.  I had my knees pulled up, and only my toes stuck out from the wide cuffs of my dress slacks. "Allow me," he said, and began peeling one of my socks down. I started to squirm away, feeling a sense of repugnance that this arrogant, lustful young man was touching me, even if it was only my ankle. Only the fact that he had been George's best friend kept me from screaming.

"I wonder...." he mumbled as I struggled, and began scratching my sole through the thin fabric of my sock.

"Stop!" I gasped, as uncontrollable laughter erupted from my throat.  He held my leg in place and despite my floundering, finally got the sock off and began tickling my bare sole.

"No! Noah! Stop!" But he was already clawing at my other sock when the door opened.

"Good Heavens!" 

It was Jessica, and she was standing their wide eyed, one hand on her breast. "Perry..." she uttered, trying to take in the bizarre scene before her. "You were taking so long and I couldn't wait any more because I have to go upstairs and get ready and... Good Heavens, what's going on in here?" she asked in a high pitched, nearly hysterical voice.

I could feel my cheeks burning with embarrassment, even though I was really no more than a victim of her brother's uncontrollable lust.

"Why, Jessy darling, I'm merely executing my duty as your older brother."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, looking at me with some concern, probably because my face was so flushed both from laughing and from being caught in such a ridiculous situation.

"You see," he explained calmly, while still holding onto my ankle, "I felt that I should give young Perry a proper interrogation."

"Interrogation? What ever are you talking about?"

I was about to interrupt, but I realized I didn't know what to say. I didn't feel it was my place to tell Jessica that her brother was gay. Even though I was definitely angry at him, and in all honesty didn't really like him, I still couldn't turn his life upside down simply because he wanted to have a look at my stupid feet.

"When I met Perry, and saw how much more handsome he is than in the pictures you sent me, I immediately had to wonder about his background."

"Background?" Jessica asked suspiciously, still flustered, but her voice slowly returning to its normal pitch.

"You see, my dear Jessy, I happen to know, having been one myself, that good looking boys are notoriously unfaithful--especially at this age. I simply felt it was my duty to find out as much as I could about your boyfriend's other dalliances."

"Dalliances?  For Heaven's Sake, Nobby. What are you talking about?" Now Jessica was going from frightened and confused to stern and demanding--much more like her usual herself!

"I wanted to make sure that he wasn't seeing anyone else. I wouldn't want to see your heart crushed by a libidinous young Lothario. You see, we were just sitting here sharing our experiences in the field of love and romance--isn't that so, Perry?" he asked.


"And I felt that perhaps he was holding something back. As you can see, I was already barefoot when we entered, and I suppose Perry wished to make himself comfortable as well, and had thus removed his sneakers. When I became suspicious that he might be holding out on some pertinent information, I decided to take the initiative and, well,...tickle it out of him!" He smiled sheepishly and danced his fingers across my sole once more.

A loud and embarrassing guffaw erupted from my throat and I jerked my leg from his grasp.

"Oh...Nobby!" Jessica exclaimed, confused both by the situation she had stumbled on and her brother's convoluted explanation. "Perry, are you okay?" she asked, finally approaching us.

I nodded, feeling certain that my face was now as red as my silk boxers. I found my discarded sock and pulled it back on and quickly stuffed my feet back into my Etnies.

"I just don't know what to think," she said, but now there was a hesitant, slightly bemused smile on her face. "I mean, it's so sweet of you, Nobby, to be looking out for me like that, but I already know about Perry's history. He had a girlfriend back in La Jolla, and they tried to make it work when he moved here, but it just didn't. Isn't that so, Perry?"

"Um...yeah," I said, getting unsteadily to my feet and slowly backing toward the door.

"Ah, so that's what you were holding back!" Noah announced like Inspector Poirot at the successful conclusion of a long and convoluted murder case. He picked himself up, pushing the cuffs of his cargo pants back down.

"So your interrogation wasn't necessary, you silly,"  Jessica concluded. "Besides, I trust Perry. He's not like that, not a Lothario."

"Perhaps not. I must admit, I found him to be remarkably enlightened for an 8th grade jock."

