Chapter Six: Listen to Your Heart

OH God, here it comes—fuck!" Mike sucked in Amber's clit as she rode his face to her fourth orgasm of the night and then they spooned for a while.

"Sorry about earlier, just have a lot on my right now."

"Aw sweetie everyone has off days, but you keep up that tongue work and I just might have to marry ya."

Mike laughed then told her he had to go and got dress. Once in the pimpmobile he called up his go to freak and made a bee line for her house.

***

Mercedes was a mocha beauty with curves in all the right places and knew how work it. After a bit of small talk it was game on. As she rode him reverse cow girl style Mike bit his bottom lip got lost in her hot tightness, but something was off.

He should be halfway to completion, but he was only half hard at best and that as only because Mercedes put porn stars to shame.

"Damn it," he said to himself then tried to get back into it. He switched to missionary and plowed away while Mercedes dug into his back and sucked on his neck. After what seem like forever Mike felt his balls tighten and he finished, but when the moment came Jack's face popped into his mind.

"Hold up boo, what's the rush? Let's chill then go for round two cuz, ooh wee you laid it down."

"Naw `Cedes got to go, you know how my pops is. Later shorty." He kissed her on the cheek when she went for his lips then left, but not before he dented his driver's side door. He drove home, nursing his right hand and went straight to basement to work on the heavy bag. But it did nothing to easy his temperature.

What was wrong with him? He never had problems getting it up before—hell he laid more pipe than a plumber, but then why did he feel like he was just going through the motions tonight?

It was that damned Jack's fault. He was normal until they met again and now his head was all mixed up. Why did he have to come back into his just when everything was going good?

"Boy, get a hold of yourself!"

"When did you get here, Sir?"

"About the time you lost your senses and wrecked the heavy bag."

Mike looked down at his bloody knuckles and saw he been hitting air, as the bag lay in the corner.

"The money to get the ceiling fixed is coming out of your pocket. You not on the juice now are ya?"

"No sir. Just lost my cool. Won't happen again." Mike bandaged his hands then hopped in his car and drove with nowhere in mind, but he found himself outside Ed's Mixed Martial Arts Dojo and figured maybe a talk with his sensei would help.

"What are you doing here loser, class is over. FYI I don't appreciate having my schedule rearranged so you can go off gallivanting." Ryan Allen threw down his gym bag and walked towards Mike.

"I'm not in a moody for your crap so back off unless you wanna have a go."

"Please Blacky Chan you're not worth it."

"This from the guy who still makes white belt mistakes?"

"That's it bitch. You're dead." Ryan got into a fighting stance then threw a straight punch. Mike grabbed the offending arm and threw the brown haired teen over his shoulder and then rolled onto him and got top mount. Ryan tried to transition and get side control, but soon found himself in a kimura arm lock.

"I've been taking crap from you for years and always let it slide, but you've pushed me too far." Mike leaned back, his left leg around Ryan's neck and the other trapped his arm. As he applied more to the arm it wrenched out of the socket. Mike prepared to break it, but was stopped when Sensei Ed arrived.

"Michael, release him this instant!" He didn't comply and the next thing he knew Mike was staring up at a petite Chinese man while Sensei Ed helped Ryan pop his shoulder back in the socket and then told him to leave.

"I'm sorry young friend, but you let me no choice."

Mike got up and shook the cob webs from his brain.

"Seriously, who are you and why do I feel like I've just been hit with a sledge hammer?"

Sensei Ed stepped forward and introduced the man as Harrison Wang, the new Wing Chun instructor.

"Now Michael san explain why I shouldn't ban you."

"Maybe you should."

" What is the meaning of this? I'd hate to see your talent go to waste, but I can't have you here if you don't control your anger."

"That's way I think it's best I give up Martial Arts." Mike turned to leave but Sensei Ed placed his hand on Mike's shoulder and turned him around and they went into his office. Once the door closed Mike told him all about how he tried but couldn't stop blowing up, and when Ed asked him why, he told him all about Jack.

"Michael san, Martial Arts is about protection, but your greatest opponent lies in here." He pointed to his chest and continued, "Your mind and body must be in synch or you've lost before the first blow is thrown."

