...And the Other Friends...

Keith Mystery

Ok, now for all the usual stuff: Don't read this story if you are under 18; it's illegal for you to do so; or you don't like stories of young gay men that sometimes include sex.

All characters are fictional. Absolutely. I would never even THINK of using my story to even an old score. Honest to God. ; )

(c) 2002 by Keith Mystery. No part of this story may be posted ANYWHERE without the express permission of the author. You may copy it to a file or even print it out, but you may not distribute it for charge. Not one word may be changed without permission.
This story also appears at  www.archerland.net with the permission of the author.

I love email, so send any comments to boilooker2001@yahoo.com .

Chapter 3

Drew's eyes opened grudgingly and he reached for the small light at his bedside. In a New England February, 5:30 AM was still pitch dark. Hell, even at seven he'd still need the headlights on his car. He blinked, sat up, and felt around for the glasses that should have been on the night table, cursed when they weren't, and stumbled across the room to his dresser. Only his "geek glasses" were there - the heavy, plastic-framed ones he wore for work. Several crushed pairs of expensive gold frames convinced him it was wiser to keep a cheap pair handy. The damn things were always sliding down his nose and falling off whenever his hands were full, and at two hundred bucks a whack even Drew gave in and wore the ugly, black-plastic $69.99 shop-style glasses from the optical shop at Wal-Mart. Casual or dress, he usually wore contacts; but in a dirty or dusty environment they were painful after a few hours, so Drew always wore the glasses for work. For other occasions when for one reason or another he couldn't wear contacts, or when his eyes were just plain tired and sore like they were now, Drew had a nicer, more up-to-date pair. He just wasn't sure where they were - again. Never lose the damn geek glasses though, he grumbled. Just the nice ones. They were around somewhere.

Drew glanced at the dispenser case for his contacts, then shook his head and decided against them. He hadn't slept well, his eyes still ached from the night before, and he didn't want to irritate them any further. The glasses would be fine until later. Maybe in the afternoon he could score a nap and his eyes would feel better. He debated a shower next - and decided it was a waste of time for what he'd be doing for the next few hours. He pulled on a pair of faded jeans that were a little too tight in a few places, adjusted himself to his best advantage, and stood back to look at himself in the mirror. He frowned and did some readjustments. He liked the feel of the soft, snug denim against his skin. No shorts today, he thought with a small smile. Nuthin's clean again, and I feel like freeballin' anyway. He checked the merchandise one more time in the mirror to make sure the presentation was right.

A white tee was next, with a blue-plaid flannel shirt over it. He pulled a gray sweatshirt out of the pile of laundry on the floor next to his dresser, sniffed it suspiciously a few times, made a face and threw it back. He dug around and came up with a dark red one that passed the sniff test and Drew threw it over his shoulder. He slipped his feet into a pair of high-top work boots and tied them off low, allowing the ankle guards to ride over the hem of his pants.

A quick comb through his dark hair didn't do much to tame it down. Drew pulled on his usual ball cap. It did wonders for the thick, straight, spikey black mess on his head. He leaned in closer to the mirror and rubbed his open hand over his cheek and chin. He needed a shave. Drew always needed a shave. At 15, he'd bragged to every one he knew that he had to shave every day - but two and a half years later, the thrill had gone. He'd debated growing a small beard or moustache a few times, but the Marist Brothers at Lawrence Catholic barely tolerated side burns. Drew gave a goatee a shot last summer in spite of the grousing from his father and the giggling of his grandmother, who kept on calling him "Maynard" for some unknown reason, followed by a chuckle. Keeping the thing neat was a lot more trouble than shaving, not to mention the constant itch in the summer heat, so Drew eventually chopped it. Melissa liked the look of his stubble, but bitched about the way it felt against her own skin. Shit, Melissa bitches about most anything anyway.

Drew slipped his favorite silver earring in his left ear and stepped back for a look at himself. Not bad, except for the friggin' glasses, he thought, smiling at the overall effect. Man, that earring looks good, he told himself. Earrings were a tough sell at his school - and everyone wore those - but the Brothers had only recently thrown in the towel on them. Any other piercings were on the Verbotten list, right after facial hair and right before tattoos, but Drew knew there were a few nipple rings and at least two pierced navels around school. Someone in the senior class was supposed to have a 'Prince Albert'. Drew grimaced and unconsciously began rubbing his crotch. Just the thought of having a chunk of metal shoved through his dick made his skin crawl. The rubbing had its usual result. He looked down. Easy, buddy. You already got your exercise today. At least wait for tonight, okay?

He rubbed his palms over his pecs, then tweaked the nipples through his shirt. Nipple rings had a certain appeal to Drew - and a pair of them even more. His eighteenth birthday wasn't that far away, and that meant no parental consent forms. Man, get 'em both done, he thought, a secret thrill pulsing through his veins. And run a little chain between 'em... yeah, that'd be cool. They'd be easy to hide at school if I wear a loose shirt. And dad wouldn't know 'til summer, way too late to do anything about it.

Hiding them was important. That was the problem with going to a private school - the fascists Marist Brothers in charge could pretty much demand anything they wanted, including a dress code (dress shirts, ties, dress pants and no jeans, ever) and if you didn't like it, their attitude was "Hey, that's okay. Your tuition's paid up-front and you can leave anytime you want." It left some tough explaining to an irate parent who'd already forked over a few thousand bucks.

Drew fought against going to Lawrence Catholic High with everything he had, aiming for the more liberal North Andover High, after eight years of parochial school. But Andy McKinnon turned a deaf ear to his son.

"You need more structure in your life, kid." he'd insisted. "Trust me, this'll help build your character."

Then the back door got slammed in his face. Rita dismissed his argument for a public school without bothering to think about it. "When your dad says he wants you to have more structure," she'd said, with a Marlboro propped in the left corner of her mouth, "that's a nice way of saying he thinks you're a lazy, arrogant, self-centered little bastard who needs a solid kick in the ass. He's right, too. And it was my idea." All debate closed.

Drew resigned himself to another four years of Catholic education. When Nanny put her foot down, there was no hope left.

Drew pulled the front of the shirt tight across his chest and stomach and tucked it into his jeans. Satisfied with the final results (except for the glasses), he flipped the lock on his door and peeked out into the hall. No sign of life. Drew sighed with relief. He wanted to toss his crusty sheets into the washer and be out the door without any explanations. Just the night-light on at the top of the stairs meant his grandmother was still in bed. Saturday was the only day Andy McKinnon ever "slept in", which for him meant about seven. Drew fished the stiff sheets out from under his bed and gathered up a few other things to make up a load, and crept softly down the hall and the stairs.

Drew took slow, careful steps so none of the boards creaked; long years of practice told him precisely where his foot should fall to avoid making a sound. Finally, he was at the bottom and stepped through the opening to the kitchen and flicked on the light. He was greeted with the aroma of hot coffee already waiting for him, and was grateful for it. Nanny always set up a pot with the timer. He opened the door to the half bath/laundry room and tossed his load in, adding detergent and then fabric softener as an afterthought.

He settled in at the table with a steaming cup of coffee and pulled over the shopping list he had to deal with. He upgraded a few figures, reduced others.

Drew was his father's purchasing agent, even if neither ever thought about a title for his job. During the summer months, the teenager was a full-time employee of his father's company, McKinnon Contracting. They were small, never got involved with speculation deals; Andy made a comfortable living just doing household additions and remodels. He didn't want anything to do with bank loans or involve himself with legal sharks trying to become a millionaire by slapping up shoddy developments. Andy McKinnon had a good reputation for quality workmanship and sticking to both a budget and a time schedule. He seldom got call-backs for unsatisfactory work. He did get a lot of recommendations from homeowners in the wealthier towns like Andover.

Drew didn't mind the hard work, but Andy soon discovered another reason for keeping his son involved with his company even during the lean winter months: Drew was a walking price index. Almost instinctively, he had a knack for knowing every material cost and where to score the best buy, almost without having to think about it. He could look at a job site and estimate material needs that left his father shaking his head. With Drew in charge of buying, there were never any shortages causing expensive time-losses on a job while everyone stood around, waiting for something to get picked up. No outrageous overages that couldn't be returned, either. Drew found himself involved in estimating jobs when his father realized his son could precisely estimate the actual work hours required for a job with an uncanny accuracy.

Andy questioned him about it more than once, and for a long time Drew avoided an answer. Finally Drew just shrugged one afternoon. "You just never figure in a big enough FO factor when you estimate a job."

