This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter Six

December 2nd

He sighed as her lips met his, soft and supple, they yielded to his touch, gentle at first the kiss was gentle, almost tender. She stopped and pulled back, looking at him in concern, leaning in to kiss him again, and he felt her soft skin, his hands reach up to brush her face with his fingers, and he withdrew it as he felt the sandpapery texture of her skin.

He drew back to look at Andrew sitting in his embrace, those eyes looking at him with...with that same look they had when he had awoken to them in the car. They were questioning, concerned.

"Are you alright?" Andrew asked as they sat in the back of his car, pressed up against each other, Will felt the heat of his body, but this time it wasn't about survival it was about something more desperate. And he leaned in to kiss Andrew again, to hell with the world.

Wills tongue exploring that mouth hungrily, needing to be there. It was his right to be there. He felt Andrew's skin against his own. There was that smell of sweat and cologne that aroused him more than anything else in his life. He needed the comfort; the safety and Andrew had given him that. And as they played with the kiss, he felt Andrew's hands playing on his arm, drifting gently down as they had when he had tried to warm him before, but this time it wasn't as vigorous, it was slow, as Will savored the sensation.

Andrew rose slightly, not breaking the kiss, turning Will onto his back as he drew himself against the younger teenager, and Will wanted nothing more than to stay there, safe and warm beneath the man that had risked everything to save him. There was passion in those eyes, a burning need.

He collapsed back to the bed, sweating, realizing he had a dream. It had felt so real, the sensations, the feelings of Andrew against his skin... He lay there panting awhile, thinking about the dream and how real it had felt, he sat in quiet shock on the edge of his bed, pulling the heavy down comforter around his shoulders to keep him warm in the chill air.

What the hell was that about? He shook his head trying to clear it. He had started to dream about another girl, one from a playboy he had hidden under his mattress, but why had it become Andrew?

He lay back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling hearing the cracking of the house settling, his eyes wide and fearful. Why? It was probably just the intensity of the moment, trapped in a car, desperately relying on each other to stay alive. The intimacy that came with being that close to some one for so long. That had to be it. You weren't gay if you weren't attracted to boys. And when Will asked himself if he was attracted to guys, he answered no firmly.

But when he asked himself if he was attracted to Andrew Highmore... he couldn't answer it. How could he after a dream like that?

No, he decided, he wasn't gay; it was just a bad dream...or good dream depending on how he looked at it.

He grinned at that thought as he rolled himself over into his covers and pulled them close about him, laying staring at the red digits on his alarm clock, 6:00 he would have to get up soon and go to school. But then Jared's party was tonight and he was excited about it.

* * *

The party was in full swing as he pulled the front door of Jared's house closed behind him. He wasn't used to house party's and wanted some air. It was enjoying himself, there was so much happening around him and it was great to meet so many of the people he knew from school outside of that setting, in a place where they could just relax and be themselves.

Jared was a great host, he had opened up the den in the basement as well as the upstairs and a lot of the guests had split up among the various rooms. But, like every get together he had been to in Canada, the real party was in the Kitchen. Lisa had perched herself on the edge of a countertop and was feverishly discussing her opinions on the Canadian political system trying to defend her liberal stance to a group of die-hard young conservatives.

Brody seemed to have adopted the ethical high ground for the debate, injecting his own viewpoints when things became too heated. As usual his balanced temperament and strong personality gave him an edge when it came to expressing his thoughts on what was right and wrong. Both he and Lisa seemed to be quite worked up, dominating opposite viewpoints.

Will had tried to join the debate, but his glaring lack of knowledge about Canadian politics left him at a disadvantage, and he soon found he was out of his league. He had watched the two verbally spar with each other for a while, before he had found his attention wandering and he had sought some other conversation.

Unfortunately that meant Jennifer. She seemed quite morose at the party, preferring to stay close to him and trying to retain his attention while he circled the party. At first he had felt sorry for her and kept trying to draw her into the friendly conversations he was having. But she wasn't there to chat with other people; she seemed only interested when he talked to her. After an hour he felt smothered, and was desperate just to get some air for a while. He made a feeble excuse about the washroom and beat a hasty exit.

He stood in the cold on Jared's front stoop clasping his arms about him, watching his breath fog as he breathed, smelling the wonderful smells of wood smoke from one of Jared's neighbours chimneys and he stepped down onto the freshly cleared path.

Salt crunched beneath his shoes as he walked and he smiled. He could tolerate winter in small doses, and with the Christmas season just beginning it really wasn't that bad. He glanced up the street at all the houses with their blinking Christmas lights glittering in the snow. It really was a beautiful night.

