Skip - Part 10


Skip – Part 10

The brothers went back to school the second week of January. Skip attacked his internship in earnest, so it would be several weeks before we saw each other. The mail brought a card from him one afternoon.

"Dearest Aaron. I love you, so much. I fall asleep missing you. I wake up feeling complete because you are in my heart. I will be glad when I can hold you again. Your bro, Skip."

The Boston winter was very long and very cold. This is when I thrived. I hated the heat and humidity of summer. I had brought my cross-country skis back from New Hampshire after Christmas. On a Friday morning, around 7:30, Billy and I carried our skis on our shoulders to Boston Common.

We started at the northeast corner of the Common, right below the steps of the State Capitol. Snow was falling lightly. We tracked diagonally, to the southwest corner, at Charles and Boylston Streets. It was not a long distance, but I was already winded. I leaned forward and rested my hands on my thighs, breathing slowly.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah. Just a bit winded. I need to work out a little each day until I get my wind back. This sucks; I feel like an old man.

"Now, now, cut yourself a break. When was your last chemo?"


"I rest my case."

"I know. But when I slow down, it wins."

"It loses because you are out here, fighting, and living."

He gave me a light kiss on my cheek. "Don't argue. I know you. You're the strongest person I know."

After a couple minutes, we skied up the west side of Tremont Street, up Park Street and back to the Capitol steps. I was winded again, and then blood suddenly gushed out of my nose.

"Shit," I said, reaching for a handkerchief from an inside pocket. I dabbed at it, leaning forward for a few minutes.

"Aww, Aaron, I thought those were in your past. What does Andrew say about them?"

"Not much. He taught me how to control them better, though. This won't last long."

I was right. After a few minutes, I was okay again. We skied down Beacon Street and then diagonally again across the Common, back to the corner of Park and Tremont. We decided to go into Cambridge from there, so we went underground to the T. We existed at Harvard Square. Outside, we put our skis back on and wandered around the city until we were hungry. We ordered grill cheese with tomato and bacon, plus cups of tomato soup. I dunked the corner of my sandwich into my soup, and kept dunking and eating until it was gone. Then I drank down the remainder of the soup.

"Delicious," I proclaimed, sporting a tomato soup moustache. Billy laughed at me.

"You look good enough to eat," he said, smiling.

I knew what he meant, so I licked my lips.

"Oh, were I that tongue, those sweet lips" he said, smiling.

"Uh, then you'd be me."

"True enough. I'd rather be me, then I can eat you later—all of you."

"And `that tongue, those sweet lips' get a workout too, on you, my bro. I'm going to . . ."

"Wait wait. Don't tell me. I like to be surprised."

"Well, here's something that's not a surprise. I love you, Billy."

He did not say anything. He looked at me, eyes a bit sparkly.

"Aww, love, you've heard me say that before."

"Yeah, but it's always so nice to hear. You mean everything to me."

I could not top that, so I did not try. I kissed him on his forehead. We heard a soft `harrumph' from behind us. Billy looked over at a woman.

"What, you never loved someone, lady? I love him, and I tell him. He tells me, too. I almost lost him to cancer a few months ago. I love him, so get over yourself."

She got up and left. There was a smattering of applause from others. We paid our bill, leaving a good tip.

"Hey guys," said a young couple, holding hands in front of the window. "Good for you," said the young woman.

"That you love each other, and that you," said the young man, looking at me, "are beating the cancer. I'm doing the same. Hodgkin's, stage 2—but Marissa here loves me, too, and it means more than the treatments."

To show that they were not just words, he rose to his feet and hugged Billy and then me. Marissa did the same.

"Thank you both. We don't apologize to anyone, as you saw."

"Don't ever do so, either. I'm Jimmy. My doc is at Mass General. How about yours?"

"MGH as well. I'm doing chemo twice a week, and I'm responding well."

"I'm done mine. I'm doing radiation once every two weeks. It's working."

"I'm pleased for you, Jimmy," I said. My name is Aaron. Can I give you my phone number? I'd like to meet up with you when you have your next treatment, if that's okay."

"More than okay. Hey, we warriors gotta stick together."

