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The following contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is a work of fiction and has no basis in reality.

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2) If it is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
3) If you don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or having sex.

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What We Are II - Summer Heat
By: R. Ryan

Chapter 15:  The Magic Redux

The heat from the late morning sun that radiated down through the cloudless sky kept the mosquitoes, gnats, and all other forms of annoying insects within the relative coolness of the forest.  Although the combination of heat and humidity was oppressive, causing beads of sweat to form on all the exposed areas of their bodies, neither Richie nor TJ seem to take notice.

TJ's pulse began to quicken when Richie pressed his captive hand to the throbbing bulge that strained against the inside of his cutoffs.  The firm but gentle grip on his wrist, coupled with his reassurance that they couldn't possibly be caught high in the hills above Gull Lake, was the only thing that kept him from pulling back when a picture of those horrible moments in the hayloft flashed briefly through his mind.  When Richie groaned softly while raising his hips against TJ's touch, all feelings of trepidation were replaced with many months of built-up lust and desire.  He was finally going to do what he'd been dreaming of for so long, and his excitement at the thought had his member painfully hard within his cargo shorts.

With unblinking eyes and a feeling of detachment, he stared at his hand as his fingers began to rhythmically contract, then release, massaging Richie's dick through the cotton fabric.  Suddenly he felt Richie tighten his grip on his wrist, then slowly pull his hand away from his body.  Without speaking, he opened his eyes, smiled a smile of lustful reassurance, then stood.  Towering over TJ, his seductive smile still present, their eyes became locked in silent communication as Richie reached out to him.  Having had no previous experience, TJ gratefully followed Richie's lead, giving himself over willingly as his sexual fantasies began to grow into reality.

Taking Richie's hand, TJ stood to face him, their bodies just inches apart, the look in their eyes making the spoken word unnecessary.  When Richie hooked his fingers into the waistband of TJ's cargo shorts to unfasten the button, TJ did the same, matching Richie's action move for move.  When they began to lower their zippers, they broke eye contact for the first time.  Looking down, they watched with eager anticipation as their fully erect members slowly began to reveal themselves.  No longer trapped within the damp cotton confines, the tips of their raging hard-ons fell against each other, mixing their pre-cum as they pulsed in time with their heartbeats.  When the zipper tabs bottomed out, TJ once again copied Richie's movements, placing his hands on the small of his back before slipping them below the waistband of his unzipped shorts.

After sliding their hands over the warm softness of each other's ass-cheeks, they slipped them to the side, then down along the smoothness of their outer thighs.  When the last of the damp material was nudged away from their skin, the shorts fell free, dropping all the way to their ankles.  They continued to stare at each other's dick as they pulsed against one another, a fine rope of clear pre-cum keeping them connected at the tip whenever they jerked apart.  Stepping out of their shorts, they kicked them aside, their movements never breaking the sticky string that hung between them.

Barely breathing, his blood coursing through his body like a freight train, Richie tipped his head back and sighed with pleasure when he wrapped his fingers around the smooth foreskin of his first ever uncircumcised dick.  TJ hands were back on Richie's ass-cheeks when this happened, and the electric shock he felt when Richie squeezed, then began to slowly stroke his throbbing cock, caused every muscle in his body to tense at the same time.  Feeling a pleasure the likes of which he'd never known before, he pulled Richie's body tightly against his own.  Reveling in this overwhelming rush of ecstasy, he pressed his face against Richie's neck where he began to emit soft, animal-like moans from deep within his throat.

They remained like this for several minutes, neither boy wanting to end the pleasure they were feeling.  Suddenly, TJ raised his head.  His body remained tense, but his member quickly lost its hardness.  Confused at this sudden transformation, Richie was about to break their embrace when he heard TJ whisper in his ear.

"Um, Rich?  I don't think we can do this now."

"Oh, man," said Richie, his voice softly reassuring while he tried to nurse TJ's penis back to life.  "Just relax, dude.  I told you nobody would bother us up here."

"Yeah?  Well, somebody must've forgot to tell her," whispered TJ.

"What the hell are you talkin abou..."  Richie's words died in his throat when he turned to see what TJ was referring to.  No more than twenty yards away, and moving in their direction, was the biggest Black Bear that Richie had ever seen.  Both boys assumed it was a she-bear because of the cub that playfully scrounged around in the rocks not far away from her, perhaps in search of a quick snack.  The cub was either unaware or unconcerned about the presence of the two boys, but his mother was not.  Although she kept her distance, she continued to eye them with uneasy suspicion while she snorted and sniffed at the sultry air.

Never before had Richie's cock deflated as fast as it did then.  Neither he nor TJ were really frightened, at least not to the point of panic, but it took them a moment or two before they could gather enough of their wits to assess their situation.  Both bears were directly between them and the hill they had climbed, so to Richie's thinking, that left them with few options.

"Well, Teege," he asked, surprising himself by using the same name he'd heard Brian use at the hospital, "what d'ya think?"

"I think we got a problem, that's what I think."

"Well, duh.  What I mean is, since this is your stomping grounds, what do ya know about bears with cubs... and do you think there's a papa bear somewhere close by?"

"Oh fuck, man, I don't know," said TJ, the first signs of panic creeping into his voice.  "The only bears I've ever seen were in the fucking zoo.  God, Rich, she's blocking our escape route.  If she gets pissed off, it's `game-over' for us."

"Hey, relax, dude.  First of all, she doesn't look pissed to me, and as long as we don't do anything to change that, she might just leave us alone.  What I'm wondering is, if we ignore her, will she leave... or should we like yell at her, or throw rocks at her to chase her away?"