"But that's just it. Ever since Jack moved back my world's been in chaos. He makes me think and feel things I shouldn't and I don't know how to get squared away anymore."

Ed stood and stippled his hands.

"Listen to your heart and you'll know what to do."

"But one half of me wants to go to him and make things right, but the other knows I must crush my feelings to dust because my enemy will use them against me."

Ed sighed and placed his hand on Mike's shoulder, but he flinched away.

"You use anger as an outlet for your other emotions and will never know peace until you embrace all parts of yourself. Every movement you make screams come at me if you must and I'll crush you, but don't get too close."

Those words cut Mike to his core and he had to know how the man knew all this even though he never spoke of this to anyone. Sensei Ed told him that when you trade blows with someone it reveals everything about them and yourself.

Mike nodded dumbfounded. How could he have been so naïve to believe only the Alphas knew how intimate fighting could be?

"Michael san this is a battle that can't be won with physical strength. Forget what others say and listen only to the voice inside."

"I can't because all I hear is my father telling me to stop being soft and disappointing him."

"And why is that?"

"Because I'm not living up to who I was meant to be."

"And who is that?"

Mike paused and calculated how he should word it.

"The best of the best."

"But who do you want to be?"

"It doesn't matter because what Dad says is law until I'm strong enough."

Sensei Ed didn't know if he should pry into Mike's home life and risking provoking the or worse have him go over the edge. He stood and called MR. Wang into the office. Sensei Ed told Mike he thought it best for the time being he not come into work and switch from to Wing Chun.

"Seriously what difference does the style make? I'll still put people at risk."

Sensei Ed was about to respond but Master Wang told Mike that the more relaxed a person was the more powerful their attacks become in Wing Chun.

"No offense, but prove it."

They moved to the sparring mats and Master Wang told him to hit him with his best shoot. Mike threw a right hook but was pushed back several inches. He tried again and this time stumbled before getting his footing back.

Mike asked how he was able to do that when he didn't see the man either drop his weight to his knees or twist his shoulder for added torque when he struck.

Master Wang told him that because he didn't do those things he was able to block the attack before it reached him and counter attack before Mike could respond. Moreover, because he was relaxed his muscles didn't lose energy from needless motion and he could strike multiple times along the centerline to disable an opponent.

"Show me more."

He told Mike to place his wrists on the inside of his and to follow along. He struck with his right hand and told Mike to block it using the front of his left wrist, and then they repeated this with the other hand. Master Wang explained this was an exercise called Chi Sao (sticky hands) and was used to develop speed, blocking and trapping skills.

As they continued Master Wang sped up and Mike had to go all out to keep up, but as they continued he relaxed and focused on Master's Wang's commands. When he stopped trying to win, time seemed to slow down as he watched Master Wang's serpentine hands flow over his.

Master Wang told him to close his eyes and concentrated on feeling positive and negative force as he rolled his forearms over Mike's as they began Luk Sao.

When he felt Mike was ready they switched back to sticky hands, but as Master Wang sped up Mike began anticipating his moves and countered without being told. When he next struck with another straight punch Mike blocked using the back of his right wrist and then countered the left hand he knew Wang would respond with. He got in a punch to Master Wang's sternum, but before it connected Master Wang countered with his own. Mike picked himself up nodded bye to the gentlemen.

"Not bad for a first timer. Be here tomorrow at 5 prepared to work. And Michael, don't expect me to go this easy on you." Master Wang laughed manically.

Sensei Ed told him to stop joking, to which he replied "I'm not joking."

***

On the drive home Mike still wasn't sure how to handle the Pinky situation, part of him wanted to tell the Alphas and be done with the mess. That's what James would do, but he wasn't his father and didn't want to be him.

For the first time he dared ask what he wanted to do with his life, but he had no idea what that was that. James had his life mapped out from the womb to the tomb and it was made clear to him that it was college or the Corps (preferable both) after high school, but he just wanted to go off and explore.

For the time being he would follow Ed's advice and listen to his heart. What that was he had no idea yet, but try as he might to ignore it a certain blonde gymnast held the key to his questions. Whether he liked the answers that was another matter for a different day, tomorrow had come and it was time to start fresh.

