WARNING: This totally fictional story depicts scenes of gay love and sex between two fully consenting young men.  If stories of this nature offend you, or otherwise make you unhappy, then just go away!  If you live in a place where freedom of thought and speech is limited due to rules, laws or other measures and you aren't supposed to be here, just go away.  That said, have fun.
(The Authors retain all rights to this story)

   Notes:  A reader in North Carolina very gently reminded us about our responsibilities as writers to note the risks of unprotected sexual activities.  Will and Ty engage in unprotected sex, but they exist in the idealized world of the imagination.  The reality is that unprotected sex can make you very sick or kill you.  You dear readers, are too valuable to lose over a moment of carnal pleasure.  Neither of us wants to go to any more wakes.  Please use a condom!  Thanks for the URL William.

   There are several well-written stories in the Archives. We'd like to let you know about a few of them:  "The Knife That Twists" by Stefan (an excellent and very "Berlin" story) in the Gay-Beginnings section; "Whence Cometh My Help" by Ritch Christopher in Adult-Friends, and his series "Just Beyond the Hill" in Gay-Incest.

   We apologize for this chapter taking so long but we're very busy right now with planning and preparing our move across the country and coping with a heavy load of work at our office.  But as a reward for waiting, this is the longest chapter yet. Chapter Six will be along soon. To Derek - who came through again - Thanks Dude!

  Your emails are the only feedback we get, so it's been a pleasure to read your many kind comments and excellent suggestions.  galacticflute@yahoo.com

Will and Tyler's Odyssey
Part One:In the Beginning

   The Christmas tree looked simply wonderful all lit-up in the living room.  Mom had given us all of the antique decorations she's managed to collect over the years - two Christmases ago - before she semi-retired to Florida.  Derrick had contributed string upon string of ancient bubble lights that he'd inherited from his Aunt Elaine decades ago, but had never been used until we started
to put them on our own Christmas tree's.

   Tyler supervised my placement of every ornament, light and ribbon that bedecked the broad and full silver spruce that we had groomed and cared for on the back deck from the time it was just a small seedling.  This would be it's last trip inside the house since the topmost point now was only a few inches below the 10' ceiling and the six nurserymen required to move it had a very difficult time - even with the jack pallets they used.   I can clearly remember using Ty's old wheelchair to
bring it in! The tree lived in a much smaller pot when it was only three feet high!

   The Christmas Season always brought with it a complex set of emotional responses from both of us. Most of them surrounded the first Holiday we were together and the events that had occurred from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Eve, over eight years ago. That interval - those 36 days - would
become the root of what defined us as men and shaped our lives together.

   The beginning of our written record of that time had been indicated with a special bookmark soon after the pages had been written.  It was the one series of entries in our journal that we had re-read yearly on December 15th.  No one, except the two of us had ever read those passages and those that followed for the next several weeks.

   Ty and I cuddled together on the big sofa in front of the fireplace after the tree was finished.  While we admired its gleaming decorations, we sipped our Blackberry brandy and snuggled closer.  Ty had moved into his usual position between my legs and lay his back against my chest so I could wrap
my arms around him and rub his chest, frequently paying attention to his small tender nipples.  When I started to place light kisses on Ty's neck he giggled, (still after all this time, he giggles when I kiss his neck and ears).

   "Do you have the journal out here?" Ty quietly asked, when he turned his head and shoulders around to look at me.

   "Sure do Babe," I answered while I reached over the side of the sofa to pick up the hard bound book from the table next to us.

   "Want to read it now, or wait till later?" Ty asked.

   "Want dinner first Ty, or another drink?"

   "How about a refill?  I'm not hungry at all and we did have lunch very late today."

   I slipped out from behind Tyler, went to the bar and retrieved the bottle of Blackberry brandy, then returned to my place cuddling with my lover once again before Ty opened the journal and began to read....

Chapter Five

   Ty had brought the first aid kit with him into the living room just as I had recognized who was lying on the rug in front of the fireplace.  I turned to look at Tyler who sat in his chair with shocked recognition on his face too.

   "It is him isn't it Will?" Ty asked me in a voice I could barely hear.

   "Yes it is Ty.  He's badly hurt and so cold he must be hypothermic," I told my boyfriend.  Hypothermia is something all of us who live in the mountains learn about at a young age.  I skied every winter, and know how getting really cold can kill you if you aren't careful.

   Derrick looked at both of us for a moment, a question seemingly poised on his lips, when he asked Ty to hand him the big white first aid supply box.

   "Come on son, let me have that stuff," Ty's Dad asked him.

   "Were you able to get through to 911 Tyler?"

   That seemed to bring Ty back to the present as Derrick and I continued to unwrap the clothing and rags that Barney had covered his ice cold and bloody body with.

  "Uhhh, yes Dad, but the 911 operator said there wasn't an ambulance available, or a deputy to come out.  The storm has everything stopped. The roads are drifting over and they're afraid that anyone who tries to get out here will need rescuing themselves."

   "Dammit!  Well I guess we're on our own for now."  Just as Derrick said those words, the lights dimmed, flickered and went out.

  "Oh shit...just what we need right now.  Here Ty, take this flashlight and see if the generator will start."

   The bright orange glow being cast by the embers in the fireplace lit the big room with bizarre shadows and bathed the body of my old nemesis lying before me in light that made his bearded face and blood covered clothing look like a surrealistic painting, or something out of a nightmarish vision. Ty and I looked at each other.  I could see fear and confusion written all over his face, and I'm sure that mine looked the same to him right then.

   "It'll be OK Ty, just try to get the lights on so we can see how badly Barney is hurt," I spoke softly to my lover.

   I saw the expression on his face pass through several emotions in rapid sequence:  Anger, wonderment, disgust and deep sadness that were replaced by sympathy and then determination.  I blinked a couple of times, unsure that I had read all that in the space of a few seconds, when Ty smiled slightly.

   "Be right back. Don't go anywhere now," he said grinning. Then, Ty turned and wheeled himself down the hallway towards the kitchen and the back of the house but not before he'd handed me the flashlight.

   "I know where the control panel is. I can find it in the dark Will.  You'll need this more than I do," then he was gone, wheeling himself into the blackness.

   Derrick and I continued to work on getting Barney free of the icy, water and blood soaked clothing, Ty's Dad...my surrogate Dad was, giving me instructions as we worked.  After a few moments, we were able to expose Barneys chest.  I sucked my breath in through my teeth when I saw that i could actually count his ribs.  Derrick leaned over Barneys very cold body and placed his hand gently on his flesh.

   "This is very bad Will.  His body temp must be really low," Derrick told me.

   "Look into the first aid box and find the digital thermometer, please."

   I was able to find the instrument quickly in the beam of the flashlight.  The kit was neatly labeled.  Although it opened out like a fishing tackle box, it was huge and must have weighed 35 pounds. There was a lot of stuff in there and by the time morning arrived; we would use much of it to save
Barney's life.  When I handed the thermometer to Derrick, I was very surprised to see tears rolling down his cheeks when I looked at him.

   "Are you alright Derrick?" I asked him quietly, putting my hand on top of his, which rested on Barney's chest.

   "No, I'm not Will. I'm very angry and I'm very sad too.  Who would do this?  This man can't be more than..."

   "He's almost 18 Derrick.  His name is Bernard David Coleman.  He was physically and...and sexually abused by his father.  He used to be a friend of mine...a long time ago.