Andy was confused. "What the hell is an 'FO' factor?"

Again a shrug from his son. "That's the amount of fucking off that goes on when the boss ain't on the job. Be a little more realistic, and you'll increase your profit margin, and still wind up coming in under everyone else's bid."

Two cups of coffee and a toasted bagel later, Drew pulled on his sweatshirt, grabbed his beat-up work coat, and headed out the door, his cap pulled low over his head. His breath caught in the February cold, and he hunkered down in the coat for warmth, his hands burrowed deep in the fleece-lined pockets. A few inches of dry, flakey snow fell sometime in the night, but not enough to bother with a shovel. He passed his silver Sebring and gave a longing eye to his father's F-250 with the four wheel drive. A few more inches of snow on the ground and he might have an excuse to take it without too much griping from the old man, but as it was, he knew his cell phone would ring at 7:05 when daddy looked out the window and saw baby was gone. That truck was Andy's special joy. It had every possible option, right down to power-assisted ashtrays. Andy didn't even smoke.

Drew circled the cars and walked the extra few feet to the small spur off the driveway where one of the "company trucks" was sitting - a ten-year-old, stripped down, corroded Chevy-S10 pickup that might have been white once, but had damn little paint left to prove it. What paint was left had dulled to a dingy gray, freckled with pockmarks of rust. A magnetic plastic sign proclaimed the vehicle to be the property of McKinnon Contracting, Inc. Drew hopped into the cab, dug into the glove compartment for the leather work gloves with the wool lining he kept there. He wished he'd had the brains to bring them into the house the Saturday before so they wouldn't be so damned cold and stiff now, but then again they'd either be lost or buried somewhere in Andy's truck. His father was terrible with things like that.

Rubbing his hands for warmth, he fished the keys out and murmured a brief prayer for the old truck to start in the cold. Frank, one of his father's steadies, used it through the week, so Drew wasn't worried about the battery running flat in the cold, but the temperature was still in the single digits that morning, and Drew desperately hoped it would crank over without too many problems. He gingerly turned the key and goosed the accelerator, and the engine growled, spluttered, chugged slowly, then belched black smoke before coming to a comfortable growl. Drew sighed with relief and wrapped his arms around himself waiting for the vehicle to warm up. His breath had already fogged-over the windshield, so Drew cracked open the heat vents just enough to allow a the thin wash of cold air to keep the windshield clear. It would be awhile before the truck's lethargic heater would have much effect. When the engine began to quiet down, Drew eased the beast into reverse and slowly backed the vehicle out of the driveway, ever-mindful of the snow. Rear-wheel drive pickups were notorious for fish-tailing if you just looked at them wrong, even in the lightest snow - a fact Drew learned from painful experience earlier in the season. He sat patiently in the cab, staring down the length of the driveway, into the front yard of the Curran house.

You couldn't see it with the winter build-up of ice and snow, but the yard was chaos. Drew could remember Alan working desperately to keep it clean of even a candy-wrapper or a stray leaf. He seemed almost in terror when he worked in the yard. When they were still friends, Drew used to help Alan out as much as he could. But no matter how hard the boys worked, when he came home Robert Curran would call Alan out, and point out every stray leaf or scrap of paper, scolding the boy. Alan would stand there with his head hanging, just staring at the ground. If he was lucky, his father would sometimes be satisfied with his just walking around and picking up the forbidden debris. Too many times the old man would make the boy crawl on all fours, following behind and listing all Alan's defects. Drew was never certain, but he was sure the process continued when the Currans went inside. Alan always had chores, lots of chores, in the house.

As much as she'd loved and been Phyllis Curran's best friend for more than twenty years, Rita McKinnon loathed Robert Curran. After the death of his wife, she felt he'd progressed, in her own words, "...from being just a worthless son of a bitch to a complete bastard."

She'd stepped in more than once between the father and son. She made it clear that she'd always be looking out for the boy. "You can't bury reports forever, Rob," she warned, his finger waving in his face. "One of these days you're finally gonna go too far, and when that happens, I'll do my damndest to slam the cell door on you."

Throughout their elementary school years Alan was a fixture at the McKinnon house. Rita asked him about every new bruise. Alan would look down, claiming a fall. Back then, Drew wondered how his friend could be so clumsy. Alan always moved with an incredible agility when they played.

Rita faced Robert Curran about the bruises. She'd stand with her arms crossed at the end of the Curran driveway, demanding to know why the kid was allowed to run around in clothes that didn't fit or were worn out. She worried about Alan being so thin and small. She shamed his father into taking care of Alan as much as she could. Drew knew she made phone calls about the Currans, but was never sure to whom. He'd hear his grandmother speaking in hushed tones, sometimes demanding, sometimes begging that something be done. Then one day a man showed up at their door and said he was from the DSS. Rita sent Drew outside until the man was gone. The two of them spoke for over an hour and a half. Back then, Drew had no clue that DSS stood for the Department of Social Services. He called Alan over and the two headed for the woods.

Summer vacation started shortly after that. Drew graduated from the eighth grade at St. Michael's School. Alan still had another year to go. There wasn't much more than seven months between their birthdays, but those months were enough to put the boys in different grades.

Then Alan disappeared for a month. Rita told Drew not to worry, Alan was safe. Drew checked every day around the Curran house for a sign of his friend.

Alan came back around the end of July. He refused to tell Drew where he'd been or what happened. He'd barely talk to Rita. Robert Curran made a point of telling Drew's grandmother to keep the hell out of his life. The two of them argued and shouted for a half hour in the Curran driveway one afternoon the first week Alan was home. The boy had shown up at their door that morning with a split lip and a bloody nose.

Rita threatened him, and he laughed, ordering her off his property.

"Just remember something, bitch!" he shouted after her. "I'm an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Massachusetts. I can call the right people and make any report disappear! And getting some nosey field investigator moved to the Roxbury or Mattapan office is no problem for me!"

Things changed after that. Alan went from being nervous and edgy to looking half in terror all the time. He refused to answer any questions Rita McKinnon might ask, and for the first time in his life he distanced himself from her. At the same time, he became closer to Drew.

Alan was somehow... different than before. Drew saw him more silent and withdrawn than ever, fearful even. He almost clung to Drew. He told Drew little things about where he'd been at the beginning of summer.

"It was a big house, with about a dozen boys," he told Drew nervously. "We did things to help each other."

Drew was confused. "Whaddya mean, help each other?"

Alan looked at Drew hard. "Come on," he said, and went running back to his house. Drew followed. Alan opened the bulkhead to the cellar, looked around to be sure no one saw them, then pulled the door shut. He lead Drew to an old couch. He pushed Drew lightly and he fell onto the couch.

"What's goin' on?"

Alan looked around, convinced someone would see them. "I'm gonna help you out, the way they taught me at the house. Drop your pants."

Drew dropped his jaw. Alan got to his knees between Drew's legs and began rubbing Drew's crotch. "Don't be nervous, Drew. I seen it before. I won't say nothin'. I'm just gonna help you out."

Wide eyed, Drew undid his shorts and pushed them down. Alan leaned forward and began sucking Drew's cock.

After that, Alan helped Drew every day, and in less than a week Drew returned the help. Much to his surprise, Drew found he enjoyed helping Alan a lot more than being helped.

The summer ended, and even while Drew and Alan were in different schools, they got together every afternoon either in Alan's cellar or Drew's room, locked behind a door.

The rest of his freshman year at Lawrence Catholic High, Drew and Alan remained inseparable. Alan graduated from St. Michael's, and Alan told Drew something that should have pleased him, but didn't: His father had decided to pay for him to go to Lawrence. It made Drew nervous. He loved what he and Alan did, tucked way out here in the country with no one to see. But school was another thing...

Drew avoided the problem through the summer by pretending it didn't exist. But when fall came, Drew began to worry again. Having Alan sent to Lawrence Catholic was a surprise; Drew was sure Alan's father would change his mind and send him to North Andover High. Alan... well, Alan didn't fit in with the image Drew built for himself during his freshman year. Alan wore the wrong clothes. Alan was afraid of his own shadow, and clung to Drew now even more than he did in grade school. High school was different, and Alan didn't seem to understand that. Nerdy little Alan Curran didn't fit in with the image he wanted. He tried telling Alan to cool it at first, so no one started any talk about them.

