The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between teenage males. If you are a minor it is illegal for you to read, or if you find the subject objectionable, read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.



by eliot moore

Chapter Twenty-two

Floating on the Current


The price and prize, Friday, May 13th

Daniel drifted to consciousness with his mother was beside him. Heather felt the terror ease when she saw he was finally awake. Daniel blinked at her and simply asked "Mandy?"

"She's alright. She's here," she told him. He closed his eyes again.

The drive to the hospital had been a nightmare. The impersonal routine of consent and insurance forms had helped to calm Heather down. A Kind doctor had reassured Heather that her son had suffered no serious physical injury beyond a broken arm. That softened the pain and anger she felt when she finally saw him. Hagar and Mandy had been waiting with the police officers who had found Daniel in the alley beside Eddie. Heather had finally sat to listen to Mandy as the young girl sobbed out the story of the alley and her desperate run down the street. Heather reassured Mandy that Daniel was safe. Mandy had no idea what had happened after she began to run. Heather held back the worst of the story the doctor had told her.

A suddenly younger and more confused Denver had listened from the other side of the room beside the short dark youth Daniel had identified as Denver's homosexual boyfriend. She had returned to Daniel's room to wait through the long night for him to wake up. His battered face blended in her mind with the face of that older Daniel, her father, gracefully submitting to his fate. She had sat by her father's side too as he slipped away to join her mother. Daniel would not slip away from her this time.

She leaned over and quietly told him "I'm proud of you." Daniel closed his eyes and registered his understanding with a small flutter of his hand. She looked at his bruises and the cast on his right forearm where the doctor thought he must have tried to block a blow. Almost fifteen years of nurturing him seemed to have been repaid by his moment of sacrifice for Mandy. She touched his face gently "Your grandpa would be proud of you today too." Daniel began to cry silently. His mother held him close.

Later she left him to sleep and went to join the others in the waiting room. Mandy had fallen asleep close to her mother and Denver and Mark had left the room. Heather gently touched the young girl's shoulder. Mandy instantly came awake and stared fearfully at her through tear-bruised eyes. Heather gently told Mandy and Hagar that Daniel had woken for a minute and seemed better. Mandy asked to see him for a minute. Heather thought it would be alright and mother and daughter went down to Daniel's room. Before they left Heather asked softly if they knew where Denver had gone. He had gone outside. Secure in the knowledge that Daniel would be okay, she went in search of Denver.

Mandy asked her mother to let her go in alone for a minute. Daniel sooked just as he had that last moment in the alley before she had begun her run. He lay without a shirt. A bandage covered his bruised ribs. His good hand was resting on his stomach. There was a slight rattle to his breathing. Mandy sat gently on the bed and stroked his forehead lightly with her hand. She put a cool palm on his smooth chest to feel his heart beat. She thought of the abuse he had suffered all year long, how he had tried to hide everything from her, and the way he had finally used himself up to protect her from the three boys on the street. She thought back to the freshie dance when Daniel had finally realized that she was just waiting for him to find the courage to ask her to be with him.

She thought of Romeo lying beside Juliet in the tomb. Daniel didn't have a knife. She traced his lips with a finger thinking of his insecurities. Boys she thought, always courage for physical danger, but never for when their hearts were on the line. She said softly to him, "You always worry about us so much. Silly boy, do you remember Ms. Woodley's class in sixth grade? Do you remember asking me for an erasor? The first time you smiled at me I was always yours for the asking." She stroked his face again and ran a light finger along the soft down of his sideburns. He always looked so fine to her. She traced the line from his neck down to his underpants.

Daniel suddenly spoke in a soft voice, "Jeez Mandy you're going to give me a hard-on and I hurt all over." He opened his eyes and gazed at her solemnly. "You know, I'll always be there for you."

Mandy cried silently as she looked at him. "I'll always love you Daniel. Thank you." She leaned down to kiss him on the lips. There was no poison; there was only warmth and life.

"I'm sorry I got mad at you. You know Arlo was..."

Mandy held her fingers close to his battered lips to silence him. "That wasn't important." It was not the time to talk of that. She needed to understand Daniel better, but this was a different moment. They spoke for a while longer and then Daniel slipped away from her again. She looked at him for a few more minutes and then went out to join her mother, the police officer.


Hold back the sea, Friday night

Heather tracked Denver and Mark down to the steps out side the front entrance. Mark quietly moved back to let them talk. She sat next to Denver in the pool of light and gazed out into the pattern of early morning shadows. It would be dawn soon. Denver glanced quickly at her and then down again in shame. She put her hand gently on his arm and told him that Daniel was going to be all right.

Denver sprang to his feet and paced quickly back and forth before giving a garbage can a vicious kick that sent it spinning into the night. Behind Heather Mark stepped forward as if to console the wounded eighteen-year-old. With a mighty bellow Denver screamed his anger to the windows above, "Fuck!" The word echoed in the silence that followed.

Denver collapsed against the wall and slid down to the ground. Heather watched him with compassion for a moment. "It's my fault" he said simply,"Instead of helping him, all I did was set him up for this." Heather shook her head silently. She walked over and offered a hand to help him to his feet. He stood and leaned against the wall.

"You did what you thought was best. You did more than I did. You gave him someone to turn to. You even set him an example. There are lines Daniel won't cross and maybe you let him know his instincts were right." She put her hand on his hard chest. "Denver, if you hadn't been there this year for Daniel he might have run from Mandy in that alley. You don't know how much I needed him not to run." She turned and started sobbing.

Denver thought of Heather's age and Daniel's absent father, but all he could say was "and so despite everything he got hurt and broken." Like I was, he thought bitterly. Denver looked past Heather to where Mark stood waiting patiently for him. Denver wished he could read the thoughts behind his lover's eyes.

"You were right Mark, weren't you? Tell me you were right and I fucked up everything!" Denver's voice was harsh. Mark simply shook his head silently.

Heather turned back on Denver and shoved him against the wall. She said fiercely "You can't imagine how I feel about this, but thank God his body will heal. He admires you so much Denver. My son is in pain. Right now he needs to know that you think he did the right thing." Denver nodded his understanding.

Denver started to go, but he paused to look at her, "Ms. Murrell I think I understand what you mean about the alley."

"Call me Heather. We all have scars from our alleys Denver. I think it's how we carry them that matters." She brushed the hair off his forehead as she always did Daniel's.

Her eyes followed Denver as he paused beside his boyfriend. The two young men passed something silently between them and she watched as Mark gave Denver a fierce kiss on the lips. Denver turned to go inside and Heather and Mark found themselves staring at each other. She prided herself on her tolerance but she did not really know how to respond to this poised young man who stood so clearly at ease with his nature. She did not understand him or the relationship he had with Denver. Mark smiled slightly at her and then turned away to follow his man. Heather hugged herself suddenly cold in the crisp spring air.

* ** *

Denver slipped into Daniel's room and sat in a chair where he could watch Daniel without disturbing him. The room was washed a dull grey by the breaking light. Daniel was breathing softly. Get a grip, Denver ordered himself and then buried his face in his hands. Daniel brought back too many memories. Denver probed the lean muscle on his forearm feeling for the slight bump that always reminded him of where it had been broken years ago. "Was it your right arm they broke too?" Daniel whispered hoarsely. Denver raised his head quickly at Daniel's voice and wiped the tears away.

"No it was my left. I remember they still made me write the June exams." His voice broke a little at the end. He slumped back in the chair and looked at Daniel. Daniel turned his head slowly and asked him to tell him about it.

"There's not that much to tell. I think you know the worse parts of the story yourself." Denver cleared his throat and continued quietly. "There were a couple of guys with their girl friends. They'd found this kid, ten or something, and they thought it would be fun to make me screw him. I said I wouldn't so they hit me. Every time I said no it got worse. Finally they quit trying and one of them started hitting me with a pipe." Denver paused and the two made eye contact. "I could never figure who those guys were trying to impress: each other or the girls? It didn't make sense. I think the kid may have called for help."

