Skip – Part 19
Between a rock and a hard place; despite the cliché, it still sucked. I could not have chemo at all. The `latest-greatest' promising meds have stopped working. Andrew might as well be injecting me with water. He wanted one of his newest meds released for testing, but the administration in Washington was fighting him on it. Conventional chemo was much harsher. Andrew said it was not an option for now because of my propensity for infections. Standard chemo would make me brutally sick. I was already weak enough. We have talked long ago, about quality of life. I told him quality beat longevity.
The two tumors became three in short order. They are small, about peach pit size, but they could (and would) grow. Worse, they would metastasize. That's why Skip and David both have opposite sides of their chests and stomachs looking like implanted rope have been ripped out of them. But could I really tolerate the surgery, which is now high-risk. The rock. And the hard place. Crap.
Skip carried me to bed the evening that I told him I have three tumors. He held me in his arms for a minute as he picked me up, strong arm under my back, another under my legs. He hugged me to him and kissed me.
"I love you," is all he said, and all he needed to.
"I love you more."
I just kissed him warmly.
"Not possible. Where will you be a year from now?"
"I couldn't care less about a year from now."
"You won't go against your `live in the moments' philosophy, will you?"
"But you could be dead a year from now. Where does that leave me?"
"One brother short."
"Don't joke. It would suck, unbearably. I cannot lose you."
"You can. You might. I'd all about my moments. Screw a year from now. Screw tomorrow. I love you in the here and now, and that's the only way I'll ever love you. You have to love me the same way."
He got really quiet. He did not argue about what I said. Skip touched my cheek and my lips with his fingers. He kissed me deeply. His eyes were moist.
"Love me now, Skip. Only in the here and now. I don't care about anything else. When I'm one minute from death, I'll live for that one minute."
"Loving the life I have."
"You mean had."
"Have. Have, even for one more minute, for thirty seconds, for one, and then for eternity."
He brought me to his bed. He took off my clothes and lay beside me naked.
"I don't know what to say, love."
"Then don't say anything," I told him. "Can I be inside you?"
"You always are, but you can be inside me, the way you mean. I need you to be, because I'm afraid."
I got between his legs, lubed up, and slid my cock into him. He wrapped his legs around my lower back. I loved my cock inside my boys, but right now Skip got the best of me, bragging intended. When I was hurting emotionally, I have to turn it off. I watched his eyes as I got into my rhythm.
I was inside him less than five minutes when I came. Damn! I tried to stay inside of him, as I always do, but I went soft.
"Well that was friggin' lame," I said in disgust. "I'm sorry, love."
"Sshhhh," he said, putting two fingers on my lips.
He kissed me, got between my legs, and slid inside of me. He picked up where I left off. He made me feel as if he have entered me first, putting my distress out of my mind.
"You are not a bad lover. You could stop fucking me today and still be the best lover in the world."
"Come on Skip, I give you a five minute fuck, not even that. And then I go soft inside you. That's not what you need at all. Geez, bro."
"YOU are what I need. YOU are what I want. You have a heart and a soul. Your cock in me is a bonus, and it's nice. I don't need your cock. I need you."
"I know, but it's still not acceptable. I love you. You deserve to feel good."
"And you deserve all the love I have for you. Love. Not sex. Until you can `make me feel good', then I can do it for you. A kiss makes me feel more than good, because it's from you. A hug—same thing. Looking in my eyes, and not being the first to look away."
"I want to be rock hard, and inside of you, for me as much as you."
"Since I ..."
"How much do you mean to me?"
"How much does your cock mean to me?"
"The world and the moon. Maybe Jupiter, too," I smiled a cheesy grin.
He laughed aloud, throwing his head back, stopping his motion for the moment. He leaned in and kissed me.
"There's the Aaron I love so much. Look, I won't lie. I love your cock. I love to suck it, and I love it sliding inside my ass. But I love you so much more. Here, for starters," he said, kissing my forehead.
"And here," he said, kissing my lips.
He pulled out of me.
"And here," he said, licking my nipples, biting them a little.
He kissed my chest over my heart, and lay his head on top of it.
"I can hear your heart beating, love, just for me."
He saw something that he liked—his sincerity working on me. He reached down and grabbed my very hard cock. He put it in his mouth and sucked me until I was even harder. Then he added spit to his ass and sat on my manly manhood.
"See what happens when you relax?" he said. "I really do love your cock, but bro, I love you more. I loved you before we met, because I wanted to know you. I watched you, even when you never saw me watching. I went home to jack off, fantasizing about you. I always came hard. When I ate my cum, it was like eating yours. You know I can `read' you. What I read back then told me you were special, and you are very special. I will always love you."
I pushed him onto his back and put his legs over my shoulders.
"I do love you more than I love your cock, too, bro, but for the moment, my hard cock inside of you is all I want. You have to remember that, on occasion, I are selfish. Does this not feel good?"