Then there was the other part of their relationship, and Drew was scared to death someone might find out about them. "Fag" was a potent word in high school. That word could destroy you for four years. Drew was not about to be destroyed, even if he liked what the two of them did. Drew cut a fine line, maintaining a balance between the two boys. From the very beginning, their sex was very straightforward - a lot of rubbing, a lot of giggling, then right to it, and get dressed. Just before Thanksgiving Break, they were stretched out on the couch after a heavy session. Alan had his shirt on, but no pants; Drew had on his socks and that was about it. Both knew they didn't have much time left, but kicked back anyway. Then Alan did something that changed everything: he leaned over and kissed Drew on the mouth. "I love you, Drew. I'll love you forever."

Drew felt the panic run through him. He pushed Alan off him and began to get dressed. "Jesus Christ, Alan, don't say shit like that! Real guys don't talk about how they love each other! Only queer guys love other guys."

Alan was mystified. He sat there with his mouth open watching Drew hurriedly yank on his clothes. "Drew. We go down on each other every day. We are queers."

Drew turned and slapped Alan across the face. Hard. "Don't you never call me that, you fuckin' homo! I ain't a queer! We're just guys..." he searched for the word. "...helpin' each other out! That's all!"

Alan wiped his mouth, looking at the blood from his lip, and silent tears ran down his face.

I've never seen him do that before, Drew thought to himself. I never seen him cry. Then he ran up the stairs, grabbed his coat and ran for his own house.

The next day, they took the Lawrence Catholic bus. Drew walked over and sat next to a girl in his class. He hadn't spoken to Alan.

Drew saw Alan at lunch, heading for his table. "Here comes your boyfriend," Reggie Mathers said, and everyone started to laugh.

" Fuck you, Reggie!" Drew yelled and sprang up. He half-ran to Alan, who started to smile when he saw Drew headed his way.

"Stay the fuck away from me from now on, okay, you little fag? We ain't friends, and I don't want you near me!"

Alan froze. His eyes took on that haunted look Drew had seen so many times. Drew was sure Alan would start bawling again.

But Alan didn't cry. He closed his mouth and looked away. He stared at the ground for a few moments, then picked up his book bag, nodded, and moved off. Alan never approached Drew at school again.

Drew knew that look. He'd seen it a thousand times before - it was the look he had when Robert Curran would start tearing Alan to shreds in front of people. He'd see that look thousands of times more in his dreams... and nightmares.

People noticed the shift. His grandmother certainly noticed, and pressed Drew with questions. He just told her that Alan was a dweeb and didn't fit in.

She's sniffed icily. "That kid worships the ground you walk on. You've been his only friend since before the two of you even started school. And you dumped him? Why?"

Drew shrugged, but looked away from his grandmother's accusing eyes. He mumbled something about Alan 'just not being a cool type to know.'

Rita glared at her grandson. "You're worthless. Get away from me." She hardly spoke to him for months after that.

And at school they noticed. Drew's shadow was gone. Teenage kids love to gossip, and word got around that they'd had a "lover's quarrel". Some brainless girl said it first to a bunch of her friends in homeroom one morning, and set a bunch of other girls giggling. The story began to mutate, take on even more details at it traveled. Eventually the girls told their boyfriends, and word started getting around that there really was something between the two boys. Stupid rumor or not, it was too close to the truth for Drew, and he was desperate to save his own ass. He destroyed the last shreds of their friendship when he let it get out that Alan really was queer. Drew said they'd broken it off because Alan was always trying to get in his pants.

"I mean, I've known the guy forever, and I hated doing it," he said earnestly. "But you know what those guys are like. They're always after a real guy's ass."

Alan wasn't just ignored after that; he became a pariah. If he sat at a table at lunch, no matter how far away he placed himself, anyone else at that table would leave. Unless they were assigned, other students refused to sit next to him in class. The few activities and clubs he'd joined made it clear they'd rather he dropped out. Alan was targeted for physical abuse for awhile by upper-classmen, but that began to die down by the end of freshman year. By the time he was a sophomore, all he had to deal with was the ridicule, and maybe the occasional shoving match. The lay staff pretended not to notice, the Marist Brothers pretended not to notice, and the headmaster didn't know or care. They just took Robert Curran's check for tuition and cashed it.

Drew McKinnon survived being called a fag, and got himself a first-class reputation around school as a leader-type. But until last night at the CFC, he hadn't been able to look Alan Curran in the eye for more than two years.

Drew shook his head, trying to clear the flashes of ugly memory. He checked his watch. He'd been sitting there for fifteen minutes waiting for the truck to heat up. He cranked open the heating vents and felt a trickle of warm air, but it was enough to clear the windshield. He slipped the truck into gear and tore out of the drive-way, trying not to look at the Curran house.

* * * * *

Twenty minutes later Drew pulled into the parking lot of the orange beast itself, the Methuen Home Station. Most people in the trades hated Home Station, and Andy McKinnon was no exception. The people who worked there knew little or nothing about what they sold, which was understandable when you figured that Station pay-schedules were among the lowest in the area. Unfortunately, most of their managers didn't seem to know a hell of a lot about what they were doing, either. Their main function seemed to be to smile vacantly and quote passages they'd read from some Station pamphlet, and direct you to all the high-markup items. Navigating through the store was hazardous, too. The aisles were always jammed with floor dumps for junk so you couldn't get through with one of their over-sized carriages much less a lumber cart. Rolling ladders were another hindrance.

But they were stuck. When a Home Station moved into an area, the first thing they did was cut prices on everything to bankrupt the competition. Once that was accomplished, they jacked everything up as high as they could and cut back on the help. If you didn't get there early enough on a weekend you'd spend almost as much time waiting in the endless, under-staffed check-out lines as you did shopping the store.

Drew checked his watch: it was just 6:45, but the greedy bastards were open all night. It would still be a few hours before the home-owners started their invasion, and Drew hoped to be long gone. He pulled up close to the exit nearest the contractors' check out and grabbed one of the orange lumber carts as he headed inside. His first stop was the Order Desk. He smiled. Pony Boy was on again.

That wasn't his real name, but that's how Drew thought of him. He thought the guy's name was really Steve, but couldn't be sure. His orange apron was covered with badges and pins, making it difficult to read the name. Drew called him Pony because of his long, blond hair, tied back in a pony tail. Drew loved long hair like that on a guy, and Pony's hung about a foot and a half down his back. Pony had that perfect Nordic skin, pale white accented with bright red cheeks. His eyes were as blue as Drew's. Drew laughed inwardly when he looked at the guy. The same outsized hands and feet, the same slender build. Not for the first time he wondered what kind of bulge that stupid apron hid. Except for the eyes, Pony looked a lot like Marc, or maybe Marc looked a lot like Pony... something like that.

Drew stood there, his eyes slowly running up and down the clerk's body. Suddenly Drew was aware that those piercing blue eyes were dead on him, aware of the interest. Even though he was writing an order for the electrical contractor ahead of him, he smiled and nodded to Drew. Drew became flustered and shifted his eyes. Pony looked down to his order again and his grin spread. Drew was panicky, thinking maybe he should come back later when someone else was on but...

The customer ahead signed his slip and moved off abruptly, and Drew swallowed hard and stepped up to the desk. Pony looked him over carefully, smiled some more, and wrote 'McKinnon Contracting' on the order. "Almost didn't recognize you with those things on," he said, smiling up at Drew again.

Drew swallowed, tried to sound normal. God, he wanted to run his hands through all that hair... "Yeah, my eyes were kinda sore today. Couldn't wear my contacts." Was it his imagination, or were Pony's eyes raking up and down Drew's body? Without thinking, Drew thrust his hips out slightly while he fished for the list in his pocket. He watched the eyes shift down while he dug into his pants. No, he's definitely lookin'. And he's checkin' out everything, too.

Pony licked his lips slightly as his eyes raised and he looked Drew in the face again. "Hey, if you don't mind me askin', are you guys maybe lookin' for help?"

Drew tried to play it cool and shrugged. "It's not the best time of year, bro. I mean, we got enough to keep us goin', but winter's the slow season in the remodeling business. My dad's just tryin' to keep his regulars goin'. Maybe by the end of March... you know, when the weather breaks. Um, what have you got for experience?"

Pony shrugged. "I graduated from the Voc last year. I was in Carpentry and Building Trades, and I do pretty fair finish work, too. And March ain't too bad, I can wait."

Drew laughed. "Guess you're not makin' a career out of Home Station, huh?"