***

Jim Johnson was a disheveled wreck when answered the door the next morning and shut the door in Mike's face before he had a chance to introduces himself, but Samantha already had three cups of coffee chided Jim for being so rude and ushered Mike into living room, but it took twenty minutes to rouse the boys. The twins were properly dressed, but Jack insisted on wearing flip-flops and wouldn't back down when Mike told him to change. Mike wasn't in the mood for another fight so he allowed it, but drew the line when Jack got his crutches.

"You can bring them, but you will not use them under any circumstances is that clear?"

"But—"

Mike pulled him out the door and they were off. Ten minutes into the run Jack complained his feet hurt, but Mike told him to suck it and upped their pace. As they broke mile one Kaden was covered in sweat while Jaden and Jack didn't fare much better and they stopped for a water break, even though Mike told them it'd cost them another mile. While they rested Mike got in four miles on his own, but when he came back he found Adam there making out with Jack.

He cleared his throat and told the love birds to say goodbye.

Adam wrapped his arm around Jack's waist and said, "Jealous much?"

"You must be on one son. Remind me again, who was it that went down on the Redford High foot ball team, and bragged about it? Oh it was you and who was banned from the locker room cause he was caught being gang banged by..."

Mike didn't get to complete his sentence because Adam swung at him. Mike stepped forward and blocked Adam arm with his hands and twisted it behind Adam's back and brought him to the deck.

"I'm not in a mood so I'll make a deal with you. Get into formation behind Jaden, then make up the mile you missed later and you can stay, until we break for breakfast."

Adam glowered at Mike, but held his tongue and they ran.

After Mike made steak and eggs they hydrated and got back to it, but not until after the older teens argued because Mike wouldn't let Jack change into running shoes. It wasn't ten yet and it was above 80, but Mike wouldn't let them take it easy and by the time they reached the two mile mark Jack sat down and refused to continue unless he could use his crutches. Mike leaned down and got nose to nose with him.

"You will continue even if I have to drag you, is that clear! When Jack flinched back Mike lowered his tone and told Jack to repeat after him.

"Pain is temporary, pride is forever."

Jack mumbled it back then got up and fell as his knees gave out. Mike caught him and told him to keep going.

"I can't! Just let me use my crutches, please."

"No you have to learn to go beyond your limits, and we'll stay here until you get moving."

"Mike come dude lay off him."

"T2, did I ask you what you thought, no! Now stand down unless you want another mile."

"But..."

"Make that two, want to go for three?"

"No sir." Jaden lowered his head and sighed.

"Good," he paused then turned back to Jack. "I don't care how much it hurts you will comply with my orders."

"I hate you, you fucking psycho. I wish you were dead."

Mike grabbed his shoulder, and when Jack flinched away he pulled him up.

"I'm not going to let up until you give me one more step.'

"Let me go I can't do it."

"Yes you can and will. Now follow me. I'll get you through it." He stuck out his hand and Jack took it. They made it fifty feet before Jack's legs gave out again.

"Company halt!" Mike said, and then told the twins to come front and center. He explained how you never leave a man behind then showed them how to execute a three man carry and the marched on carrying Jack. Half a mile later the twins couldn't hold up their side and so Mike switched to carrying Jack over his shoulder in a fireman's lift.

"You asshole let me go. I swear to God I'll kill you."

Mike set Jack down then had him use the twins as human crutches. As they made it back to the house Jack rested against Mike's back as the twins hunched over barely able to support his weight, but as one they sang: "Don`t fall out, gotta deal with it."

Mike carried Jack bride style and deposited him on the couch then iced down his knees.

"That will teach you not to disobeyed orders, wont it. Now park it and I'll be back in a bit."

On the way back home he saw Kaden smoking but shook his head and left to retrieve some moleskin for the boys' blisters. He opened his door only to find Amber resting on his bed running her hands up Carmen. Mike grabbed it from her and told Amber never to touch his gun.

"Well is that any way to say hi? No need for you burst a vein, and you shoulda told me you hunted. Go all the time with my brothers."

"I'm busy and will talk to you later, ok." He opened his dresser to retrieve the med pack, but amber grabbed it from him and told him to pay attention to her then kissed him and fished her hand into shorts.