"Eh," he said, feigning indifference. He shrugged.
I hit his joy buzzer with my cock.
"Does this not feel good?"
"Oh yeah, it does feel good. But ..."
"I know. But, I'm fucking you until we come together. And then I'm going to lick up your load, give maybe half of it to you in a world-class kiss, and then hold you all night long. Any questions?"
"Yeah, just one. Do you have a twin? I'm feeling hot and kinky. I love when you talk dirty to me."
I did almost exactly as I told him I would. I fucked him while he fucked my fist. I shot my load inside of his mouth while he shot his into mine. I swallowed it all. I gave him a world-class kiss anyway. I then lay down, facing him, and hugged him to me. I tucked my face into his neck, falling into a deep and worry-free sleep.
Skip knew that if I did not stay busy, I would become morose, and suffer for it. It is January. Spring semester is about to start at UNH, so we signed up for a full course load, 12 credits each. I have not been so involved in college since 1980. We have two classes each day. Skip is taking Financial Accounting, Macro Economics, Business Marketing, and Business Management. I am taking Software Design, Systems Analysis, Macro Economics, and Business Management.
He does not want me living on my own, so we spend four nights at his townhouse and three at mine. We also take care of Billy's townhouse, including weekly cleaning. We cleaned it well so Mom would not feel obligated to clean behind us. I'm sure she checked once or twice, but we left her with no reason to re-do what we have done.
The days are full. We wake up at 6:00, which is usual. It gives us time to lie together in bed and kiss, or take a shower together and kiss. Skip and I take turns driving each day, or he drives to school and I drive home. We have classes starting as early as 8:00 and as late as 2:00. They are fifty minutes or 90 minutes, depending on day of the week. We have lunch alone or with one or two classmates each day. We have no desire to be on campus and not participate, so we shared bits of our lives.
At day's end, we cook a simple dinner each night. Our dining rooms are our study central. If we have reading to do, we sit on the couch and hold each other. Sound familiar? We do practice what we teach. It is nice to picture our boys doing the same at school in Boston. Bedtime is 10:00 or 10:30. We always face each other, instead of spooning. Spooning is better for three, and I selfishly love being in the middle. And we always kiss goodnight.
We joined the boys at school on the third Saturday of January. They have been back to school for a week, after a two and a half week Christmas holiday break.
I am sitting in front of Skip, while he holds on to me, in the boy's common room. We are on the floor, in front of the sofa. Kenny is sitting in front of me, reading. He put my feet into his lap and massaged them through my socks. `Just jeans' did not work as well in the winter months, for obvious reasons. I am constantly cold. I have a hoodie on, over a turtleneck. My blue jeans have a flannel lining, ala LL Bean. Skip took advantage of my coldness by rarely letting me go. Kenny brushed against my cold feet a few minutes ago, hence the massage.
"Bbrrrr, good thing you're a hot guy and a warm-hearted man, because you're feets are like ice," he said.
"Warm me up, bro. I'm cold enough that my balls are retracting into my body."
"Really?" said Skip, reaching down inside my jeans. "I'll be the keeper of the balls. Geez, bro, you're not kidding. You got less balls than I do. Seriously, let's go shower together. You need to warm up."
He picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, not waiting for me to argue, or not. I have no problem with a hot shower right now. I really am that cold.
"You okay, bro," said Billy, coming into the bathroom a few minutes later.
"Mostly. Looks like I got chills."
"Let's do some prevention, Billy. I have money in my wallet, in our room. Can someone make a run to the pharmacy? Vitamin C would be good, or maybe a multivitamin. I left our supply at home in New Hampshire. A decent quality cold & flu med would help fight anything off early on. Our bro doesn't need to be coming down with a cold."
"I'll be back in a half hour, then," he said. "It'll take a few minutes to get to CVS."
Skip stood in front of me, washing me with lots of soap and hot water. It is warming me up. I shivered for a few minutes when he first undressed me, but I am better now.
"Interesting way to take my temperature," I said to him, leaning against him.
"Or to warm your core temp," he said, holding me and sliding inside of me.
"The guys ..."
"... won't care. They know about us."
"We do," said Kenny, from a urinal around the corner. "Why waste a good hard-on? I never do."
We did not hear him come in. I turned a bit and kissed Skip. We smiled.
"Yeah, what he said," I said to him.
He warmed me up in no time. This is one time when a quick fuck is okay. Skip is not the only person with animal instincts. He shot inside of me. I came too, as he stroked me firmly.
We joined the boys in the common room again.
"I got Centrum vitamins for you, love, and Theraflu," said Billy. "I'll be back in a minute, with the drink. Kenny, I'm gonna use your microwave."
"Billy told us you might have surgery again, because of the tumors," said Kenny.
"Yeah. Andrew and I are discussing it."
"You'll need blood?"