Pony snorted. "This place? Listen, if you can't kiss ass and quote the company gospel this dump is a dead end. They work you like a slave and assume you got no life at all. Shit, last night they had me on 'till eleven and then I had to be here for six. The only good part is I'm outa here at 2:30 and I'm off Sunday for a change. I don't come back to this pit until Monday." He grinned at Drew. "Once I get out of here, I figure I can score some z's so I can go out tonight and find myself a little, um, companionship." He chuckled and looked Drew in the eye. "Hey, who knows. Maybe I'll get lucky today and find me something this afternoon when I get off. Two-thirty can't come quick enough." He made a dumb face and rocked his head back and forth. "And lucky me has an apartment all to himself this weekend, 'cuz my roommates took off for a ski weekend at Attitash. Makes it the perfect time for me to find someone feelin' a little friendly, ya know?"

I'm getting the come on, Drew thought. Jesus, he just about invited me back to his place for a little action. He cocked his head, and tried to keep the quiver out of his voice. "So... you live near here?"

Pony knew he had him. He gave his best smile. "Yeah, I share a place with some friends over in South Lawrence," he said, emphasizing the south - which meant the neighborhood was probably safe. "One of those big tenement apartments. Rent an' utilities ain't bad between the three of us... but livin' like that can cramp your style sometimes, if ya know what I mean. It's nice to have the place to yourself every now and then so you can cut loose."

An unwelcome voice shattered the air behind him, and Drew jumped. "Well, young Mr. McKinnon! Nice to have you here spending some of your father's money at the Home Station!"

Both boys spun, startled. It was Stacey, the store manager, affecting his most pompous voice and phoniest smile. His eyes bored in on Pony even if he talked to Drew. "Well, I guess a little socializing in the work place can be a good thing every now and then," he said pointedly to Steve before turning back to Drew. "I hope Steve here is taking care of everything you might need?"

Yeah, he prob'ly would've, if you hadn't stuck in your fat fuckin' nose. Drew forced a smile through gritted teeth. "Oh, yeah," he said. "Steve's always helpful when we come here. We were just getting' ready to write up an order."

Stacey's mouth spread wide in a shark's grin, and his beady eyes had a hungry look only money could satisfy. "Well, maybe I can step in and help. Always willing to give the customer that extra Home Station advantage!"

Drew took a side glance at Pony - Steve, he reminded himself - and saw how nervous the guy looked. Drew wondered how much of their conversation Stacey overheard, and hoped for no trouble. Drew shared his father's opinion about Stacey - the man would be more comfortable slithering than walking, if he wasn't so damned fat. But Steve couldn't say anything, naturally. Drew knew enough about Home Station's treatment of employees to know that they'd fire him out of hand and fight any claim he might have at the unemployment office all the way up to a hearing before they dropped it, no matter what the cause. Home Station could do more than just sell you a screw; they could screw you real good, too. But unlike Steve, Drew had nothing to lose, so...

He shrugged, speaking in the most casual, friendly tone. "No thanks, Stacey. Ever since you personally fucked-up that cabinet order for us, both my old man and me figure you for a complete, incompetent asshole who got this job 'cuz he's good at kissing corporate ass. He won't deal with you, and I'd rather not, either. I'll stick with Steve - I mean, if that's okay with you, Stacey. If not, I can always go to Jefferson Lumber. I mean, I gotta go there anyway to place a door and cabinet order along with all the other good margin stuff."

Stacey continued to smile, but his eyes took on a glassy stare. The ability to remain impervious to intended insults was an essential quality for success at Home Station. "Well...if that's what you'd prefer," he said haltingly. "But let me know if you need anything, okay?"

"Yeah, whatever," Drew answered and turned away. "Okay Steve, we need..." Drew ordered the sheetrock, and questioned the price of the Durock tile board. Stacey stood nearby, pretending to look busy going over some paperwork, but after a few moments, he broke in to let Drew know he could offer special pricing on floor and wall tile.

Drew turned, looked Stacey in the eye and told him their adhesives were overpriced and poor quality. "And your tile sucks. We deal direct with American Olean. Now, would you mind leaving us alone?" He waited until the manager retreated, still smiling but looking daggers at Drew.

"Dude, you rock!" Steve said in a low voice filled with admiration once Stacey turned the corner. "No one's ever talked to that asshole like that!"

Drew shrugged and grinned. "Maybe you gotta take his crap, but I don't. And I don't like anybody who pushes around a guy who can't defend himself, which is what he was doin' to you."

They set up the delivery date, and Pony - no, Steve! He had to remember that - guaranteed an AM delivery on Wednesday.

"It's important, Steve," Drew said, pointing to the delivery date on the order form for added emphasis. "My dad'll have a crew standing by, 'cuz the electricians finish on Tuesday. If we get a no-show like last time, it'll be the last time we do a big order here."

Steve shrugged but smiled. "I could give a damn about the Station's profits, but after the way you dealt Stacey... trust me - I'll take care of it. I'll talk to the delivery guy myself. Once he hears what you did to fat ass, he'll run over a nun to make that delivery early! He hates the bastard." They laughed together quietly, though Steve gave a quick glance around to make sure the boss was out of earshot.

Drew was ready to walk away, but then stopped and looked back at Steve, who was standing sideways punching the order into the computer. Drew took in the long, slender frame, the smooth complexion... and that golden hair, waving gently in its fall down his back, curled up neatly at the ends. Drew licked his lips slightly and felt a dryness in his throat. His voice took on an audible quiver. "Hey - I almost forgot. Write down your name, address, phone number...stuff like that. I'll slip it to the old man. Maybe we can use you in a month or so when things get goin' again."

Steve grinned "Oh, man, great! I'd love the chance to blow this place off," he said, scribbling out the information.

Yeah, I'd like to blow something, too, Drew thought. "No sweat," he replied. "I just hope Stacey don't give you any crap later."

Steve shrugged. "I been on his shit list since he took over the store three months ago. He threatened to fire me unless I cut my hair - so I filed charges against him for harassment. Yeah, I need the job for awhile, but if I get kicked outta here, there's other places to pick up another shit job to tide me over." He broke into a broad smile. "Hey, I owe you a beer, dude. When do I get to pay you off?"

Drew chuckled. "In like maybe three years and two months. I'm under age."

Steve laughed. "Yeah, so am I. But I got some LaBatts Blue on ice back home. You get a chance, drop by." He raised an eyebrow. "Like, maybe this afternoon? I get off at 2:30, and you can meet me out front, over by the main entrance. That's where the employees have to park. Or you can swing by later - you got the address. Like I said, we can party any way we want to, since the roomies out of town."

Party any way we want to. Steve's eyes never wavered as they looked into his.

Drew felt a cold bead of sweat on his back, a pounding in his chest, and a twitching in his crotch. Oh man, it's been months. I need it. No one'll ever know...

"Yeah. Yeah, I can do that," he said, a little too eagerly. "You got a cell or anything? I mean, if I get held up, so you don't sit out in the lot."

The other boy cocked his eyebrow and pointed to the paper he'd handed Drew. "It's all there, bud. Right in your hand."

I'd like it in my hand, too. And a couple other places. "It's a deal, then. I gotta pick up more stuff, make some other stops, and then unload everything. I should be able to get back here."

The loud speaker came on and Steve was paged to the front. They both recognized Stacey's voice.

"Well, now the bullshit begins," Steve said with a mock sigh. "Now, how do I just know that asshole wants to put me out in the lot today?" He trotted off, dragging his coat and gloves with him.

Drew continued up and down the aisles, loading up on all the things his father's crew would need in the coming week. The lumber cart grew with everything except lumber. Drew checked every price tag before something went onto the cart. Some things he put back when he saw the price. He had to hit Jefferson's over in Lawrence anyway for the cabinets and doors. If he had to pay full whack on something, he'd rather hand it to Sam Torres. It was better than sending it to the Florida-based corporate offices of Home Station. Sam could be a bastard, but at least he took care of the people who worked for him. Drew rolled the cart to the contractor checkout aisle and handed the clerk his father's charge card.

"Good morning, sir!" She bubbled, checking Drew out.

Drew sighed. He'd met the girl before. The name scrawled on her apron was Alicia. She was an airhead, the type that made every sentence sound like it ended in an exclamation point.

"We have a trainee with us today! He'll be ringing you up! Alan! Please! You're keeping Mr. McKinnon waiting!"