We exchanged phone numbers and appointment dates. Two more hugs apiece, and then Billy and I headed home.

"I love couples, especially, who are so supportive. I know that not everybody is, but I can't ever see that love is a bad thing," Billy said, arm around my back as we headed back to the T.

"When we get home, I'm going to show you that MY love is not a bad thing."

"Oooh baby!"

"I do love you, so much. You won't ever stop loving me?"

"Never." I kissed him.

Moments later, Billy was on the ground, pulling me down. I was stunned because I knew he was not being playful. His eyes rolled up in his head. I heard `FAGS!" fade away in the distance. I looked back at Billy. He was down for the count.

"Help! Man down!"

Next thing I saw was Jimmy and Marissa among the crowd. Jimmy knelt beside Billy, holding his head. He pulled his hand away, covered in blood.

"Shit, he's got blood coming from his ear."

Jimmy told Marissa to hold Billy's head. He ran inside the nearest business.

"I'm calling 911," he yelled back.

"What happened?" asked Marissa.

"Someone clubbed him. I didn't see a weapon, but . . ."

I choked up. "I heard him yell `fags'."

"Bastard. Intolerant prick!" she yelled. Tears came flowing down her cheek.

I broke down. I had Billy's blood on my hands, too much blood. I pulled him to my chest."

"I'm sorry, love. I'm so sorry."

"Me too, Aaron. Billy's gonna be okay. Believe it."

I looked at Jimmy as he spoke. I nodded.

There was a disturbance down the street, but it wasn't the ambulance yet. I looked around to see two rather large jock types manhandling a young man up the street.

"We saw what happened and ran him down. It wasn't right, what he did."

I was speechless. I had no hope that the guy who attacked Billy out of nowhere would ever be found. I looked at them both, and then at the young man, no older than 18. He hawked up and spit on Billy's face.

"Pretty little fag boy ain't so pretty, is he now?" he mocked.

He was about to kick me. I stood up in a flash and smashed my right hand into his face. I heard his nose break. Holy shit, the power behind that was amazing, especially for me. He dropped beside Billy, blood streaming from his nose and split lip.

"You prick! I'd kill you . . ." I said, but I choked up again. My Billy was hurt.

"Or we will," said one of the jocks, menacingly. "Shut your trap, loser! You're going to jail. Harvard's finest just brought down your fucking sorry ass!"

Two Cambridge police officers got out of their car and walked over. I could hear the ambulance siren.

"Give him some room, folks. Please back up. I need a straight story, here. Who knows what's going on?"

The jocks came forward with their perp. "He clubbed the guy on the back of his head. We saw it from behind. He had a pipe. We left it where he dropped it so there should be prints and blood, his", the jock said, pointing to Billy, unconscious on the street.

The rest of the afternoon went by in a blur. I filtered out the voices and noises, holding on to Billy until he was put in the ambulance. I requested Mass General ER. I called Andrew and Claire once we got there. They came within 10 minutes. I called Skip. Then I called Betsy and JD.

"JD, Billy's been hurt. Please come to Mass General," I said, crying. "It's my fault . . ."

"We're coming, Aaron. No worries, love. I'll pick up Betsy. We're on our way."

We waited, Claire and Andrew sitting on either side of me. I could not stop sobbing. Skip was there within a half hour, having borrowed a friend's car.

"What happened, love," he said, running over to us.

"Some guy hit Billy in the head with a pipe. We were in Cambridge."

I told him, Andrew, and Claire the details. They were appalled. A while later, the two Harvard guys came into ER, looking around. Marissa and Jimmy were with them. They spotted us.

"Any news?" one of them asked, coming over to us.

"No. He's, uh, I dunno where. Andrew?"

"In MRI, likely. They'll need an inside look."

"This is, uh, I don't know your names. They tackled the guy who attacked Billy. They saw everything."

"I'm Edward. My classmate, Nate."

"Hi guys. We owe you everything. I'm scared to death for Billy."

I held up my still bloody hands.

"Come on Aaron; let's go to the men's room. You can clean up," said Skip.

"I don't want to," I said, putting my hands under my jacket.