Denver got up and came close to Daniel. "I thought maybe I could help you avoid this Daniel. Mark was right. I think I just made it worse instead. I'm sorry about that Daniel; so sorry. Anyway, I guess sometimes you have to make a stand. It's you or the darkness. You stood in the light yesterday buddy and I am proud to call you my friend." He put his hand on the boy's shoulder.

"I wish you were my brother." Daniel confessed in a whisper.

Denver convulsed a little and sat next to Daniel on the bed. He leaned back and closed his eyes. "Count on it. I am." Denver finally replied quietly.

Daniel lay still beside him. Denver rolled over on his side finally and looked at Daniel's face. "You know what Denver?"


Daniel shifted his head beckoning Denver closer to him. When Denver leaned over Daniel pulled his head down and kissed him lightly on the lips. Denver pulled his head back a moment and caught the smile playing across Daniel's bruised lips.

"Just what have they got you riding on kid?"

"I don't know, but it is really tripy."

Daniel beckoned him again and the second kiss lasted longer. When they broke contact Denver began lightly kissing the bruises on Daniel's face and hard chest. Daniel's hand softly encouraged him. Denver ended his travels with another kiss on Daniel's lips. Denver leaned back on one arm and brushed a lock of hair off Daniel's forehead.

Daniel was reassured by Denver's touch. There was no need to think about the alley while his friend stayed close. Denver's gentle hands told him that he was still Daniel. That he would be fine and that nothing had changed. Daniel was content to let Denver's hand roam across his chest and down to his belly.

"Nobody will tell me who did this Daniel." Daniel stared back at him silently. "It's no good Daniel. I need to know this. If you don't tell me I will have it out of Mandy if I have to wear her down with every fucking yearbook in the city."

'You will just get yourself hurt," Daniel closed his eyes, "or worse you will end up in jail or kicked out of school." Daniel was content to let the police handle everything.

"We are not going to let this go Daniel."

Daniel was silent for a long time. Denver fell to stroking his forehead to pass the time. Finally Daniel spoke three names. Denver nodded continued to touch Daniel with light feathery caresses. Denver let his mind drift to other happier times. He knew Mark waited patiently for him close by, but he stayed with Dan until he slipped away into a deep sleep. Denver drifted off content to feel the boy's warmth against his hip. When Heather checked in on Daniel she found them there both asleep. Assured by the nurses that Daniel was in no danger, she let went back out, Mandy and her mother were gone, but she paused to tell Mark that Denver had fallen asleep, and then left for the apartment to cry for a few hours.

Mark slipped into the hospital room. When he bent to kiss Denver, Denver woke slightly and smiled at him. "I'll be okay, you need to go and take care of yourself," Denver whispered softly. Mark nodded. He began to leave when Denver called him back with an urgent whisper. They held each other tightly for a while.


It isn't right, Saturday May 14th

Garrett lay in his room wishing he could see Daniel again. Daniel was amazing. Garrett relived the moment in the alley as he lay on the floor of his bedroom. When Garrett had broken free from the high school boy he had run down the alley like Daniel had told him to. Then he had realized Daniel was not following him, so he had stopped to see what was happening. Garrett had hid behind a dumpster to see what would happen next. With the light of the street behind him he saw the young man hitting Daniel's smaller shape and then kicking him when he went down. The high school students had left the alley and Garrett had wandered back to where Daniel lay on the ground.

Garrett tried analyzing that moment. What had he been expecting? Had he thought Daniel would level the two bigger guys with some crazy Ninja moves? It had not been till the evening after it had happened that Daniel probably had not thought he could beat the two larger boys. Daniel had stayed to let Garrett get away; now that had to be cool.

When Garrett had gotten home from the movie that first night his fingers had itched to write Daniel an email. He had nothing to say but Garrett needed to test the connection. He let a day go by before he actually tried and then worried for two days. Daniel had sent him a brief reply. After that Garrett wrote Daniel messages every day. Daniel sent him something back once in a while. Garrett knew he was probably bugging the high school student too much so after a week he tried to slow down. He sent Daniel a school picture and when Daniel asked he sent one of Susan. Daniel said he didn't have a good one to send him back. Garrett was disappointed. He had told some of the guys at school about this high school football player and he wanted to show a picture to his friends to prove Daniel was real. Garrett guessed Daniel didn't have a digital camera or a scanner.

Now there was this odd report on the local news spot about a fourteen-year old Riverview student in the hospital. Coming so quickly after his own frightful experience, it caught Garrett's attention. Garrett had always dismissed his mother's complaints about gangs and violence. Now he wondered if she was right. Garrett wondered if Daniel could tell him what happened to the boy in the alley.

Garrett tried the cell phone number again and got the same message: the phone was out of service. Well that was not all that surprising. Daniel was not a girl. He probably turned the phone off when he was at home. He was probably doing something with his friends. It would be something awesome like go-carting. No Daniel would have his phone on if he was doing that. Garrett decided on a weekend night Daniel would be doing stuff with his hot girlfriend.

He didn't know any of Daniel's friends or Daniel's mother's name. When he looked in the phone book, he gave up. There were just too many Murrell's in the book. Garrett could not say why it didn't feel good to him. Garrett tried to shake off the bad feeling that night when he went to bed. Riverview was a seriously big school and Daniel probably did not know anything. His new friend was fine.


Independence Day, Sunday May 15th

Riverview High Freshman recovering in Hospital
Riverside Journal, May 13th

Charges will not be laid against Riverview youth. Police released the name of a youth assaulted behind the Heywood Block late Friday May 13th. Police report Daniel Murrell, age fourteen,

initiated a street fight with a number of unidentified youths late Friday night. An unofficial source acknowledged that the youth had a history of suspensions for assault. School officials refused to comment on the specific incident. A spokesperson for the school said "These occurrences are common today. Young people come to us from broken homes and far too much street experience. The realities of the modern family have become a challenge to the school system. Riverview High School's Learning Communities Initiative and our award-winning Peer Support Program work successfully to minimize these kinds of incidents."

Garrett's dad got to the Sunday paper before Garrett did. He eyed his dad as he stretched out in his favorite chair with his feet up. Garrett knew he would be there browsing for a long time. Garrett couldn't wait so he risked asking his dad if there was anything in the paper about the boy who had been hurt down town. The similarity still haunted Garrett.

Bruce Jennet stopped reading and asked his son what he was talking about. Garrett tried to explain. Bruce had his own compulsive reason for gleaning information about young boys. There was a time he followed Peewee and Bantam swim meets fairly closely. Small items about the Riverview High school football program began to interest Bruce in September and October After he read a brief profile on freshmen football team. He had even considered forcing Garrett to go to a game with him. There was a slender file of clippings in a drawer at his office. At the moment, fourteen and fifteen were ages that interested him. Bruce scanned the pages for a few minutes. Bruce started to show Garrett the short article when he found something and then stopped. Bruce paused to read silently while Garrett waited his turn impatiently.

Garrett's father dropped the paper and walked away without saying a word. Garrett had to find the small clip himself. It was buried on the sixth page. The boy's name was Daniel Murrell and he was in the hospital. Garrett went to his room and closed the door. He remained in his room until he was called for supper.

* ** *

Shannon Jennet sat down with the last plate for Sunday dinner and looked over her family. Everything was in order. Well, Bruce was drinking. He had not had a drink at dinner for seven years. Shannon frowned at him. His drinking had been a problem when they first got married. She didn't need him starting up again. She wanted to ask him what was wrong. She held her tongue. That had often led to fights in the past. That wouldn't be good for the children. Garrett was so sensitive. Bruce would tell her what was bothering him when he was ready. The last few years together had been good.