"I told you he's not a jock, and besides, what about your bestest bestest friend?" she asked accusingly, still with a slight smile on her face indicating that she was no longer taking any of this too seriously.

"You mean Georgie? Was he a jock?" Noah asked in a very amusingly puzzled manner.

"Nobby and Georgie Rauch--Gene's brother--were like this in high school," Jessica informed me, crossing her fingers to demonstrate the closeness of their relationship. "They were like the Odd Couple," she snickered.

"Kewl," I said, still backing toward the door. "Maybe we should get back inside."

"But the tables, you silly!" she pointed out. "Remember why I sent you out here in the first place?" She shook her head and sighed in an exaggerated manner. "Boys!" she said, rolling her eyes heavenward.

"Yes, those tables are coming right up," Noah declared. "C'mon, Perry.  Lend us a hand."

"You shouldn't be doing that in your bare feet," Jessica said, scolding her brother.

"Oh, well, you see, I was just enjoying dipping my toes in the pool when Perry came out, and I guess, in my enthusiasm to be of assistance, I left my footwear behind."

"Yes, I saw," Jessica said pointedly. "Flip flops and ashtray!"

"Yes...well, a reprehensible habit I know," he admitted sheepishly. "Let me get my sandals, and I'll be right back to help," he said, quickly slipping by me and out the door.

"Did he hurt you?"

I shook my head.

"I'm so sorry, Perry," she said, rubbing her hands against my chest. 

"It's not your fault your brother's crazy," I said, trying to sound facetious even though I was having trouble keeping my voice from quivering.

"He's not crazy," Jessica said with a sweet smile. "When you have money, you're eccentric, not crazy, dahlink!" she said in an exaggerated high society accent as she wrapped her arms around me. "It looks like two of us know your secret now," she whispered in my ear.

I stiffened, my heart pounding in my chest thinking in my confused state that she had somehow discovered that Jesse and I were lovers. "S-secret?" I stuttered.

"Yes," she smiled mischievously. Suddenly her fingers began dancing around my armpits and ribs. I pulled away and blocked her with my arms as I began to snicker.  "Perry's hopelessly ticklish!"

"So, is the floor show about to begin?" Noah asked, returning to the pool house, flip flops once again on his feet.

Jessica started to pull away and seemed about to scold her brother for catching her in an act of such silliness, but instead, suddenly turned and gave me a big kiss square on the lips. We parted with an audible smack. "That's all you get!" she teased, sticking her tongue out at her brother as she slipped past. "No more dawdling now!" she scolded  over her shoulder in her high society accent, before leaving the two of us together again--alone.

"I can't believe I'm standing here, jealous of my kid sister!" Noah uttered in amazement. He and I just stood there awkwardly for a few long moments. 

"Well, that was truly embarrassing," he finally admitted, scratching his head. "Once again I find myself apologizing to you, Perry. Obviously, I need to get out more," he chuckled, then looked at me uncomfortably. "You could have told her," he said quietly.

"Let's just move these tables," I said. I felt a little bad for Noah getting caught in such a ridiculous situation, but had to admit that his cover story had been pretty clever. He nodded quietly, and I felt a small twinge of sympathy. We picked up the ends of one of the long tables and began hobbling back towards the pool house entrance.

"I guess I shouldn't of gotten so upset," I offered.

"About what?" Noah asked, taking the backward position as we worked our way outside.

"You know, about letting you see my feet."

"My fault entirely! Of course, it was totally inappropriate of me--inexcusable...." He paused. "Your foot was so soft," he whispered.

"It's just a stupid foot!" I pointed out, my level of irritation quickly rising again.

"Perhaps to you. They do, after all, follow you around everywhere." When he saw that his little joke wasn't going over well, the smile slowly vanished from his face. "I am truly sorry, and as part of my penance, I intend to send Georgie a detailed email confession. He's very fond of you and he'll probably hate me for the things I said and did today."

"Don't do that," I said, as we passed the pool and carefully worked our way up the short flight of steps to the patio area. "It's embarrassing and...stuff."