He heard a sharp rasping sound followed by a clap and a thump. Curious he crossed the street and entered the small park that sat directly across from Jared's house. He regretted not grabbing his jacket, but he was only going to be outside for a few moments, so he simply pulled his arms around himself and struggled over the steep snow bank to get a glimpse at where the noises were coming from.

He stopped and smiled. The small hockey rink was really nothing more than a few boards set up around a patch of cleared ice. A group of neighbourhood parents had probably set it up for their kids to play on during the day. A conveniently placed street lamp that bathed the white snow about it a soft orange lighted the ice and Will couldn't help but smile.

Andrew swept about in a wide circle, the hockey stick waving back and forth as he guided the black puck in lazy sweeps in front of him, he braked with another rasp of skates and sent the puck sailing against the boards, it thumped dully against them as he swept in to repeat the pattern again.

"Looks like fun." Will observed with a grin as he leaned on the boards watching Andrew make another pass.

The hockey Captain deaked the puck as he spun on his skates and began to skate backwards lazily, "I got bored at the party." He grinned, "My Dad taught me to skate in a park like this when I was little."

Will shivered slightly as he nodded, "Cool, we don't have rinks like this in England it really doesn't get cold enough..."

Andrew skated up to him, "So how did you learn?"

Will shook his head, "Never did. Not much call for learning in England..."

"We're not in England." Andrew said as he pushed off from the boards and sailed easily in a circle, "This is Canada, dudes not a man unless he can skate."

Will shook his head, "Well never had any one to teach me."

Andrew's grin suddenly grew very broad as he slid up again, "See my equipment bag down there, I have a spare pair, can you fit a size eleven?"

Will looked skeptical, "I can..." he said, suddenly growing nervous. He hadn't considered skating before; he just never had to before.

"Put them on then." Andrew said encouragingly.

Will reluctantly sat down on the bench and fished the skates out of the bag. "Baur?" he asked as he read the name on the side, "I'm in trouble aren't I?"

Andrew nodded, "Yep, but your not going to wimp out on me. Don't worry I'll catch you before you fall."

"Great..." Will murmured as he finished lacing on the skates and stood shakily to his feet, "I feel stupid."

Andrew shook his head; "You look fine..." he stopped noticing Will was again in his shirt sleeves, "what is it with you and loosing coats?" He asked already shrugging his off, "Put this on before you get sick."

"Yes mom." Will replied accepting the letterman jacket, and grinning as he put it on, "Think I could pass for a Condor?"

Andrew considered it a moment before he shook his head, "You're too British. Now come on out onto the Ice slowly..."

Will took a small step, testing his balance on the ice. Well he was upright so far, and barring any kind of movement he could stay that way...

"Push slowly..." Andrew said as he slid up in front of Will.

Will grudgingly complied, feeling himself contort as one leg shot out from under him in one direction pushing the other in the opposite one. He crashed to the ice in a heap.

"Bloody hell!" he cursed in spite of himself; the ice was cold and hard.

Andrew laughed, "You okay Carter? Can you get up?"

Will stared up at the amused Canadian and grumbled as he tried to struggle to his feet. Moments later he was back on the ice. "Damn it!" he cursed in frustration.

"Take it easy." Andrew said offering a hand to help him up, "Look hold onto my arms, I'll keep your balance, you just focus on moving..."

Will took a hold of Andrew's hands and was surprised at how firmly Andrew gripped them. It was like holding onto a rock; he knew that he was safe as long as he held on to those hands. He smiled shyly as he began to move, Andrew skating backwards in front of him keeping him stable.

"Nice one Carter!" Andrew said with a grin keeping his balance, "Lets try a little faster..."

They sped up, Andrew guiding them effortlessly around the small rink continuing to hold onto Will to keep him upright. For Will it was like learning how to fly, he could move so fast, and as long as he stayed focused he wouldn't fall over, he was actually enjoying it. He had never thought about it before, always writing it off as a Canadian pastime he would never understand, but there he was enjoying it.

"So when are the hockey try outs?" Will joked.

Andrew laughed again, "First skating lesson and he already wants to play hockey, we'll turn you into a Canadian yet." He grinned, "okay I am going to let go of you, try to keep your balance and skate in a circle just like I showed you..."

Will drew in a breath as Andrew released him, and he wobbled threateningly, but kept his balance. It really wasn't as hard as he had first thought. The less he concentrated on trying to stay upright, and the more he concentrated on moving forward the more stable he felt on skates. He kept putting one foot in front of the other as he mimicked the pattern Andrew had showed him, already around the rink and sailing towards Andrew.

"Okay now stop..." Andrew said.