"What the fuck, man, are you nuts?  Don't ya think that just maybe, us throwing rocks at her just might get her a little bit irritated?"

"Yeah, well, I suppose that is a valid point.  Well then, I guess we'll just have to move on to plan B."

"We got a plan B?" asked TJ trying his best not to appear as scared as he actually felt.  "I sure hope it's better than plan A."

"Oh, for sure," said Richie.  "Tell the truth, it woulda been plan A if I'd been thinkin right.  You ever see the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?"

"Sure, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, right?"

"Yup," said Richie, a huge grin spreading across his face.

When Richie didn't elaborate, a brief moment passed while TJ's mind struggled to make the connection.  When finally he did, plan B didn't look much better to him than the one that called for rock throwing.  Looking from Richie to the edge of the cliff, then back to Richie he said, "Oh God, Rich.  Please tell me you aren't talking about when they were trapped on the cliff and..."

"...and jumped off into the river to escape?  Yup, that's it, dude."

Craning his neck to look over the edge, TJ turned back to Richie with pleading eyes.  "Maybe we're overreacting here, Rich.  Maybe we should like wait her out.  You know, wait an see if she leaves before we do anything that might get me killed."

"Well, I spose we could wait," said Richie with a chuckle, "but I don't know if we can count on her to do her part.  From what I can tell, she's kinda moving in this direction."

"No plan C?" asked TJ as he looked first at the bear, then at Richie.

"None that I can think of."

"I guess that means we're out of plans then, huh?" said TJ

"Yeah, man, I guess so."  Then, with a huge grin, Richie playfully tapped his friend on the side of his shoulder.  "C'mon, dude, it'll be fun, I promise."  When TJ continued to look from the bear to the pond, apprehension still on his face, Richie encouraged him further.  "Look, we'll go at the same time... I'll even hold your hand all the way down if ya want."

"Nah," said TJ as he watched Richie scoop up their shorts from the ground.  "It's not the trip down that I'm worried about, it's more about what happens to me when I get there."

"Don't worry about that," said Richie as they moved closer to the edge.  "As long as you keep your body straight and your legs together, you'll cut through the water like a hot knife through soft butter.  Oh, and one more thing," he added with a smile as he struck a demonstrative pose.  "Just as a precaution, ya might wanna cover your nuts with your hands like this.  OK?"

When TJ continued to look from the bear to the pond, Richie tried another example of encouragement.  "Just do like those dudes who dive off the cliffs in Acapulco, only feet first."

"Yeah?  I've heard that some of those guys get killed doing that."

"OK, bad example."

When Richie looked back to the bear again, he noticed that she was getting closer.  She didn't seem to have any real interest in them, but knowing nothing about a bear's temperament, he didn't think they should wait too much longer.  They were close enough to the edge now so that if it became necessary he could easily push TJ the rest of the way.  As long as they had time, however, he preferred to convince him to go for it on his own.

"Then how bout lookin at it this way, bro," he said as he tossed their shorts into the pond below.  "That pond is like really deep.  In fact, it's so deep that I don't even know how deep.  The point is, our shorts are now on their way to the bottom.  Unless we jump in after them, we may never see them again.  How excited are you to be riding back to Kyle's naked as a jaybird?"

"OK," said TJ as he once again looked at the approaching bear, "but..."

That was all he managed say before Richie wrapped his arm firmly around his waist, then stepped off the edge of the cliff.

"La Vida Loca!!" echoed Richie's voice as they began to plummet toward the water below.  As soon as they had cleared the edge of the outcropping, Richie released his grip on TJ.  Much to his relief, the last thing he saw before they plunged into the clear water below was TJ covering his testicles to protect them from the impact.  Moments later, when his descent below the surface slowed and the bubbles around him began to dissipate, he found that he was less than an arm's length away from their slowly sinking shorts.  Grabbing both pair in his hand, he concealed them behind his back before kicking his way to the top.  When he broke through to the bright sunlight, he saw TJ treading water just a few yards away, his eyes firmly fixed on the cliff above.

"Yo, TJ!"

"Hey, Rich," answered TJ, startled by the sound of his voice.

"You OK?  You're not worried about mama bear jumping in after us, are ya?"

"No, I was just noticing how the cliff don't look so high from down here."

"Told ya."

"Yeah, it was cool, man.  If mama bear wasn't still wandering around up there, I'd be heading back up for another shot at it, this time with my eyes open.  Talk about a rush, man, that was like the greatest."

"You had your eyes closed?" asked Richie as he floated closer to TJ.

"Fuckin right, man.  I figured if I was gonna die, I didn't wanna see it comin."

"I guess that means you didn't see our shorts anywhere while you were under water?" asked Richie, forcing himself to keep from smiling.

"Oh shit!  I forgot all about 'em."

With Richie looking on, TJ disappeared below the surface and began to scan the crystal clear water for the missing garments.  After a long thirty seconds with Richie watching from above, he reappeared, filling his lungs with fresh air as soon as he broke the surface.

"I don't see 'em anywhere, Rich, and I could see all the way to the bottom.  Where the hell could they have gone?"

"Oh, I don't know... like right here maybe," said Richie as he waved them over his head before flinging them into the shallower water near the shoreline.

"You dick," said TJ as he splashed water into his face.   "Do you fuck with all your friends like that, or just me?"

"Just you," said Richie as he splashed back, "cause you're like so easy to fuck with."

"Ya think," laughed TJ before lunging at his friend to push his head under water.