"You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You've been nothing but a gentleman, my dear Perry, and extremely tolerant of my imprudent behavior. I am the one who has acted crassly all afternoon. I honestly don't know what got into me. I mean, breaking into my own sister's room to catch a salacious glimpse of her fourteen year old boyfriend...Do you think I'm sick?" he asked with what sounded like genuine concern.

"I...I don't know," I offered, taking his question unrhetorically. "I don't think I'm anything special to look at, but then, everyone has different tastes."

"Apparently, my sister and I share something in common there."

"Well, I guess I can't say anything about you being like gay and stuff, cuz that's none of my business," I explained quietly, "but I don't think it's right to sorta push yourself on someone who's like...not interested, ya know?"

"Out of the mouths of babes," Noah said thoughtfully.

"I'm not a babe!"

"Haha!  I didn't mean it that way," he said with a sudden smile. "I was referring to Psalm 8:  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."


"What I meant was, you speak wisely, young Perry. And incidentally, I'm very sorry to inform you that you are, indeed, a babe. I imagine you'll be forced to stand under the mistletoe all night long as the young ladies queue up around the block for their turn."

"It's not like that," I protested. "There are alot better looking guys in our class than me." One in particular.

"Really?  I'll have to see that with my own eyes," he noted skeptically.

Yeah, you do that, I thought to myself. Try messing with Jesse's feet and see what happens.

"Did you and George have a...a bad break up?" I asked, wanting to get off the subject of 'me.'

We set the table down as Noah opened one of the french doors. "Yes and no," he said. "There were a number of things that happened in our junior and senior years that tested our relationship, not the least of which was Arnold Mathias Hollister."

We got the table inside and we again put the table down so Noah could close the door.  "Strangely, it was George who was most adamant about telling his parents about us. You see, while we were both insatiably horny young lovers, I would have to say that Georgie had a passion for love making that rivaled his passion for football."
It was a wonderful feeling to know that George had been so happy in high school. And if it had been with Noah Bainbridge, so what? While he wasn't my idea of a great friend, let alone boyfriend, he and George had found a way, early on, to make it work for them. It had blossomed from a mutually beneficial friendship of a nerd and a jock, to a full out passionate high school relationship. "Cool," I said.

"You approve?" Noah asked with some puzzlement. "I must admit, the fact that a young, straight Catholic boy would be so open minded about a homosexual relationship, is rather perplexing."

I realized I was smiling. "I really like George. He helped me out of a bad spot and I thought it was really cool that he was so open about who he was and how he felt."

"Yes, as I said, he became instantly enamored of you as well, and now I know why."

"Well, I don't know about that, but I think we really did become friends that day, in that short amount of time. He really is something special, and I'm just glad that you guys had such a happy relationship."

Noah just nodded, still in some state of bewilderment. "Thank you, Perry.  There really was something special between us," he declared wistfully, "and it's a shame, in a way, that it had to end."

"But why did it have to end?"

"People move on," he explained enigmatically. "High school is only a beginning, Perry, though at the time I know it seems different."

We picked up the table and began carrying it cautiously through the corridors of the Bainbridge mansion.

"It was toward the end of our junior year that Georgie simply couldn't hold it in anymore," Noah continued in a subdued tone. "And I must admit, it was frustrating to have to constantly hide our relationship from everyone around us--especially our families, since we did most of our activities in one or another of our homes. Actually, the first to really catch on was Georgie's younger brother-"


"Yes. Is he a friend of yours?"

"Gene is great. He and George are so much alike, such nice people, always happy and calm about stuff."

"Well, I'm afraid neither one of them was very happy or calm that day. You see, Eugene walked in on us after school. We had carelessly forgotten to lock the door to Georgie's bedroom, and when he innocently popped in to ask if the sandwich downstairs was available for consumption, the two of us were in a rather...compromising situation."

"Oh, gross--I mean, gees. I guess that was embarrassing, huh?"

"To say the least. And Eugene was quite--how do you say it?--freaked out. Georgie's first response was to become quite indignant, and he wanted to frighten the poor boy into keeping quiet, but fortunately, cooler heads prevailed," he noted as he tapped his temple. "We ended up sitting down and having a nice long chat. It was really quite fascinating trying to explain to a stunned and bewildered 6th grade boy how his older brother, whom he greatly admired, and his brother's best friend--whom I don't think he really cared for--were actually lovers."