Drew felt his heart stop. Oh, shit. No. Please.

Alan Curran came out from behind a stack of lumber he'd been ordered to code. Both boys froze.

Alicia's voice was sharp, ordering Alan to get a move on. Alan put on his emotionless mask and checked in each item, took the card and began to process it.

"Alan!" Alicia scolded. "Your supposed to check his ID if it goes over two hundred dollars! That's the Home Station rule!"

Alan shrugged. "I know the guy. I know his father, too."

Alicia was undaunted, and shook her finger in Alan's face. "But you know the rules, Alan! We went through this in your Station University course! You always have to have ID!"

Drew looked at Alan, and back at Alicia. "Look, lady. Leave the guy alone, ok? He knows who the hell I am, just like you should by now - shit, you just about strip me with your eyes every time I come by! And I come in here every week and buy this much if not more. Now quit dickin' the guy over and just process my sale, willya? I've got more stops to make. Or should we call Stacey over?"

That's it, bitch, he thought. Keep smiling. You'll make assistant manager yet - like when pigs fly over Israel.

Alicia stood with a frozen smile. Drew tried reading Alan, but saw only the brick wall he'd run into for over two years.

"Not a problem, Mr. McKinnon!" she said cheerfully. "And Alan will help you to load up!"

Drew shook his head. "No, that's okay. I don't - "

"Oh, it's no problem at all!" She said with her irritating brightness. "Here at the Home Station, we pride ourselves on making the customer know how he rates with us!"

Yeah, as long as their wallets are full. "No, really - "

"It's okay, Drew," Alan said, trying to force a thin smile. "Just part of the job." He came around and started pushing the cart to the sliding doors. As soon as they stepped through the wind almost knocked the smaller boy over.

"Jesus, Alan," Drew protested. "Dude, get back inside! You don't even have a coat on."

Alan shook his head as he continued wheeling the large cart down the concrete ramp to the parking lot. "Those were orders, Drew. I'm a trainee. I don't do what she says, they'll drop me on her word. And she's a bitch to new people. I need the money, and this may not pay a hell of a lot more than flipping burgers, but it's still better."

Drew snorted. "Come on, what do you need it for that bad?"

They reached Drew's pick up, and Alan began unpacking the cart, shaking in the cold. "I wanna buy a car, okay?" he said, barely giving Drew a glance. "I mean, not everyone gets the keys to a fuckin' convertible worth twenty-five grand just for passing a driver's test."

They finished loading, and before Drew could say anything more Alan turned away, pushing the cart back to the store.

"Hold up, will ya?" Drew called after him. "Look, I gotta know..."

Alan stopped and eyed him warily, then shook his head. "Don't worry. I'm not gonna say anything about where you were last night. It just don't matter to me. Just like you don't matter."

Drew blushed. "Well, yeah... thanks. But..." he hesitated.

Alan stood with his arms wrapped. "Look, ask what you gotta or get lost, okay, Drew? I'm freezin' out here. And the bitch'll prob'ly report me to the Station Thought Police for stealing time from the company for talkin' to ya."

"Yeah, well, sorry." Drew took a step towards Alan, hesitated, then looked directly into his former friend's deep blue eyes. "That guy last night - the little one with the beaky nose. He hates me and I got no idea why."

Alan shook his head, then snorted. "Like anyone needs a reason to hate you?"

Drew felt a pang and looked away nervously.

Alan continued, his breath visible as white puffs in the cold winter air. "Yeah, alright. Last fall. You saw him an' his boyfriend at the beach, in Hampton. You called 'em fags, and later on you whipped something at them from your car. Oh, and his boyfriend - Jamie - said the two of you had sex a couple of times. Not that some little thing like that would bother you. But he got even. Don't you remember the four flat tires?"

Drew blushed again at the memory, and then having to explain the towing charge to his father. He wanted to ask Alan more questions, but the boy trudged away silently, pushing the cart through the metal and glass doors as they hissed open. Drew watched his back until Alan was on the other side of the big sliders.

* * * * *

Drew backed into the driveway, careful of the Saab parked in front of the first stall of the garage. He recognized the car as the owner's and thought no more about it. Drew began to empty the back of his pickup into the garage. He still had a lot of stops to make, the longest at Jefferson Lumber in South Lawrence - Plaza Supply, too, for the new water heaters. He was sure he'd be finished well before two-thirty, but Drew wanted to hustle, hoping to get home and catch a shower and dress a little better. Then again, Steve hadn't seemed to care when he suggested they meet... and he'd have a heavy day ahead of him, too...

Drew had a fantasy about a shower, and maybe today he'd see it fulfilled. And Steve was safe, that was the best part. Drew figured if he worked in a place like that, he wasn't exactly up-front about what he was into for sex. No gay teen club, no prowling around any of the cruising areas he'd visited the spring and summer before. Best of all, no trying to avoid the hands of old guys who wanted a piece of a hot looking teen. All the jacking fantasies Drew ever had about his Pony Boy would be coming true in a few hours. He pictured the guy naked, his hair loose... and Drew running his fingers through it, fondling that hard, slender body... tasting it... Drew shuddered again, readjusted his crotch. He noted a damp spot and grinned. Down, boy. You'll be seeing heavy action soon - I promise!

He heard the door slam and feet on the walk and turned. The first face he saw was James Herons, the new owner of the house Drew's father was hired to gut and renovate. But behind him was... Marc.

The three of them froze, startled. Heron's face had gone pale. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded.

Drew removed his glasses. "Easy, Mr. Herons. I'm Drew McKinnon, from McKinnon Contracting" he replied nervously. "We met a couple times. I had to drop off some stuff for my dad."

Herons blinked, looked more closely and let out his breath. "Jesus, Drew! Sorry -I didn't recognize you with those glasses on." He turned to Marc, still looking confused and nervous.

Marc flashed his big happy smile and spoke up suddenly. "Hey, Drew. So, you're working for my uncle?"

"Um, yeah. Sort of," Drew replied, feeling stupid. Then he realized Marc was dressed differently. Black leather jacket, and a nice one, too. A black turtle and black jeans. A thick silver chain relieved the look. Gaw-aw-awd damn he looks fine! Drew thought. "Hey, I thought you said you were goin' to work last night?"

Marc shrugged. "I did, but unc said he needed me to check out something and he picked me up. We were, ah, just leaving."

Herons tried to look relaxed, but his face still twitched, which Drew would have noticed if his eyes weren't locked onto Marc's. Drew chuckled. "Jesus, Marc. You look like you just rolled out of bed."

Marc laughed. "I did. I test mattresses for Sealey up at Sears." He glanced at his watch. "Hey, we gotta go, okay? I gotta get home and get some sleep. If you got some time tonight, gimme a call, ok?"

"Uh, yeah. Sure thing." He nodded to Herons. "Good to see you again, Mr. Herons, and sorry about the scare, okay? And tell your wife everything's on schedule and you guys'll be taking possession like we guaranteed."

Herons blushed, looked at Marc quickly, then looked away. "Glad to hear that, Drew. Tell your father I said hi, okay? And I'll be meeting him here Monday afternoon."

Marc stood by the Saab, held his hand to his head with thumb and pinkie extended and mouthed the words "Call me!"

Drew nodded and smiled. He watched the older man walk quickly to his car and scramble in. When the Saab backed out of the driveway, Herons chirped the tires, then did it again when he straightened out in the street and drove off.

Drew watched the car disappear, then cocked his head. If I didn't know better, he thought, I'd swear the guy was shakin'. What the fuck is eatin' him?

* * * * *

Drew came storming into the house, slamming the door behind him. Rita jumped at the sound, caught the look on her grandson's face and decided for once that saying nothing was probably the smartest thing. He grunted a sound that could have been "hi," tossed his coat onto the back of a chair and went stomping out of the room.

Rita opened her second pack of Marlboros, lit up and stood there shaking her head. Eventually Drew would come down enough and she'd be able to pry information out of him, but until then, there was no point in even trying. She picked up the filthy work coat - most days she would have squawked when he tossed it - and stuck it on the hook just inside the laundry room where she felt it always looked best. Out of her sight.