"How?" Will asked a moment of panic setting in as he realized he hadn't gotten that far in his lessons.

"You just...no...turn..." Andrew's eyes widened as he realized Will had run out of places to go and headed straight for him, he held up his hands to catch him, but Will was just going too fast. They collided, and both hit the ice in a tangle of limbs.

They came to rest against the boards, Will wrapped in Andrew's arms, and they both broke out into hysterical laughter. Will shifted his weight off of Andrew's stomach and grinned at him.

"Guess I had better not try out for the team just yet..."

"I don't know...' Andrew said as he sat upright, "That was a pretty good check and we could use a good enforcer..."

Will laughed, "Thanks Andrew..."

Andrew shrugged, "Hey my pleasure," he stood and helped Will back up to his feet. Will wobbled in a precarious fashion and Andrews's arms snaked out to catch him about the waist before he fell again.

Will just stood there and stared into those blue eyes... the same ones that had kept him warm and safe during the storm. Those eyes looked at him with a new light in them, one he couldn't fail to mistake.

Will didn't remember who had kissed who...their lips just met. A soft probing kiss at first, shy...almost tentative, that grew with passion as Will felt Andrew draw him closer. Then...almost as soon as it began it was over... Andrew drew his head back to look at Will, licking his lips as if he could still taste him on them.

"I..." Will began breaking the silence, realizing he was still in Andrew's embrace.

Andrew released him slowly, as he took a step backwards. His eyes still searched Will's face, as he tried to read the emotions there. But what did he read there? Will could barely make sense of the rushing torrent of emotion he felt, the confusion, the longing the fearing... he stayed exactly still.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that..." Andrew said as he shook his head to clear it, already skating away to the bench.

Will tried to follow, but his skates had a mind of their own, and he had to cling to the boards to help him along. When he finally got off the Ice, Andrew was already out of his skates and lacing up his boots.

"Wait...What...?" Will asked, trying to vocalize all the raging questions inside his mind.

Andrew sat there a moment and stared at him, "I shouldn't have done that," rested his arms on his knees and exhaled heavily, "I don't know what I'm doing, I'm not... I don't..."

Will sat down on the bench and took off his borrowed skates, considering what it meant as he put his shoes back on. "I don't think I am either..." he said.

Andrew's eyes lit up hopefully, "that's good, `cause if you were that would mean I was and... well you're not and..." he gave up the feeble train of thought and turned to Will, "I mean there's something between us, like a connection..."

"Yes," Will admitted aloud feeling the realization beginning to dawn on him; did he feel the same way? Could he feel the same way? Was it just that, nothing more than a connection?

"But I just can't figure this out." Andrew continued, lost in his own thoughts, "I mean you're important to me... like the other night, I couldn't let you freeze, because I would loose this..." he waved at the invisible connection that bound them together, "but what is this?"

Will stood up and turned away, trying to think, what was it? Was it...? There was no way it could be that. He turned back resting an arm on the boards.

"What does it feel like for you?" he asked shivering, but this time not from the cold.

Andrew stood slowly, "I don't know, like your important...like when I'm near you I just want to protect you. Like in the car."

"So we're friends then..." Will said desperately hoping he was right, but he knew that wasn't it. He swallowed again.

"I don't feel like this for my friends." Andrew said as he ran a hand through his hair to push it away from his eyes, "wow..."

Will nodded, "Yeah." It was as if their entire world had shifted under them. Everything they had known up until that moment had suddenly changed, the rules were different. There was no going back, you didn't shift paradigms and expect to be unaffected by that shift.

Andrew reached out and touched Will's face in a tender fashion, and Will stared at the young man that had changed the whole world.

There was a gasp behind them and Andrew pulled his hand back sharply. Will frowned and turned to see Jennifer staring down at them from the road. She stood stock still looking between them, before she turned and ran.

Will cursed and sprinted after her, leaving Andrew to stare after them under the street lamp.

"When the Grinch stole Christmas," Brody said as he stood in the middle of the kitchen a group of people listening to him intently as he went on, "One of my favourite Christmas cartoons, especially when he steals Christmas from the town. Has a good plot until the last fifteen minutes. As soon as it starts to go to hell I turn it off..."

Jared shook his head, "But that's when he gives the gifts back..."

Brody gave him a blank stare, "Huh? Nope never watched the end. I like it better this way."

Lisa stood towards the back of the room, she had chosen to stay clear of that argument, preferring to watch Brody show boat to everyone like a stand up comedian. But as Will burst into the kitchen and looked about wildly, Lisa stared over at him and immediately realized something was wrong. She intercepted him in the hallway as he searched vainly for Jennifer and caught his arm.