***

When Adam arrived at Jack's house the blonde pulled him to his room and tore off his Armani shirt and lick every inch of Adam's tan chest. He paid special attention to the quarter size nipples and when Adam pushed his head Jack obliged. He licked the balls then sucked until Adam begged him to quit playing around. Jack licked his right index finger and slide up the back door as he went down on him.

Adam grabbed the back of Jack's head and shoved him down his bean pole of a cock, but pulled back when Jack gagged from his last power thrust. He repositioned Jack so they were tip to tail and began fingering him.

"Stop," Jack said when Adam lifted his legs and lined up.

"Come on babe, I need this?" Adam clasped his and got down on his knees.

"I'm not ready yet."

"Why not, I'm cute and hard so what's your issue?"

"I've only been with one guy before and he always bottomed." Jack said and looked down as his skin flushed red.

"Please I promise to be gentle. Let me put the tip in?"

"No I want it to be special ok?"

"Jesus, are you for real?"

When Jack nodded Adam groaned then poured on the charm and cuddled with Jack and slid his erection between Jack's cheeks then inched the head closer to the hole. Adam couldn't take it anymore and finished himself off.

***

Mike sighed as he made his way to Jack's. Amber was cute but just didn't do it for him anymore and worse yet she wanted him to meet her brothers. Spending a weekend with potential red necks was the last thing on his to-do list, though if he got on their good side it could work in his favor when he broke up with her. On the bright side mini-Mike didn't give him any trouble this time and he set a new record for most orgasms in one session. So things were back normal, but he couldn't deny the emptiness was still there. When Adam walked by him he dry heaved.

"Son, it's cologne not body wash."

Adam grabbed his crotch.

"The only body wash that matters is Jack's tongue on these nuts."

Mike tackled him to ground and choked him out with his duffle bag.

"If you ever touch him you'll wish you were dead." Kaden snapped Mike out of it before Adam passed out, and they walked and talked until he cooled down.

Adam collected himself and threatened to call the cops if Mike put his hands on him again.

Kaden lit up then took a deep drag and moaned. Mike asked if it was as good for the cig as it was for him then snatched it from his mouth and stamped it out.

"Hey those are thirty bucks a pack and I'm down to my last ten." He lit up another one and dared Mike to take this.

"You shouldn't be smoking squirt, especially if you hope to live through underwater survival training. Now let me barrow your lighter." Kaden told him to go screw and that he if wanted his lighter than he'd have to man up and shotgun with him. Mike threatened to tell his mother, but Kaden threaten to tell her Mike was the one who taught him to smoke and he got them for him.

"OK you win this round since she's still on the warpath about yesterday. I swear you could give Kyle a run for his money in the psy-ops department."

Kaden flipped him off then took a long drag and held it in. Mike leaned down and inhaled as he exhaled the smoke, their lips lightly touching. They continued until Mike was hit by a coughing fit.

"Light weight."

"Whatever now hand it over." Mike turned and saw Jack red faced and glaring at him.

"Oh I get it, you like `em young."

"Spare me the melodramatics." Mike pushed past Jack and then retrieved the med kit from his duffle. He popped Jaden's biggest blisters then applied moleskin to the rest and did the same to Kaden after heating the tweezers. When it was Jack's turn he was nowhere to be found. Mike pinched the bridge of his nose and went to Jack's room.

"What's your malfunction now?"

"I don't know, maybe you getting it on with my baby brother, who mind you doesn't turn 14 until next month, but besides that nothing."

Mike tried to explain it wasn't like that, but Jack wasn't hearing it

"Look I'm not into him, or any guy for that matter, but why do you care? You're with easy AC `member?"

"Gah, were you born an insufferable douche, or did you have to work at it?"

"A little from column A and a lot from column B. Just sit still and then we can get on with things. I swear getting under my skin must be a Johnson trait, because first you then Jaden and even sweet Kaden is giving me crap."

"Point of order, that boy aint been sweet since he hit sixth grade and went neo-gothic or whatever the hell he calls himself now—ouch!" Jack rubbed his foot and glared at Mike, who smirked at him.

"Well if you stopped squirming I wouldn't have slipped. And he doesn't seem so bad to me. Hell he could make a good wing man if he rocked a Mohawk and maybe a lip ring."