She listened to the feet stomping up the stairs, counted to three and heard the slam of Drew's door, followed by two more. Not as good as last night - a four slammer's when you gotta worry. But the kid's in a mood tonight, Rita told herself. She decided it probably wasn't a good time to tell him Melissa called. Four times. Rita heard the voice, and decided to extend her own son's lie: "He's at his aunt's." It gave her a lot of pleasure to drop the phone back onto the cradle before the girl could say much of anything. Like a lot of women, Rita tended not to use the 'C' word much, but for Melissa, she made an exception. Be a relief if he really was gay, just so I'd be sure there was no chance of a wedding, she thought, taking a deep drag on her cigarette. C'mon, Rita. Don't fool yourself. There's no 'if' here and you know it.

She went back about her business, and opened the washer to load in her first of the day. She frowned when she looked inside. Since when does THAT one do his own sheets? That hasn't happened since... She began to snicker and tossed the load into the dryer. Been awhile since he's had one of those. Usually he just sneaks in a stiff towel or two.

* * * * *

Drew lay across the bed. He looked up suddenly, went to his computer - and then remembered the door. He booted the computer but walked across to flick over the lock. He was trying to make a habit of that. He'd briefly considered putting a regular entry-door lock set, but decided that might keep his grandmother from taking care of his laundry. Well, I'll just keep it locked when I'm in here.

He walked back across the room and punched in his password, waiting for Windows to come up. Thing's too damn slow, he mused, drumming his fingertips on the keyboard. I need a P4. These P3s are antiques. Christ, these things are door stops in like two years now.

Finally the icons popped up and just about every program showed up on his tool tray. Drew clicked into Documents, opened 'Photos' and opened the folder simply marked 'Porn' and watched the thumbnails pop up. Pictures of chicks. Pictures of chicks with chicks. Pictures of chicks with guys. He randomly enlarged a half dozen different images in a row. He looked at the women, wanting to be interested.

Who the fuck am I kidding? Why can't I just be honest with myself at least?

Drew sighed, then deleted the file and dumped the 2500 unclassified images and closed the open folders. From the desktop he clicked Music, which took him to his secondary hard-drive, loaded with 40 gigs of music. He opened up the folder marked 'Pop Contemporary' and slowly worked his way in. One file at the bottom of the 'Early 70's' folder was labeled 'ZZMostly Crap'. It was further broken down into various obscure groups and then individual album sets.

He smiled to himself. It was the perfect blind. Anyone nosing around would have given up by now - any of his friends, anyway. His father never touched his computer. And he was pretty sure his grandmother would whisper prayers and incantations before turning it on.

Drew located a file dedicated to a group no one ever heard of or cared about. He opened it and clicked open the third album set. Inside was another file labeled 'Covers' and he selected the folder for 'Set B'. He clicked open the first file, sat back as his viewer enlarged the image and set it for 'slide show'. This would take awhile, but he wasn't looking for anything specific. Drew glanced at the counter on the lower left side of his screen. There's 6,547 images in just the unsorted file alone, he mused. And that don't even include what's in the special files. Or the animated gifs and vids. Drew chuckled and scanned the labels, each with simple and direct labels for its contents: 'Solo.' 'Head.' 'Fuck.' 'Rim.' 'Cum Shots.' And a few others.

Drew watched the shifting images in the general file of long, hard, fat dicks being pumped, licked, fondled and inserted. Men and only men in solos, pairs and groups. He paused and opened a real music file, set the volume low, then switched back to the view. He felt the electric response below his waist and smiled. On an impulse, he opened one of the special series sets and sat back to watch. It was his favorite, and was simply tagged 'Kisses.'

Strictly speaking, they weren't just kisses, but each photo showed an intimate, passionate moment between two men. Sometimes they were naked and fondling one another. Other times, they were dressed but in a tender embrace, their lips barely touching. Touching. Not grabbing.

Drew leaned back in his chair, and let the afternoon play again in his head...

Steve was in the parking lot, walking to the main road entry to the public lot where Home Station employees had to park. Drew was pulled in among the scattered cars and when he saw Steve he tapped the horn and waved. Steve waved and pointed to an older Ford Econoline van. Drew rolled down the window and looked into Steve's clear blue eyes and felt lost.

"Hey, we'll just loop back to 495, okay?" the older boy shouted. "Too much of a bitch to go through town this time of day."

Drew agreed and followed close, half afraid he might lose Steve in the Saturday traffic. In his mind he wondered how he was going to bring this off, how was he going to... well - seduce Steve. He began to worry that he had read the guy all wrong, and that he really was only inviting Drew back for a beer or two. He promised himself he'd go careful, maybe let Steve take the lead... He had no experience at this sort of thing.

Drew sighed. This used to be a lot easier. After the first awkward time with Alan, it was understood that when they headed for the cellar exactly what would be going down. They'd strip down, hop on the old couch, groping and stroking one another for a warm-up and then just proceed to the main event. His few experiences in cruising were his being approached in the dark, and then Drew's deciding whether or not he would go for it. If the guy didn't seem too bad, Drew dropped to his knees and took care of the guy. Afterwards they'd just separate. Sometimes the guy might want to do more, sometimes not, but once Drew was finished, he just wanted out. He didn't care about reciprocation, and the less talk the better, as far as he was concerned.

But today would be a first... and that scared him. Maybe he didn't know Steve well, but his was a face Drew would see on a regular basis, not just some anonymous figure in the shadows.

They pulled off the highway and Drew followed the van through some of the narrower, older streets of the south part of Lawrence, down into what he knew was the Sacred Heart district. They pulled up in front of an old but well-kept triple decker. Steve pulled into the driveway and pulled into one of the two spaces marked with a small sign that read '3rd Floor'. Drew parked on the street and eagerly trotted the distance to join Steve. They slipped in the rear door into a narrow, wainscoted, winding stairway.

"Lemme guess," Drew said midway up the first flight. "Third floor. Right?"

Steve chuckled. "You got it, dude. Third floor is always the cheapest... and Home Station don't pay THAT much. That still means at least two roommates, which really does suck some times when I want to... um, bring back some company, y'know?"

They climbed the stairs at a quick pace, Drew following behind Steve. His eyes were glued to the guy's beautiful, faded-denim clad ass. Drew licked his lips unconsciously. Oh man, don't make this some kinda mistake! Let it be what I think it is! What I know it is!

They were at the top of the stairs, and Drew glanced out the windowed door that lead to a small porch with the vestiges of an old clothesline still mounted, and a view of the exact same porch across two driveways. Steve dug out his keys, and glanced back at Drew with a sly smile and his eyes narrowed to slits. He pushed open the door and Drew followed inside.

Drew took a fast look around. In the past couple of years, he'd done remodeling work in a lot of these old tenements, remodeling and upgrading. They all followed the same plan. On one side of the house was the large kitchen that opened onto a small formal dining room, with a china closet built into the wall. That room opened onto a medium-sized living room, and typically a smaller front room that was sectioned off by French windows, or at least had been at one point. Along the other side of the house and opening off each room was a bedroom; the largest right off the kitchen so it got the full benefit of the heat, which when these places were built meant a big stove in the kitchen. That would be the 'master bedroom.' In the first decades of the twentieth century, when the majority of these tenements were built, that was your winter heat. The bathroom would also be right off the kitchen. Most (but not all) of these old places had been updated enough to include central heating systems over the years. Drew gratefully noticed the large radiator in a corner of the kitchen.

Drew felt two hands sliding around his waist and then he was hugged close from behind. He could feel the stiffness of Steve's crotch pressed between his cheeks, and without stopping to think he rubbed back into it, increasing the pressure. Drew felt heat next to his face, and the pressure of a chin on his shoulder. Then a warm, wet tongue began to toy with his ear.

"I've been thinkin' of you all day," Steve murmured in his ear. "And hopin' I was right, and you'd be into it. Good thing for me I was right, huh?"

Drew turned without breaking free of Steve's arms, and slipped his own around the other man's waist, cupping his butt and pulling the body closer until their crotches ground together. Steve leaned into him and pressed his open mouth against Drew's and probed the closed lips with his tongue. Drew opened his mouth and eagerly accepted the tongue, then slid his own along Steve's. They both moaned.

Drew's hands gripped the man's backside, pulling him even closer, then deftly maneuvered his fingers up until he found the long, blond hair that hung there. He wrapped it around his hand, stroked it with his fingers. He pressed his mouth harder against Steve's mouth and probed as deep with his tongue as he could. Steve pressed harder and harder against Drew, and Drew stepped back little by little until he felt himself pressed against the wall. Steve separated their lips but didn't pull his body back, looked into Drew's eyes and grinned.