"What's wrong?" she asked in concern.

Will looked over at her, "Where's Jenny...?" He had a mad look in his eyes that scared her. She had never seen him look so desperate.

She rolled her eyes, "Did you two have a fight?" She seemed ready to begin lecturing him on the fragile nature of girls emotions, and how they should be treated when she noticed Will was again wearing Andrew's jacket.

She stared at it a moment, feeling the leather sleeve beneath her hand before she met his eyes, "oh!" she said immediately coming to a realization.

Will missed it completely, as he looked about wildly, "Where is she, I have to find her..." he said as he looked at his friend.

"Slow down," she said refusing to release him, "Calm down she isn't here, she was looking for you and Jared said you were outside. She hasn't come back in yet..."

Will broke free of her grip and started for the door, and Lisa waved to catch Brody's attention, he tore himself away from his audience.

"What's wrong?" he asked putting his arm about her.

"Will, I.. we just need to calm him down..." she said nodding to where he was rushing out the front door.

"Ok, lets go." He said as he grabbed their jackets and handed her the keys to his truck.

She filled him in as they climbed into the cab, and after a few minutes they caught up to Will as he rounded the corner at the top of the street. The truck pulled up alongside of him as Brody jumped out catching him before he could continue running.

"Dude you have to calm down!" he said positioning himself in Will's way.

Will again shook his head desperately, "No, you don't understand I have to..."

Brody shook his head, "Get in the truck."

Will stared over Brody's shoulder up the street where he knew Jennifer had to have driven. "Brody..." he pleaded.

"Will get in the truck." Lisa said leaning across the seat to see him, "Come on, please..."

Will shook himself off and reluctantly climbed into the cab, he tried to think of what he wanted to say, how he could explain his manic run up a street. Panic was the only thing that came to mind, and he sat there silently as Brody climbed in beside him shutting the door.

"My place." Brody said, taking charge as Lisa pulled the truck out onto the streets and wove towards Brody's house.

Will shivered as he sat between them, tight-lipped staring ahead at the road. His entire world had changed, and it wasn't done yet. He wanted to make it stop, grab a hold of one of the pieces of the way things were and force it back into place. But again life wasn't going to work like that, he couldn't predict how it would end, but now he was simply along for the ride.

When they were in Brody's living room, Lisa confronted him, "What the hell is going on Carter?" she asked as she sat on the edge of the couch.

Will fell into the chair across from her and shook his head, "I...I don't know..."

Brody sat quietly preferring to observe his girlfriend as she interrogated her best friend.

"Will," she said keeping her tone rational, "You don't act like a maniac with out a reason. This has something to do with Andrew right?"

"H-how?" he asked, his eyes narrowing.

She crossed her arms and gave him one of her typical don't under estimate me looks, "You're wearing his coat again, and the fact you two have been acting strange since the accident... I'm not stupid."

Will closed his eyes and exhaled dejectedly, "He kissed me..." he said after a pause.

Both Lisa and Brody exchanged looks of shock.

"And Jennifer saw?" Brody pressed as he pieced it together.

Will sat forward, "She didn't see that, but she saw him touch my cheek." He extended his hands, "I wasn't thinking I just had to run after her and explain..."

"Oh boy," Lisa said heavily, "Jennifer is going to take that hard Will... but what about Andrew?"

"I don't know," Will said helplessly, "I don't know what's going on."

"I'm going make coffee," Brody said as he got up and walked towards his kitchen, "This is going to take awhile."

"Aren't we going to wake your parents?" Lisa asked as she followed him.

Brody shook his head, "This is my place, my grandmother left it to me last year. My Folks live up in Hunt club, so we're cool."

She nodded as she looked back towards Will sitting lost in thought in the over stuffed arm chair, "What a mess..."

Brody dismissed it with a roll of his shoulders, "No big deal, let him stay here tonight, calm down, and I will drive him home tomorrow."

She patted Brody's arm, "Thanks."

Brody grinned as he poured water into the pot, "It's what I'm good at."

Chapter Seven

December 3rd

The truck bounced down the driveway and pulled up besides the Major's bronco. Brody leaned on the wheel and glanced at his young buddy. "Feeling better?"

Will nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine. I just panicked last night." He looked up at the farmhouse and sighed, "Now to explain to the Major why I didn't come home last night."

Brody smiled, "I'll come with you, he might believe you if I tell him."

Will licked his lips nervously, "I don't know, you don't know him like I do... he isn't afraid to express himself in front of strangers..."

"How bad can he be?" Brody asked with a wry grin already stepping out of his truck and sauntering up to the kitchen door.