They looked at each other, but did not say anything. They knew how I felt.

Skip pulled me close, holding me. I stared at nothing. The folks all settled in. The Harvard guys weren't going anywhere until they knew Billy's fate.

JD and Betsy came into the ER. On the drive in, they had speculated what happened. I filled in the blanks.

"It's not your fault, Aaron. You could have been hurt instead of Billy, and it would have been worse. Hatred causes this. I told you never to apologize, to anyone and to us, about how you love our sons. You understand?"

I shook my head no.

"Aww, love, what are we going to do with you?" Skip said to me.

"You and Billy are . . . lovers?" asked Nate.

I nodded.

Nate took my hand. "Look, I'm sorry about Billy, but the guy who did it is in jail. He's not going to hurt anyone ever again. The cops got the pipe. Billy's blood and hair are on it. The guy wasn't wearing gloves, so his prints will be there, too. I have a lover, too. If this happened to him, I'd be feeling what you do. But I have my faith, too. It's very strong. Think about Billy living, not dying."

Edward spoke next. "I have a girlfriend, but this is still hard to take in. I heard the asshole call you fags. That's unforgivable. Harvard teaches us diversity, and I have gay and lesbian friends. Nate here is one of the best of them."

He patted his buddy on the back.

"I wouldn't trade his friendship for anything. I love my bro. I'm sorry about Billy. I want to help you both. If he needs blood, or anything, we're not going anywhere. In fact, here's my address on campus."

Nate wrote his down, as well. He put both pieces of paper in my jacket pocket.

"Same for me, Aaron, and you all. JD and Betsy, we're going to court as witnesses against that guy. He's not getting away with it."

"Thank you, son," JD said.

"Thank you both, so much," said Betsy.

Nate hugged me. Edward did the same. I could not feel anything yet, but the words would sink in later. My network of people who cared was growing. The Harvard guys went to other chairs to wait, along with Jimmy and Marissa. A doctor eventually came in. I had been the one to talk to him initially, so I knew he was Billy's doctor.

Everyone came forward. I introduced everyone to the doctor, and told him that we were all family, here for Billy. He was skeptical about `family', but did not press the point. I introduced Andrew as my MGH oncologist.

"Billy has a severe concussion—probably you know that. He's unconscious, and will be unconscious for a day or more."

"ICP?" asked Andrew.

"Yes. It's being managed. I suggest you folks all go home and . . ."

"I'm not going anywhere," I said, without anger but firmly.

"Are you his brother?"

"No. But I'm responsible. The guy who smashed Billy's head with a lead pipe called us fags. You can figure it out from there."

"Technically . . ."

"I don't care," again firmly, without anger.

"Okay. I do understand. I'm the father of a gay son. He too has been attacked, so I do know what you are feeling. You'll want to stay with him?"


"I'll arrange it. The rest of you can see him for a few minutes, two or three at a time."

He walked us to the treatment room where Billy was. Everyone let Skip and I go in first. Billy's head was bandaged. There was already a spot of blood near the base of his head. I went over to him, bent over him, and kissed his lips.

"Come on back, Billy. You pulled me back, now it's my turn."

"I'm here, too, bro. I love you so much. Come back to us, love."

We each held a hand. I squeezed his a little. I wished with all my heart for him to squeeze mine in return. Not yet.

Skip looked at me. "I'll step out so mom and dad can come in."

Betsy and JD came in a moment later. They both kissed Billy and held his hand. There was no outward sign of sadness. Just a `we're here, son' and a `I love you' from both.

"Aaron, Jason and I thought about it. If it's okay with you, we'd like to stay at your apartment. We came prepared to stay a few days if necessary."

"More than okay, folks. Here, take my keys."

I handed them over. I told them there is a washer/dryer in the bathroom for laundry if necessary. They would be back early this evening.

Edward and Nate came in. They each held Billy's hands. They told him they caught the guy who hurt him, and that he was going to jail for a long time. They said they were sorry someone so obviously cool was hurt. "We'll come back to visit, okay, Billy?"

Each boy kissed Billy on his cheek. They each hugged me. "Call one of us, alright?"