   It might have been his father who did this, but maybe it was somebody else too.  He disappeared about two months ago with a couple of other kids and his father.  They all belong to that odd religious group over by the highway, the same one that girl Becky Willis goes to," I told him, surprised at the strength of my own voice and at the tears that had begun to cloud my vision.  I could feel anger beginning to rise within me. Whoever did this to Barney was a monster who....

   "Is he the one who tried to hurt..."

   "Yes Derrick, Barney and the other two boys, Jason and Aaron - the guys who disappeared with him - they were the ones who were harassing Ty that first day of school in the halls."

   I watched as Derrick quickly checked to see if Barney's arms or legs might have been broken, before he started to unwrap the rags covering his bloody hands. I bit my lip as I saw what was uncovered. His hand and fingers had been sliced to ribbons, with strips of flesh hanging loose in his palm.  Blood oozed from his wounds looking like black oil.  The blood dripped onto the Oriental carpet and slowly spread in a growing stain against the bright colors, muted in the firelight.

   At that moment, the chandelier lights began to flicker on and off then suddenly we were bathed in light.  I noticed that it was the only light in the room that had turned back on.  Derrick must have seen me look around at the other lamps that had been burning brightly when the power had died.

   "There is only one light fixture and outlet in each room that's connected to the emergency generator Will, but that should be enough," he told me.

   Moments later Ty wheeled himself back into the living room with a gallon jug of orange juice in his lap.

   "Got it Dad.  I had to go out to the garage and hand-start it with the spare battery.  I guess the other was dead and I brought some OJ too.  Barney may need....Oh My God Dad!  What happened to his hands?"

   "Looks like a knife or maybe razor wire.  I've seen these kinds of injuries before on clients I defended who tried to escape from the police over fences topped with that razor wire.  It's vicious stuff that should be banned for civilian use," he said with quite a bit of force in his voice.

   "We have to get him warmed up.  We'll worry about his hands in a while, but if we don't get this boy warm soon, his hands won't matter.  Do you both understand?  He could still die on us unless we get his core body temperature up soon."  Derrick now had a look of calm determination on his face.

   "Will take his feet, but grab his ankles, try not to get blood on you.  Ty bring the box.  Leave the OJ, he won't be drinking anything for a while."

   Ty leaned over and closed up the box, hoisting it into his lap with a grimace of pain. I reached out and touched his arm.  Tyler smiled at me a little and mouthed the letters "O-K."

   "Ready, Will?  Lift on three and we'll take him into my bathroom.  One...Two...Lift!"


   Will and I held each other sitting on our bed while the Paramedics worked on Barney and the two Sheriff's Deputies talked with Dad.  They had spoken with us too, but we really didn't know anything that would help, or so we thought at the time.

   It had taken two big County ploughs almost four hours to push their way through the drifts and blowing snow to reach our house on the outskirts of Fairview.  They had been followed by a Fire-Rescue unit, an EMS Ambulance and the two deputies.  Carley Johnston was the reason that
they were here in any case.

Will had called his Mom on his cell phone to get directions for Dad about what to do next.  After that call, the EMS Dispatcher had called me back and had stayed on the line relaying instructions from Memorial's ER to us and to their Paramedics, making the slow and hazardous trip out to Old River Road.

   The cool bath with very gradually increasing temperatures as more warm water was added had saved Barneys life.  But it had been touch and go for several hours until EMS had arrived with their advanced equipment.  Will's Mom was very concerned that Barney would have a cardiac arrest or a
seizure while we warmed his body up.  Neither occurred, but for the first couple of hours, Dad was very worried.

My father had seen and helped treat hypothermia before when he belonged to the Timberland Volunteer Search-Rescue Team when I was a lot younger.  Mom had made him quit after he had suffered frostbite himself during a long and arduous rescue high in the mountains that surrounded our former home.

   We had to change the water several times almost immediately because Barney had been so filthy.  At some point during his ordeal in the storm he had lost control of his bowels too.  He had been a real mess, but Dad had supervised our task of cleaning him up very calmly, continuously
reassuring Barney, even though I was sure he couldn't hear us, until at one point, Dad had slipped behind him into the big tub in order to hold Barneys head above the water surface.

   I had never seen my Dad be so tender and caring with a complete stranger, much less a guy who had tried to hurt me and had made thinly veiled threats to extract revenge for Will's intervention. I was really puzzled by that.  I think Will was too. I was seeing a side of my father that I wasn't aware of until now.

   An hour after we'd gotten him into the tub, Barney had suddenly become conscious and started screaming with pain and struggling to get away from us.  Dad and Will had to hold him tightly to protect Barney from hurting himself, but it had been my father's soft voice and reassurances that finally calmed him down before he passed-out again.  After that, we'd bandaged his torn-up hands and feet and the large gash on his leg.  We all noticed the blue tinged toes and fingers too, a sure sign that there had been some frostbite.  Like I said, he was a real mess.

   An hour before the Paramedics had finally arrived, Dad and Will had lifted Barney out of the tub and put him into Dad's bed.  I wrapped some "Instant Heat" bags in towels and we placed then in his armpits and between his legs against either side of his groin, near the femoral arteries, before we
covered Barney with layers of heavy blankets.  His temp had risen to 94.7 degrees so Carley had told Dad this was a good sign but were to monitor his vital signs every few minutes until the EMS crew or Fire-Rescue arrived.

   Dad also started an IV with fluids the we had warmed against our own bodies to replace the fluid volume he'd lost.  Barney had bled a lot.  He was still critically ill though, and could die anytime.  I heard Will mutter a quiet prayer for Barney too.

   I hadn't really noticed just how emaciated Barney looked until then.  His waterlogged penis and scrotum was shriveled and blue, but his entire body looked wasted and shriveled.  Barney had obviously lost a lot of muscle mass too.  There were other nicks and scrapes on his body, but the
ribs showing through his skin looked made him look like a POW survivor from movies I had seen about WWII.

   Will and I looked at each other and I could see the sadness reflected in his eyes.  No matter who Barney was, or what he had tried to do to both of us, nobody deserved to be treated like he had been.  Dad had sat next to Barney on the side of the bed, carefully taking his pulse, temp and blood pressure every few minutes.  Will took notice that Dad never let go of Barney's heavily bandaged hand too, because he looked over at me and nodded at the two of them, raising an eyebrow questioningly.  All I could do was shrug my shoulders in response to his unasked question.

   When the Paramedics rolled Barney out the door and into the ambulance, Will and I had been quietly crying after he had been carefully loaded onto the stretcher and wheeled, then carried to their waiting "bus."  So had Dad while he wrapped an arm around each of us protectively.

   After the door had closed, leaving the three of us alone again, Dad turned to us and swept Will and me into his arms.  Will had helped me to stand up when Barney had been taken out so I could watch through the large picture window with him and Dad.  The three of us wept together for Barney.

  We sat in front of the now roaring fireplace - one of the firemen had brought in more wood from the garage - looking at the bloody wet Oriental rug between us.  Dad had gone over to the bar and brought back a small bottle of blackberry brandy with him.  The three of us finished the whole
bottle between us before we went back to our beds, all of us slightly drunk.  Not much had been said.
Dad went into the guestroom and closed the door after kissing us both good night.

   As Will and I passed the guest room, we both heard Dad crying hard. I wanted to go in, but Will stopped me, quietly saying that it was best if we let Dad be for now.  We collapsed into my - our - bed and the last thing I remember before falling into a deep sleep, was Will saying a small prayer for
Barney and for the three of us.  Will kissed me on the cheeks and lips before laying his head on my chest: moments later we were fast asleep.


