Edited by Jesse and Scott
Back at Vic House, there were notes on the message board for Alex to call his father and for Josh to call Mr. T'an. "You use the landline," Josh said, "and I'll use my cell."
Alex talked with his father for half an hour. He was still in London and it appeared he could leave after a final dinner Saturday evening. "Personally, I'm ready to abandon the whole project. It involves playing with money in a way that looks as though things are booming, but it'll all collapse before it's over. So, if the negotiations aren't finished by Friday lunch, I'm recommending we pull out of the deal and if they are, I'll still be ready to leave Sunday. I need a couple days in New York and could be in Boulder Wednesday evening. That fit your plans?"
"How long will you be here?"
"I talked to Gertrude when I called earlier. I thought I'd take my old room in the tower, but she informed me that is no longer my room and is off-limits. She wouldn't tell me why. Said it had been off-limits for nine years."
"That's mine and Josh's room."
"Then your mother was right. You are a homosexual."
"I do not need to deal with this," Alex thought. "Look, yes, I was and am gay through and through even though I have been to clinics to make me straight," his voice frigid.
His father got the message. "Well, Josh was a fine boy and is I am sure a fine man. Is he in Boulder?"
He thought his dad was skirting the issue. "Look, Dad, I'm gay. Right now, because of that bitch that birthed me, I am incapable of having sex with him, but so far as I am concerned, we are a couple, married, partners, whatever you want to call us and, I might add, probably no more frowned on by the church than you were when you were having sex with your present wife while legally married to Bitch 1...."
"Hold it, Alex. Who you love and how you love is your business. The image of you making love to Josh is not one I want to contemplate but, neither, I suspect is that of me having sex with your mother. I offended you and I am sorry. As I said, Josh was a fine boy and I am sure is a fine man. I hope and wish the best of happiness for both of you. I only have very sketchy of details of what you have been through because I wanted to hear what you wanted to tell me, not some half-ass reporter's version. We need to talk about that and about what I did and didn't do trying to find you, but we can't do that on the phone. By the way, Paula, my wife, is not Bitch 2. I'm hard-headed and one good thing that came out of those years with your mother, was real knowledge about what to avoid in a wife but, as bad as those years were, I would go through them again in a heartbeat if that was what it took to have the son I have."
"Sorry as well. My emotions are pretty raw these days, but back to the question, how long will you be here?"
"I have blocked out a week, arriving Wednesday and leaving Tuesday. Gertrude is trying to locate a nice B&B for us. There's some flexibility in that. What are your plans?"
"I have two hours a day in the gym and an hour in therapy. The gym hours are pretty fixed, the therapy appointments haven't been set yet. Those three hours really break up the day. I suppose I could skip a gym appointment, maybe on a day when I have a morning therapy appointment."
"How about the weekend?"
"That's a biggie. If the doctor and Josh think I am up to it, we were flying to North Carolina for a long weekend. That's a pretty important trip we need to make as soon as possible."
"Gertrude didn't go into details, but said you were, I believe in her words we, 'A damn sick puppy and weak as dishwater.'"
"That's about it."
"So, you flying first class then, I hope."
"Better than. Josh is flying us."
"Oh, Josh flies?"
"His own turbo, I think he calls it."
"I guess I missed something. Josh Taylor owns a plane?"
"Ever hear of Blankenship Ltd, now Blankenship LLLP?"
"Ever hear of the CEO after it became Blankenship LLLP"
"Who in the business world hasn't heard of Jo.... Holy shit! Josh Taylor is that Josh Taylor? Holy shit!"
"Well, you got one out of one on that one."
"And you were at that, what was it called? New Beginnings?"
"Ms. Crimshaw put me there and then I was put in their gay to straight clinic where Josh found and rescued me, with a lot of help, of course."
"I guess princes on white horses can be on a black horse. We have a lot to talk about. Where in North Carolina?"
"The Sentinel Mountain? Where men were trained secretly during WWII by Elijah Taylor?"
"You nailed it again," Alex said. "Joshua Elijah Taylor to be exact. Sentinel Mountain now belongs to Joshua Elijah Taylor again."
"We really do have something to talk about."
"Well, the Mountain is his if he can get some time there. We'll probably live there. Anyway, we could talk all day and I need a snack and nap."