Wanting to make sure that Richie got the message, that he wasn't such a pushover after all, as soon as he had him below the surface TJ placed his feet on either side of Richie's head, then stood on his shoulders to drive him down even deeper.  He executed this dunk so quickly that Richie barely had time to take a breath before he found himself looking up at the bottom of TJ's feet.  Just before he kicked his way back to the surface, his eyes traveled up the length of TJ's legs to see his uncut dick bobbing up and down, and swaying from side to side with every movement his body made.  Predictably, the cool water had affected TJ in the usual manner, causing his testicles to be drawn up tightly between his legs for warmth, his penis now half its previous length as if cowering deep within the safety of his foreskin.

Unable to resist the opportunity, Richie smiled as he reached up to place his hands on TJ's waist.  Pulling himself up and in to TJ's body, he opened his mouth to encase his flaccid member, sucking it in until his nose was pressed against his pubic hair.  The unexpected contact caused TJ to flinch, his body acting reflexively as it tried to pull away.  Expecting this reaction, Richie was prepared for it.  Keeping a firm grip on TJ's hips to maintain his position, he applied more suction.  Drawing his tongue across the soft underside of TJ's foreskin, he searched for the opening, then poked and prodded until he reached the tip of his glans buried within.  With TJ's initial reaction no longer an issue, Richie relished the warmth of the soft skin now wrapped snugly around the end of his tongue.  Keeping the pressure of his suction constant, he ran the tip of his tongue across his glans, feeling the slick texture of the pre-cum still trapped inside of natures protective envelope.

All of the many fantasies concerning an uncircumcised penis that had run through Richie's mind over the past months paled in comparison to what he was now experiencing.  He was beside himself with erotic pleasure when TJ's member began to react to his ministrations, quickly swelling to fill his mouth, pushing against his tongue as it emerged from its turtleneck covering.  As much as Richie wanted to continue with his dream-come-true, he soon realized the reality of the situation when his lungs began to scream for fresh air.  With mild reluctance, he released his friends penis, then quickly launched himself to the surface with one quick, powerful scissors kick.  When he broke the surface, he found himself face to face with a very pleased looking TJ.

Moving closer to where their fully hard members pressed firmly against each other, Richie whispered, "Take a deep breath."

Not sure, but not caring why he asked this of him, TJ did as he was told.  After filling his own lungs, Richie wrapped his arms around TJ's upper body, then pulled him in tight for a full-on tongue probing kiss on the lips.  As they sank as one below the surface of the water, Richie searched the inside of TJ's mouth with his tongue, then sucked TJ's into his.  They continued to explore each other in this fashion until they were nearly ten feet under water and their lungs began to beg for air.

Not being the athlete that Richie was, TJ's lungs were not as developed, so upon their return to the surface he took in a little water when he opened is mouth to gasp for air.  When he finished coughing and sputtering, Richie asked, "You OK, man?"

"Yeah," said TJ when his breathing returned to normal, "I think I'll live.  Man, I don't think I've ever held my breath that long before.

"Sorry," said Richie, "I forgot that you aren't used to holding your breath as long as I am.  But it was so fucking hot kissing you like that, I just didn't think."

"That's OK, man, it was worth it," said TJ with a grin as he floated lazily onto his back, the tip of his fully erect member occasionally breaking the surface.  Then, treading water again while he faced Richie, he said, "C'mon, let's get out.  The water under these falls is like ice."

"So I noticed," said Richie with a smile as he gave TJ's shriveled scrotum a gentle squeeze.

That said, both boys swam unhurriedly for shore to the spot where Richie had flung their shorts.  Following TJ, Richie watched with interest when he stooped over to pick up their discarded garments, trying unsuccessfully to catch a quick glimpse of his puckered hole before he stood again.  What he did notice as he followed him out of the water, was that he had no visible tan lines.  He continued to stare at TJ's nude body as he laid out their shorts on a large rock before shaking the excess water from his blonde hair.  It wasn't until he sat down on the rock next to their shorts that TJ looked up to catch Richie in his stare.

"What?" he asked as he looked down at himself, then at the rock surface where he was sitting, wondering why Richie was staring.

"Your tan, man.  You got no tan lines," said Richie as he sat next to him.  "You got a tanning bed at home or somethin?"

"Oh, that," said TJ as he looked over his body.  "Nah... I mean we have one, but it just gathers dust like all the exercise crap we have.  I got this from lyin out by the pool."

"You got a pool?  At your cabin?"

"No dummy, at home... you know, in the city?"

"Whoa, that is so cool."

"What, a pool?" asked TJ, smiling with sarcasm.  "What's so cool about that?  Doesn't everybody have one?"

"Yeah, right.  The only pool we ever had was one of those little round plastic inflatable ones that I had when I was a little kid.  No way could ya lie around that in the nude.  Don't you have any neighbors nearby?"

"Yeah, we got neighbors, but we also have an eight foot privacy fence, plus a row of arborvitaes all around the pool area, so it's pretty private.  You'll have to come over and see it when you get back... swimming suit optional.  I think there's even enough summer sun left so's we can do somethin about that ivory colored butt of yours. What d'ya think?"

"Hey, for sure I will," answered Richie with a smile.

"How bout Monday?" asked TJ in a rush of excitement.  "I mean, if you ain't doin nothin else, that is."

"I'll have to get back to you on that, dude.  I been gone since Tuesday, so I have no clue as to what the rents have been savin up for me to do at home.  But if I can swing it, color me there."

"Yes!"  said TJ, unable to hide his enthusiasm.  Both boys sat in silence for a few moments, enjoying the warmth of the sun as it dried and took to chill from their bodies.  TJ was the first to speak.

"That was my first time, ya know."