Noah suddenly stopped and set his end of the table down. My end started to get really heavy, so I set it down as well. We were in the middle of a quiet corridor which I knew would connect with the wider hallway that went past the rec room and thus to the great room. While there were no speakers here, I could dimly hear the  strains of  "Do You Hear What I Hear" wafting through the air.

"I suppose Eugene was really the catalyst that pushed Georgie into announcing our relationship to his parents."

"How did that go?"

"Are you familiar with the Rauchs?" he asked.

"Not really. I don't see them at church, maybe some football games and school stuff, but I never actually talked to them or anything except to say hi."

"Well, the two brothers definitely get their bright and cheerful natures from their mother. Mrs. Rauch always had a smile on her face and a kind word on her lips. I think she was quite taken aback by his announcement, but to her credit, she remained very calm, and within a week, there was no doubt that she had come to accept the facts of the situation. Now Mr. Rauch, he was quite a different story. He's obviously where the boys get their athletic prowess and drive. Don't get me wrong, he's a very good man with strong and simple values--salt of the earth, I suppose you might say. For some reason that was never clear to me, he has a rather open disdain for the Catholic Church even though he was raised as a Catholic himself. Anyway, to distill a rather long and unpleasant story, he didn't take well to Georgie's announcement."

"Were you there when he talked to them?"

"No. Not that I wouldn't have been,  given the opportunity," he added quickly. "I would've stood with Georgie against the whole town, Dr. Dobson, Jerry Falwell, George Dubaya,and the Pope himself if I had been given a chance, but he insisted that it was something he wanted to deal with on his own."

When the day would finally come for me to tell my mom the Truth, I knew I wanted Jesse by my side. I knew that I would stand before her, reach over and grab Jesse's hand and squeeze it tight as I forced the Truth to come out of my mouth. Even though it caused my chest to tighten with fear, I also had a sense of what a relief it would be to finally speak those words: Mom, Jesse and I are gay and we love each other very much.

"He was brave, huh?"

"Yes, indeed. But Mr. Rauch would have none of it. He forbade Georgie to ever see me again, and not only that, he personally came to my house to have a talk with my parents. Well, it was quite a mess, and it made all our lives extremely difficult. While my parents chose to live in a certain amount of denial for some time, I did have the whole-hearted support of my brother. Unfortunately, he was mostly away at UCSB, and busy performing in the summer, so it wasn't quite the face-to-face support I really needed."

"And no one told Jessica?"

Noah shook his head. "Honestly, at the time it seemed highly unlikely that she would be any more receptive than my parents."

"Gene was able to deal with it," I pointed out. "Maybe you don't give Jessica enough credit."

"Again, perhaps you're right. It wasn't even something that was high on my agenda until...until I saw you. But in time, my parents came to accept my nature and our relationship. I really don't give them the credit they deserve," he noted guiltily.

"How does Arnie Hollister fit in to all of this?"

"He's a twisted person, Perry," Noah said with deadly earnest. "You might think that I was audacious and crude in the way I approached you today, but Hollister-"

My heart nearly leapt into my throat as Morgan came strolling casually down the hall. It was a shock to see him wearing a gray suit coat, white, button down shirt, fairly tasteful red and green striped tie, baggy dress slacks, and shiny black loafers.

"Oh...hey, Nobby! I didn't know you were in town," Morgan said with cautious surprise. "Wazzup?"

"Good afternoon, young Mr. Kipner--or should I say evening? It gets dark so early these days. May I say, it's a little shocking to see you out of your characteristic sports regalia."

Morgan shrugged. "Not my choice," he snorted.

"Hey," I said, suddenly feeling awkward in Morgan's presence. I glanced at my watch and was surprised that it was already after five. While I had been dreading spending a long and interminable afternoon with Jessica, the time had actually gone by much more quickly than I would have thought possible. "We were just bringing this table in for the party."