Will reluctantly got out and followed as they walked into the house. And he wasn't surprised to see the Major already sitting at the kitchen table waiting for him. He drew up beside Brody and swallowed.

"Dad..." he said trying to keep the nervousness from his voice.

The Major folded his paper neatly and set it aside and looked up from his breakfast, "Where have you been?" he asked simply. There was no wasting time with the Major, he was always abrupt and to the point.

Brody tried to answer, "He was staying with me Mister..."

"Major," Major Carter corrected as he slowly began to stir his coffee, "And I wasn't asking you son."

Will stepped up to the table, "It was me, I decided to stay over at Brody's rather than come home that late..."

The Major kept his tones level, a quiet voice that belied an iron resolve, "What are you doing in that jacket? I thought you gave that back." He considered it a moment, "did you loose yours again?"

Will took a deep breath, "I..."

The phone rang mercifully. Jackie answered it as the Major gave it his attention, when she extended it to him he rose. "Don't move...either of you."

Will glanced over at Brody and mouthed that he was sorry. Brody just shrugged it off, he was used to parent's attitudes towards him, and he didn't let it bother him.

The major listened into the receiver intently; every so often he glanced over towards Will. Will watched as the major's shoulders squared and his jaw tensed. The grip on the phone tightened until his knuckles turned white. His yeses became more punctuated and Will knew that something was very wrong.

"Thank you." The major said simply as he hung the receiver back into its cradle and stood there a moment as he stared at the wall. Jackie moved in to lay a hand on his arm, but withdrew it when he threw her a look.

Will had never seen that look on his fathers face before; something was wrong, very wrong. He stepped forward and arched an eyebrow questioningly, "Dad?"

The Major exploded into action and Will was propelled up against the wall as he threw him up against it pinning him there, "Is it true?" he demanded, almost screaming the words.

The shock of the violence froze everyone in the room, and Will stared wide-eyed into his fathers rage filled face, "What?"

"David!" Jackie yelled as she tried to pry her husband's hands from Will's shirt, trying to get him down, "David stop!"

"Is it true?" The Major screamed again, "Is what she said true?"

Brody darted into action wresting Will's fathers hands from his son, pulling Will free and stepping between them protectively as Will dropped to the ground and scrambled back towards the table. "Stop!" He said holding a hand up.

Will shook in shock as his father tried to move around his friend to get at him again; he had never seen his father so enraged. Even the times when he had lashed out at Will during arguments, he had never thrown such fury at him, never shown such hatred.

"Get out of my way!" the major barked, a terse order.

Brody stared at the man looming over him, and squared his shoulders, "You're going to have to go through me, And when your done my next stop will be the O.P.P. station, and you will have to explain to them why you beat the shit out of two teenagers." He smiled, "Can you spell deportation?"

He realized he had no other option the major turned his back, "Get out!" He demanded.

"Get to the truck Carter." Brody said evenly, continuing to keep himself between them, he looked up at the larger man, "I'm going to be back in four hours for Will's stuff, have it ready."

"Get out!" the major bellowed slamming his hand against the wall.

Will burst out of the back door and was already scrambling into the truck like a frightened jack rabbit when Brody calmly walked out of the back door.

"Run..." Will's father bellowed after them, "And don't come back!"

Brody shook his head in disgust as he climbed into the cab and slammed the truck into reverse, backing away from the house as fast as he could. Will sat in the truck barely focused, staring at his house and his father standing before it screaming obscenities after them.

When they finally returned to Brody's house Lisa was cradling a cup of coffee watching the news. She looked up confused at first, but instantly flew into a protective mode when she saw how upset Will was, guiding him to the couch her arm about his shoulders. She looked up at Brody for answers and he explained simply about the phone call and what had happened at Will's.

"Jennifer," she snarled like a lioness who had just found out one of her cubs had been attacked, she stood and stalked towards the kitchen as Brody sat down beside Will.

"Dude, you gonna be okay?" he asked in concern.

"What am I going to do?" Will frowned up at him, "What the hell was that?" he asked in confusion, "How did he know... I don't even know..."

"Look you're staying here until you can get yourself sorted out. Don't worry about that. As for the rest..." Brody glanced towards the kitchen where Lisa was talking furiously into a phone, "Lisa's trying to find out now."

She returned to them a moment later, her face was livid, "I was right..." she shook her head, "She called your Dad this morning to tell him... I can't believe her..." she sat down wrapping her arms around Will again, "Will I'm so sorry..."

Will's head sank against her shoulder as he felt the rush of emotion catch up and overwhelm him as he clutched onto her for emotional support.