I nodded. I hugged them back. "Thanks so much, for everything."

"Hold him tight, Aaron," Edward said. "I know what love is. Obviously, so do you both. My girlfriend would feel the same way about you. Hatred will die some day. I hope we're part of that happening."

"Me too, everything he said," said Nate. "I love the same way you love, so I know it's special. My buddy here tells me to never apologize, to anyone, for loving someone."

"I'm told that all the time. I don't. But Billy getting hurt . . ."

"Think about Billy living, bud. Don't think about anything else. Promise me," said Edward.

I nodded. "I promise."

Jimmy and Marissa came in. Like everybody before them, they stood on both sides of Billy and took his hands. Each kissed Billy on the cheek. They talked to him, reminding him who they are. I think Billy knew anyway. They, too, said they were sorry that Billy got hurt so badly, but they were going to think about him and hold him close.

Jimmy came over to me. "I'm so sorry, Aaron. I'm glad the guys caught the perp. I truly believe that people who hate will get their due some day. I don't hate. I know that we're going to be good friends, and not because we're warriors. You're on your way to putting yourself in here."

He touched his heart. I teared up, so he hugged me. Marissa joined us in a hug as well. We put our heads together. We didn't say anything for a few minutes. They each kissed my cheek, went back to Billy, said good night, and kissed him again.

Claire and Andrew came in. I don't know what drew every visitor to hold Billy's hand and to kiss his cheek, other than love for the man himself. Maybe love, to erase the hatred that had brought him down. "Come back for your love of Aaron, Billy. You do know how special you are. It's not your time yet, except here with us."

When everyone had gone for the day, I sat beside Billy in a chair. I did not sit on the bed. I was afraid movement would do him harm. He had enough hurt. My head was on his bed, his hand on my cheek, when his doctor came in.

"No, don't get up, Aaron. I'm just checking to see if you need anything."

"If I need anything?"

"Of course. I already know Billy is in good hands," he said with a small smile.

"If he is, I am. Can I ask a question?"

He nodded.

"How did you take the news that your son is gay?"

"Proudly. I have a son who loves. I have a son who won't have to struggle much. I'm happy for him and his boyfriend, who happened to be his best childhood friend. It was no surprise. He told us only to confirm that we knew. He would love his boyfriend, some way, with or without his mom's and my approval. He didn't ask for that, only for our love. That's what we gave him . . . them, both."

"Same with JD and Betsy, Billy's parents. There's another thing, though."

"You and Skip, as well. You three."

I stared at him for a moment. I explained that Skip, too, was a fellow cancer survivor. They were afraid of Billy losing Skip, so they held very tight. The parents supported that, and the love that went with it.

"Unconventional, perhaps. Who cares? Who is to say whom and how one, or three, are to love?"

"The guy who brained Billy will dispute that."

"The guy who did this is a loser and will go to jail."

"There was a woman in the restaurant who overheard me tell Billy that I love him. She plainly was not happy for us. Billy asked her if she ever loved someone. She left in a huff. People applauded us."

"Sucks to be her. Good for the rest of them. The two Harvard boys?"

"The blond, Nate, has a boyfriend. Edward is his best friend. Edward could not care less about Nate's choice of someone to love."

"As it should be. I've been happily married for 22 years, to my childhood sweetheart. I picked my son's mom just right. You picked Billy and Skip just right, too. Tell me this, where would you be without them?"


"And I'm to tell you that you should not love the young men?"

I shrugged.

"I'd be a heartless bastard, and I won't ever be one."

"Talk to Billy?"

He went over to Billy, took his hand, and, not surprisingly, kissed him on his cheek. Did he tell the others that that is the way to treat a young man in a coma?

"Billy, I'm your doctor. I've been talking to Aaron, and to your family. You are deeply loved, young man. I'm terribly sorry you had to experience the hatred of one, but I'm very happy that you have the love of many. Come back to them, Billy. They want you in their lives. I have a son who loves another man, and I support your love of Aaron and Skip. Don't leave them alone, okay? Goodnight. I will see you tomorrow morning."

He hugged me, kissed my cheek, and told me to sleep. Someone on my staff will be in to see you in a little while.