"I get it. That really turns you on - the hair. I always seen you lookin' at it, and you haven't let it go since we clinched. Cool."

Drew smiled shyly and reddened. Steve reached to the back of Drew's head and gently rubbed his neck.

"Hey, baby, it's no problem. A lot of guys get turned on by it, for some reason." He kissed Drew on the nose, then rubbed his own soft, rosey cheek against Drew's dark stubble. "Mmmm, and I love the feel of that! Definitely all man."

Drew grinned, and realized for the first time that he had stopped shaking, He leaned forward with his chin and rubbed Steve's neck. He laughed, a boyish rumble in his throat, then put his hands on Drew's shoulders and pushed him back a step.

Steve cocked an eyebrow. "Cut you a deal, stud. You play my fantasy, and I'll play yours. I'll let you play with my hair as much as you want - IF you'll do one thing for me. And don't worry, it's really nuthin' too freaky."

The room was feeling warmer. "Okay," Drew said nervously. "I mean... well..."

Steve smiled again and slowly pumped his crotch against Drew's again. "It's really not much of anything." He leaned forward and whispered softly into the other boy's ear.

Drew laughed. "That's it? That's your big request?" Steve wrinkled his nose and nodded, wiggling his eyebrows. "All you want me to do is keep my work boots on?"

Steve turned red but he still had that low laugh in his throat. "Yup. Don't ask me why, but whenever I thought about you at night, for some dumb reason I always had us doin' it with you in just your boots."

"Oh, God," Drew began to giggle. "I don't believe this! I mean... yeah, it's cool. I think it might be kinda sexy, too. So... you been thinkin' about me?"

Steve shrugged. "You come in every week, and I always catch you sneakin' looks at me and some of the other guys." At the flicker of fear on Drew's face, Steve continued quickly. "No, don't worry - it's not obvious or anything, but... well, I do the same thing," he snickered. "I guess I can spot other guys doin' the same stuff. Maybe that's what they mean by Gaydar."

Gaydar, Drew thought. Wasn't that what Marc mentioned last night at the meeting?

"Anyway," Steve continued, "I just always thought you were hot. And today when I saw you checkin' me out again, I just figured 'Shit! Go for the real thing.'"

"Jesus. I'd'a never had the balls," Drew said simply.

Steve nodded, and gently began to run his fingers up and down Drew's ribs. "Don't know where I got 'em, either. I never do this kinda stuff. Pickin' a guy up where I work, I mean." He leaned in and kissed Drew's mouth again. "The sex is another thing altogether, baby. I'm gonna take you on the best ride you ever had," he whispered into his ear.

Drew stepped back a little. His mind was set on one thing now. No worries about exposure, no pretense he was doing anything but preparing for the kind of sex he always wanted. He wanted to explore every part of Steve, rub his face over him, inhale him, taste him. He drew the baggy black sweatshirt with the orange Home Station logo up and over Steve's head, then did the same with the thermal undershirt beneath that. Finally he got his first look at Steve's chest: defined but not bulky, the look he really liked. Stomach lean, with the beginnings of a six-pack. Arms lean and solid, obviously a guy who got his exercise from hard work, and not from some over-priced health club.

Drew shed his own shirt, and they compared. His own body was slightly heavier and the muscles a little more pronounced, with a thick, black strip of curls that stretched from his waist to the center of his chest. Steve had no more than a trace of gold strands that rose from his waist and stopped at his navel.

Drew slowly dropped to his knees, licking and nibbling his way down Steve's torso, his teeth teasing Steve's right nipple just enough to be pleasure and pain at the same time. Drew's fingers fumbled with the zipper and button of Steve's jeans. Steve brought his hands up to help, but Drew pushed them away. The pants popped open, and Drew tried to take the zipper down with his teeth but it just didn't work. So much for all that bullshit you read on the net, Drew thought with a wan smile. Bet both guys always cummin' at the same time is a lot of crap, too.

Drew rubbed his stubbled cheeks along Steve's tight belly, and he could feel the shudder and hear the light groans. Drew reached down and began fumbling with Steve's own work shoes, undid the knots and pulled them off. He eased the worn, faded jeans slowly down the long, firm legs, again rubbing his sandpapery cheeks against the other boy, but this time along the inside of his thighs. Drew took satisfaction at the sharp intake of breath followed by a high pitched sound that died in a second. Steve lifted one foot out of his pants, then the other once Drew had them pushed down all the way. He kicked them across the room.

Drew continued to rub his face between the quivering legs. He stole a glance upwards, saw Steve with his mouth open and his eyes closed, then felt the pressure of both Steve's hands pushing his head to make more contact with his legs. Drew turned his head slightly as he rose to the inside thigh, just under the bulging white briefs he'd deliberately left on Steve. His tongue lashed out, and then he sucked greedily at the tender skin. Steve's body arched and he grabbed Drew's head and pressed his crotch against his face. Drew felt the sticky dampness against his cheeks, twisted his head around and began to suck at the base of the bulging briefs, slipping a single finger under the narrow strip that covered the nether region just behind the balls and just before the ass. He pressed his finger hard and sucked on the cloth covering Steve's balls. Steve's body lunged forward and he crushed Drew's face into him now.

"Got to... oh man, please... fuck. Fuck!"

Drew pulled the shorts down with his teeth, or tried to. Finally he had to ease them down with his hands when that took too long. Steve grabbed him by the hair, leaned Drew's head back and jammed his dick into Drew's face. Oh, yeah. Just how I want it to happen... Drew opened his mouth and Steve stuffed the head into him. Drew reared back, in spite of the hands that pushed him downward, and slathered his tongue over the head. He felt the salty taste of pre-cum and sucked hungrily. He took Steve slowly, deeper and deeper, allowing his throat muscles to adjust so he didn't gag. Drew was good at this, and he knew it. He liked the hand pulling his hair and the other trying to force him down faster, but Drew set the speed for taking the full length in. Steve seemed to understand the game being played and pretended to 'force' Drew to take his cock as far down as he could manage. Drew's token resistance only made them both hotter.

After a few moments, Steve yanked Drew's head back and pulled the cock out of Drew's mouth. He shook his head, breathing heavy, the sweat running down his forehead. "Oh, God... gotta stop or I'm gonna lose it..."

"That's the idea," Drew said in a husky voice, then stretched open his jaw again and tried to catch Steve's throbbing tool. "That's why I'm down here," he giggled.

Steve's face fell into a toothy grin. "I know, but I wanna make this last - for both of us. I waited too long for it to get over this quick." He pointed to Drew's pants. "Why don't you slide out of those and let me play for awhile?"

Drew feigned shyness. "Nah - one touch with those hands and I'll lose it." He shook his head. "I know I will."

Steve reached down, and gently pulled Drew up by his arm. "I got something special in mind for you, babe. Something I only done one other time, and that was 'cuz he was special. Like you."

Drew stood up, and Steve's long-fingered hands slid lightly down the length of Drew's arm, over the palm of his hand, and then the tips of his fingers cupped Drew's and he gently led him to the living room. Furniture's kinda old, but not bad, Drew thought. The kind of stuff you might get from a parent or relative when they bought a new set. At least it was comfortable-looking and clean, if a little worn.

Steve lead him to the couch. Drew went to sit, but Steve stopped him, a funny smile dancing on his lips. "Uh-uh. Lean over the arm."

"Uhh..." Drew began, stiffening. "Listen, I never done that, and I don't -"

Steve shook his head, gave a disarming smile. "No, dude, it's not what you think. I swear. Just trust me, ok?"

Drew looked at him carefully. Then he cautiously turned and leaned forward over the arm of the couch. He felt Steve's calloused hands running over his back, just the barest touch of the tips of his warm fingers sending small shivers through his body. He heard Steve chuckle.

"I love the hair up front, but I'm glad it stops there," he said. "A little fuzzy is one thing but I was afraid for awhile you might have a pelt."

Drew chuckled. "Nope. Baby smooth. Even my ass."

"Uh-huh," Steve said with a leer. "Well, I'm gonna find out about that right now." He reached around Drew and unbuckled his pants and started pushing them down until they were bunched around his ankles. "Hunh. Maybe the work boots weren't such a great idea," he chuckled. "But you didn't lie about your ass," he said running a hand over it lightly. "Nice, high, and tight! And not a hair on it. Hey, tell me the truth, you shave it, right?"

"I don't believe you got me bent over the arm of your couch and you wanna talk about me shaving my ass!" Drew giggled. Then he suddenly turned his head. "Hey, wait a minute! We had a deal."