"Yeah, Jessica was getting a bit antsy," Morgan confirmed."But she and Katy just went up to get ready, and I said I'd come out and see what the hold up was."

"I suppose it's my fault," Noah announced. "I'm afraid I've been talking Perry's ear off, talking about the good old days at jolly St. Bonnie's, and all the excitement with the basketball team and so on. In fact, I understand congratulations are in order. Perry insists that the majority of the credit for the team's success goes to your athletic prowess and strong leadership."

 Funny, we had never actually had that conversation, although it is what I would've said.

Morgan shrugged, but couldn't help but let a little pride show through. "Perry had alot to do with it too. He's a great player. He doesn't give himself enough credit."

"That much is certain," Noah agreed readily. "I'll tell you what," he said. "To expedite this matter, why don't the two of you set this table up in the great room? Meanwhile, I'll return to the poolhouse and bring the other table along shortly."

"You can't carry it by yourself," I pointed out.

"Well, I can get a good start. Perhaps Perry could come back and lend me a hand once you have the first one set up properly."

"Sounds like a plan," Morgan acknowledged, "but it'd make more sense for me to lend a hand since it looks like Perry still has some getting ready to do before the party."

"I don't mind," I jumped in quickly. I really did want to hear the rest of the story, especially the part about Arnie Hollister.

So we quickly set up the table, much to the joy of Mrs. Bainbridge and Mrs. Mulroney. Morgan was then put to work hanging some final decorations around the rec room and I hurried off to the poolhouse.

Noah was standing by the pool, frantically puffing away. He quickly extinguished his cigarette when he saw me coming.

"We'd better hurry," I said, walking right past him and straight to the poolhouse.

"I want to ask you one last thing," Noah said, standing in the doorway.

My heart started pounding forcefully in my chest. I thought we'd gotten past all this.

"It occurred to me, when I mentioned the possible scenario under the mistletoe later this evening, that due to the unfortunate constraints of our oh-so-modern society, I won't be able to participate--at least not in the way I'd like to. So I was hoping that we could do it here, in this private setting, thus avoiding any potential scandal."

"What are you saying?" I asked, fully aware that I could dash out and save myself with relative ease if necessary. I knew Morgan was around and he wouldn't stand by and let someone mess with me.

"I'd like my chance under the mistletoe, Perry," he said, slowly approaching me.

"You wanna kiss me?" I asked, trying unsuccessfully to hide my disgust.

He nodded and smiled. Unlike some of his other facial expressions, it was a strangely sweet smile and I realized it was something of an effort for someone like Noah Bainbridge to allow his true emotions to show through. And then I realized that his mask of smugness was one way to conceal the secret of his sexuality.


"I wouldn't even ask, except for the fact that you seemed so accepting of my relationship with Georgie Rauch. There is more to you than just a pretty face, Perry. There is a thoughtful, open mind in there as well, and you are a credit to young men everywhere."

I could easily say no and my feeling was that he would let it go, but that felt so...mean. Despite the things he had said and done, he was Jessica's older brother and he had shared a very personal story with me at my insistence. Besides, could it be any worse than being kissed on the lips by Mrs. Mulroney?

" on the cheek?" I asked nervously.

He shook his head. "I don't think that's how it's traditionally done," he said quietly.

"But that would be weird," I couldn't help but point out.

"I'm not asking that you reciprocate."

"You'll tell me what happened with Arnie Hollister?" I bargained.

"As best I can."

I nodded, and waited for him to close the distance between us. He had to stoop slightly to bring us in line. Then he tilted his head so that his large nose and his lips touched me at the same time.  I immediately smelled the acrid odor of cigarettes on his breath, and crinkled my face in disgust. But he either didn't notice or didn't care. I could feel the stubble on his upper lip as he pressed his lips against mine. After the initial contact, he started to apply some pressure, and then began chewing lightly at my mouth as he wrapped his bigger lips more and more around my own. I felt his hand come up along my back and push me firmly against his own slender body and I could feel his heart beating rapidly. He moaned and I felt it in his chest. I was actually getting to the point where I was getting light-headed from lack of air when he finally pulled away.