The staff person turned out to be another young doctor, Billy's physician for the night. Behind him were two nurses with a rollaway bed. He helped them set it up, for me. They put on a bottom sheet, top sheet, blanket, and pillowcases on two pillows.

"Doctor's orders, young man. You are to sleep after you finish telling your young bud that you love him. You are to ring if you need anything at all. These nurses, Talia, my sister, and Nora, will be here for you and Billy. Understood?"

"Yes sir."

"And you, young Billy," he said, going around the bed, taking Billy's hand, "your Aaron is staying beside you tonight. You are to rest, and let him rest. I will check on you quietly overnight, but I don't want any trouble out of you, got it?"

He looked up at me.

"Does anyone here NOT know that Billy and I are in love?"

"No. And don't forget about Skip. He's gone back to your apartment with the parents."

I rolled my eyes.

"I have gay friends. We who have `family' celebrate love such as yours. It will erase the hate, one person at a time. Besides, I hear that you have a truly wicked right cross."

He put his hand up in front of his nose, and then winked at me.

I smiled, and then laughed. "You're safe. My anger is instant and precise, but only where appropriate. Seriously, thank you all. I'm, as usual, blessed."

"Sleep, okay?"

I nodded. I sat in the chair beside Billy, holding his hand. When I was too tired to give him any more, I settled onto the rollaway. It took no time to fall asleep because I had no worries.

One week and two days later, after Billy woke slowly. Skip and I were there. JD and Betsy walked in a few moments later. The others had visited Billy daily, pulling him slowly out of the coma. That afternoon I called Jimmy and Marissa, and then called Edward. They all breathed a sigh of relief, glad for the news. Edward would tell Nate. They would come in during evening visiting hours or after classes.

Four mornings later, I brought Billy back to my apartment. He had decided between staying with me, and going back to NH. His folks felt better about him being with me, because he'd be where he really wanted to be. He could go back to college if he wanted, when he recovered. He would do that. Skip had gone back to school, wanting Billy to have a sense of normalcy. Billy did not need coddling.

The only sadness amongst all of us was that Billy was blind in his right eye. Billy's doctor said it was common in a badly traumatized person.

"I don't care about the blindness, love. Skip has one testicle. You have one kidney. I have one eye. It's okay. Maybe it'll come back. Maybe not. It's still okay."

"But . . ."

"Sshhhh. It's okay."

We sat in the oversized chair. We kissed a lot.

"It was so nice that Jimmy and Marissa came to see me, and to be there for you. When am I going to meet Edward and Nate?"

"On Saturday, for breakfast, if you're up to it."

"I'm up to it. Where do we go?"

"The restaurant where we had the grilled cheese and soup, that day."

"Nice. I really like that place. Good people are there."

"The Harvard boys are so cool. They're also heroes. What can we do for them?"

"Something. We'll have to think about it, but they definitely should be acknowledged. Can we get Harvard to acknowledge them, too?"

"I hope so. Let's talk it over with them to see what they think. My feeling is they don't want a reward, but that won't fly."


"Now, back to where we were, before that guy brained me. I think I was telling you that I love you."

"You were. Why don't I take you over to that fine bed and show you."

"Uh . . ."

"I know, no `rough stuff' tonight. In time. But I miss your cock. I want to worship your cock. Your cock is the . . ."

"Yes it is. So stop talking and, uh, suck me."

I went down on Billy's already hard cock. It was hard because I had been playing with it while we sat in the chair.

We lay down in a 69, sucking and licking. I poked his hole when he poked mine. Fucking would probably hurt him, but I could still give his joy buzzer a few hits. I did just that. He moaned, making my cock vibrate a little. I made him moan more. I sucked his balls into my mouth, one at a time. I rolled each ball around, as I do when I'm sucking Skip's ball. I licked underneath his balls and then into his pink pucker. He released my cock and moaned loudly.

"Like that, huh?"



I licked his hole again, deeper this time. He moaned and kept moaning. I got between his legs, lifted them up, held them high, and licked over and into his pucker.

"You need to fuck me. Can't do that half way."

"I dunno."