"One, he's been acting out of character ever since he saw you again. I haven't seen him be that friendly with any of us and don't get me started on him and Jaden trying to kill each other when they're not pulling a prank on someone, usually me by the way. And what's this wingman business?"

"All done now come on."

"But my feet are still killing me and don't try to change the subject asshole."

"Well excuse me, Princess Pinky hurt his little feet `cause he was insubordinate. I'll alert the President, surely he'll want to know this monumental news."

"You're a fucking asshole.'

"I know and proud of it too. Now lay back and I'll rub your feet if you promise to stop being a crybaby. I swear at this rate you won't have to worry about the Alphas. The training will eat you alive."

"Whatever I just want things to go back to normal."

"That makes two of us. There, now is her royal highness ready to grace us with her presence?"

"Don't you have a NAMBLA meeting to get to? Mmmmm right there."

"Hey if there's grass on the field I'm playing, just saying."

"Don't make me spew."

"Right tell that to your boyfriend. Next time you hookup tell him to keep it to himself. Careful with that one he's burned more rubber than NASCAR."

"I'll handle him and you mind your business. You're the last person to talk. Sure you don't have any Mike juniors running around?"

"Yes, but if I did I'd take care of him, assuming there's anything left when my parents get done with me. Can I stop now?"

Jack begged him to continue for just a bit more. Mike sighed and complied though he knew they were wasting valuable time, but they could slack off just for today because tomorrow there would be no turning back. The little voice at the back of his head acted up again and he had to agree this was kind of nice, but weirs. Like old times before Pinky spoiled things by bringing sex into the mix.

Would it be so bad if he were in love with Jack? No, it would be Armageddon.

He looked at Jack and for the first time really took him in: sure if were to hook up with a guy he could do much worse, but he wanted more than that.

"You can stop any time now ya know," Jack said when he caught Mike looking at him.

"Sorry man was lost in thought. No disrespect but when did you know you were gay?"

"Where's this coming from dude?"

"Nothing just curious is all. Never mind I won't ask again, come on."

"No, wait. I was about 10 when I started to notice other guys, but it wasn't until I was about 13 that I knew for sure."

"How?"

"It started when we become friends, but I knew for sure when we kissed."

Mike paused and looked at Jack—no, Pinky the little voice corrected for him—and then hugged him.

"I'm sorry man. Can we just go back to how things were before?"

"No you can't change how I feel about you, nor can I change you, but you know what?"

"What?"

"I wouldn't if I could, because you wouldn't be the man I loved."

"OK but do you really love Adam?"

"I don't know yet but you're not helping. If you attack him again I'll kick your ass."

"Deal, but he's dead if he hurts my Pinky."

"You don't own me mister."

"But if I did then what?"

"Then what would the kids look like?"

"You ass! Come on." Mike swatted his butt and took off before Jack could retaliate, but he didn't care because for a moment they were 12 again and all was right with the world.

Jack took off after him, limping slightly as he went and promptly sat in Mike's lap which set off a pillow fight. Jack soon found his nose barrowed in Mike's armpit as the other teen spanked him.

"OK, OK I give ya thug." Jack broke into laughter as Mike tickled his sides.

"Looks like you finally got it on, thank God." Jaden sigh over dramatically and just like that the spell was broke. The boys pulled apart exchanged glares then moved to opposite sides of the room. Mike stood and commanded them to stand at attention.

"I went easy on you today to easy into thing but tomorrow I'm taking things to a new level and there will be no turning back. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir!" they replied.

"All the PT in the world is meaningless unless you also learn to think like a Marine. Repeat after me: honor, courage and commitment." They complied and Mike continued.

"These are the core values you must live by and Semper Fidelis serves as a constant reminder to the see through everything you do to its completion. No promises, no shortcuts, no retreat, no surrender. Is that understood?"

"Yes Sir."

"At ease boys, now park it."

Over next several hours Mike explained that there was no room for bruised egos and the boys must learn to work as one and put aside whatever issues they have with each other to achieve their goal. Their schedule for the rest of summer would be as follows: PT and Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) from 5-7am followed by breakfast then soldier lessons, academics and more MCMAP form 8-3pm, subject to changes due to Mike's work schedule.