We stood staring at each other for several long moments, both of us breathing deeply. Noah's eyes were watery.

"Um...Merry Christmas and...Happy New Year," I offered self-consciously.

"Well, it's certainly been a wonderful December the nineteenth!" he exclaimed. "Georgie will be so jealous," he pointed out with a thin smile. Then he licked his lips.

"Don't tell him," I pleaded.

"But why not? I have no doubt that he'd make the same request if he were here. At least I can share the experience with him, hmm?"

"It's super embarrassing," I said quietly.

"No Perry, it's not.  Again, you were very brave. After everything I've done and said today, I wouldn't have been surprised if you'd simply run from the room after hearing my request. Instead, you stood there and..." he smiled that sly grin again, "took it like a man. Well done."

I didn't say anything as I felt my cheeks burn. Again, more staring. "We should bring that table in," I repeated, interrupting the uncomfortable silence.

"Yes, of course. But slowly. I have a story to finish."

It turned out, unsurprisingly, that Arnie Hollister was something of a loser at school. His extremely pushy parents insisted that he sign up for football every year, but he spent most of his time as a bench warmer. Even then, he managed to get in trouble with the coach over various infractions, and George, having such a big and caring heart, had tried to help the sophomore out, by training with him after hours.

"Everyone deserves a chance, Georgie would say." Noah shrugged.

We managed to drag the table to the door of the poolhouse when Noah set his end down, indicating that he wanted to finish his tale before we got out in the open. I could understand that and set my end down as well. We could always pick it up quickly if anyone decided to come back and check on our progress.

"It turned out Hollister could be quite diligent when he wanted to be. The private practice sessions continued well after the season was over, and even into the spring of our junior year. While Georgie focused on track, I was on the spring soccer team. Fortune was with us, and our team was number one in our division. It was after we won our first playoff that Georgie met me behind the fieldhouse at H.T. We were both exhilarated of course, and even though in hindsight it was a reckless blunder on our part, we embraced and had ourselves a good long kiss. That in itself was wonderful, as it was always so cathartic to be able to express our affection for each other somewhere outside our own bedrooms."  He smiled fondly. "Even this place saw quite a bit of action," he remarked, his eyes taking in the large room in which we were standing. "It was especially fun in here because we could have a drink or two and really loosen up."

"What happened at the game?" I asked nervously.

"As you might expect, someone caught us in the act. As fate would have it, it was Arnold Hollister, and to be quite fair, I don't think he was intentionally spying on us. He had simply seen Georgie disappear behind the fieldhouse and had eventually followed. Needless to say, all three of us were quite stunned. I could feel the belligerence and panic arise immediately in Georgie, and he began to chase the younger boy across the field. Hollister took off like a frightened jack rabbit. Of course, that didn't look quite right, and after twenty or thirty yards, Georgie fell back and Hollister disappeared into the dispersing crowd."

He paused and pursed his lips. "I suppose we should get this table inside," he said reluctantly.

I nodded and we headed out past the pool.

"That was the first time you were ever caught?" I asked.

"As far as we know--besides Eugene, of course."

"So, did Hollister want to talk to you guys about what he saw?"

"Not exactly," Noah said with obvious distaste.  He looked around, and seeing the coast was clear, again set his end of the table down. I did the same.

"It seems that Hollister was under a lot of pressure from his parents to get on the varsity football team his junior year. So he pretty much insisted that Georgie do whatever it took to get him on the team."


"In a way. According to Georgie, Hollister had become a half way decent player by the end of his sophomore year and if he could just keep himself out of trouble, Georgie didn't think he'd have a problem making the cut. And of course, it turned out that Georgie was chosen team captain in his senior year, so that pretty much sealed the deal. Unfortunately, Hollister couldn't keep his nose clean. He missed practices, showed up late for games, sometimes came to practices reeking of alcohol, and was even caught smoking pot in the locker room. Georgie was put in a very awkward postion, constantly trying to defend him to the coach. But he managed somehow, and they got through the season. They made it to the playoffs that year, but lost the championship by one field goal."

"Gees, that's too bad. Just like our football team this year."