"What, jumpin off a cliff?"

"No," chuckled TJ.  "I mean, yeah, but that's not what I was talkin about.  That's the first time I ever kissed anyone."

"Yeah?  I thought you said you went out with what's her name."

"Cheryl Anne?"

"Yeah.  Didn't you kiss her?"

"Well, yeah, technically I guess you could say that.  But it was her that kissed me more'n me kissing her.  I just went along for the ride, if ya know what I mean.  I never really kissed her back.  For sure there's no way that I kissed her like I kissed you."  After a brief moment, a hint of hopeful anticipation in his voice, he asked, "So, how was it?"

"I don't know," said Richie in a matter of fact tone of voice, "I guess you'd have to ask Cheryl Anne, I wasn't even there."

"You dick," said TJ, playfully backhanding Richie on the shoulder.  "C'mon, man, tell me.  Was I any good?"

Rubbing the sting from his arm, Richie smiled back at TJ.  "You were great, dude... a natural."

"Thanks," said TJ with both relief and pride as he looked down at his folded hands.

"Look, Teege... I mean, TJ... don't worry about it, dude.  Everybody does this stuff for the first time, right?  I mean, like ain't there a first time for everything?  Ya gotta look at it like Kyle always says, `just go with the flow, man, just go with the flow'.  You'll be surprised at how natural it all is."

"Kyle's pretty cool, ain't he?"

"Yeah he is, and a lot smarter than he'd like people to think, too."

"I guess I know you're right, Rich, but I'm not as confident about some stuff as you are.  That's what I admire about you.  You always seem to know what to do, no matter what's goin down.  It's like when we met up with mama bear on the cliff... you knew exactly what to do.  Me, I just get nervous or scared."

Giving TJ a reassuring squeeze of his shoulder, Richie said, "Well, you don't gotta be nervous or scared when you're around me, and that's for real... no matter what we do.  OK?"

"Yeah, sure," said TJ, blushing a little as he continued to look at his hands.

"Besides, it was my first time, too, ya know."

This caught TJ by surprise and it showed on his face when he snapped his head up to look at Richie.  "Say what?"

"Yeah.  It was the first time I've ever been up close and personal with an uncut dick," he answered, a satisfied twinkle in his eyes.

"Really," said TJ, a statement rather than a question.  "So, what did ya think?"

"Well, from what little time I got to spend with it, I thought it was great.  Tell the truth, I've been wanting to suck on an uncut one for as long as... well... as long as I've wanted to suck a dick, I guess."

"Yeah?" asked TJ, his smile vanishing, his eyes becoming cold and suspicious.  "Is that what this was all about, Rich?"


"This whole trip up here... what we did on the cliff and in the water... is that what it was all about, just so's you could suck my uncut dick?"

"What?!" asked Richie, shocked and hurt by TJ's accusation.  "Is that what you think, man?  That I lured you up here to take advantage of you, just to suck your dick?"  Richie's irritation was mounting and his voice was harsh and direct.  "I suppose you think I arranged for the fucking bear to come around, too... just to get you to jump into the water with me.  And just when did I arrange for you to push me under the water so I could suck your dick while I held my breath, TJ?  What the fuck is with you, anyway?  What's a guy gotta do to let you know that he likes you, huh?  I thought we had a pretty good friendship goin here, but if you think I got some hidden reason for everything I do with you, then forget it, man.  I don't need that kinda shit."

TJ stood when he said this, turning his back to Richie as he stepped toward the edge of the pond.  Moments later, Richie could hear him sniff, then saw him wipe at the tears that were threatening to escape his eyes.

`Smooth move, Andrews,' he thought, his anger replaced with shame and regret.  `Shit, Kyle warned me to be careful.'  Stepping up behind him, he rested a hand on TJ's shoulder.  "TJ?" he said softly, "Look man, I sorry, I..."

That was all he could say before TJ spun to face him.  Richie's body tensed reflexively at the sudden movement, reading it as one of aggression, as if TJ was about to swing on him.  His fears quickly vanished, however, when TJ threw his arms around him, instead - surprising him with both his action and his strength as he held him in a tight embrace.  What was happening now was completely foreign to Richie and he wasn't sure how to react.  Although he and Kyle had been through some emotional times in the past, it was always Richie that needed the comforting - and now, standing next to the pond in the hot sun, it was his turn to take the part of comforter.  Unsure of what to say, he did the only thing he could think of by returning TJ's embrace while he waited patiently for him to regain control of himself.

His wait wasn't long, either.  Much sooner than he expected, TJ relaxed his grip as he moved his hands to Richie's waist.  Struggling to maintain his composure, his voice cracked when he spoke, and the tears that filled his eyes were on the verge of spilling over in a flood of uncontrolled emotion.

"It's not your fault, Rich.  None of it.  What I said to you was mean, and rotten, and I'm so sorry I said it.  I'd give my right nut if I could take it back, because I know it's not true, but since I can't turn back time and make it not happen, all I can do is ask you to believe that I didn't mean it.  No one's ever been as nice to me before without wanting something from me, so I just reacted without thinking.  It was sorta like a reflex, I guess... but that's still no excuse for saying what I said.  So, if you wanna punch me out, go ahead, cause I sure as hell deserve it.  And if ya don't wanna be friends, I'll understand that, too.  But if you can forgive me for being so stupid... If we can somehow get passed this... I still want to be your friend, and I promise I'll never, ever doubt you again."