   I woke up very slowly from my deep sleep, feeling my morning hard-on pressing between Ty's butt cheeks.  The most natural urge I had at that moment was to thrust my hard 7" into him, but we hadn't gone that far in our ove making yet; both of us wanted to wait for a special time to do that.  Besides, everything Tyler and I had done so far was still such a turn on that neither of us felt like we were really missing anything or needed to press beyond where we were anyway.  Like everything else, both of us knew that anal sex would happen at the right time but not before.

   The pressure in my bladder got to be too much and I finally had to leave my lover and the warmth of his body to race for the bathroom.  I sat on the commode and then prepared to shower, when Ty wheeled into the bathroom too.

   "Happy Thanksgiving Will," Ty said to me reaching up to take my head between his hands kissing me deeply - I was glad I'd just brushed my teeth because he seemed to want to suck my tonsils right out!

   Thanksgiving!  I completely forgot with everything that had happened last night.

   "Happy Thanksgiving too Babe.  I love the way you reminded me just what today means," I chuckled.

   "Wanna join me in the shower you sexy guy?" I asked him.

   "Always," Ty said as I knelt down to receive his arms around my neck.

   Over the past few months I had come to associate helping Ty to stand-up with holding his hard body next to me, and lately, like this very moment, with our engorged cocks coming into full contact.  When school started back...SCHOOL!  We're OUT to the WHOLE FUCKING SCHOOL!

   Ty couldn't have missed the sudden shudder and tenseness that ran through my body.

   "What is it Will?  Are you OK?"  He asked. I could see worry and was it fear...in his eyes.  Fear for me?  "Will! Are you alright?"

   "We really need to talk Ty.  Yesterday and...last night, I just realized that we're out to the whole school...hell the whole town must know by now!  And Barney!"  I felt tears coming to my eyes when I remembered what had happened last night and early this morning.

   "Will?  "Will...what's happening Will?

   I felt Tyler's hands grip my shoulders as he pushed away from me to look into my wet eyes.  He must have seen and understood, because he hugged me even tighter than before. The past 24 hours had been momentous: outed and possibly involved in something vicious, even deadly if what
happened to Barney was any indication.

   "I'm alright Ty. I guess it all just hit me now, everything coming to a head yesterday and...."

   "I know exactly how you feel Will.  Becky outing us, the Coach and the guy's standing up for us, then Jamal and Kelly telling us that they're a couple and...and Barney too, after the four of you told me about him!  Days like that don't come along too often and actually I don't ever want another
like it to happen again...ever!  I know what you're feeling Will, but we're in this together, you and me, now and forever," he said then kissed me hard.

   We took a long hot shower together that Thanksgiving Day.

   We both heard the knock at the door before Ty's Dad opened it a crack.

   "May I come in?" Derrick asked us.

   "Sure Dad, we're decent now," Ty said chuckling a bit.

   I was surely glad he hadn't come in 10 minutes earlier and found us in the shower!  That would have been just too much!  By the time we were done and finally washed and dried, we'd drained each other's juices twice.  I just love the taste of Tyler's spunk: all herbs, spice and honey.  Right then a
strange thought just popped into my consciousness:  I wondered if Derrick ever thought about what Ty and me did with each other during those long showers and at other times when we were in bed together?

   "Can you two join me in the study?  There are some Detectives from the Sheriff's Office and State Police who need to talk with you for a few minutes.

   "Derrick? Have you heard how Barney is? Is he going to make it, I mean is he gonna be alright?

   "I think so but he's in intensive care right now.  He has severe frostbite on his feet and fingers and the cuts to his hands and leg are going to take some surgery to fix. I guess that may be the worst part. All the tendons, muscles and nerves in both palms and most of his fingers are pretty badly
damaged. He's going to need a lot of surgery to fix those injuries, but he's going to live."

   We both noticed how Derrick's eyes watered-up while he was telling us about Barney.  I was beginning to see Derrick in a new light - not only as Ty's Dad and my surrogate father - but as the kind, generous and caring man we'd watched help Barney survive last night.  And we'd seen him cry
too, watched Derrick shed tears of anguish over Barneys unconscious body while he held Barney's hand.  Derrick is a complex man, full of surprises.  Even Ty was confused by his Dad's reactions last night, but I think that's just the kind of man he is: He cares, no matter who you are, he cares.

   "Well are you coming?"  Derrick asked us.

   "Sure Dad, Ty replied for both of us before I brought his wheelchair over and locked it's brakes so my Babe could transfer himself safely.

   "Before we go in, I want both of you to understand something," Derrick said as he walked with us down the hall into the living room.  I noticed that the rug in front of the fireplace was missing.  I wondered if Derrick had removed it, or if the police had taken it?

   "Will, you know that I'm a lawyer, right?" I nodded my head affirmatively before Derrick continued.

   "These Detectives are going to ask you both some questions about Barney and some other things too. Mainly, those questions will be about school, what happened yesterday in the cafeteria and about last night.  If you feel uncomfortable about anything they ask, tell them that.  Neither of
you have anything to be afraid of; you aren't in any trouble of any kind, but I'll be there as not only your father Ty, or your friend Will, but also as your Attorney.  I talked to Carley a little while ago Will. She's still at the hospital because of the blizzard, but she agreed to have me act as your legal
representative.  So don't hesitate to ask me if you don't understand what they're asking you about.  Is that alright with both of you?"

   "Yes Sir," we replied together.

   Derrick smiled at us and started walking across the living room towards the den.


   After the police had left, both Will and I were more confused than before we'd talked to them.  They showed us a series of photographs of different men, most dressed in camouflage uniforms, holding weapons of various kinds. The detectives asked us both if we recognized any of them.

   There were two.  That odd looking custodian who had worked at University High before he'd quit and Will saw a photograph of Becky Willis's father too.  He worked at the School Board offices right next door to our school.  I think Will may have been familiar with another but he wasn't sure.

   They asked us about Barney too.  Both of us hesitated and looked at Dad before we said anything, but he nodded that it was OK to go on so Will told him everything we'd all talked about over lunch yesterday with Todd, Warren, Jamal and Kelly.  We also told them about being outed at school
and what Becky Willis had said about Will and me and the threat against all of us who are "different" from her warped sense of who the "right" people were and what should be done to everyone else.  We left out the part about Jay and Kelly being a couple though. That was none of their business.

   We had expected more questions, but the man who'd introduced himself to us as Detective Inspector Albert Hansen from the State Police Criminal Intelligence Unit had smiled and thanked us before he asked to talk to Dad for a while.

   "Wow, Ty. That was intense!" Will said to me as we made our way into the kitchen.

   I saw the jug of orange juice still sitting on the floor where I left it last night.  The bright yellow-orange color of the container was a sharp contrast against the tiled floor in front of the fireplace where the Oriental rug once lay.  It stood out, but what caught my attention was a small stain on one of the tiles.

   Blood.  At just that instant, the reality of what we'd gone through in the last 24 hours had hit me square between the eyes.  Like a movie run at fast speed, the day and night flashed by in rapid succession.

   I reached out and picked up the jug of juice, then turned and wheeled towards the kitchen.  I knew if I looked at my Lover right then, I'd loose it, so I just wheeled past him.  I understood why Will had been zoned out and shivering a while ago in the bathroom.

   I was almost to the kitchen - the odors of roasting meats and steaming vegetables were drifting by me - when I realized that Will hadn't followed towards the kitchen.  I rolled around and back into the living room.  Will as on his hands and knees scrubbing the blood-spotted tile with a damp towel from
the bathroom.  When he sat back onto his heels I stopped in front of him, the wet tile between us.  Will looked up and locked eyes with me.  He was holding the red streaked towel in both hands.