Susan was avoiding her vegetables and Garrett was picking at his food distractedly. What was wrong with her family? Maybe Bruce would be receptive tonight. "Bruce this gang violence at Riverview High scares me a bit. We really have to talk seriously about getting Garrett into a private school. I don't want him mixed up in that. Sandra tells me her daughter doesn't even go to the bathroom at school any more. She waits till she gets home. Can you believe that?" Shannon glanced at the children and quickly added "Her daughter told her there are kids having sex with each other right in the bathrooms." Susan looked at her with frank interest. Garrett had buried his face in his plate.

She didn't think Bruce was listening to her. He picked up his drink and took a sip before responding quietly.

"I'm sure it's not that bad and we don't have the money for private schools."

He said it with an accountant's air of finality. She looked at him briefly then went back to her train of thought. They really needed to go to church more often.

"Sandra told me some fourteen-year-old street kid got beat up in an alley. Do you want our Garrett being influenced by people like that? It was probably a drug deal that went bad or the boy was wearing the wrong colors or something." She waved her fork vaguely around. she paused to look at her husband.

Bruce usually agreed with her when she shared these kind of concerns. Now he was simply drinking at the other end of the table, his dinner neglected before him. "Garrett isn't that strong or athletic. I just know he gets picked on by the bullies at school and the teachers don't even do anything when I complain. Now Garrett is visiting this negro boy next door. How long do you think it will be before he falls under the influence of a thug like that boy Sandra told me about?"

She was stunned by a sudden eruption from Garrett. Her quiet little boy slammed his hands down on the table spilling milk and water. Everyone jumped and looked at Garrett in surprise.

"Maybe he wasn't a gang member or a drug dealer; maybe he's a nice guy. Maybe he just went into that alley to help someone in trouble. Maybe he got beat up protecting someone." Her son strangled on his words and stood up spilling another glass of milk. His voice was high and hysterical. "You don't know him mom. I'll bet that is exactly what happened. If you wouldn't have a fit every time I want to play with the guys around here maybe I would know how to play football too." Garrett rose and turned on his father and screaming "If you would stop working all the time and take more than five minutes to show me how to throw a ball sometime then I wouldn't be such a doofis." She watched her son stamp away from the table in shocked silence.

Garrett turned back at the door and screamed through a curtain of tears "I hate these fucking clothes you buy and I am not going to a gay private school with fucking uniforms. I'm going to Riverview fucking High so you can both fuck off and leave me alone."

She heard him slam his door.

"Wow, psycho" Susan commented quietly and tried a carrot. Shannon looked at her daughter and then turned to Bruce for some support.

Bruce downed his drink and stood up. Well, Shannon thought with a wave of relief, Bruce was finally going to snap out of it and deal with Garrett.

"I have to go out."

Shannon couldn't figure out what had just happened to her.


Too little too late, Sunday night

Daniel was stronger and she had had a good conversation with him while he sat up and watched the little TV. They said he could go home Monday afternoon. He would even be able to go to school in a day or two. Kid's bodies heal so quickly Heather thought. How the experience would affect him would was not so clear.

In the afternoon a few of Daniels friends had come by to visit and they had played him out. She sat content to look at his sleeping face and watch the gentle rise and fall of his chest. She was just about to pull her laptop over when he came in. She watched him silently as he glanced at her and then came up to the bed.

"I heard about it on the news." It sounded pathetic even to Bruce. Getting no response, his eyes flicked over to her face and then returned to studying the boy. "How is he doing?"

Heather had to pull herself together before she found the strength to speak. "He will mend."

None of the things she had spent time planning to say to this man seemed worthwhile at the moment. Bruce Jennet looked a little lost and uncertain as he gazed at Daniel.

"The police said it was gang related"

"You'd like to think that wouldn't you?" Some anger escaped her careful control. She drew a breath to control herself. When she continued her voice was level again. "He got between three seniors and his girl friend."

Bruce looked swiftly at her and then blushed. She didn't realize he barely remembered his night with her. He would never have known her if he passed her on the street. Fifteen, almost sixteen years had passed since that drunken night. Still, there were some names you remember without a face.

Bruce looked back at the strong face of the boy lying oblivious to the confrontation beside him. This was a face Bruce knew. Bruce had watched Daniel once as he stood waving to the crowd at some swimming competition. The boy must have been twelve back then. It had been a shock to see him in the office.

"I recognized him when he was in my office last year." Heather was surprised to hear of the visit but didn't comment. "He's a good looking kid Heather." She wanted to snap back at him that he had no right to use her name.

"He's a good person." She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of hearing how much Daniel had missed having a father around. It hurt her to think Daniel had to sneak into Jennet's office just to catch a glimpse of this man.

Bruce Jennet looked down for a minute before responding. Bruce had not intended to admit he had been following the boy's progress. "A friend who has kids at 7th Avenue School showed me his school picture once. I guessed he might be going to Riverview. You never moved did you?" He tried to meet the woman's steady stare. He recognized her hostility. "Yes, I have tried to keep track," he finally admitted.

"Well I am sure he would appreciate knowing that." Heather's voice dripped sarcasm.

"Shannon doesn't know about the boy."

"Daniel, his name is Daniel."

"Daniel." Things were going very well for them and the two kids. He did not want to ruin it with an ugly memory from his past. Garret and Susan did not know they had an older brother. "I don't think that I can tell her yet."

"Then why are you here?" She had no compassion for Bruce.

"I thought I should help." He knew it sounded bad the moment he said it. He had a teenage son and he had known through a few scattered pictures and newsclippings. Bruce had only heard his voice once from a distance.

Daniel looked very different from Garret. Garret was a quiet studious boy without many friends. Bruce remembered that Garrett had been sitting with him watching the news when he had seen the first brief clip about the boy beaten in an alley. Perhaps Shannon was right, Garrett was too sensitive. Bruce remembered the odd outburst at the dinner table. Bruce was almost certain his son had been crying when he left the room. What would Garrett think if he knew this boy was his half-brother? It seemed like a hard thing to tell him.

"We don't need your help" This sounded harsher than Heather had meant it to be. This was about Daniel, not her. She relented a little. "Bruce" she almost choked on his name "you say you don't have a place for him in your life. But perhaps someday he is going to want to meet you. Just be ready for him when it happens." She stood up trembling with inner rage. "And remember this Bruce. You passed up on your chance to know someone very special and he is going to wonder why."

Bruce stared at the sleeping boy. He wanted to reach out and touch his son. He had been so angry and afraid when the Murrell's had confronted him with her pregnancy. Seventeen years old and his whole life would be ruined if he admitted anything. It was easy to be certain about it then. It had been easy to resent a pregnant fifteen-year-old accusing him in the hallways during the last bitter months of his senior year. He was less certain now. There seemed nothing of him in the boy, yet somehow he trusted her certainty. The boy would hate him with a teen's black passion Bruce reflected sadly. He touched the light sheet covering his son's leg. It was as much as he dared.

Heather watched Bruce turn away and walk out the door. She stood silent thinking about the past. "Is he gone?" She turned swiftly and faced Daniel's impassive face. She nodded silently. "Grandpa told me who he was. I just wanted to see what he looked like." She nodded her understanding, tears running down her cheeks. "How did it happen mom?"

"I think you know how it happened. Only the place was different and I didn't have someone like you around to help me."

Daniel reached out with his good hand and she sat next to him on the bed.

"I was so hurt when it happened" she spoke passionately to her son "but, oh Daniel, when you came it healed me." She smiled through the tears in her eyes.

"He never helped you, why?" She looked away before she replied.

"You'll have to ask him that sometime. People change; they regret the hurt they've done. He has thought of you. He came when he heard you had been hurt." she paused and there was a painful silence. "Perhaps you might like him. You have a brother and sister you know." Daniel turned on his side and looked at the far wall. His voice was firm when he replied.