When school started in the fall They would proceed with PT and MCMAP in the morning then soldier lessons after school, but from the time school let out Friday, until they arrived back Monday morning they would be with Mike in the woods near the HOP learning SERE and firearm training.

"When am I supposed to hang out with Adam?" Jack whined when Mike had finished laying out things.

"New flash Princess, there is no I, only the unit. So hang out, do whatever with him on your time. Then get him out of your system because your ass belongs to me until you're ready and I'll be damned if you're day dreaming about lover boy on my time."

Jack held his tongue and grudgingly said, "OK."

"Good, when you're ready I'll take you into the HOP and that's when the real training begins." Mike laughed like a mad man.

"OK you're not scaring us," Jaden said as he struck a cocky pose.

"Afraid you will be, you will be. Before I continue I need to know if you can swim and where you're going to school so I can arrange a time for us to meet."

Jaden told Mike that he and Jack never learned to swim, while Kaden practically lived in the water, and he swore the kid was part dolphin. Mike told them to come see him at the YMCA he taught at and he'd hook them up with a discount.

Jack rolled his eyes at the prospect of spending even less time with Adam, but smiled to himself when he thought about all the places they could to sneak off to during school.

"Got something you want to share Princess?"

"No and quit calling me that, hello I'm a guy. And Mom registered us at Coleman High."

"Hold up they should be still be in middle school, right?"

"Naw dude, Mom sent their bad asses to school a year early so the squirts will be joining us."

"Well it'll make meet ups easy plus we can ride together now that I'm not on the bus anymore."

The twins pumped their fists in the air and hooted then high fived each other, but Mike told them if they wanted to hang with him they had to step up their game and cut out all the kiddy pranks. He had a rep to protect after all. Jaden nodded his head, but Kaden told him to go screw and flipped him off.

"And Frankenstein has entered the building." Jaden applauded then bowed to the imaginary crowed.

Mike called the twins to attention then told them all to join him on the floor and listen up as he explained the rules of being a Soldier Boy.

Rule One: the enemy won't show mercy so kill or be killed. Rule Two: strength is the ultimate arbitrator of all conflicts. Rule Three: weakness will not be tolerated. Rule four: never back down from anyone except their fathers. Rule Five: never tell outsiders about them. Of all of them Rule Five carried the harshest penalty, being stripped of rank and fighting for your life.

"You weren't kidding then," Jack said and placed his hand on Mike's back.

"I've made my decision and they will accept it if you're up to par and if I can go Fang against Fang with my dad."

"Man that's fucked."

"Yeah," the wins added.

" You don't get it. Fighting is how we establish rank; settle arguments, but also how we play. When you trade blows with someone it reveals their soul and when you've fought them enough you can read them as of you were linked to their mind. See fighting is more intimate than sex..."

Mike trailed off as he caught Jack's gaze, but snapped out of it and removed Jack's hand from his shoulder. The little voice whispered to stop pushing the blonde away.

OK little voice I'll do it your way, but if I get my ass kick it's your fault, he replied back to it. Mike gave Jack a toothy grin then squeezed his hand before letting it go. Jack shook his head and laughed then flicked Mike's ear. He made ready to retaliate, but at the moment Kaden chose to plop down in Mike's lap then pile on top of him. Jaden and Jack followed suit and Johnson boys pinned imh down, until hMike rolled out from them and proceeded to open a can-o-whoopass on them. Kaden got the worst of it and suffered a noogie, a nipple twister, and Indian burn, while Jaden and Jack got off with wedgies and a trip to Mike's pits.

"OK ladies settle down and I'll explain some more." Mike placed Kaden on the floor only for him to lay his head in his lap. He chuckled and ran his hand through Kaden's hair, while the boy smirked up at him.

The Alpha used four ranking, alpha (the strongest), beta (next in line), omega ( the weakest) and subs. Rank was determined by overall skills and leadership, but an Alpha could challenge another to move up in rank, this was called Testing. When rank wasn't on the line and it was just for fun, they called this Sharpening Fangs with someone. Finally an Alpha can stake his claim as the leader by challenging all of them to Test him. This was called Establishing Dominance, a faux pas only to be used in extreme cases.