   "I won't ever forget what we saw last night Ty," Will began to say softly.

   "It isn't the Becky Willis's we have to worry about.  It's the people who taught her to hate and the people who did this to Barney in the name of righteousness.  I realized looking at this tile and cleaning up Barney's blood, just what kind of evil there is out there.  I decided right then that I'll do
anything I can to fight this...this evil monstrous hate." These last words he literally spit out of his mouth, but still just above a whisper.

   The look on Wills face was terrible to behold.  The look of pure anger directed at the evil Will now understood was all around us, softened slowly into a sheepish grin.  I was able to breathe again.

   "I guess I do go on sometimes," Will said while he got up and stood next to me.

   "Sometimes...maybe you do Will, but not this time.  I agree with everything you said.  What those two jerks said yesterday in the cafeteria...you know there were many more who believe that but didn't speak up? And Barney...what about Jason and Aaron?  They were all good people till that
religious crap started to fill them with hate.  Two against an enemy like that is always better anyway.  Wanna sidekick?"

    Will leaned over and kissed me on each cheek and on the lips, our kiss.  "Welcome aboard Babe." He whispered into my ear, kissing me once more lightly.

   I reached for the bloody towel still held in Will's hands.

   "Let me have that. I'll go put it into the washer."  Will handed the cloth to me.  "Come on, let's go to the kitchen.  Really smells good in there and I'm starved. You realize we haven't eaten anything in almost 24 hours don't you.  I'm a growing boy and I need to keep up my strength."  We both giggled as the reference to our earlier activities was clear to Will.

   The smells coming out of the kitchen and permeated the air were simply incredible, but when we walked in, Will yelled and ran across the room to hug his Mom.  Carley must have come in while we were being interviewed.   I smiled at Will with his Mom and went to place the towel in the wash.

   "MOM!  When did you get here?  How..."

   "I borrowed Janice's Suburban. It has four-wheel drive and the plowed road from last night was almost easy to follow, even though there are more drifts again, that truck is more like a tank than a car," she laughed.  "But I can't stay. I have to go back in a few hours."

   "How's Barney Mom?" Will asked, suddenly very serious.

   "He's holding his own, enough so that Janice is operating on his hands and feet right now."

   Carley bent down and gave me a hug and kiss.

   "So, how's my only son-in-law this afternoon?" She asked me.  I felt the heat rising in my neck and face as I blushed.

   "G...Great now that all the excitement is over," I answered.

   Both Will and Carley laughed at the same instant.

   "Gee Ty, I didn't know that you could change colors so fast," Will said as he jumped out of my reach then raced around the center island laughing. I chased him around the island a couple of times before he suddenly stopped and looked at me with worry in his eyes.

   "Oh God Ty, I'm sorry. Really I am. I didn't mean to run away from..."

   I grabbed Will and pulled him down into my lap, kissing him hard, thrusting my tongue into his mouth and didn't let stop till I heard a cough behind me.  I had been so focused on letting Will know that I understood what he'd been trying to say, that we both forgot about his Mom!

   "Ahh, young love. Ain't it something else Carley?" Dad said to Will's Mom.  They were laughing at our embarrassment!

   And Dad was here too!   I felt the color rising again until I looked at the expression on Will's face.  He was just as red as I was now!  We both burst out laughing too.  The situation was just too absurd to be anything but funny.

   What's that old saying?  "...if I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying...."

   "Come on, let's eat!" Dad called us to the table a short time later.

   Dad asked Will to say grace at the table. He took a few moments to collect himself before we joined hands and he started to speak.  It was the most heartfelt prayer I have ever heard around Grandma's old table.  Will asked God to bless the food in front of us and this house, in His Son's name. Then he prayed for each of us by name.  Will paused and looked at me.  He asked for Barney's full recovery and for God to protect him from the effects of the evils that had so damaged him in body and soul.  Jason and Aaron were remembered too, Will asking for His hand to guide and care for them as well.  Will and I had tears running down our cheeks when he leaned over and kissed me on
both cheeks and on the lips.

   "Amen," I said.


   The only sounds that could be heard in the pine forest were the soft hiss made by the heavy snowfall.  Occasionally, any listener nearby could hear the louder thump of snow falling from a pine bough, releasing its burden to fall to the ground.  There were listeners too.  All around the perimeter of the camp stockade fifty specially trained police officers, camouflaged in white over suits had made their way through the night's eerie gray gloom until they were within inches of the chain link security fence that surrounded the interior buildings.  Not even the sentries heard the silenced wire cutters
when they opened passages into the compound.

   The guards were all overpowered, disarmed, secured and then silenced with adhesive tape over their mouths simultaneously throughout the grounds - before the main force of policemen entered and began to fan out to their specific targets.  At exactly 5:00am on November 26th the reign of the
sexual sadist known as "Elder" Seth Bannister, leader of the "Children of White Destiny," came to an abrupt end when he tried to shoot a state trooper, before dropping down through a trap door and immediate escaped capture.  By the time the police had broken into and followed the tunnel, he was
gone.  Snowmobile tracks led to a side road where a car or truck had been parked, hidden as a getaway vehicle. They were searching statewide for him, roadblocks were everywhere.

   In all there were three casualties: a tall bearded man that would be later identified as a murderer and bank robbery suspect who committed suicide instead of surrendering; a young man who tried to shoot it out with the police, he remains unidentified and Elwood Willis, an employee of the Fairview School Board who died of a heart attack at the scene.  17 men were arrested and charged with various felonies including kidnapping, murder, sexual abuse of minors and terrorism.  The charges would continue to come for months in both State and Federal Courts.  Many of them would ever see the outside of the prison's they were confined in - for the rest of their lives.

   Two unidentified boys were flown to a local hospital by helicopter after they were found locked in a wing of the main building. Both were in critical condition with numerous knife wounds and injuries associated with severe sexual abuse, torture and drug overdoses.  Jason and Aaron were safe.
Barney had been wrong: Bannister had planned to make them both suffer much longer before he would have killed them during the throws of taking his own sordid pleasure with their bodies.


   "He's in room 403 East Tyler.  Remember, he's still heavily sedated and might be slow talking and responding to you.  And Tyler?  Barney looks a lot worse than he really is physically so don't act shocked when you see his face. He's very raw from where all the dead skin has started to blister and
peel off."

   "Thanks Dr. Rogers.  I appreciate you telling me all this.  I'll be careful too. Barney has already had more than enough happen to him without me acting like a fool." I told the surgeon who'd worked on me too.

   "No Tyler. Thank You!  What you're doing will mean a lot to Barney in the long run. Right now...well he's still very confused about what happened to him and his friends.  You know that the police found his father's body buried in the snow at that hideout don't you?"

   "Yes. Will and I read about that in Sunday's paper.  What should I say if he asks me about his father or any of the stuff that happened to him, Jason and Aaron?"

   "Tell him the truth. Tell him what you feel about those things if he asks you Ty.  He'd been lied to and manipulated by adults for so long, it may be that he can begin trusting again if someone his own age is open and honest with him.  I know this isn't going to be easy and if you want to wait until Will
gets here?"

   "I'll be just fine.  I think I can relate to where Barney is at right now and besides, I want to do this."

   "You and Will have a history with Barney don't you?  Some sort of unpleasantness?"