"My dad died when I was ten." She touched his shoulder. She knew her son's heart better than that. The boy who wandered into an office to get a look at his father would probably face him some day.


There are ripples, Monday May 16th

Laine pushed the door open uncertainly. Daniel was not there. Laine had little experience with hospitals and the University hospital was a labyrinth of twisted corridors leading a person into circles. Laine had already explored a few dead ends in his quest for Daniel. Laine searched for signs of Daniel's presence in the room. A cell phone lay on the table beside the bed. It was turned off. Clothes were tossed across the foot of the bed. The cotton slacks were non-descript but Laine recognized one of Daniel's favorite shirts along with a new black t-shirt that seemed to be part of his uniform. Laine ran a finger across the rumpled sheets before picking up the pillow. There was just the hint of a scent when he held it briefly to his face.

There was the sound of a toilet flush. Laine dropped the pillow and turned to the washroom door. Always the bruising about the face and ribs, and now a bright blue cast covered his right forearm and wrist. Daniel was wearing tan scrubs that rode loosely about his hips and dragged the floor. "I wish you would stop walking into doors Daniel. It is not a good look for you." They were still so new to each other, but the words caught as Laine said them.

Daniel held onto the door frame. He had imagined this moment, wondering how he would respond to Laine. Laine stepped forward and Daniel was overwhelmed by the need to be held close. "Why didn't you call me?" Laine's voice trembled slightly. "I had to hear it from Simon." There was no simple answer to that. A little more than friends, but still such strangers; Daniel did not want to upset this wonderful thing between them. The violence tainted him still. Daniel held out an arm and Laine was suddenly clasping him close against his chest. Daniel buried his face in the soft flow of hair about Laine's neck. Laine's lips touched him behind his ear. Daniel let Laine's heat burned away the memories.

"I couldn't help it. The door just jumped out at me."

Daniel felt so good to Laine. Laine ran his fingers over the hard muscles of Daniel's back as they let their groins press together. He did not care who entered the room at that moment. Laine needed to know Daniel was whole. His hand slipped down the back of the loose scrubs so that Laine could possess Daniel's tensed buttocks. He felt Daniel flinch and pull away slightly, but before he could respond to that, Daniel wrapped his arms tighter around Laine's neck and their lips connected in a bruising crush. Laine's splayed fingers pressed into Daniel's flesh and he pulled him closer.

Laine felt so good. Daniel clenched a fistful of Laine's t-shirt and opened his mouth to invite Laine's tongue to caress his tongue and lips. Daniel felt whole in Laine's arms. Laine made him hard and the pressure of Laine's hand cupping his butt was reassuring. They murmured back and forth as theyconsumed each other.

"Stay away from the fucking doors from now on."

"I can handle the doors."

"No you can't. You're too clumsy." Laine pulled his head back and brought his hands up to cover Daniel's bare nipples. The hard pans of Daniel's pectorals rose and fell beneath his touch. Laine traced Daniel's collar bone and trailed a hand down Daniel's chest past his navel before hooking three fingers into the waist band of the scrubs. He stopped when his fingers brushed the course hairs of Daniel's bush.

"Are you okay Dan?"

"I'll be fine. It is not as bad as it looks."

Daniel had talked with his mother. People did not have to know everything. It was important to Daniel that some people not know everything. Mandy was taking things badly and he needed to reassure her. Denver, another person who felt responsible for it all, Daniel worried about what Denver planned to do. Daniel tried out a smile for Laine's benefit. Laine managed to reflect a happy smile back.

You do not forget such a thing his mother had softly told him Sunday morning. But you did not have to carry it around all the time. You needed to be able to put it down somewhere so that your hands were free for other work. It would be safe enough until you were ready to pick it up again. Daniel had asked his mother where she left her burden. Heather had responded she had left it across the room where she could keep an eye on it. Every once and a while it got in her way, but over the years she had become adept at stepping around it.

The boys finally drew apart. Daniel told Laine he had to get dressed. His mother was coming soon to take him home and Daniel was more than ready. Daniel wanted out by Sunday. He had prowled the halls during the day impelled from his bed by boredom.

Daniel could not marshal his memories of the nightmare struggle across the two blocks of alley. Fragments intruded on him at odd moments during the day. Objects would remind him. Amber and Amanda sent him a spray of flowers. His mother noticed Daniel absently picking out the delicate Bluebells and pealing the foil away from the cheap plastic vase. He sat on the edge of the bed absorbed in folding the foil into a neat silver package. Heather puzzled over his actions, but Mandy understood as she watched him carefully conceal the glittering blue finish of the foil.

The nights were different. In his dreams the alley was far more vivid. Something large and dangerous paced around in Daniel's mind. As his medication was reduced he found sleep eluded him. Early Monday the staff found him in the depths of the night huddled on the visiting room couch staring at the television. They let him be except to offer a blanket which he wrapped about himself.

Laine sat on the bed and watched his friend dress. Daniel turned his back and pushed the loose scrubs down over his hips and stepped away from them as he reached for his pants. Soft dimpled mounds framed by narrow hips. Light hairs glistened on Daniel's thighs. He turned with a pair of blue Jockeys in his hand and caught Laine staring. Laine smiled his appreciation but Daniel just held his gaze with a pensive stare. Daniel's chin was raised and it had the effect of emphasizing the taught warp and weft of his young torso. His cock still held a whisper of the strength and length Laine had felt during their recent weaving.

Daniel gained reassurance from Laine's eyes and turned away once more to cover himself with the new underwear. Laine still wanted him. After he had slipped the jeans on, he turned back to Laine with the t-shirt. It was another new item and Daniel fumbled with it a moment. Laine came to him and took it from him. Their breath mingled as their lips wavered a bare centimeter apart. Laine kissed an arm pit and shoulder as he gently helped pull the black fabric over Daniel's head. Daniel's arms dropped onto Laine's shoulders. He let Laine tuck the shirttails in while he toyed with Laine's hair. Laine finally pulled him close and they resumed their kissing. When their lips broke Daniel pressed his forehead against Laine's. He was not ready to let go of Laine yet. Laine seemed to read his mind and pulled him closer for another session.

The kissing distracted the scruffy bear cub and it wandered away somewhere. Daniel had decided his mother was wrong. The memories were not some package he could bundle up and leave in the corner of a room. They seemed to be a rather unpleasant needy bear cub. It had brushed up against him as he strained to have a bowl movement and growled at him when he looked at the bruises in the mirror. It went away when someone held him and he was grateful for that. His mother insisted he talk to someone. Perhaps, Daniel admitted to himself, he needed help controlling it. His bear cub had a way of transforming into a dangerous animal. If you do the right things the bear can be avoided. Right then it seemed enough to hold onto Laine.


Making do, Monday, May 23rd

Karen Canon's students had a substitute teacher for a week. The principal of Riverview High School suspended her for being unprofessional in the staff room. Simon had stopped by in the morning before the first class to say he was skipping to spend the day at the hospital. He briefly told her what he knew about Daniel. Karen had not made it through the day. After she had screamed at a few indifferent colleagues in the staff room, John had suggested she go home.

She spent the night with a bottle of vodka considering a transfer. John let her stew till Tuesday night then phoned her up. It was bad timing. She had just seen a newspaper article quoting school sources. Daniel had been characterized as a student who had been involved in violence at school before. Previous suspensions were mentioned. Karen simply told John to fuck off and hung up on him.

When John stopped by Wednesday after school with Chinese food and a bottle of Sake she was ready to talk to him. He told her he was ready to see things her way. By the end of the week she realized she needed to be in the classroom.

Daniel came back the week Ms. Canon returned. Heather kept him home while she fought to insure that the three boys who had hurt her son were removed from the school. Between the school board and the police it had been a frustrating process that bore ugly reminders of her own experience sixteen years before.