"While Georgie was never one to put winning above good sportsmanship, he was very disappointed at coming so close, only to lose in the final moments of the game.  But that is the nature of competitive sports. Now this is where things took a very unfortunate turn," Noah said, lowering his voice so that I could barely hear him over the distant hum of the pool filter.

"I often volunteered as an assistant librarian after school for Sister Patrice while Georgie did locker room duty, which mostly consisted of sitting in the coach's office doing his homework, picking the occasional towel up off the floor, or making sure all the various balls and other equipment were returned by those that had signed them out for the day. Well, it just so happened one day in late February, that the library had to be closed after a particularly heavy downpour because of some leakage in the ceiling, so I decided to go down to the locker room and keep Georgie company. I was still in the habit of helping him with his homework as much as my own heavy schedule allowed.  Unfortunately, the scene I stumbled upon was enough to leave me speechless and in utter shock."

"What happened?"

Noah glanced around nervously again, the light coming from beneath the surface of the pool creating the unsettling effect that the skin on his face was shifting both in color and texture. "I burst into the coach's office without preamble, having decided on my way down, that I wasn't so much interested in homework as perhaps making out with my boyfriend. But it turned out Georgie already had company." Noah abruptly stopped speaking. It was as if the batteries had suddenly been pulled out of his voice box. His expression was hard to read in the shimmering, dancing light of the reflecting water.

He moved from his end of the table toward mine, sliding his fingers along the large slab to keep it from tipping over. "Georgie was on his knees with Arnold Hollister's dick in his mouth."

"Oh no-not George!" 

Noah nodded sullenly. "I left immediately of course, and jumped in my car and drove for...I don't know, a very long time. It began to rain again and I kept having this vision of going into a skid and plowing uncontrollably into the cars on either side of me."

I shook my head. It was hard to believe that George Rauch, the sweet hearted giant who had so gallantly come to my rescue, would betray his friend and lover of so many years, especially for one of the very same scum buckets that he had saved me from at the mall. It seemed to me, when I looked back on that memorable day after Thanksgiving, that there had been no love lost between the older Rauch and the clownishly creepy Hollister.

"But you didn't...didn't get hurt?"

"No, not physically anyway. But it was quite a blow nevertheless, excuse the pun. As it turned out, Hollister had been, according to Georgie's explanation, continuing to sexually blackmail my friend and lover over what he had seen at the soccer championship the previous spring. Apparently, he had threatened to tell the whole team that he had observed Georgie and me kissing behind the fieldhouse. The thing is, Georgie'd never given a satisfactory explanation for why he had chased Hollister half way across the field, a spectacle witnessed by a hundred or more witnesses, so such a revelation would have fed the gossip mills quite nicely."

"That's sad," I noted as we stood there at the bottom of the stairs.

"And I must confess something, Perry," he said, looking at me quite guiltily. "I was never quite convinced that Georgie had been coerced into that act of fellatio-and whatever had come before it."

"But why? You knew he loved you!" I said with a passion that surprised even me.

Noah cringed and glanced around and up toward the house.

"Oops, sorry," I apologized sheepishly.

"This is indeed an awkward conversation to be having right here at this moment," he admitted. "And the very fact that I am having it with my sister's 8th grade boyfriend seems in itself somewhat...surreal." He lifted the table and we began to climb up the wide, but short flight of stairs. This brought us to the outside patio, which we quickly crossed. He glanced in through the french doors before continuing.

"You have to remember that Georgie and Hollister had been spending a lot of time together during our junior year."

"But George was just trying to help the guy out," I said defensively.

"Perhaps," he said, uncertainly. "One of the unfortunate consequences of being in love is that you're always afraid you're going to lose it--at least, that's the way I felt."

I nodded in understanding as an unbidden picture of Jason Tarentino popped into my head.

"Anyway, shortly after catching him in the act, and in a fit of jealous zeal, I cornered Hollister one day and gave him a piece of my mind. I told him to leave Georgie alone or else!"

"And did that work?" I asked skeptically.