As the Soldier Boys progressed through training they went through rites passage beginning with Last of the Mohicans wherein they had to defend against their fathers once they master MCMAP and firearm training. Then there was Poseidon in which they had to carry fifty pound logs half a mile then swim with them for a distance of fifty yards while holding their breath. Next, was The Hunt in which they had to track and kill an animal using nothing but their combat knives and was done after completion of SERE training.

As a final rite of passage The Soldier Boys were expected to challenge their dads who wouldn't hold back this time and was called going Fang against Fang, but unlike the others there was no set time and this could only be attempted once.

Only Kyle and Mike had made it through four of the five rites, though it took Mike three tries to pass Poseidon. Eric and David had three under their belt, while Tony only had two.

"So what happens to you when they find out what you did?" Kaden fixed Mike with a worried look.

"Well that depends on you guys. See they'll want to Sharpen Fangs with you and if you pass they'll accept you, but.." he trailed of and turned to Jack.

"What?"

"The only way they'll accept you is if we go Fang against Fang and you show them you're on my level, but that is after I Establish Dominance."

"Shouldn't be too hard for you then right?"

"No. My overall rank is sub1 meaning I'm the third strongest overall, but I will be strong enough to do what must be done."

They broke for lunch then got back into it. Mike removed Carmen form his bag and gave them a crash course in gun safety. He then showed them how to disassemble and clean the riffle and promised to build them one own once the parts arrived.

Mike's mechanical expertise only extended to guns, bomb making and simple boat engines, but if it had wheels he could drive it. Kyle was the best sniper and swimmer, while David was the Intel expert and master of debugging booby traps. When he and Eric teamed up they were an unstoppable force. Meanwhile, Tony was the communications expert and best at nonlethal techniques and weapons.

He taught them the Riflemen's Creed and had them repeat it along with him as he field stripped Carmen and explained every part, and when he was done they retreated to the back yard. For the rest of his time there he taught them the proper way to fall so they wouldn't get hurt later on.

"Quit complaining and get up, we have one more thing to cover then you're free." He pulled Jack off the ground, who continued to bitch about how his bruises had bruises.

"OK now that Princess has decided to join us I can show you the cornerstone of MCMAP."

Mike spread his feet so they were shoulder width apart and at forty-five degree angles, then lowered his chin and put up his fists so the elbows were bent at ninety degrees.

"This is basic warrior stance and is the starting point for each of the 184 moves that make up MCMAP. When you go to strike drop your weight, bending your knees slightly then come up, rotating your shoulder from your hip as you do so."

He demonstrated each step slowly as they followed along then sped up so it was one fluid movement. Jack couldn't get the hang out it, but Kaden got it right away and teased his brothers.

"OK men listen up. When you move keep your feet shoulder width apart, move in short bursts to prevent falls or slips and keep your weight evenly distributed. Move right with your right foot then your left and the converse when you move left."

He walked around and corrected their posture when needed and then dismissed after assigned them to research the Apache, Spartans, and Zulu warriors. They groaned and he told them to suck it up. Kaden flipped him off, but Mike responded by putting him in a wristlock, and then swatted him on the butt then dashed off to work.

"Long time no see stranger," Dawn said when she came on shift at the pool and saw Mike in the life guard chair.

"Miss me did ya? Awe I'm touched." He turned and blew his whistle at a group of kids who were running around the pool, and got up to give chase after the ring leader gestured for him to suck it.

"Easy there tiger I got this—and careful you don't go blind from touching yourself so much."

"Don't hate you know you want this." He got down and walked beside the college sophomore as she swished up to the boy and battered her eyelashes. He blushed then apologized and was stupefied when Dawn planted a kiss on his cheeks.

"Hey where's my kiss?" Mike stuck out his bottom lip and batted his lashes.

"Not gonna happen boy. I keep telling ya you're too young."

"Oh sorry Ma'me, guess you need a guy you can keep up with, huh?"

"Ooh you, you, garh!" Dawn shoved his shoulder and he trapped her arm behind her back and pulled her into him.

"Next time that'll be five dollars, now say you're sorry." He breathed along her neck and Dawn turned to him.

"A man-hoe now are we?"

"Why, you buying what I'm selling?"

"Boy you a trip, now let me go."

"Give me a kiss then."