   "Janice...Barney, Aaron and Jason tried to push me out of my chair the first day of school. I was terrified.  Will intervened and Barney came out on the short end, but Will and Barney used to be good friends a long time ago, before Barney's mother died."  I told my doctor briefly, not wanting to repeat
some of the more gruesome details that I'd learned last Wednesday.

   "Now you want to help him out?  I thought teenagers held grudges a long time," she said, still obviously skeptical.

   "One of the things I've learned, that I've come to understand since my accident, is that life is too short to be angry all the time.  I was angry a lot.  Mom was gone, I was in this damned chair, I hurt all the time, we moved to Fairview, I had no friends except Todd...then Will came into my life that
day...thanks in part to Barney and his anger.  I've been exposed to the results of religious zealotry and hatred when Barney came to our door.  Something has to change, some good has to come out of all this destruction." I took a calming breath, then continued.

   "My life has changed because of meeting Barney.  Maybe, just maybe I can help Barney see there is more to being alive than...well that there's more to being alive than being angry and hurting all the time.  I don't know if he'll want to see me. I don't know whether he'll listen to me either, but I've got to try!  I've got to give him the chance to reach out! I promise that I won't stay if he doesn't want to talk to me Janice, but I do have to try.  Does that make any sense to you at all?"

   "Yes Ty, what you say makes perfect sense.  Carley told me you were a special young man. It's a side of you that you should show more often.  I think I know now why Carley and Will love you so much.  You are a special pair to come up with this little treatment plan.  I'll do whatever I can to help Tyler."  Doctor Rogers told me as she walked to her office door and opened it.

   "Alright Tyler...403 East - it's a private room.  Give this to the Charge Nurse and if he gets upset or asks you to leave, do that. I'll see you afterwards. And Tyler?  Good luck."  She handed me a small note on a prescription form for the nursing supervisor on 4 East.

   I sat for a few moments outside of Barney's room wondering once more if I was doing the right thing. I still wasn't sure, but I knew that I had to try.  From what Will's Mom had told us and Dr. Rogers just confirmed to me, Barney needed a friend or two now.

   I recalled what Will and I had talked about as I wheeled slowly to the elevator. It was on Sunday after reading the front-page news about the raid a few days before.  It was all over TV and CNN, but it was Fairview's own small daily that filled in the blanks and presented a clearer picture of the "Destiny" cult.

   We realized that Barney had no one left now. His Mom and Dad both dead, no grandparents or aunts, uncles or cousins: No one.  I felt really bad - for a long time - after Mom had died but at least I still had my Dad.  Will still had his Mom too after his father had deserted them.  Compared to Barney, we were very lucky.

   When Will dropped me off for the post-op exam appointment with Physical Therapy and Dr. Rogers.  I knew that I'd try to see Barney, Will knew too.  it's part of "The Plan."

   He kissed me extra long and hard before I got out of The Beast and made my way to the dreaded rendezvous with the masters of torture in the PT Department.  My boyfriend wanted to stay, but he had a Calculus test today and Old Man McDougal never gave make-ups, so he had to go.  Will
would be back to pick me up at noon, so I had an hour or so to try and speak to Barney.

   My hand shook a little when I knocked lightly on the door.

   "Come in."  I heard Barney's voice softly speaking from the other side of the door.

   I took a big deep breath a couple of times and used my meditation techniques to calm myself before I pushed the door open.  With a big smile pasted on my face I rolled into Barneys hospital room.

   "Hi Barney."

   "Oh...who...what do you want?"  Barney looked startled for a moment, fear, recognition and then the hint of a smile before a stone façade of indifference descended over his damaged face.

   His eyes had spoken volumes.  I remember my own façade all too well.

   Barney watched me closely as I wheeled in to his room over to the foot of his bed.  Our eyes remained locked together...I hoped he was receiving the openness I was willing to give and the understanding.

   "Well...Mr. Tyler Anderson, " he sneered.  "Where's 'yer shadow at?"

   "It's just me Barney.  We have a common interest here, you and me. I thought I'd just drop by and compare notes for a moment," I said to the boy in the bed beside me.  He looked awful.

   "What do ya mean a common interest?"  There was coldness in Barneys eyes now, suspicion and fear.  If he'd been able, Barney would be ready to attack...but he's so scared...haunted.

   "Dr. Rogers...the doctor that stitched up your hands, put all that torn tendon and nerve back together, she did the same thing for me a little while ago, only those muscles and nerves were in my back.  All I wanted to know is if you thought she was a good doctor?  See, I'm gonna have a lot more
surgery over the next year or so and I wanted to ask you...what you thought?"

   Barney had a growing look of incredulity on his frost bitten face; his eyes glinted of amazement and sudden relief.

   "Ohhh...I guess she did OK.  I don't have any pain except when the physical therapy guy comes by and puts these rubber bands on my fingers."  Barney held up his right hand.  It was completely bandaged but I noticed the little finger was much shorter in the bandage.

   "Yea, that's to keep stretching the muscles and tendons. Keeping joint mobility too.  I had to do that, but without the rubber bands.  So you met the PT crew huh?  Are they can be painful but necessary friends - I hope they're being nice to you here Barney?"

   "What you want to know for faggot?  Yea....fag...I saw you and Will embracing and being all lovey-dovey.  He looked like he was gonna kiss you too.  Is he fucking you yet?"

   It was there again...fear and anger in Barney's expression, sadness, longing in his eyes. The defensive posture, the false bravado couched in terms meant to hurt and instill fear. It was a game I knew all too well.

   "Yes, we are.  Oh, not the fucking part, the other part. Yes we are gay and we love each other.  My life has changed for the better since I met Will that day in the halls.  I have somebody who sees me for who I really am and loves me despite all my faults as I love Will with all his.  You helped us to find
each other Barney.  I never did get a chance to thank you for that.

   If Barneys jaw could have unhinged, his mouth couldn't have been more open.  But I saw a sly smirk begin to form.

   "So you admit you and Will are queer! Wait till I tell the other..."

   "Tell who you want Barney, we're out.  Out to the whole school. Will stood up and told everyone at lunchtime.  Heck, the whole town knows by now, so tell who you want.  I didn't stop by to get into a fight with you..."

   "No he didn't Barney.  Ty just stopped to say hello - just to see if there was anything you needed."

   The look on Barneys face flashed through another set of complex emotions when he saw Will come into the room.  His eyes broke contact with mine as he looked over at my Lover.

   Happiness to see a familiar face: that of an old friend, only to be replaced with that stone façade again. Anger and hate in Barney's eyes, but tempered by some other feelings that are hidden now.

   "Hi Babe, ready to leave?"  Will asked me walking in to stand with me at the foot of Barney's bed. Will put his arm on my shoulder.

   "Yea, he's ready to leave now that the faggot's boyfriend is here.  Go take your crip home and fuck him good!"

   Will's hand squeezed my shoulder hard.

   "That's right Barney, we're leaving, we've both seen and heard enough of you and your hate filled thinking."  I had seen that look before on Will's face, that day in the hallway at home: cool and determined.

   "You know Barney?  Seeing you today...listening to you now, won't replace the memory of seeing you near death on the floor in front of me.  Frozen, bloody and asking me for help.  Well, I guess we tried.  Sorry we intruded!"  Will was pissed!  Or was he just playing...playing Barney out?

   "Ready Ty?  I am

   "Yes Will, I'm ready.  I was waiting for you!  I saw Barney's name on the door and stopped in to say hello, maybe if he wanted to talk...Oh well...."   I turned around to look at Barney and saw the conflicts within him battling.