When he was finished, Richie found himself unable to speak.  Of course he'd forgive him for his outburst, that was a no-brainer, but what he'd said to TJ was just as inexcusable.  When several minutes of silence passed between them, TJ must have thought he saw the answer in Richie's eyes.  After a single tear found its way across each cheek, TJ dropped his hands to his sides, then stepped away.  Watching his back as he made his way to the rock where their shorts were drying, Richie's heart went out to him, and he felt a lump begin to form in his throat.


"Yeah?" he said without looking up as he stepped into his shorts.

"Look, man," started Richie as he moved to where TJ was standing.  "I don't know what kind of problems you've had in the past - If I did, then maybe I could help somehow - but what I'm saying now is, let's forget about what just happened here and be friends.  What you said to me was pretty shitty, but what I said to you was just as bad... if not worse.  So, if you're OK with it, let's just call it even and start over."

"You mean it?" asked TJ, a smile beginning to form behind his tears.

"Hell, yes, I do.  So what d'ya say, bro, sound like a plan?"

"Fuck yeah, it does," said TJ, a full grin on his face.  "Better'n plan A and plan B put together if ya ask me."

"Alright!" exclaimed Richie as they high-fived each other.

Admiring Richie's body while he waited for him to pull on his shorts, TJ said, "La Vida Loca?"

"Say what?"

"La Vida Loca.  Ain't that what you yelled when we jumped?"

"Oh, yeah.  Well, it sounds better'n Geronimo, don't ya think?"

"Never really thought about it, I guess."  After another moment he asked, "Do you remember when we were up on the cliff, then again a few minutes ago, when you called me Teege?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry about that.  I meant to call you TJ, but for some reason Teege just rolled off my tongue.  I'll try harder not to do that again."

"Why?  What's wrong with Teege?  I kinda like it."

"Me, too, but isn't that what Brian calls you?  You know, like Kyle calls me Guppy?  I don't want to be hi-jackin it from him."

"Brian?  You shittin me?  Brain calls me everything in the book, man, from T Junk to Terry Jack-off to TJ the Turd.  The only time he's ever called me Teege, though, was that day at the hospital."

"Really." said Richie, leading the way to where they'd left the rest of their clothes.  Stopping briefly, he turned back to face TJ.  "OK, I'll make a deal with you.  I'll start calling you Teege if you promise to tell me how someone fucked you over by makin like they were your friend."

Richie's idea for the `deal' was a spur of the moment thing, and even as he said it, he wondered if he wasn't pushing things a bit too far.  To his surprise, however, TJ responded without hesitation.  Extending his hand, he smiled when he said, "OK, it's a deal.  I'll tell you all about it when you come over to check out the pool."

"OK, Teege" said Richie, emphasizing the name when he shook TJ's hand.  "I'm gonna hold ya to that, too, bro.  C'mon, let's get back to Kyle's.  I wanna say goodbye to Brian and them before they leave."

"OK, but there's one other thing."

"Yeah?  And what might that be?" asked Richie.

"If you want to spend some more `up close and personal' time with an uncut dick, you can spend it with mine anytime you want."

Seeing a seductive smile on TJ's face, Richie smiled back with the same message.  "Cool.  I'm gonna hold you to that, too, dude, and that's for real."

As they pulled on their T-shirts and sandals, TJ continued to make idle conversation.  "What d'ya think the chances are of Daryl being gay?"

"Daryl?  I don't know.  Why?  You kinda got a thing for him?"

"I don't know.  I mean, he's pretty cool, and he is kinda hot, right?  And if he were gay, it would sure make my summers around here a lot more fun.  What d'ya think the chances are?"

"I don't know.  I've read about studies on the Internet that put the gay population anywhere from ten to twenty five percent, so your guess is as good as mine.  Like what were the chances of you and me running into each other?  What does your gaydar tell you about him?"

"My what?" asked TJ as they began their descent down the bluff to their bikes.

"Your gaydar, man.  That feeling that makes ya think a dude might be gay just by lookin at him."

"Oh, so that's what I felt when I saw you."

Stopping dead in his tracks three quarters of the way down, Richie turned back to face his friend.  "You mean you felt something when you first saw me?"

"Yeah, kinda, I guess," said TJ as they resumed their trek.  "I felt somethin in the boat, too, but it sure as hell wasn't any gaydar."

"Oh, God, No!" exclaimed Richie with a laugh.  "You felt my dick, didn't ya?"

"Well, duh.  That thing was like practically rippin a hole through your shorts, for cripes sake.  Fuckin thing almost knocked the wind outa me."

"Oh, No!" laughed Richie as he ran from the bottom of the bluff to his bike.  "That fucking Lindstrom and his bogus sailing."

"I don't know that you should be mad at him," said TJ with a grin as he pulled on his helmet.  "Matter of fact, maybe we should be thankin him, instead."

"Could be right.  Which reminds me Teege," he added, using the name for the first time in normal conversation, "you still owe me a sailing lesson.  I never did get to drive your boat yesterday."

"Hey, no prob, dude," said TJ as he prepared to kick over his bike.  "Come on up with me next weekend and we'll sail till we drop."

"Oh, man," said Richie as he maneuvered his machine onto the creek-bed, "I'd love to, but I think I'll have to take a rain check.  Knowing my rents the way I do, there's no way they'd let me go off for another weekend so soon after bein gone for so long this time.  Maybe the week after, or whenever you come up again.  What d'ya think?"

"Sounds like - what's the word for it?" asked TJ rhetorically as he cocked his head and rubbed his chin to give the impression he was searching his vocabulary for the proper way to finish the sentence, "Oh yeah, a PLAN."