"Let's assume you are up to the trip to NC and I will see about clearing out the following week. Sunday and Monday I can get in a good visit with Gertrude, whom I'm afraid I have been neglecting, and spend the rest of the week relaxing and being with you, and you and Josh as your schedules permit."
"That sounds like a good plan. By Wednesday I should know whether or not we'll be going to NC and let you know in case you want to change plans."
"Sounds good. Take care."
"You as well." Alex hung up the phone, saw Josh on the porch, leg over the arm of the loveseat, still on the phone and making wild gestures. He was not a happy camper. Alex took a bottle of juice from the fridge, found a jar of peanut butter and a box of animal crackers, poured a glass of juice and went to the porch.
"Sounds good. You handle it, Mr. T'an. Luc will be back in his office Tuesday, but nothing short of the death of one of his parents will get me to call him. He and Cândido not only deserve this break, but need it. Besides, nothing he can do that you can't do." He listened a few minutes and then said, "Mr. T'an, you're a nice guy and I like you, but you are not head of the Taiwan division because of that. You're there because I think you have done and will do one hell of a job and if I didn't trust you, you'd be out on your ass yesterday. Do what you've gotta do and relax . . . . You will, goodbye."
Alex leaned over to kiss Josh, and Josh pulled him into his lap, opened his mouth and sucked Alex's tongue into his mouth. The kiss became more and more passionate as the two tongue wrestled. "Baby, you taste like peanut butter and the man I love," Josh whispered in Alex's ear, then nibbled on it. Alex suddenly doubled over and emptied his stomach on Josh and the porch and fell on the floor, in the vomit, curled in a fetal position. Josh felt panic rising in his gut, fought it as he hit speed dial for the team. The one who was free would answer the call.
The call was answered almost at once, "Josh, Henry." Josh explained the situation and Henry said, "Josh, I'm surprised it hasn't happened earlier. See if you can get him to take one of the small pink pills. Then try to get him cleaned up. If not, call back . . . forget that. Get him cleaned up and in bed. A nurse will be there with a shot as soon as possible, fifteen minutes max."
Josh had picked Alex up before he called Henry and was holding him on his lap. He carried him like a baby—he was in a rigid fetal position—to the closest bathroom and managed to get his clothes off, not an easy job—while he ran water in the bathtub. Recalling Alex's tortures, he hoped the warm water would not make his situation worse. He placed Alex in the tub and was holding him and trying to get his own clothes off when Gertrude called, "Alex, Josh."
Josh yelled, "In the bathroom and I sure could use your help." Gertrude was at the door in half a minute. "Can you get my clothes off. I'm afraid bathing Alex will be a wasted effort unless I get out of these clothes."
Gertrude stripped Josh down to his boxer briefs and said, "I'm afraid you underpants are soaked too."
"Then pull them off." Gertrude did and Josh lowered Alex into the tub of warm water slowly and started washing him. As he did, the doorbell rang. Gertrude went to answer it and came back with the nurse.
"Good. The warm water will help his muscles relax a bit. Can you take him out, dry him off and take him to a bed?"
Gertrude handed Josh a towel and he sat on the commode, Alex on his lap and dried him. When he finished, Gertrude said, "You can put him in my bed."
"I'm not sure that's wise," Josh said. "Waking in a strange place may frighten him and he's had more than enough already."
"Makes sense," Gertrude said, "but are you up to the climb?"
"I hope so," Josh responded and started for their room, holding Alex close and humming softly to him.
Josh was one tired young man when he lay Alex on the bed. The nurse swabbed a place on Alex's butt and gave him a shot. "His muscles should relax in a very few minutes and he will sleep for some time, five to eight hours. He needs someone with him until he does wake up, because he may have nightmares and become pretty active. Be careful, even though he's out, surprisingly, he can become pretty violent fighting off his monsters. If you can, get fluids in him. If you lift him and place a glass to his lips, he will probably drink. It's almost an automatic reflex. He should be ok when he wakes up. His doctor told me he knew what happened, so I don't need to know, but it had to have been bad. I don't mean to offend and I am making an assumption, but you two are beautiful men—he realized the nurse has see the two of them—all over.
Gertrude stayed with Alex while Josh went downstairs and showered. Given that Gertrude had seen it all anyway, he walked back upstairs with just a towel about his waist, dropped it and got dressed. It was nice to have clothes again. Susan had done a masterful job selecting and packing his clothes for Walt to bring.
When he was dressed, Gertrude asked, "Ok, Mavis and I didn't need the details and I prefer any information on a need or want-to-know basis. What happened?"