Steve looked at him curiously for a moment, his head cocked to the left. "Oh! Shit, I forgot!"

He reached his hands around and fumbled with something, then tossed something small and beige across the room. Steve pulled his long hair forward, over his shoulder. "You like this. You get to play with it soon, okay baby?" Drew nodded. "Now, just relax. I'm gonna give you something special, just like I said. Close your eyes."

Drew tried to relax. He felt his legs being spread and he tightened for a moment, then forced himself to relax. He sensed movement behind him, and turned his head slightly. Steve was on his knees, between Drew's legs. He felt his cheeks being spread wide, was aware of hot breath and then....

A shiver ran through his body, one that penetrated every part of him and caused him to quiver non-stop. He felt the hot, wet tongue gently teasing his sphincter, sliding around. Every now and then, Steve leaned his face against a cheek and took a light nip. He gave him at least one hickey, Drew knew. He surrendered completely, allowing the tongue to press and probe, opening him. The tongue found its way inside his crack, and probed... Then something different was being pressed against him, and he felt Steve's teeth gently grazing his flesh as Steve pushed his index finger inside him. Drew sucked in his breath. It was the first time anyone ever put anything in there before. Steve slid the finger in gently, giving it plenty of spit to help it along. He twisted his finger as he worked it in, and Drew could tell by the way it slid across him that the finger was crooked inside. The sensation was indescribable.

"More," he said with a groan. "Oh man, more. Please."

Steve worked him carefully, taking his time. A second finger slowly worked its way in. Then a third. Drew felt a wave of pleasure flowing through him and made a decision.

"Do it," he moaned. "Please. You'll be the first, so just... just go real easy, okay?"

He felt the fingers slide out of him, and then Steve's lips gently kissing Drew at the base of his spine, followed by a little slip of the tongue just at the spot where the cheeks began to separate. Drew almost lost it.

He heard a drawer slide open and turned his head. He saw Steve fish out a condom, followed by a bottle of clear liquid out of a drawer in the end table. Steve grinned when he saw the curious look on Drew's face. "One of the advantages of having gay roommates. You find this stuff in the most convenient places."

Steve ripped open the package and pulled out the condom. Then he squeezed some of the liquid into his hand and slowly stroked his shaft. Drew was fascinated, watching him slowly slide on the latex sheath. Steve smiled and leaned forward again, driving his hot tongue in one last time. Then Drew felt a cool liquid being spread around his muscle, the fingers probing inside him again, slicking him up, getting him warmer. Steve stood behind him now, and he felt a hand spreading his cheeks. Drew reached back to guide him, and he felt something hot pressed against his opening and...

"Oh, shit. Shit! It hurts..."

Steve paused, he sounded worried. "We don't have to..."

"No!" Drew reached back and seized one of Steve's legs. "I - I made up my mind. I want this. Please!"

Steve began to press harder. Drew clenched his eyes shut. At least the head's in, he thought, holding his breath. Oh God, why did I ever do this? I'm gonna split in half... okay, I'll go through with it this time, but never again...

It took forever - or Drew thought it did - but finally, he felt Steve's hips pressed against his back side. Drew finally relaxed. Steve began to pump in slow, easy strokes, and Drew unclamped himself enough so that gradually the pain was gone. He felt a shiver coming from deep inside him. Gotta be the prostate, he thought dizzily. They always talk about stimulatin' that. They never said it felt this good.

Drew smiled, closing his eyes and exhaling, feeling satisfied. Suddenly he thought of how he hoped this would never end as Steve began to increase the length and speed of his strokes. Soon he was almost pulling all the way out then firmly thrusting his tool back in. Each time he sunk it to the root and Drew felt Steve's balls slapping against his legs, he caught his breath and groaned in pleasure. Then Steve stopped pumping, ground into Drew and leaned over his back, whispering in his ear. "I wanna see your face, baby. I want you to see mine, and the pleasure you're giving me. What we're givin' each other."

Steve gently withdrew himself, then eased Drew to the floor and rolled him over. Drew felt his ankles seized as Steve struggled to untie the work boots so he could get Drew's pants over his ankles and off. Then he stopped.

Still panting in lust, Drew opened his eyes and elevated his head slightly. His left foot was in Steve's hand, but Steve was just sitting and leaning forward, his long, blond hair hiding his face, then he shook his head and sent his mane flying over his shoulders again. Steve was looking down, and had a confused look on his face.

"Something wrong?" Drew asked.

Steve gave him a funny look for a moment, then smiled. "Hey, it's nothin'. Absolutely nothin'. Oh, shit. I can't get your damn boots off now and your pants are tangled around your ankles," he laughed.

Drew smiled and jerked his legs into the air, spread wide. "Crawl through and screw 'em! Or better yet, screw me!"

Steve dove through the opening, and Drew almost commented on how Steve looked with Drew's legs and pants tangled around his head but the words froze when Steve re-entered him -- fast -- and Drew forgot about everything but the intense look in Steve's eyes, and the beaded sweat on the other's face as he pounded down into him. Their lips locked, but only for an all-to-brief time when suddenly Steve reared back clutching Drew's legs. Drew was fascinated with Steve's face as the other boy clamped his eyes shut, and his jaw clenched up as he held his legs open and wide and drove himself over the edge. He froze for an all-to-brief moment, buried in Drew as deep as he could go as his body spasmed and Drew gripped Steve's waist, fighting his attempts to withdraw once the spasms stopped.

Tangled on the floor, panting and exhausted. Both half crawled up the side of the couch, once Steve backed out from between Drew's legs. They sat on the floor, leaning back against the couch.

Drew was panting. "Oh God... I never... fantastic..."

Steve laughed gently, slipping an arm behind Drew's back and rubbing his fingers at the base of his spine. He strained for breath. "Oh, yeah, just what I needed, he said smiling, his eyes half shut. Then he laughed. "Good thing for us I like to pitch almost as much as you like to catch!"

Drew turned his head, his face a big question mark.

Steve looked uncomfortable and stammered. "Well, you know. Down there," he said using his chin to point to Drew's crotch. "I mean, you're not exactly a refugee from Hamster City, but... well..."

The corners of Drew's mouth twitched, and an unpleasant look spread over his face.

Steve didn't catch the warning. "Heh! You gotta admit, Drew, you do fall a tad shy of the national average." He looked again. "Well, a couple of tads, to be honest," he chuckled.

Drew got to his feet, glaring down at Steve. He tried to take a step before being reminded his pants were wrapped around his ankles and he fell backwards on the couch. He hurried to pull them up again while looking around for his shirt.

Steve held his forehead, shaking his head. "Oh, man... I - I'm sorry for the way that sounded. I mean -- buddy -- ya gotta believe me! It's no big deal!"

That brought the loudest silence ever heard, and after thinking about how he sounded, Steve decided to close his mouth.

Drew found his tee shirt on top of a lamp, and his sweatshirt on a bookcase. He had no idea where his flannel shirt landed. His face was red, and inside him was the heat brought about by the flames of embarrassment and anger.

Screw the shirt. I'm outta here! He stormed into the kitchen, grabbed his coat off the floor where it landed next to Steve's. Steve sat still on the carpet of the living room, looking down. He couldn't be sure, but Drew swore he could hear him snickering. Drew slammed the door behind him so hard it rattled in the frame...

Drew shook his head and refocused his eyes on the monitor in front of him, as he pushed the memory back. The mp3 files in Winamp finished and the only sound left in the room was the dull hum of the computer. Drew opened his eyes, the images of built, hung, handsome guys flickering before him as the ACDSee program continued with its animated slide show. He reached out and touched the monitor with his fingertips, then shook his head sadly.

Jesus Christ... as if it ain't tough enough dealing with being gay. He glared at his monitor. How come every fag in America has to be hung like a porn star but me?

He clicked the mouse and closed the program. He sat for a moment, considering whether or not he should delete the whole file, but decided it wouldn't help anything. Then Drew noticed a stray scrap of paper on the computer desk and smoothed it out. Marc's number.

Drew frowned. What's the point of calling? So I can get laughed at again by some hung-heavy asshole?

He crumpled it up and threw the paper into the trash.

To be continued...

Special thanks to MW for once again editing for me, even if he does make me take out the REALLY good stuff just so things sound believable... sheesh.
I love email, so feel free to write me at boilooker2001@yahoo.com