The police came around first. The three boys had not manufactured a convincing story. Frank claimed he was home with his mother and father when Daniel was attacked. Spencer admitted to being in the movie theatre with Frank and Jake, but distinctly remembered he saw Daniel being followed by four Korean gang members he was willing to identify. The investigating officer was curious as to why Daniel and Mandy had identified the three boys instead of the four other teenagers. Spencer weakly suggested Daniel had accused the three seniors of being the assailants because of some harmless hazing they had done at school during the year. Jake was strangely silent about the whole matter. Jake was not charged with rape so the police applied pressure. They found him withdrawn and uncooperative.

The incident barely caused a ripple amongst the student body. Details were scarce and muggings were nothing unusual. Frank and Spencer began to relax until certain Asian elements within the school approached them. Apparently they resented the additional police harassment and a representative urged Spencer to reconsider his statement. He found a note spray painted across the hood of his car: Dang sin eun jook eul got ee dah. Spencer could not read Korean, but the message seemed unfriendly to him. The three families began to bargain. The three youths pleaded guilty to common assault. Since Daniel had apparently started the fight with his assault on Jake with a pipe the three were sentenced to attend school and do community service. Eddie had a record and a concealed weapon. Frank's parents pressed charges against him. An irate Karl promised Eddie his room would be waiting for him when he got out.

Initially, the school had refused to become involved in the case. Finally Spencer and Frank were transferred out of Riverview to placate Daniel's mother. Jake remained behind. Daniel argued with his mother for a day and she finally agreed to let him return to school. Daniel limped into the school as if nothing had happened. Some of his classmates tried to get him to talk about it. He discouraged them. He might have just broken his arm in a biking accident. When he reached his English class Ms. Canon dumped a pile of work on his desk and told him he was lucky the substitute teacher had not worked through very much. When she passed his desk later and looked at his work she remarked it was too messy. At the end of the period he doubled back into the room and found her with her head on her desk.

"Are you okay Ms. Canon?"

"Oh gosh Daniel" She had thrown her arms up and responded in an exasperated voice. Karen leaned on her desk while Daniel shuffled his feet. "Are you okay?"

"I guess so. I don't really remember much of it." He decided to tell people this. "I'll try to write neater tomorrow." He held the cast up and looked at her in dismay. "It stays on until exams. I don't think I can make spring camp."

"Oh I think that won't be a problem." She nodded sympathetically. The boy is beaten up in an alley by three thugs and he's worried about football. Coach Lawson was one of the few people on staff who would give her a sympathetic ear. There had been too many good players sidelined by the mentorship program. She would find the time to have a talk with him.

Coach Larson really embarrassed Daniel when he violated the sanctity of the boy's change room and found Daniel wasn't changing out for gym. "What's your story Murrell?" Daniel admitted he was too sore to participate. "So you think you'll get better sitting on your butt?" The gym teacher had surveyed the other students trying to hide their bodies. "What about spring camp?" Daniel waved his cast around tentatively. "Were you planning to run on it?" Daniel shook his head meekly. "Then stop slacking off and change out." He turned to go and added over his shoulder "Try the warm-ups and then head over to the weight room. We'll work out a routine to get you back on your feet." Daniel felt better as he changed his clothes.


Finish what you started, Tuesday May 24th

Daniel tapped the keyboard and thought about what to do. His new counselor had set him the task of writing a journal and he found it difficult to put his thoughts and feelings onto the screen. It was easier pretending he didn't remember the alley. Daniel tried to distract himself with his email.

Garrett had sent him ten messages in two weeks and Daniel hadn't replied to any of them. He could tell by the last ones that Garrett was beginning to feel hurt. He found his mom in the living room at her laptop. She had been working at home quiet a bit over the last two weeks and he felt a little guilty about it. She had papers spread all over the couch and coffee table. He looked over her shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. There was a spread sheet on her screen. As usual he felt bewildered about what it was she did to keep them comfortable. She had just paid for his next year at camp and they were plotting their vacation together. He flopped down in a chair near her with some printouts and she stopped to look at him.

"Are you really okay with me leaving you alone tomorrow?" Daniel knew she had reached the breaking point when he returned from the hospital. She needed to go away and he needed some time away from her concern.

"I'll be fine. I'm not going out anywhere. I'll be right here after school, honest." She studied him for a bit and then returned to her work. Daniel gave a ragged sigh and launched into the problem.

"Mom, I need your advice and I don't want you to get upset." It was the wrong way to begin because Heather put the laptop aside and gave him her complete attention.

"I have a problem and I don't know the right way to handle it." Heather imagined a pregnant Mandy, but since Hagar hadn't come over to either shoot Daniel of plan the wedding, she doubted that was the problem.

"I met Garrett Jennet and we've been sort of talking on the internet a bit." He tested her reaction with a glance.

"That's your brother right?" Heather didn't know the children's names. "Does he know who you are?" She didn't have to ask how he met. The poor kid was probably hanging out at the office still. Daniel shook his head. "So what is the problem?" She could think of many problems, but she wanted to hear what was on Daniel's mind.

"Well he seems to have gotten hung up on me and I don't know how to handle it. He's just a grade six and I shouldn't hang out with him." Heather tried not to smile. She was biased. Of course a little boy would think her son was great.

"Do you like him?" She could tell from the way he looked that he did.

"Yeh, he's nice in a nerdy sort of way." Garrett made Daniel feel cool and wise; more in control than he actually was.

"So what do I do?" Daniel knew what he should do. He just did not want to do it. He was looking for a prod from his mother and her blessing for what he thought he needed to do.

"You kind of let the cat out of the bag Daniel. When you do that it is hard to put it back in without someone getting hurt." When Garrett found out the truth he would be hurt or angry that Daniel never told him.

"This might have been a bad time to get to know him" she added.

"It just happened. I didn't know who it was until later." And then he could not want to walk away. If he had just gotten into the car Garrett might have forgotten him, Daniel reproached himself. "The kid thinks it is his fault I got beat up. Beat up that was the way Daniel referred to everything in the alley. Heather worried Daniel was repressing the rape too much.

"He doesn't believe you when you tell him it was not his fault?" Daniel looked at the papers in his hands and sighed.

"I guess I stopped talking to him."

"You know that is not fair don't you?" Daniel nodded his head. "You need to reassure him Daniel."

"It's getting more complicated now." He handed one of the papers to her.

She read the little boy's e-mail. Garrett missed talking to Daniel. He hoped Daniel was feeling better now. He wished they could get together. He was really very sorry he had gotten Daniel into trouble again. His dad was drinking again and his parents fought about it. He didn't know what he should do. He was sorry he was bugging Daniel and he would stop writing.

"What is it you think you should do Daniel?" Daniel appreciated his mom. She said it as if she trusted him to make the right choice.

"I think I have to talk to him." She nodded her head in understanding or agreement. Daniel would take care of a little brother. She wasn't sure if the rest of the advice would be welcome.

"I think you have to talk to your father too." Daniel's face flashed with sudden anger.

"I want nothing to do with that bastard. He can go fuck himself." Heather pointed helplessly at the e-mail.

"I think you are the problem here Daniel. I think he doesn't know what to do about you." She didn't refer to the moment in the hospital, but she knew Daniel had heard it all.

"So what am I supposed to do? Let the bastard off the hook. Tell him what he did is alright?" Heather struggled with the answer to that one. She was not ready to forgive either.

"Well it's not really about us this time. It's about Garrett." Daniel looked at her ,another fucking alley to walk down. What was he going to be like after this one?

"He doesn't even think I'm his son." Daniel guessed that was not the truth, but it was his last argument. Heather did not respond to him. "So what; I go over for Christmas dinner now and be part of his family? Do you get to come too?" Heather stirred uncomfortably at that.