"Be your gentle self."

"Okay, but . . ."

"I know. I will. Fuck me, love. I need you inside of me."

I lay behind him, lifted one leg, lubed up, and slid my cock inside his ass. We kissed as I slid in and out, carefully. I gave him a long, slow fuck, the kind he liked the best. I held him close to me and kissed him deeply. It did not take long because he kept clenching tightly onto my cock as I withdrew from his hole.

"Oh man, I'm so close."

"Fill my hole. Give me your juice. There's nothing better."

I unloaded rich creamy cum inside of his ass. I slid in and out a few more times, feeling the slickness of my cum. I pushed in one more time. He clenched down one more time as well, squeezing my cum out of my cock.

"Do you want to fuck me?"

"Nope. I want you to suck me off."

"Alrighty then."

I lay down between his legs. I sucked and pumped his cock, nice and slow, while fingering his hole with one and then two fingers. I massaged his joy buzzer. He was already hot from me fucking him, so it took little effort to get him off. He shot five nice creamy ribbons of cum into my mouth. I sucked and swallowed his load. I looked up at him and smacked my lips. Then I lay beside him, drawing him close, and kissing him.

"I love you so much. My bud, I love you."

"You're my whole life, Aaron. It must have been awful for you that day."

"Worse for you, love. I saw blood and I stopped breathing."

"We'll just be more careful in public. The hatred is there, so we won't encourage it."

"But I want to love you."

"You do, magnificently, where and when it counts the most."

"The world should be more tolerant."

"But it isn't, yet."

"Someday, love, maybe someday."

We dozed off a bit and then fell asleep.

Edward, Nate, Jimmy, Marissa, Skip, Billy, and I met up Saturday morning at `our place'. It would become a regular Saturday morning hangout for us seven. We did not give in to the fear of the streets. We were not ones to hold hands in public anyway, but when I wanted to touch him, I was careful. I saved 99.9% of my affection for him in private.

When we were outside, he had to wear sunglasses. His depth perception was off, so I was steered him around objects as necessary.

"We've been talking about how to reward you two for catching the guy who brained Billy. Please don't say `nothing'. You deserve something, sincerely."

"Only one thing you can do for us, guys. Billy's sight coming back would be the ultimate reward. We don't want to know that that bastard left you partially blind. Billy, you work on getting your sight back, and then we'll be fully rewarded. The bastard is in jail. It's more than enough."

"But if I'm blinded permanently . . ."

"Very little is forever. Love is. We'll will you to see if it comes to that."

Nate said it so sincerely that we could not help but believe him.

We finished breakfast and then walked around Harvard for a while. The boys showed us things that the public did not generally see. They were both freshmen, so they would be here for a while, and we could stay friends for a long time. We talked to them, and Jimmy and Marissa, about the business that Skip, Billy, and I were going to make. It was a network of sorts, for cancer patients. We now thought about opening it up further, to trauma victims and their supporters. The boys liked the idea, and looked at it as a possible way to earn college credits. Marissa was a psychology major, so she was in, no sweat. Jimmy, the fellow warrior, wanted in. He would put ideas down on paper. We would talk about them next Saturday.

"Hey, come back to my place, all of you, so you know where I live. We'll also invite you to our homes in New Hampshire, maybe for a spring cookout or something."

We took the Red Line from Harvard Square to Charles St, and then walked to my neighborhood. Jimmy knew where he was, since he knew MGH.

"This is nice," rang out through the room. I pulled down the Murphy bed so we'd all have a place to sit.

"You who love music, pick from my collection over there. Put anything on that suits your fancy."

Everyone picked out one CD that he or she each liked. We played them in turn throughout the evening. I introduced the neophytes to Yanni. He was the hit of the evening. I had enough soda and beer in the fridge. I had gone shopping yesterday, just in case this turned into a party at my place. We even put together a chocolate fondue, creatively, on my stove. We made a mess.

It was after 2:00 a.m. before we broke up the party. Nate hung around for a couple minutes after everyone else left. I had a small clue as to what he wanted.

"Can I, uh, kiss you guys?" Nate asked timidly. "I just want to be a small part of you, just a little differently."