"Gertrude, you do know Alex was in one of those gay to straight places. Well, it is one of those which use aversion therapy, except those who ran it were sadists and it was a modern, technologically advanced version of a medieval torture chamber. When he came in, Alex called his dad while I returned the call to Mr. T'an. When he finished, he grabbed . . . .”
"Juice, peanut butter and animal crackers."
Josh nodded with a grin and glanced over at his beautiful Alex. "I was just finishing my call and when he leaned over and kissed me. I pulled him into my lap and, well, just say the animal crackers and peanut butter took a very distant second place. The kissing resulted in a flashback to that hellhole so intense, he emptied his stomach, fell off my lap and curled into a ball. Henry said he was surprised it hadn't happened before, but we had not been as passionate, expressed our passion, so intensely before. Once he said, 'That gave me a tingle down there,' and we stopped. I didn't see it or feel it, but I suspect he got an erection and in that place an erection evoked anything from a day-long church service to electro-shock powerful enough to make a man pass out. I guess he was protecting himself from what was to come, or what he thought would come. I shouldn't have been surprised and, in fact, in the back of my mind, I knew otherwise, but I had come close to convincing myself it wasn't as bad as I had originally thought." Josh was sitting on the bed stroking Alex's hair. A tear ran down his cheek and he asked, "How could anyone want to hurt someone as beautiful and loving as Alex?" Gertrude shook her head.
Shawn called at nine and asked how Alex was. "He's sleeping and has barely moved," Josh told him.
"That's a good sign, Josh, and I hope it lasts, but don't depend on it. Not only has his body taken a terrible beating at that hellhole, but also his psyche. I really need to see him tomorrow, but to be completely above board, I have weekend house guests and I hate to leave them to drive into Boulder and back. Since I wanted my work separated from my private life, I have a place near Estes Park where I live weekends, an hour from Boulder, so I'd have to leave them for three hours. I am willing to make a very, very rare exception if you can handle it. Could you bring Alex out here, say around four? He should be fully awake by then."
"No problem, and thanks for the exception. I can fully understand. I just had to practically kidnap a couple for a long weekend when one of them would not leave his work at work. Again, thanks."
Josh decided there was no reason to sit watching Alex when he could be holding him. He undressed and climbed in the bed. He wasn't sure how to position himself when Alex rolled toward him and spooned himself against him. Josh turned over so his back was to Alex and Alex put an arm over him and searched until he found Josh's hand and twined his fingers in Josh's. When Josh raised his head and looked over his shoulder to look at his lover, he was still sound asleep.
Josh lay awake thinking about their session with Shawn and started worrying about having made the assumption that Alex would love Sentinel Mountain as he did. What if he hated it? What if he didn't want to live there? Josh realized that he was getting upset about a 'what if?', something that he did not do in his life, but then he couldn't think of any time in his life when he would be torn to shreds the way he would be if Alex didn't want to live there with him. That, of course, led to the very immediate situation, Alex's condition. He had, obviously, been overly optimistic about Alex's recovery. He would stop thinking in terms of a couple weeks and planning for his recovery to take months, maybe years. Long range planning looked like planning for day after tomorrow, not month after next. Finally the physical and emotional stress of the day caught up with him and he drifted off to sleep.
Around one, Josh was jarred awake by Alex's shouting "Noooooooooooo! Nooooooooooo! Noooooooooooo!" Should he attempt to wake him or what? Before he could make a decision one was made for him as Alex attempted to push him away and then began pounding him with his fists. Suddenly he sat up in bed and drew back his fists. Instinctively, Josh grabbed his wrists and held him, then wrapped his arms around him to prevent being hits by flying fists and pulled Alex's body to his. When he had him close he started singing softly:
Lullaby and good night
In the sky stars are bright
'Round your head
Set your slumbers till day
Close your eyes
Now and rest
May these hours
Close your eyes
Now and rest
May these hours
Alex gradually stopped fighting his demons and relaxed in Josh's arms, snuggling against his neck. Josh continued singing softy as he lay him back on the bed, keeping his arms wrapped around him and spooning against his back. Alex let out a large sigh and pulled Josh's hand into his. It was some time before he felt comfortable enough to stop humming.