Shaking his head at TJ's joke, Richie smiled as he thought about how much he liked his new friend.  Much like Lindy, he could find humor in the most insignificant of things, and even though he had all the advantages that money could buy, like Kyle, he never really tried to impress anybody with it.  Another thing that struck Richie was that, again like Kyle, he was much more intelligent than he liked to let on - so much so that Richie was not at all convinced that he didn't know a lot about Shakespeare.  He was also feeling pretty proud of himself.  He'd always relied on Kyle, Lindy, and Kevin to help him deal with being gay, and now, for the first time, he was able to help someone else.

Moments later, after a short reflective look up at the bluff, they kicked their bikes to life, gave each other a thumbs up, then headed back down the hill to the snowmobile trail.  Once again, the pond had worked its magic.

When they climbed the hill from the snowmobile trail to the garage at Kyle's cabin, they saw Steve, Brian, and Kevin standing next to Steve's truck, obviously saying their good-byes.  Thankful that he'd gotten back before they left, Richie led TJ past the garage to join them.

"Hey, dudes, what up?" he asked as soon as their bikes were silenced.

"Gotta head home, man," said Steve, glancing at his watch.  "You guys were up awful early this morning.  Have a nice ride?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," said Richie as he smiled back at TJ.

"Yeah, it was bearable," answered TJ, the triple meaning not lost on Richie, the looks they exchanged communicating much more than their words.

"Am I missing a joke here or somethin?" asked Kevin when he saw them smiling at each other.

"Um, yeah, a big black one," said Richie as he looked from TJ to the empty space in front of the garage where the Suburban was normally parked.  "Where's the Suburban at?"

"Pine City," said Kevin.  "Jake said he needed to pick up somethin there, so he and Lindy left about an hour ago."

"What did he need from Pine City?"

"Don't know.  Jake wouldn't say, but what ever it was, he seemed to think it was important enough to make the trip."

After glancing around the area again, Richie asked, "Where's Daryl?"

This question got a laugh out of all three boys, especially Brian who provided the answer.  "He went with 'em.  That poor dude was so sick this morning, he couldn't wait to get home."

"Now there's a surprise," said TJ with a chuckle.  "How was Lindy doin?"

"Not too bad," answered Kevin.  "He felt about the same as me - a pretty good headache, but not sick like Daryl."

"You sure you guys gotta leave so soon?" asked Richie.

"Yeah," said Steve, a touch of disappointment in his voice.  "We got a little painting left to do and Dad wants us to finish it before the end of the weekend."

"I'm telling ya, Steve, we're gonna see a big `For Sale' sign stuck in the front yard come Monday morning,"  said his brother.

"Yeah, you could be right, Bri.  He's been actin awful weird the last couple of weeks.  Whatever, we gotta go, bro, so hop in."  Turning to Richie, Steve extended his hand.  "Congrats, dude, and thanks for the great party."

Shaking the offered hand firmly, Richie said, "Hey, don't thank me, man.  You guys put the party on... all I did was show up.  Matter of fact, this whole week has been awesome.  I'm just glad Kyle ran into you at McCarthy's."  Then, turning to Brian to shake his hand, he said, "We'll for sure have to hook up with you guys the next time we come up - unless, of course, you're living in the city by then - then we'll all have to come up here."  When Steve moved to the driver's side of the truck, Richie spoke again to Brian as he climbed into the passenger side.  "Say hey to Daryl for me, would ya, dude?  And thank him for comin over, he's pretty cool."

"Will do, bro."  Looking past Richie to TJ, Brian called out, "Hey, T Jerk, call me tonight, alright?"

"You got it, bro."

That said, Steve fired up the truck and moments later they were headed for home.  Being the sensitive kind of guy that Richie was, he felt a sadness as he watched them disappear down Jake's Road.  It was as if it suddenly dawned on him that this awesome six day vacation was drawing to a close.  He was snapped out of his reverie when he heard TJ start his bike.  Turning to the sound, he saw Kevin smiling back at him.

"What?" he asked as he returned to his bike, a little irritated with himself since he knew why Kevin was smiling.

"Oh, nothin.  It's not as if you'll never see 'em again, ya know."

"I know," he said as he sat astride his bike.  "It's not that, it's just that..."

"The party's over?" interrupted Kevin.

"Yeah, something like that."

"Hmm, let me see... last time I looked, I'm still here, TJ's still here, and when Lindy and Jake get back..."

"I know that, Kevin.  But I can't help it.  This week's been like so fucking awesome, I just hate to see it end.  I spose I'm just too sensitive about shit like that."

"I know," said Kevin, giving Richie's shoulder a reassuring squeeze.  "I was just fuckin with ya.  You're just a sensitive kinda dude, is all.  That's part of what makes you who you are.  You care about things, and you care about other people, that's what makes you so nice to be around.  So don't worry about it, bro, and don't change, either, cause I kinda like ya the way you are."

"Thanks," said Richie before kicking over his bike.  Goosing the throttle, he spun the rear tire which, in turn, spun his bike around to face the garage.  Falling in behind him, TJ followed him to the garage where moments later the bikes were safely parked inside where they'd remain until the next time.  Hanging first his, then TJ's helmet on their respective pegs next to the snowmobile suits, he felt another moment of sadness when he saw that in their absence, Kyle and the others had returned the jet-skies to their spot in the garage.  Determined not to let Kevin or TJ notice his disappointment, he quickly shook it off and returned to the driveway, pulling the garage door closed behind him.

Joining Kevin and TJ, they began to make their way to the cabin when they heard the sound of a truck approaching on Jake's Road.  Looking in the direction of the sound, they soon saw the Suburban as it crested the final hill.

"Hey, looks like Jake and Lindy are back," said Kevin.