Dawn planted a kiss on Mike's cheek then walked off. Mike feasted on her tight buns and sighed to himself. It never failed just when it seemed he broke her Bitch Shield there was always another layer, but you can't beat a guy for trying.

The rest of the shift was uneventful, until Jack and the twins showed up. Kaden busied himself doing laps while the others worked. His Speedo left little to the imagination and drew stares and comments, but once he dove in nothing could bring me down.

Neither Jaden nor Jack could float and after an hour Mike gave up. When Dawn took over Jaden miraculously improved, but he felt like dying when he got hard. She paid him no mind and taught him to dog paddle.

Meanwhile, Jack still couldn't float and sat at the edge of the pool, kicking the water. Mike came over and told him to get back in the water. They argued until Mike told Dawn to switch with him again. She declined and Mike then grabbed Jack's hand and pulled him into the water.

"You asshole I could've drowned.

Mike floated up beside him.

"No you wouldn't, but you were being a baby and now you have no excuse."

"Just leave me alone asshole."

"Not gonna happen son."

Mike held Jack and placed him on his back and told him to relax. The blonde struggled, but finally calmed down. Mike released him and he floated for a few seconds then sunk like a rock.

"There I tried now can I get out?" Jack narrowed his eyes and sat on the edge of the pool again..

Mike smirked and rubbed his hands together as he slinked towards Jack. We he was close enough he tickled the teen's feet and with Jack distracted Mike picked him up and tossed him.

"Motherfucker!" Jack sputtered and spat water out of his mouth, while Mike flipped him off and then dove under the water. The next thing Jack knew he was hosted on Mike's on shoulders.

"Let me go asshole." Jack trashed until Mike dunked him and then swam away. Jaden tried not to laugh but couldn't hold back and sunk to the bottom and came up like a drowned rat.

Mike had found his way back to the boys and they tried again, but Jack still couldn't get the hang of so he then switched to teaching Jaden how to tread water. When he turned back Jack was floating on his back, the sun bathing him in its golden light. He didn't want to disturb the boy, so he waited until Jack caught him looking then gave him a thumbs up.

"Told ya, you could do it now on to step two." Mike placed his hands on Jack's narrow waist and taught him the dog paddle. After Jack got over his attitude he made a lot of progress, and in between he and Mike bonded like old times and got into splashing matches, but Jack wasn't ready for the deep end yet. Neither was Mike.

***

"No. no, no, Michael you must relax."

"OK Master Wang." He picked himself off the ground and got back into stance and leaned toward the man and they started sticky hands again. He tried not to relaxed, but all he wanted was to win and when Wang stuck with a straight punch, Mike dropped into BWS and flipped him over his shoulder.

"Nicely done but this is Wing Chun not Judo, try to remember that," Wang said and got up like nothing had happened. They got back into stance, but this time Master Wang didn't hold back. Mike was so preoccupied with not getting knocked on his ass again that world slipped away, and he found himself in that place where time slowed down and he could see the attacks before they came. This time he managed to knock Master Wang off balance a few times, but was still no match for the elder and left feeling like he'd been beaten with a sledge hammer.

"Same time tomorrow, and don't think I don't know about the vest you're wearing. Next time leave it home." Master Wang broke into another villainous laugh and gave Mike a wooden doll to practice his strikes and grappling techniques and bid him farewell.

On the drive home he thought back to the day's swimming lesson with Jack and smiled, because for the first time in years he could be himself and it felt awesome.

Well little voice you keep doing your thing and I'll do mine.

You like him, you want to kiss him.

Hold up I'm not, that way.

Oh how we've regressed. If he were a girl you know you would've already hit that.

True, but he's a guy so it doesn't matter.

Mike shook his head and turned on the satellite radio to drown out his thoughts, but nothing helped until he agreed that, yeah an infinitesimal part of him did admit Jack was beautiful and kissing him wouldn't be so bad, he guessed, but no not happening—not yet you mean, the little voice added. Mike laughed to himself as he pulled into the driveway. He could deny what the voice said all he wanted, but he couldn't deny the tears that streamed down his cheeks.

Denial is ugly thing, but Mike's on the way to realizing his true feeling but the process is going take awhile, Next time Kyle makes an appearance and things take an unexpected turn. Until next time later and remember to send comments to silentbutcudly.com and donate to nifty if you can.