"I'll be honest Daniel. No, I don't want you to do that." She looked at him with tears in her eyes "We've done okay haven't we? We've been a family?" He was all she had left in the world. Daniel looked back at her and tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Oh yeh" He whispered fiercely. He got up and hugged her. Daniel had a lot of room in his heart thought Heather. She looked up at him.

"So do you know what you have to do?" Daniel said he guessed he did. He knew he had an email to write.


Do things ever change? Wednesday, June 1st

Despite what the teachers said, it was June. June was coasting time and it felt like summer to the students. This was Independence Week. June first and the grade nines were out of the shadow of their freshie year. It was a Wednesday and the last Freshie Party was still two days away. Still, you could notice the change a little. Ms. Cannon had been particularly irritable in class that afternoon. Daniel had thought it was just the usual tension between her and the people starting vacation early. It was a hot day and her activity had not been particularly interesting. Daniel had contributed to the discussion mechanically while studying an outfitters catalogue.

Even Ms. Cannon sounded like she thought the lesson was a lost cause. She had been looking out the window when Rod had changed the subject to freshie year. Daniel had just concluded that there was not much need for a global positioning unit in his kit when Rod casually commented he was looking forward to watching the freshies suffer during the next year. Rod was one of the lucky ones who had found the year only a minor inconvenience. The remark was met by general agreement. Even some students who had been hard pressed during the year agreed. Daniel had not even looked up from catalogue.

"So you are all off the hook now and it is someone else's problem?" Ms. Cannon had turned back to the class and Daniel could sense her tension. "Can't wait to watch someone else provide the entertainment around here?" She glanced around the room. "How many of you want a freshie when you are in twelfth grade?" Most of the hands went up and a few of Daniel's classmates who had not caught her mood change commented they had thought of some new ideas to use on their freshies.

Ms. Cannon had turned on Daniel "I would think you would have something to say about this." Daniel had thought it unfair to single him out and after a look of annoyance he dropped his face back into his catalogue. Ms. Cannon grabbed the catalogue off his desk before continuing. "Its wrong children and you are the only ones who can change things." She swept her gaze around the room and gave up the argument.

When the period ended Daniel held back hoping to get his catalogue back. Ms. Cannon had looked up from her desk and tossed it to him.

"Sorry Daniel, I shouldn't have put you on the spot."

Daniel had perched on a desk. "I'm not looking forward to next year. Maybe there is something I can do, I don't know. You know? I think I want a freshie when I am in grade twelve. I'd like to help someone. Don't feel so bad Ms. Cannon, some of us won't go along with it. Mandy and Simon understand what you were saying. A man can stand up."

"Johnny Tremain ?" She had been a little surprised. Daniel was not an enthusiastic reader.

Daniel blushed and nodded. He had started for the door, and then stopped to ask a question. "Are you teaching ninth grade again next year?"

"That's my plan."

"That's good. Keep the faith Ms. Cannon." he started for the door again.

"Stay gold Daniel."

Daniel couldn't resist showing off to her. "And that is The Outsiders...." He left her smiling, which was the way he liked to think of her.

* ** *

Daniel leaned on the chain link fence and watched the people pulling their bikes away from the tangle. Why didn't he have a bike? It must come from living in an apartment instead of a house like Mandy. This was biking weather. He would rather ride a bike along side Simon and Laine when they ran. He could coast instead of struggling to keep up all the time. Simon would be so mad at him if he did that. Laine would laugh though. Maybe he should borrow Laine's bike and get a rise out of Simon on Thursday.

Laine finally making his way over to the fence. Laine smiled at him.

"What's up Daniel?"

"I was wondering if you wanted to take in a movie and hang out at my place tonight."

"You all alone or something?" Laine studied his friend's response.

"Yeh, my mom is out of town." Daniel paused for a beat, "out of town until tomorrow night." Daniel made the offer. This was Daniel's mom's first business trip and Daniel was looking forward to the novelty of having the apartment to himself.

"I don't know man; a movie could get pretty late. It's a school night." The idea was hugely tempting to Laine.

"Maybe you could stay over?" Laine almost lost himself in Daniel's puppy dog look. It was a bit of an effort not to throw Daniel to the gravel beside the bikes right then and there.

"I'll ask my folks. If they don't like the idea we could just watch a video at your place after supper." Laine did not have to be told what Daniel had in mind. When either suggested an afternoon the other was usually up for it. Laine was trying hard not to live his life for those moments.

Daniel grinned broadly. Daniel did not think his other friends had worked out what their extra curricular activities were. The pair went their separate ways, each hoping something would happen later. Daniel headed to football practice imagining the possibilities.

Daniel was at loose ends until he might hear back from Laine. He was on the bus heading home when Laine got back to him. Laine's dad had sniffed out the situation and he did not think much of the boy's plan. Laine could have Daniel over but he could not go over to the apartment building. "How's that going to work out?" Daniel's freedom was quickly turning into a major frustration.

"Well if you stayed the night it might be okay."

"Dude, you sleep with your little brother." Daniel thought he would just go home and have a shower. "I guess it's not going to happen tonight." Daniel wondered if he should have asked Mandy first.

Laine was not happy. He could hear Daniel's disappointment through the phone. His father had gone out to work in the garage so Laine decided to do an end-run around him. He promised Daniel he would whine a little harder. Once Laine disconnected he went back to work on his mother. She had been shocked to learn of Daniel's experience and Laine figured that had to be decent leverage for some concession.

* ** *

The apartment seemed empty. He had spent many evenings alone over the years but it felt different somehow; his mom would not be there in the morning. The thought gave Daniel a sense of what Denver's life was like. He considered phoning Denver, but he knew he would be busy. If he felt lonely he might go help Karl. Daniel decided to hold off on eating in the slim hope that Laine could join him.

He checked his computer for messages. There was an e-mail from Garrett he should probably answer. It was short, but written with the same grammatical precision that Mandy liked. Garrett rarely had anything interesting to say. It continued to be a diary of his daily wanderings. The only things they seemed to connect over were games. Even there Daniel was losing interest in them. It had been a week since he had written Garrett reassuring him he had had nothing to do with Daniel's troubles. That had reopened the flood gates and Daniel was peppered with emails and pictures. Daniel tapped out a quick message suggesting they might see a movie or go bowling. He was still trying to decide on the best way of telling the shrimp the truth about their relationship.

To add to his afternoon misery his next message was from Mustapha telling him he was not coming back to camp. Throughout the agony of the winter Daniel had kept a tenuous connection with Mustapha and Evan. It had been hard to keep his troubles from them. Daniel tried to be philosophical about it. There would have been no assurance that they would have been in the same cabin anyway. Evan had assured him he was coming back. Evan was a complicated guy and Daniel had been counting on Mustapha's good nature to make the trip worth while.

Daniel entered his new chat room and was heartened to find some friends there.

Ugly duckling says:

So what are you going to do tonight while I am at my grandmother's?

Alleys suck says:

i got girls coming over to keep me warm

Ugly duckling says:

Poor boy, take a shower.

Alleys suck says:

its not the same without you

It's all about the girls says:

start talking dirty you two you are boring me

Ugly duckling says:

Put your pants back on Simon.

It's all about the girls says:

then how am i going to play with him?

Ugly duckling says:

Who is that?

It's all about the girls says:


Alleys suck says:

having an early independence day party?

It's all about the girls says:

Yes with simons mom and dad

Alleys suck says:

too bad


Daniel paused to answer his phone.

"Mom caved in, I can come over until nine. She made me promise not to drink."

"Sweet, I have mouth wash." Things were picking up.

HOT BOY says:

hey guys

Alleys suck says:

hey arlo, whats up?


"What time are you coming over?" Daniel could feel himself stirring.

"I have to eat supper and peddle over. God I wish I could drive." Daniel knew how he felt. He was years from driving and he would probably have to buy his own car because his mom would not see the point. She tied up the car all the time.