"Yeah," said Richie, a huge grin spreading across his face.  "And look who's drivin, man.  It's Lindy!"  Without a moments hesitation, he turned to Kevin and said, "Kevin!  You remember what you and Lindy did when I pulled up at Harry's on Wednesday?  Well we gotta do the same thing now, only better - much better.  We gotta make it look like a real Chinese fire drill, OK?"

"Gotcha, bro."

"What the hell you guys talkin about?" asked a perplexed TJ.

"I'll explain later, Teege, just follow our lead.  When they get a little closer, start running around like you're looking for someplace take cover from a runaway truck.  And let's make it look like the three stooges, too, flying around and bumping into each other and shit, then we'll like run behind the generator shed.  Got that?"

"OK," said TJ with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Cool," said Richie, his eyes sparkling with excitement.  "Now don't look at them till I give ya the signal, then start screaming and running around."

Keeping track of the truck's progress out of the corner of his eye, Richie waited patiently until they made the final turn by the lake shore.  When he was sure Lindy and Kyle were looking at them, he gave the signal.  The whole operation couldn't have gone better if it were scripted.  All three boys started to wave their arms frantically as they ran around in circles, screaming and bouncing off of each other.  When finally the truck made the last turn between the cabin and the garage, they all scampered behind the generator shed, then peered around the corner, their heads appearing to be stacked on top of one another just like the three stooges would have done.

They remained that way until the truck came to a full stop.  When it did, the passenger door flew open, and Kyle stumbled out.  Staggering to the back porch, holding his stomach as he laughed hysterically, he slumped down against the post, his legs too weak to support his weight.

"Very funny, you dick-wads!" shouted Lindy when he climbed down from behind he wheel.

This set the other three off, occasionally reenacting some of their antics as they moved across the driveway toward the truck.

"Did Steve call you from his cell phone so you clowns could plan this little act?" asked Lindy as Richie approached.

Wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, Richie asked, "What d'ya mean, bro?"

This question sent Kyle into a renewed fit of hysterics.  Finally able to control himself long enough to speak, he said, "Oh, God, Rich, you have no idea how funny this is.  We just passed Steve and Brian on the highway, and when Steve saw that Lindy was driving, he gave him one hell of a wide birth."  After another short burst of laughter, he continued, "He slowed his truck down to a crawl, man, and pulled way over on the shoulder.  Hell, he almost pulled all the way off the road.  Then when we passed them, they were both leaning as far over on the passenger side as they could get and looked at us like they were scared to death.  It was like so funny, man."

"Oh bullshit, Kyle, it wasn't that funny," said Lindy, attempting to minimize the ribbing.

"The hell it wasn't," said Kyle as he continued to laugh.  "Then what you guys did here was like totally over the top."

"OK, OK.  Like take a pill or somethin, would ya Kyle," said Lindy, obviously feeling he'd suffered enough.

"Oh, poor baby," said Richie as he draped an arm over Lindy's shoulders.

A few moments later, when the joke had finally run its course, Richie ruffled Lindy's hair.  "What goes around comes around, bro, and paybacks are a bitch, ain't they."

"True that," said a red-faced Lindy.  Then, looking over to where Kyle was still chuckling, he playfully threw his car keys at him as he added, "...but it's not as funny as some people seem to think!"

"So, how far did ya drive it?" asked Richie, still smiling.

"All the way from Pine City, man" declared Lindy, his chest swelling with pride.  "It was like so cool, Rich.  I can't fucking wait to get my license."

"So, did ya get Daryl home OK?" asked TJ.

"Oh yeah, that poor sick fucker.  You shoulda seem him, Rich.  He was like way sicker than I was at Kyle's Christmas party.  He hung his head out the window all the way to Pine City.  We even had to pull off the road once so he could puke his guts out."

"No shit?" asked TJ.  "I think he's supposed to work today."

"Yeah, well I'm bettin he calls in sick cause he was not feeling at all well when we dropped him off."

"Hey!  Any of you dudes want a Pepsi?" called Kevin from the back door of the cabin.

"For sure," answered Richie.

When they began to move as a group to join him, Richie noticed Kyle returning to the truck where he removed a small brown paper bag from the cab.  Hanging back from the others, Richie waited for him.  Falling in next to him, he hung his arm over his shoulder as he eyed the mysterious package.

"What's in the bag, bitch?"

Smiling, Kyle opened the top just enough for Richie to see the small jar of Vaseline inside.

"Yes!" exclaimed Richie, though in a whisper so as not to attract the attention of the others.  "But why did ya get Vaseline instead of KY?"

"Cause," said Kyle, flushing slightly, "I was too embarrassed to ask for KY, that's why.  I figured Vaseline could be used for lots of things, but not exactly true for KY if ya catch my drift.  By the way, have you talked to Lindy about going back with Hatch yet?"

"No," said Richie as they approached the cabin, "but don't worry about that.  He'll go alright.  Even if I have to tie him up and toss him into Kevin's trunk, he'll go."

When they entered the cabin, Kyle went straight to the bedroom to stash his recent purchase.  When he returned, he joined the others at the table where Kevin had laid out a loaf of bread and a variety of cold-cuts for an impromptu lunch.

"So," asked Kevin, "what did you guys mean about a big black joke?"

"Aw, no big deal, really," said Richie.  "We were just chased off the cliff by a ferocious, monster, killer black bear, is all."

"Say what?!" asked Lindy, his eyes wide.

"A black bear, man.  She was like the biggest one I've ever seen, too.  And even though we were there first, she must have figured she and her cub had dibs on it, so we did the death-defying leap trick into the pond."