Billy pulled Nate to him, kissed him with feeling, and said, "That's for being my hero. I'm sorry that I made you ask for a kiss. You are very special." He hugged Nate close to him and Nate held on tight.

"Wow. I got a few things to show Bryan when I get home."

I pulled him to me next. I have him a kiss equal to Billy's because I knew how. I know he has a boyfriend, but this was appreciation and gratitude. He was a large part to Billy's recovery. I held him close for a couple of minutes.

When we separated, he looked over at Skip. Skip smiled at him.

"Before we kiss, I have to thank you, in words, for saving my brother's life. I know it took you and Edward to tackle the guy, but you both acted, so you're both my personal heroes. I doubt that I could kiss Edward. This is for you, bud, very sincerely."

Skip kissed Nate, hugging him the way he hugged Billy and I when we kissed. Nate held Skip and kissed him sweetly in return. Even after the kiss, they hugged.

"Thank you, guys. All of you. I told Edward what I was going to ask you. He thinks I'm hopelessly romantic. He's probably right. Bryan knows, too. We don't keep secrets from each other."

Skip kissed him on his cheek, the way Nate had kissed Billy in the hospital. I did the same. Billy kissed him on his forehead instead. Nate would not have been able to do that to Billy because of the bandages.

"You're welcome, bud. You tell your boyfriend that you are special. Make sure he treats you as such. I don't think he knows any other real life heroes."

"G'nite guys. See you soon."

"What a sweet guy," Skip said.

"Truly. We should do that for him, without making him ask."

"Agreed," said Billy.

"And, let's hug each other, without making each other ask."


January became February. Our newfound friendships flourished. Dinners, movies, parties, our business plan for our network forming and changing, becoming better, and skiing when time allowed. Jimmy and Marissa had rescued our skis on the day of the attack. Those who were students stayed faithfully to their studies. I laid that down as rule number one—education had to be a priority. We needed a broad base of skills for our business. People needed us, so talent had to be strong and enduring.

We included Bryan, Nate's boyfriend, in our lives—in the networking and in our private lives. It was intimate, not sexual, with us. Bryan felt that he had the capacity to be emotionally cold. The night that Nate came home, after kissing us, Nate changed that. Now Bryan wanted to ensure that love itself would also endure. He wanted what we three had; love overruling sex.

I sat behind Bryan one Friday night at my apartment. We five were dressed in jeans only. It was almost the rule of the house. Just jeans. The two boys loved it. I held Bryan against my chest, my arms around his. Billy held Nate the same way. Skip sat between us, hands holding Nate's and Bryan's hands. We listened to music, talked, ate snacks, and shared the friendship that we were all truly blessed with. We taught them that intimacy was not sexual, that intimacy was love first. I had a hard-on. I'm sure I was not the only one, but heightened senses were cool too.

They did not have to be anywhere, so I had asked them to stay with us overnight. At 1:00, we were yawning.

I put two pillows in the oversized chair, asking if the two guys wanted to snuggle up there. They said it was better than good. They lay down facing each other. I got a little bold, and they let me. I unbuttoned and unzipped Nate's jeans. I pulled them off by the legs, over his feet. I did the same to Bryan's jeans. I gave them a blanket. I kissed both of them with feeling. I waited a moment. They kissed each other with equal feeling, held on to each other, and snuggled. I tucked them in.

"Good night, loves."

"G'nite, Aaron. So this is love, Aaron-style, huh?"

"Welcome to my world, men. Enjoy it, every day."

Skip undressed himself, Billy, and me. We spooned and feel asleep, job well done for today.

In the morning, we joined Jimmy, Marissa, Edward, and Kathryn (Edward's girlfriend) in Cambridge for breakfast. From breakfast to end of the day, the day was full.

Saturday evening found us three alone, making love, and then falling asleep, spooning.

On Sunday, we had breakfast and then a late lunch. Skip and Billy left for school. Billy had missed only one month of classes, but had caught up on all of the work. He was a minor legend on campus. His classmates took good care of him.

Billy continued to live with his partial blindness, not as if it might return, but as if it never would. There are things that he could accept.

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