HOT BOY says:

everyone going to the party friday?

Ugly duckling says:

I guess so.

Alleys suck says:


It's all about the girls says:


It's all about the girls says:

we should have an after Freshie party

HOT BOY says:

sounds good

Ugly duckling says:

Could we do it Saturday? I promised Claire I would stay with her.

Alleys suck says:

Denver and I have stuff to do Friday.

It's all about the girls says:

we need a place to go.

Ugly duckling says:

We need some place without parents.

It's all about the girls says:

what are you planning? what about Denver's Daniel

Alleys suck says:

I don't know that could mean extra people. Better in someone's basement.

HOT BOY says:

what are you doing tonight Daniel

Alleys suck says:

not much. Maybe go to denvers place or the restaurant to help karl.


The phone rang a second time and Daniel logged off to chat with Mandy before she left for her grandmother's house. He still envied her close family connections. Her mom would have offered to let him come along, but neither Mandy nor Daniel liked being on display together as a couple. "I really wish you were here" he said to her politely. Laine was on his mind now.

"We'll be together at the party." Mandy knew he wanted her touch. After the first time in the shower there had been other moments. It was inevitable that her resistance had broken down after she had seen him in the hospital. There had been more exploration but she couldn't move forward yet. She was only fifteen and it was too much. "Claire and Grant broke up. I thought they were good together." She needed to spend at least one last night with her senior before they probably went their separate ways.

"She'll find some one. You don't have to be cupid." Daniel knew she could get depressed about these kinds of things. Daniel did not really sympathize. Claire was old enough to handle her own problems. It was not Daniel's problem and it was not Mandy's. Never-the-less Daniel said the right things. Boyfriends learn to be sympathetic or they stop being boyfriends.

"I'm not going to let it get to me. I'm going to work on getting Arlo back together with that boy Laine Simon and you run with." Mandy had a determined tone to her voice. She had not forgot Arlo's confession the night before Daniel got hurt. Laine was a handsome boy and he was enough like Daniel to distract Arlo. Mandy was pretty sure Arlo would get over his infatuation with her Daniel. Daniel sounded even less enthusiastic about this idea than he ususally did.

"Yes, about that. I don't think it is such a good idea to interfere in Laine's life... or Arlo's. Arlo seems to really like Donald. I don't really know what Laine feels." Daniel's voice seemed to trail off at that point.

"You think Donald is a total dirt bag Daniel!"

"True" Daniel groped around for a reasonable answer, "It is his business though. Perhaps we should respect it, and I'm not just saying that so I can have Arlo for myself Mandy."

"Yes Daniel, you don't have to keep telling me that." Mandy teased Daniel about his mistake with Carlos and Victor and he had started to tease her about Arlo.

"You're going to be okay?"

"Sure, don't worry sweetie." Daniel turned away from the computer. "So you said Denver was going out with Mark tonight. What are you really going to do?"

"I said that to get rid of Arlo. I'm not up to fending him off or listening to his latest date rape with that bastard Donald. I'll just hang out here tonight. I'll get into bed early." Very early, Daniel was getting good at keeping Laine and Mandy separate.


With a cherry on top, Wednesday evening

Laine and Daniel did not waste time. Laine was kissing him as soon as the door had closed. Daniel pulled Laine's shirt over his head and ran his fingers down Laine's back. They were experienced with each other's needs, different as they were.

"When does that cast come off?" Laine pulled Daniel's t-shirt out of his pants and slid his hands up to Daniel's chest. He loved the first touch of hot skin.

"Three weeks." Daniel was ready to move on so he grabbed Laine's belt and dragged him back to his room. The boys fell onto the bed together and Daniel let Laine have his way. As Laine kissed him he worked at Laine's belt and zipper. He pulled Laine's pants down a little and slid his good hand under the tight fabric of Laine's underwear for a quick clutch. Laine's cock was large beneath the briefs and stretched the waist band up.

Laine paused and rolled onto his back while Daniel pulled his own pants off. Daniel hopped humorously in a circle as he tugged at the cotton fabric. When the pants were off he grinned at Laine and flopped back on the bed with a hard bounce. Daniel leaned on his broken arm. The battered blue cast a now familiar, if unwelcome presence. Daniel's left hand was more adept than it once was. He used it to explore Laine as he lay still. Laine's chest was smooth and tight. The skin around the pucker of his belly button was soft and pale from the long winter. Laine was fit and trim from his long distance running. Laine enjoyed Daniel's touch. Daniel's eyes followed his hand around Laine's body. Laine felt Daniel trace the contours of his balls and shivered when Daniel slipped his fingers along the inside of Laine's calf. Daniel seemed a little keyed up to Laine.

Daniel told himself to relax and bent down over Laine's hard chest. He tongued a hard nipple nibbling gently between licks. Laine had small nipples. Arlo's were huge. Arlo had insisted on showing Daniel the small nipple rings his boyfriend had encouraged him to buy. Daniel had complemented him, but the truth was he loved Laine's small nubs. Laine needed no decorations. The musky perfume off Laine's arm pits drew his tongue and Daniel switched to kissing the ribs on Laine's side.

Laine ran his fingers through Daniel's hair as he felt the warm lips on his ribs. Oh sweet mother of God it was so easy to loose his mind with Daniel. Laine lifted a leg and Daniel responded by sliding a hand down to cup a firm cheek through Laine's pants. One of Daniel's fingers drifted off to feel the hollow between Laine's cheeks. Laine responded by running his palm up the light forest sprouting on the back of Daniel's thigh. He pushed the loose fabric of the boxers up until his fingers met the soft fold between Danile's legs.

Daniel pulled away suddenly.

Daniel had been doing that since the beating in the alley. Laine didn't know the details of the assault. Daniel wouldn't talk about it but he knew it oppressed his friend. Laine reached up to stroke his back. Daniel quivered. The bruises were mostly gone now. Laine let Daniel set the pace. Laine was patient with Daniel.

Daniel paused in his explorations to look at Laine. "Fuck me." Laine felt the tension in Daniel's back where he stroked it.

"It doesn't have to be now. We can wait. There's lots of time." Daniel just shook his head and slid his weight off of Laine's chest and stomach.

"No, do it now." Daniel flopped back on his bed and put a hand over his eyes so Laine couldn't see his tears. He felt Laine shift beside him and then he felt him pull his boxers over his groin. Daniel propped himself up as the cotton slipped away. He let Laine do the work himself, helping only to lift an arm to allow the t-shirt to come free. Laine began to kiss the contours of his body and Daniel rolled over. He felt Laine's hand on his back and heard the boy sigh. He turned to look at him. Laine had a cautious look on his face.

"I can't do this Daniel. Don't push me like Arlo did. I can't hurt you like that."

Daniel reached up to pull Laine down close beside him and whispered "I want you inside me." Laine nodded. Daniel lay back down and crushed his pillow in his arms.

Laine gazed at Daniel's body stretched seductively beside him. He let his hands slide along the smooth curve of Daniel's back and over the swell of his buttocks. Laine would never understand how someone could want to hurt Daniel's body. Sex with pain was incomprehensible to Laine. Trying it with Arlo had made him feel unclean. Daniel seemed to accept the small discomforts of taking Laine into his body. Until they had learned enough together Laine had hurt with each flinch and spasm on Daniel's face. Laine shook the thought out of his mind and tried to focus on the precious time he had left. His mouth followed his hands.

He tried to relax Daniel's muscles but the fourteen-year old was still tense when Laine eased his cock through Daniel's his tight ring. It must have hurt. They had not made love in weeks and Laine quivered with the effort to control the urge to drive his cock into its new home. Laine began to slowly move deeper into the inviting warmth. The condom slid dangerously up and down his cock tugged by Daniel's tight muscles on the one side and increasingly lubricated by the steady stream of clear fluid coating his shaft. Laine pushed his knees apart to spread Daniel further open. Daniel had his head buried in his pillow. Laine kissed his Daniel's neck as he undulated over his friend's ridged form. When Daniel he turned his head Laine kissed a wet cheek.