"No shit?!" said Lindy, "Whoa, that is like so cool, man."

"Easy for you to say," said TJ, "cause you weren't standing on the cliff shittin your pants."  This got a chuckle from everyone, but when Richie smiled, he was thinking `What pants?'.

It was three o'clock when they finished their lunch, and TJ announced that he had to leave.

"Oh, man," whined Richie.  "Why don't ya call the rents and ask 'em if ya can't hang out with us till Kevin has to leave?"

"I'd like to, Rich, but the wind's pickin up and my dad said he'd go sailing with me this afternoon.  I hardly ever get to see him cept on holidays, and sometimes on the weekends, so I'd hate to pass up the opportunity."

"Hey, that's cool," said Richie, concealing his disappointment.  Reaching for the pen and pad of paper by the phone, he tore off the top sheet, scribbled down his phone number and email address, then passed it along with the pen and pad over to TJ.  "Write down your phone number so's I can call you when I get home.  Gotta make arrangements to come over and see your pool, ya know.  Oh, and put your email address on there, too."

"TJ's got a pool?!" asked Lindy.  "Man, I know your parents have to adopt me, now.  And while we're waiting for the paperwork to get done, I can't think of a better place to have my birthday party next month."

"Jeez, Lindy, it's a good thing you don't believe in being too forward or nothin," said Richie.

"Hey, man, if we're gonna be brothers, me and TJ gotta get to know each other better, right?"

Throughout this banter between Lindy and Richie, TJ wrote his two home phone numbers, as well as his cell phone number, his email address and his number at Gull Lake on the pad, then slid it back to Richie, saying, "The first one is my number, and the second one is for my cell.  If ya can't reach me on either of those, then try our home phone.  Course, if you can't get me with any of those, you can probably find me here at the lake."

"Whoa, you got your own phone number, brother?" asked Lindy with an emphasis on the word brother.  "You got a sexy secretary to answer it for ya, too?"

"Lindy!  Give the guy a break, would ya?" said Richie.  "By the way, Teege, I thought you guys stayed up here all summer.  Are you even gonna be in town next week?"

"Yeah, my mom's got some charity stuff she has to be in town for, so I'll be there all week.  And, Lindy, I seriously doubt that you'd want to be adopted by my parents, but plan on having your party at my place, OK?"

"Sounds like a plan to me, dude, thanks."

"Cool, then it's all set.  I gotta get my shit and go."

"I think I saw your bag on the couch," said Richie.  "I'll walk ya down to the dock.  Just don't do any more headers off your jet-ski on the way home, OK?"

"Hey," said TJ with a smile as he stood, "that stunt probably wasn't one of the brightest things I've ever done, but all in all, I'd have to say things worked out pretty good in the end."

After saying his good-byes to Kevin, Kyle and Lindy, TJ retrieved his back-pack.  While the others stayed behind to clean up the kitchen, he lead Richie down to the beach.  A steady, even cooling breeze had, indeed, begun to blow in from the north.  It wasn't enough to cause TJ any problems with the jet-ski, but it would be perfect for sailing.  Once his back-pack was secured to his machine, he turned to face Richie.

"Thanks for having me over, Rich."

"Hey, dude, don't mention it.  Like you said, everything worked out for the best.  And mama bear or not, I had one hell of a good time."

"So did I, and I'm sorry for the way I act..."

His thoughts were silenced when Richie pressed a finger against TJ's lips.  "None of that ever happened, remember?"

"Yeah, OK."  Feeling an awkward moment closing in, TJ wiped his hands on his shorts while looking nervously around at the lake.  After a quick glance in the direction of the cabin, he returned his eyes to Richie.  "I, um, guess I better get going."

Richie was sure from the look on TJ's face that he wanted to say goodbye with more than just a handshake, but felt nervous and unsure of himself standing on the dock in full view of the cabin.  Smiling, Richie made an effort to set him as ease.

"I told you that those guys know I'm gay, right?"

"Yeah," said TJ, not sure where Richie was going.

"Then I should tell you that they're probably watching us right now.  You can trust them TJ, but no matter what we do now, they're gonna ask me about you, and that's for real.  Now I can't really lie to them, but I can refuse to tell them anything.  If they want to know if you're gay, I can tell them they'll have to ask you that question.  But if you don't want them to get suspicious, then we better just shake hands."

"You don't think they'd care, or say anything if they knew - if we were to like hug or somethin?"

"Hell no, they wouldn't.  Now if we were to get into a long passionate tongue probing kiss they might feel required to give us a ration of shit about it, but they still wouldn't say anything to anyone."

"You got some pretty awesome friends, ya know that, Rich?"

"Uh, uh.  Wrong, bro.  We got some pretty awesome friends."

After another quick look at the cabin, TJ's expression went from one of apprehension to one of resigned relief as he made a decision to take his first step toward accepting himself for what he was.  Smiling, he pulled Richie into a close embrace while he spoke softly into his ear.

"Thanks, man, for everything."

When they parted a moment later, Richie tapped TJ on the side of his shoulder.  "Take care, dude, and I'll call you on Monday, OK?"

"Sounds like a plan to me, bro.  And tell our friends in the cabin whatever they want to know, OK?  But don't give in too easy when they ask.  Make 'em work for it."

"Yo, you got it, man."

After starting the motor of the jet ski, TJ gave Richie one last smile before cracking open the throttle to launch himself away from the dock.

"Have fun sailing!!" shouted Richie as he watched him leave.  He must have heard him, too, because he raised his hand in a wave as he bounced his way toward the middle of the lake.