Noah shook his head dismally. "First, he was quite belligerent. He gleefully informed me that he and Georgie had been giving each other head since the end of our junior year, and that Georgie enjoyed their activities far more than he did spending time with me. Granted, I am the first to admit that my head is sometimes far too large for my body, but still, I found it hard to believe that Georgie would sincerely fall for such a loser. Hollister represented everything Georgie loathed. At that point, I became quite enraged. I don't remember ever being so unconditionally angry at anyone before or since. In fact I did something that, in retrospect, I'm rather ashamed of, as we are always told never to use our skills in such a way; I used my martial arts techniques to get him in a very lethal choke hold. He literally couldn't breath, and I could have crushed his larynx with the simplest of motions. I recall actually getting pleasure from seeing the way his eyes bulged from their sockets. His face turned first a pasty white and then a somewhat alarmingly bluish hue. Finally I released him and he dropped to his knees, gasping for breath. Then he seemed to get very...contrite and Gollum-like, and promised me he would stop." Noah paused to gather his thoughts, and a look of weariness caused his long face to droop even more than usual. "But then rumors started spreading through the school about Georgie and me-that we were indeed gay lovers."


"I have no doubt. It was one of the most difficult times of our lives."

"But you had each other," I pointed out.

Noah shrugged.  "Yes and no. Unfortunately, Hollister had managed to plant the seeds of doubt in my mind, and I was never fully convinced that Georgie hadn't been a somewhat willing partner in the tryst that I interrupted in the coach's office."

"So, that was the end of you guys?"  I asked disappointedly.

"No...not quite. We did manage to  repair our relationship, somewhat. But the gossip in the corridors of H.T. just got worse and worse until Georgie was actually having a hard time with his fellow athletes, and even some of the faculty. They were beginning to believe the rumors, and it forced us to be extremely cautious. Really, we hardly dared to even look at each other in school anymore, and due to our busy schedules, got together at each other's houses much less frequently."

I shook my head. Was that the future that lay in store for Jesse and me? As much as it frightened me, I just couldn't believe it. Our love was stronger than that. I would never let somebody like Arnie Hollister or a slick operator like Jason Tarentino get between us-never!

"And it wasn't just the business with Hollister and the growing schism between us that weighed on his mind. While Georgie was unquestionably a top tier athlete and the best quarterback H.T. had seen in many years, the spring track team started to lose confidence in him, and that in turn, caused Georgie to lose confidence in himself. There had been such high expectations that Georgie was going to win a division championship for the Warriors his senior year, and when that didn't happen, it was a major disappointment to everyone and only served to increase the atmosphere of homophobia surrounding him at that point."

"That Hollister is such a bastard!" I said angrily, realizing that my brief encounter with him at the mall had been nothing compared to what he had done to George and Noah. I realized that George Rauch must have been showing incredible restraint that day, encountering Hollister and Hernandez like that, intimidating a stupid and witless 8th grader. Knowing what I did now, it was a wonder that George hadn't wiped the mall floor with that red-sneakered clown and his leather-jacketed cohort.

It was obvious that Noah had been deeply affected by the subject of our conversation, and we stood there in the chilly December dusk, exchanging helpless glances. Finally, he sighed. "We'd better head inside before-" He stopped as we saw the shadowy figure of Morgan appear in the hallway beyond the darkened breakfast room.

Morgan opened the door. "You guys need a little extra man power?" he asked with a friendly smirk.

"Actually, what I need is a goddamn cigarette!" Noah said rather desperately, gesturing for Morgan to take hold of his end of the table. Apparently this was going to be the end of our discussion, even though it still wasn't entirely clear why Georgie and Noah had split up at the end of high school.

The lanky college lad walked past me quickly, but I was still able to catch a glimpse of the pain etched into his face.  I understood now that this was still a very fresh wound for Noah, and that satisfying the curiosity of a nosy 8th grader wasn't his top priority at the moment. But when he got to the bottom of the stairs, he turned his back to the pool and looked up at me.

"Forgive my rudeness, Perry. Perhaps we'll run into each other again before the end of the evening," he noted quietly. He managed half an uneasy smile, and then turned and headed toward the darkened pool house.


Special Thanks to my editor-in-chief, AJ!

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