Laine pulled out gently and knelt between Daniel's legs. Daniel twisted around to look at him. "What's wrong?" Laine's cock shrank as he watched Daniel's face.

"I'm sorry" Daniel whispered softly.

Daniel still lay open before Laine. His cleft and scrotum shined with lubricant. Laine ached to to hold him close. Instead of this sudden vulnerability he needed Daniel's animal strength. Laine was fired by the near perfect balance of their muscles in play with each other. It was Laine's nature to love the close race. Won or lost it did not matter. It was arriving at the line in step with another boy, each pushing hard, earning the pleasure with each other. Making love with Daniel had always been like wrestling to a heart-pounding draw. The momentary pin might be quickly reversed as control shifted back and forth and in the end it was all one. Laine knew Daniel felt the same way and this had drawn them together. Laine was determined not to lose this. Laine's fury had no bounds. There would be a reckening and a shrewd Simon had promised he could be part of it.

"You're sorry?" Laine's voice shimmered with the hot blaze of his anger.

"I'm bad company."

"You have nothing to be sorry about."

Daniel rolled so that he could see Laine's face. Laine kissed a soft thigh. Daniel pulled the loose condom off his Laine's soft cock and threw it across the room. He squeezed Laine a moment and his hand came away with the tacky remains of Laine's earlier passion. "I guess I'm not ready yet. I should have been honest; let you be with someone else right now."

"Daniel, there is nobody else right now." Laine had not meant to share that. He covered his eyes for a moment. "Never mind, forget I said that."


Daniel knelt facing Laine. The boys shared mirrored looks. Daniel felt inadequate to the emotion Laine had just shared. How could this boy move him so strongly? Laine met his eyes and Daniel knew his friend was thinking of that moment on the couch when Laine had assured Daniel that they could handle an open relationship together. Laine grinned sheepishly and in one sinuous movement arched his back and ran his fingers through his long hair. Daniel chased the bear away as he responded to the sudden rippling of muscles that accompanied the movement. The boy's bicepts swelled naturally above the dark patches in the soft hollow of his arm pits. Laine's cock hung proud between his bulging thighs, the crown pushing past the ring of his foreskin.

"I'm pathetic" Laine confessed soulfully. Daniel kissed his lips liking Laine very much.

"Try again" Daniel suggested. Laine stroked his back as Daniel kissed his way down to Laine's limp cock. Before long Laine was hard and his crown was slick with a mingling of Daniel's saliva and Laine's fresh fluid. Daniel urged Laine onto him as he fell back on the bed.

"Where is a condom?"

"There, by the lamp, just take me, please." There was something fey about Daniel; and he looked so damn good to Laine. Laine scooped Daniel's muscled thighs up and pulled his friend's knees to his chest. He felt Daniel's hand on his sheathed cock guiding it home, caressing his aching balls squeezing them and tugging them, drawing him in. Laine paused when he had buried himself completely in Daniel.

"Is okay?"

"Mmmmm" Daniel nodded and bit his lip. Laine felt Daniel's strong hands grip his forearms as he began his thrusts.

When he came he lay on Daniel feeling his warmth, loving the connection and listening to his breathing. Daniel stirred beneath him and sighed. Laine knew other partners who loved to talk and shared their feelings during love making. Laine could expect to receive a report card on his performance at this point. It was all silence with Daniel. My strong silent type, Laine thought to himself. Laine mimicked him when they were together. Laine didn't need words from Daniel anyway. He got his reward in Daniel's smile and sparkling eyes. Daniel's strong hands and flexing muscles spoke more elequantly that Peter's soft curses or Arlo's steady monologue. There was electricity between them and final exchange of fluids sometimes seemed a redundancy. His gay friends would tell him it was a shame Daniel was straight. They didn't know. In Daniel's arms Laine could forget that this might all end in the light of day.

Laine shifted around. He wanted to give Daniel some pleasure. Daniel pulled the used condom off Laine's shrunken penis and tossed it aside. He buried his face in Laine's crotch and began to suckle on his slick cock.

Laine tried to arouse Daniel in turn, but Daniel ignored him and continued his efforts. Daniel stopped after a minute and propped himself up. Laine looked at him anxiously then felt the tension ease as Daniel smiled at him. "You're not cooperating with me here." He gave Laine's penis a gentle flip to show how inadequate he was.

"Well it's your turn anyway." Daniel rolled away from him and stood up. Laine looked up at him frustrated by his seeming lack of interest. He wanted to continue working at Daniel's partially erect member.

"Come with me. I have an idea." Laine followed him into the kitchen and watched while the bigger boy grabbed a bottle of chocolate syrup and a can of whipped cream out of the fridge. "You're going to eat me kid." He pulled himself up onto the counter and dangled his legs.

"Man you're mom cuts vegetables there." Daniel leaned back and spread his legs a little. Laine looked at him and picked up the whipped cream. He shook it for a moment, and then walked over to the cabinet where Daniel's mom kept the booze. He came back with a bottle of coffee liquor. Daniel watched as he dribbled the liquor on his genitals. Then Laine sprayed cream on top. When he had a good covering he added a thin stream of chocolate to the mess. He looked in the fridge and found some cherries. Daniel looked on with interest as he dropped one on the top of his creation. Daniel gestured for the jar and pulled two cherries out and as Laine watched he popped both in his mouth. Daniel held a finger up and Laine knew something else was to follow. Daniel quickly took a squirt of chocolate, a sip of liquor and then filled his mouth to overflowing with the cream.

"That is gross man." Laine commented.

Daniel couldn't speak but he reached his hand behind Laine's neck and pulled him close for a kiss. As their lips connected Daniel shared the mixture with Laine pushing a cherry between his teeth. They licked and kissed each other's faces until the dessert was gone. Then Laine started in on Daniel's crotch. When Daniel came his salty release was totally lost in the sweet flavors of his crotch. They followed their play with a long shower.

It was late and Laine knew he was supposed to go home. They lay on the couch naked with their feet entwined while they shared vodka and orange juice. When the phone rang Laine knew it was his parents.

Daniel reached for the phone and checked the display. He handed the phone to Laine and while the boy talked he rubbed Laine's crotch with his foot. He listened to Laine's side of the conversation. "I know dad. I'm sorry." Laine glanced at Daniel apologetically and listened to his father. "I know I promised." He tried to dislodge Daniel's foot. "I know it's a school night." The conversation was too familiar. "Okay." Daniel heard the shift in tone as the thin thread of his mother's voice came on the line.

Laine glanced at Daniel who was now politely looking at the ceiling as he impolitely toyed with Laine's growing erection. "Is everything all right over there?"


"Is it that important that you stay tonight?" His mom knew him better than his dad. Laine replied in a small voice not wanting to reveal too much.

"Yeh mom, I think I really should." He heard his dad's voice in the background booming his conviction that the boys were drinking on a school night. "We're not drinking mom." He rolled his eyes for Daniel's benefit. Daniel toasted him and slopped his Screwdriver on his chin. Laine had an impulse to lick the small sticky trail off Daniel's neck.

"Are you being careful?" This went too far for Laine and he could not think of anything sensible to say. "All right Laine, I'll give you this one." Laine thanked her and promised they would both be at school on time. "You take care of Daniel."

"I can stay" and he was rewarded with a beautiful smile from Daniel. They drank and watched TV occasionally connecting with each other. There was no rush now. They could put the passion aside and just be friends enjoying a night of freedom together. But first Laine wanted to do something about that rill of orange juice he had noticed.


(to be continued)


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