   'He wants to say it...come ON Barney,,,say it...STOP!'  I was almost ready to say it myself when Barney spoke.

   "Fags, God will send you to hell."  He whispered the words, his face wet with tears.

   Will pulled the door closed and we turned away from Barney's room heading to the elevators when we both heard the sobs coming from his room.

   "Maybe we should wait and call Janice.  Will I really think..."

   "Absolutely, he's really ready to crack wide open and if he is, maybe helping Dr. Daniels and Janice get him over the worst parts...I think Mom will support it if your Dad will go along with the whole idea.  The whole court thing and all."  Will stopped suddenly so I did a 180 to turn and face him.

   "If you're asking me if I think this will work, I don't know." I started telling Will.  "Do I think it's worth doing? Yes.  Will my Dad agreed to the whole idea of him becoming a foster father!  I think he's do what needs to be done, grumble once In a while, yell a lot, and he'll love every second.  The legal
stuff, he'll have to work that out with Barney once he agrees to come live with us.  Do I want to do this?  YES!  Does that answer your question partner?

   Will grinned a little before the look of serious concentration returned to his face.

   "Then call Janice and lets get the ball rolling."

     We waited until Janice and Dr. Daniels went down to Barney's room, before Will knelt down next to me in the waiting room.  He held my face and kissed my cheeks and lips...our kiss...before releasing me and laying his head on my shoulder.

    Will and I stayed in that embrace for a few moments before we heard Janice coming back down the hall.

   "OK guys your turn again.  Still willing to go ahead?" Janice asked Will and me.

   "Yes we are."  Will answered for both of us.

   "Barney is waiting then.  Dr. Daniels is right next-door; she'll be there to answer and questions.
   Good Luck."  Janice told us as we went back down the hall to Barney's room.


   "The Plan" is what Ty and I ended up calling what we wanted to do to help Barney.  Yes, help Barney.  After all that turkey and ham...we sat around in the kitchen just talking about what had happened in the last 48 hours to all of us and to Barney.

   Mom got the complete outing story since she had gotten caught by the snow storm too - and hadn't been told all the details yet...it's not something best told over a cell phone...telling your Mom how everyone in the world knows that you're gay and who your lover is cause he's standing right
beside you as you tell the whole school.  She understood completely - expressed sadness at Becky Willis' behavior - Mom was as amazed by last Wednesday's cafeteria scene as we had been: what the Coach had said and how three tables full of the "jocks" had stood behind us when Becky had made
her threats.

   Up to now, Mom had kept her promise to me. She had let me run my own life.  Hadn't complained when I spent days with Tyler, occasionally we'd pass each other and say "good morning" going out the door.  On the rare mornings when I was home, she'd ask how Ty was doing.  Very low key.
Mom had told me after the first weekend I had spent with Ty - I'd feel this way, we both would - she laughed and told me "I had it bad."  I think that Mon now understood how bad I really did have it!

   Right then I almost wanted to run into her arms let her tell me that everything would be all right.  I didn't.  Ty was sitting on my lap leaning his head against my chest.  I had all that I needed right in my arms.  Mom understood, I saw the way she watched us from time to dime during the
afternoon and evening.  The happy looks she gave us.

   Like some switch had been closed, my connection to Ty and what he was thinking grew stronger inside of me.  I had never felt this close to another human being in my life, Mom included. God, I love Tyler so much.

   "I'll just bet you were nervous...but there's more isn't there?" Mom was asking us about the rest of the story...about what it was like having Barney in the front room, dying.

   Directly to the point, assessing all of us.  Derrick too. The twists of fate that had brought Barney to this house, how the three of us coped enough, just enough, to save Barney's life till the Paramedics arrived.

    "Yes, a bit more, and now that Derrick is here again, we can finish this and go to bed," I chuckled. Derrick was struggling to zip his trousers up as he hurried back into the kitchen.

   "Two juxtaposed against everyone else..." I heard Ty mutter.

   "What was that Babe?"

   "You said," Two juxtaposed against everyone else," while we were standing together in the cafeteria.  I was just thinking how wrong we both were - thinking that nobody else would understand about who we are - being in love with each other and what that really means.  What really
counts when you measure a person's worth?  No, that's not it either...it's very hard to describe.

   Will, we aren't alone in our anger over what Becky and Erickson said. At least half of the others in the cafeteria were pissed too.

   Then last night, fifty feet away, Barney lay bleeding and freezing to death, because of hate.  We both saw the look in Dad's face.  We were the same: horrified, outraged and sickened at Barney's condition.  No it's not just the two of us Will. It never was.  Anyone would react to what we saw. There are good people all around us Lover; just nobody ever gave them a chance to
prove it."

   "What are you telling me Ty?"

   "We have to stand up to all this crap, Will; those people need to be confronted, they demand a response to all their hatred and bigotry."  Ty's face was flushed with anger.

   He was seeing the same image I had, of Barney lying on the rug, starved, beaten, tortured, his hands cut to ribbons trying to escape.  The police had told Dad about what they'd learned from Barney and from the raid on their camp and about the razor wire fence.  The worst part: Barney had been abused for years and responsible officials knew but chose to do nothing.

   "You're right Ty.  What can we do? I asked my angry boyfriend.

   Tyler turned to me and fixed me with very serious eyes, before they softened and finally he smiled.  Ty saw that I did understand and that I would stand with him, always.  I never had a question about it, but Ty had to be sure.  The look he gave me just melted my heart.  He did understand.  It
would be just the two of us to start.

   "We start by helping Barney."  Ty told us around his grandma's old kitchen table.  "We start with Barney," Tyler repeated sotto-voice so that only I could hear him.  Mom and Derrick were incredulous, totally amazed and speechless if the look on their faces was any indication.

   Ty looked up at me.  There was no question he was serious and there was a kind of pleading look in his deeply colored eyes that I couldn't ignore. I would follow Ty into the very gates of hell if I needed to, as he would follow me.  Together, we'd at least make a start.

   "What do you have in mind partner?" I asked him.


    I knocked on Barney's door for the second time that day. There would be no beating-around-the-bush this time.  He'd know we were here just because we wanted to be there.  Will pushed in on the door.

   "What the fuck do you want now?  Can't you just leave me alone!  I'm not supposed to have any visitors!" Barney was pressing the call button on the side of his bed for a nurse to come, but we knew that Janice and Dr. Daniels would prevent any interruption.

   "NO!  We aren't leaving Bernard David Coleman!  You were...are my friend.  God Dammit, Barney, don't you turn your head away from me!"  When Will had told Barney that he was...still...his friend, Barney's eyes had filled with tears and he'd turned his head away in an attempt to hid his emotions from both of us.

   "Ggghuu...Get Out!  He said choking back the tears.

   "I don't want any faggots as friends...you're both going to hell!"

   "Maybe we are Barney, but we aren't going to leave until we get said what has to be said!"  I told him.

   "The sooner we start the sooner you can get rid of us, Barney," Will told him.

   "We know everything that happened to you Barney.  Everything!  There are no more secrets Barney.  Everything is out in the open now.  The Ledger had the whole story in the Sunday Edition.  The whole mess Barney - you're just another victim of that hate monger, murderer and molester you knew as Seth Bannister.  Even before we were born Barney, that bastard has been doing it for years."  Barney's eyes, clouded and puffy with tears were wide in shock and surprise when he turned to look at us.

   "We know what your father and Bannister did to you...and did to Jason and Aaron. There were many others before you too.  It's not your fault Barney. They deliberately fucked your mind and your body to make you change into one of them."  I added quietly.