The next thing Josh knew was the feeling of the morning sun falling on his face. He was still lying against Alex's back as Alex brought his hand to his lips and said, "Josh, you are my beloved and my prince and my protector." He turned turned to face Josh and traced his lips with the tips of his fingers. "Beloved," he said and touched Josh's lips with a soft, tender kiss.
"And you are my beloved, now and forever," Josh said, returning his kiss.
"I could use more of this," Alex chuckled," but only if you don't mind being pissed on."
"Even from you I'd have objections to that. You gone kinky?"
When Vic House first opened, Gertrude had rented to men and women and found the complications of that more than she cared to deal with. "I do not have time to debate the relative merits of the position of toilet seats," she had once screamed at three girls who were practically in tears because the guys left the toilet seats up. After two semesters of co-ed residents, Vic House students were all male. There were two rooms downstairs and six on the second floor. Until the year Alex disappeared, she also rented the turret, but after that summer, it was kept ready for her grandson's return. Anyway, the very strict rule was, if you lived downstairs, you only left you room dressed or with a robe. Second floor rule was run for cover when Gertrude yelled, "I'm coming up!" It usually took no more than two weeks for new residents to join the nude parade to and from the bathroom unless they showered and wrapped their towel around their waist, but more tossed the towel over their shoulders than wrapped it. That explains why Josh and Alex hopped out of bed and dashed down the stairs, nude, their morning wood leading the way.
Having taken care of that call of nature, they went back upstairs and crawled back in bed, and lay facing each other. "Ok," Alex said, "what happened? I remember talking to Dad, grabbing juice, PB and crackers and stepping on the porch where you were just finishing a conversation with someone. As you hung up the phone, I thought, 'My beloved is so beautiful,' leaned over to kiss you and you pulled me into you lap and we kissed. I think I sat the juice and all on the coffee table and we started kissing and that's it. That's all I remember until I woke up, lying beside you and the morning sun coming in our window."
"Help, Shawn, where are you when I need you?" Josh thought. "What should I tell Alex and what should I not?" Josh decided, "When in doubt, go with the truth," sighed and said, "Babe, after you got rid of the PB, crackers and juice, we started some serious making out."
"I remember, I remember feeling your hard dick against my ass and I started getting . . . oh, I started getting hard and, I bet, went nuts."
"You vomited and fell on the floor rolled into a rigid ball, in a fetal position."
"Oh, Josh, beloved, I am so sorry, sorry . . . ." Tears started flowing from Alex's eyes.
"Whoa! Hold it! You have nothing to apologize for and I refuse to have you do it. You have had weeks of the worst possible kind of conditioning. You had no control over what your mind and body did. It did what it has been painfully trained to do. Now it is our, our, job to undo that with the help of the team, Mavis, Gertrude, Princess—any and all."
Alex grabbed Josh and gave him a hard, passionate, open-mouth, full-tongue kiss. Josh jumped from limp dick willie to steel cock stud in seconds and felt Alex's cock start to come to life. "Uh, babe, I really love that, but I think you better cool it a bit."
Alex did and lay back on the bed. "So what did you do?"
"I have the team on speed dial, so I hit the number and Henry answered within minutes, seconds." Josh told him all that had happened and that they were driving to Estes Park this afternoon for Alex to spend an hour with Shawn.
When he finished, Alex was very quiet and finally asked, "Does that mean we can't go to North Carolina?"
"I honestly don't know. Maybe you can find out from Shawn. I do know it's very isolated so far as therapists and doctors are concerned and I would want to be sure we could handle anything that comes up."
"I need to know as soon as possible. I told Dad that had top priority, but if we are not going, then he will come Wednesday."
"Alex, I know you want to see Sentinel Mountain and I want you to see it as soon as possible, but my feeling is that after last night, waiting a week would be wise even if the team thought it might be ok. Just thinking about last night and that happening on the Mountain gives me chills. So why don't we just say we will go weekend after next."
"Josh, to me, it's a mystical place you know and love and, let's be honest, where you have set your heart on our living. For me, it's a place you love. I can imagine a mountainous landscape, but I know it's my imagination. I can wait, but I hate to have you wait."
"You can be hard-headed, Alexander David Bledsoe. If saying goodbye to the Mountain forever would make you well, I would do so in the blink of an eye and do it happily. I mean it, getting you well is in first place and the second thing is in one hundredth place.” Josh then slapped Alex on the bare butt and said, "Get that luscious ass of mine moving. We have seas to cross, mountains to climb and worlds to conquer."