   Something seemed to break in Barney at that moment, all the anger, rage and raw hatred for his abusers exploded in a terrible fit of screaming, cursing and pure frustration.  If his hands worked, he'd have been throwing anything close-by.  It was probably a good thing that his feet were so sore
from the injuries, frostbite and the loss of his little toe on both feet, that he couldn't get up.  As it was, I'd never seen anything like it, before or since.  But no one entered his room to see what was happening.

   That was part of "The Plan" too.  This was up to us, the three of us - me, Will and Barney, to work out for now.  Well, Janice and Dr. Daniel's had warned us, but we also knew they were watching on closed circuit TV, just in case.

   After about 10 full minutes of watching Barney's rage, he started to calm down some; the tears and moans of anguish were all that seemed to be left.  I tried to reach out and touch his hand, but Barney flinched away, at first with a hostile and suspicious look that slowly altered to one of growing
understanding and wonder.  Was he willing to listen now?

   "Barney?  Barney, Tyler and I are here because we care about you!  We want to help you get over this.  We won't walk out on you, won't abandon you.  You are too valuable a human being to lost to hate and pain.  We want you to be safe, safe with us until you're better and can...can find
your own way again, without fear and anxiety making you look over your shoulder all the time," my partner told Barney.

   "Barney?  Please just listen to what we have to say? Please Barney, just listen for a minute or two?" I asked him.

   Will was on one side of his bed and I was sitting in my chair on the other watching the pain and anguish in Barney's face.  His whole aura told us a lot too: he had hit bottom.  The reality of his situation had hit him very hard.  He was alone and scared to death - which wasn't too far a stretch considering what he'd just survived.  I could feel my own emotions would bubble over at any
moment too, when Barney surprised us both.  He reached out for our hands.

   "Help me...help me ...please, help me, Will?  Tyler?  I don't know what...what...to do,"  Barney said to us in a hoarse whisper, barely audible.

   Will stood over Barney in a second, reaching out and taking the damaged hand that Barney slowly raised to meet Will's.  I reached over and took his other heavily bandaged hand into mine.  He broke down.  But Will and I, even with our own eyes full had to get him to agree come live with us...with
Dad as his guardian.  Barney wasn't 18 yet, and he needed a safe place to go.  A place that would accept him for who he is now, understanding where Barney has been and what that experience may have done to him.

   Will and I had insisted that place was with us - Dad, Carley, Janice and Dr. Daniels had been convinced over the past two days. It hadn't been hard to do.

   Susannah Daniels was downright enthusiastic about "The Plan."  A highly regarded child and adolescent psychiatrist: "Suzie" specialized in abuse cases.  Carley and Janice trusted her and to me that meant a lot.  After talking to her about why we felt that we had to at least try to help Barney,
both Will and I trusted her too.  We'd all do what she tells us to do for Barney's recovery.

   All of those images flashed before me when I took Barney's hand into mine.

   Dr. Daniels knocked on the door then came into Barney's room.

   "I guess everything is all right in here now?" Suzie asked us all.

   Suzie was met by three heads nodding up and down in response to her question, then she smiled at us, said "Kay" and left.

   "Barney?"  Both Will and I said at the same time.  We looked at each other and burst out laughing. The sounds of Barney laughing too broke the almost unbearable tension that had built up in the room.  We were all breathing hard when we stopped.  Will and I still held Barneys hands and I
could feel his damaged fingers trying to squeeze mine.

    "Barney?" I said.  "Look...we want you to come and stay with my Dad and Will and me at our house."  I saw him startle and start to pull back his hand, but I didn't let go.

   "Barney, you'll be safe with us. Dad wants you to stay in our house too.  Barney...we helped my Dad save your life last week...that changed us Barney.  Sure, it'd be easy to hate you, but we don't, because that just isn't who we are.  There's too much hate already.  Will knows the real Barney
David Coleman is a good friend and companion: a guy who's gentle and loves to have his friends around him.  That's why we want you to come live with us."

   "Barney I want my old friend back...I want to be able to go swimmin' with you at the old bridge again.  I want my friend back, Barney!  Please give us a chance to be there for you?" Will asked.

   Will walked around the bed and stood next to me.  He knelt down and I wrapped my arms around his neck before he lifted me to my feet.  I locked my knees took Wills hand and looked at Barney right in the eye.

   "Yes this is for real Barney...no tricks, no gimmick, you are in control of your own life for the first time in years, and yes...we are asking you to make a leap of...faith...that we'll never knowingly hurt you again.  Just talk to my Dad tomorrow.  He's your lawyer you know.  Since that...night, last week
when he signed the medical report, he asked the court for emergency custody.  But no tricks, it's just to see that your rights aren't being violated, that you're being protected, guarded and have your injuries taken care of too." While I told that to Barney, I could feel more of the tenseness leave his
body, so could Will.

   "I didn't know that Tyler.  Tell your Dad I said thanks."  Barney told me.  His face breaking out in a painful, but sincere grin: when Barney smiled, he pulled the raw skin of his face painfully.

   "You can tell him yourself tomorrow Barney."

   With those first few words Barney had accepted our offer of friendship.  Will and I looked at each other, he locked eyes with me.  We both were thinking the same thing.  The easy part was over.  Now came the really hard part, getting Barney to deal with his past and move on.

   Dad kept his appointment with Barney exactly a week to the day after he found his way to our front door.  Dad explained to Barney, a Social Worker and Dr. Daniels what the police had told him.  Barney had no reaction to the confirmation of his fathers' death.  When Dad asked him about what he wanted to do about the offer Will and I had made on Dad's, on everyone's behalf, of a safe place
to recuperate from his injuries.

   Barney hesitated before answering Dad's question, but he smiled a little and asked Dad if he minded having a border for a while?  There was a lot more that Dad talked to Barney about that afternoon, stuff that he won't even tell us about.  "Attorney - Client Privilege," he called it

   The next weekend, we checked Barney out of the hospital for the afternoon.  We took him home for a visit and some lunch.  He could see his room; check out the house, just to get familiar with the layout and with some other familiar faces that would be around from time to time.  Todd, Kelly and Jamal were waiting for him in the kitchen.

   Barney's color looked good and with the heavy padded winter vest he was wearing, you couldn't see exactly how thin he really was, but we all saw the quickly covered looks of shock and dismay our friends had when Barney followed Ty into the kitchen in his own wheelchair.  He had to learn
to walk again without two toes.

   Before he could react, the three guys were all over him, showing genuine concern for his condition, his injuries and how he was feeling...really feeling.  There was no faking the emotions being displayed there.  The tears were real and cries of relief that Barney was back with them - his oldest
friends - cut through all of us.  It was a wonderful reunion, years in coming.

   Lunch was a simple thing; we all took turns helping Barney with his food.  He couldn't quite grip anything yet.  Todd helped Barney to the bathroom, embarrassing no doubt for both guy's, but Todd literally "handled" things very matter-of-factly. I think Todd just wanted a couple of minutes to talk with his old friend.  The directness involved with the bathroom trip helped both Barney and Todd get over that few moments of unease.  They took almost 10 minutes.

   That would be our model too.  Barney would need "personal" help frequently while he healed so we'd work out something Barney would be comfortable with. But for the afternoon, the greasy grilled burgers and fixin's was just fine for him to manage mostly on his own.

   Both of us went back to school, although the place was abuzz with rumor and wild speculation concerning Barney, Jason and Aaron, no one found out about our own connection.  That was never in the papers.  Keeping that little secret would help us all, but especially Barney.  Jason's parents had him flown to their home in LA where he's being treated and Aaron's maternal grandparents will bring him home to their farm outside Omaha when he's well enough to travel.  Barney...well he had us.

   After school Will would drive us to the hospital, where we had dinner with Barney.  Hospital food has a bad reputation, but these folks must have been graduates of the school cafeteria cooking school.  We weren't allowed to bring our friend any meals, but several boxes of hot chicken wings were discovered in the trash one morning.  Three double orders of Big Ernie's Buffalo Wing's and white bread.  Awful, unhealthy, full of fat and other empty calories, but the searing chili burn was exquisite, the bits of chicken sweet and moist and the piquant sauce, full of flavor.  The double large
chocolate malts tend to take a lot of the burn away.  Big Ernie's wings are a local legend and for Barney, another sign that he was truly coming home.  Better than poached chicken a la hospital!

    Finally on December 15th, Barney came home for good.  There were no outward signs of celebration on the house, but neither was there inside really.  The celebration was in our hearts.  Barney moved into his room. Dad and Janice had bought Barney a full set of clothes...enough for a week or more; he had his own bathroom and was for the most part, able to take care of his simple personal tasks.

   Will made us dinner that night.  Roasted red-bell pepper soup, four cheese lasagna and lemon sorbet. Barney handled most of his utensils with special padding added.  It was a good start for all of us.

   The hospital sent all of Barney's things too, including the torn bloody jacket he'd worn during his run down the mountain.  Dad was furious with the hospital people and Barney had blanched ghostly white when he saw it too.  I saw Will pick up a small sliver of fabric from the floor and put it in his
pocket, picking up stray scraps.

   We got Barney settled in his bed and sat with him just reviewing the day.  He got very still all of a sudden and the aural waterworks, the safety valve for the soul, opened wide.  Each of us took a hand and rubbed his arms lightly.  'We're here with you Buddy,' the thought foremost in my mind.

   "I...I don't know if I've told you...but...I'm...very grateful that you came by my hospital room that day Tyler.  I was thinking...about ways I would kill myself."  He must have seen the looks in our faces because he quickly went on.

   "NO! I'm not thinking about suicide now.  I have more to live for now than I did a month ago and I want you to know I really do appreciate it," he began to cry again.

   "You don't have to say anymore Barney.  Will and I truly want you to be here with us.  We can all grow some together, huh?  You'll be safe here and we really do care about you."  I told Barney. Will and I scooted up close to our hurting friend and held him lightly.  This was the first close and caring
embrace he'd allowed before so we made the most of it, speaking softly and gently to him, wiping the tears from his face with tissues, reassuring him that he would be safe here with us.

   Will carefully unwrapped the bandages on his feet while he was relaxed and still allowing me to hold him.

   "We have to do this every night before you go to sleep Bud," Will reminded Barney of those tasks that had to be done on schedule.

   "Go ahead Will, I trust you and Ty completely.  Some day...some day I'll..." But Barney got too choked up to go on.

    "We know, Barney.  Now just relax and lay here while Will tends to your feet."  He did and fell asleep for a few minutes.  He looked so peaceful.  I know that sounds cliché like, but that's the only way to describe Barney's countenance as he dozed in my arms.  He was still on high dosages of pain medication too, so he slept a lot anyway.  It was good for him.

   Will managed both Barneys feet, slaving the heavy antibiotic cream onto his wounds before rewrapping them in clean dressings.  Janice had shown both of us how to do it, how to change Barney's dressings. We'd even practiced on each other.  Will also managed to unwrap Barney's right hand when we stirred.  At first I thought I heard a gasp, but when Barney tensed I knew he had seen his hand and been shocked once again.  The line after line of tiny black stitches coursing back and forth, up onto his fingers; the stump where his little finger had been amputated behind the second
knuckle.  His hand was a real mess

   "Looks pretty bad don't it?"  Barney said, turning his hand a bit, like he was examining a foreign object.

   "Dr. Janice tells me with a few more surgeries they'll both look almost normal," Barney said to us.

   "Promise me neither of you will try to go over a razor wire fence in your bare hands, OK?"  He chuckled lightly and I squeezed him tighter.

   Will finished both Barney's hands, put away the supplies and washed up before returning to sit with Barney and me.

   I was sitting next to Barney on his bed, Will alongside me, when I reached out and took Barneys head in my hands. I gave him a soft kiss on both cheeks and his lips before I let him go.  He looked startled, but not upset. Then Will slid over and repeated my gesture with Barney.  Will smiled at
Barney too as if saying, "this is part of who I am."

   "It's how we say "goodnight" to each other in my family," I told Barney.

    Barney looked at both of us and with drooping eyelids whispered "sokay," before falling into healing sleep.


   Mom had left to go home earlier but Derrick was still up when we came out of Barney's room.  We left the door opened a crack, the hall lamp would be enough to provide dim illumination into Barney's room if he was to wake up.  But the medication he had taken would let him sleep the night through.

   "Well my young men...how did the first day go for you?  Come on, I made sandwiches earlier and they're still fresh.  It's been a while since just us had a chance to talk and I miss arguing with ya both, besides, I want to go over the school, study, sleep schedule again with you two. I'm not sure, but you might have bit off a little more than you thought." Derrick was insistent so we spent an hour over a late snack and an interrogation before we all said goodnight.  He told us he'd leave his door open in case Barney needed anything.

   As we were undressing in the bathroom later, I had remembered the sliver of fabric in my pocket before I put our sweaty clothes into the hamper.  There was only one place for this memento - I put it between the pages of our journal.

   "Ahhh, alone at last with my Babe," I told Ty as we snuggled, still damp and fragrant with the fresh smell of our sport soap, hair still dripping from our quick shower together.  It had been a long day.

   "I love you Will, more today than yesterday. You just do that to me Dude.  You make me love you more every day." Ty whispered into my ear while our bodies connected, erect cocks already leaking in anticipation of our lovemaking.

   "Ohhh, that feels so good Ty, you feel so good...and you love me."  Tyler was flicking his tongue around my ear and down my neck. The sensation went right down my body and made my toes curl.

   "I love you too Ty, I love you so much...you are the missing piece of me Babe.  You bless me every day because you love me.  And I'm so proud of you I could bust Ty.  Ohhh, Ty. Ohhhhh...Ty that's so good.

   My lover kept tonguing my most sensitive right nipple, while Ty's hand slowly pumped our two cocks together, soaking his hand and our bellies with the copious quantities of pre-cum our bodies produced.

   After another minute of getting ourselves more intensely aroused, I rolled around and took Ty's throbbing manhood entirely into my mouth and down my throat.  He went wild, thrashing on the bed, twisting his upper body and biting his lip to stop form screaming until he took on my leaking cock with his hot tongue and lips.  Then it was my turn to thrash and moan. Soon we were both ready, more than ready to release ourselves.

   When I felt my dick thickening and the spasm clench my prostate tightly, the gush of cum I produced was swallowed as it splashed onto Ty's swirling tongue.  The hint of honey, herbs and spice filled my own mouth when my lover pumped rope after rope of his tasty juice between gently milking lips, spilling across my tongue and down my throat.  I had another offering from my Babe inside of me.

   Just before we fell asleep, Ty kissed me softly and gently several times on my lips.  "Goodnight my sweet gentle lover.  I love you Will Johnston."

"I love you Tyler Anderson

End of Chapter Five

To be continued...

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