"Ummm, yeahhh?" I said, wondering what he was getting at.
"Do you know your blood type?" Kenny asked. "I want to donate for you."
"Holy crap!" said Henry, our pre-med student, louder than he intended.
"Whaa-aaat? Geez Henry," said Kenny. "Stop scaring me."
Kenny is sitting with Henry, while they are both reading. Henry startled Kenny, who dropped his book.
"Sorry, bro. You know, right, Aaron?" asked Henry. "For starters, Aaron is one of only maybe 5 to 6% of the US population with O negative blood."
I nodded. "O negative is an awful blood type, for the recipient. I can receive only O negative red blood, without risk of hemolytic reaction, uh, a blood compatibility reaction. I can receive all blood types for plasma."
"But you need red blood cells during the surgery?"
"Yeah. I'm considered a high-risk surgery patient. My weight and lack of strength are against me, and we just can't fatten me up."
"Damn," said Jake. "O negative means it's doubtful that any of us could donate red cells."
"I can give to Aaron," said Matt. "I'm O negative too. However ..."
"They don't have to know that, unless you've been with multiple partners, bro," said Paul.
Matt cheered up. "Nope, just one. I'm almost a virgin."
The guys smiled. "I said almost, guys. Stop that!" He laughed.
"Anyone NOT know their blood type?" asked Henry, looking around.
"Me," said Vincent. "I'm practically scar free. Never been in the circumstances to know, I guess. I'll see my doc when I'm home again and get typed."
"Well, our bro, we can give plasma, and will, when asked," said Henry.
"What's plasma do?" asked Kenny.
"Plasma is helpful for clotting and stopping internal bleeding, which makes sense for post-surgery," I answered. "Go me one better than that guys. You're all over 17, so you can give whole blood to the Red Cross. I read in the Boston Globe that the holidays took 60% of their available supply. Just know that you can't give again for two months."
Nobody thought that was a bad idea. Jake and Jeremy have given blood in the past, but not recently. Same for Matt, but he stopped when he made his self-discovery.
"As long as you're not being foolish, bro, and aren't HIV+, you can donate. It's up to you to disclose or not. If you disclose that you're gay-by-stupid-label (the common usage around our boys), they will turn you down. Henry too. Not an issue for David or Skip anyway, because of their cancers. Billy also would follow his conscience. However, my opinion is that you four are okay, and that the `policy' is homophobic. Just my 2¢, for what it's worth."
"Anyone wanna make a trip in to Boston one afternoon with me," said Ste. "I'm past my last donation by six months."
Everyone but Matt, Henry, Sam, and Billy said that they would. The four boys will think about it. I knew that Sam and Billy could donate in clear conscience if they wanted to. I also did not doubt Matt and Henry, but how honest were their boyfriends about history. They were newly out last year, and have long-time friends for boyfriends. That was their business.
"I'm not crazy about needles," said Brian, "but for Aaron, that's a no-brainer."
"I started donating at 17. I also donated platelets for a friend of a friend twice a week for a few months when I worked in New York City. I can't donate any more. That's a big hit to my morale, because it's a way to be very helpful to a person in need. It's individual choice, though, guys, so no worries. I'm not in immediate need anyway."
"If any of you guys decide not to, maybe someone in your family will donate in Aaron's name, or in general just because someone else needs the blood," said Billy. "It's okay to be afraid of a needle. Lots of people are. I'm not. I just have to think for a couple days. I could get tested, too. Not a bad idea, really. At least if I withhold that I'm gay-by-stupid-label, I can do so with a clear conscience."
"Me too," echoed amongst Sam, Matt, and Henry." They all liked the idea.
"I will ask Tim to do the same," said Henry. "I know he will."
"I will ask Marc, too," said Matt. "I'm sure he will, too."
Um, Kenny, what's your weight?" I asked.
"You're good then. 110 is the minimum weight. Man! That was a long trail from talking about potential surgery."
"Not a bad discussion to have, bro," said Billy. "If one person needs blood, it makes sense that someone else does."
"Hey, it's snowing again," said Jake. "Let's go out. Anyone?"
In answer, we all put down our books and went to our rooms for boots and jackets. Sam put his boots and jacket back on in the common room, since he was visiting today. Kenny brought me an extra scarf.
"You, bro, don't want a cold. I thought about it just now too. Any of us who gets a cold should be off limits to your sweet lips."
"Do you have a cold now, bro?" I asked him.
"Pucker up, baby. My sweet lips wouldn't mind your sweet lips."
"Me too, Kenny," said Brian.
"Me three, Kenny," said David.
"My turn," said Ste, but he kissed me instead.
"Rebel!" I said.
"Guilty. And unpredictable," he said, smiling. He kissed me again, with feeling.
"Someone should kiss me," said Jake. "Someone who loves me. I'm not picky, really. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? "
Jeremy kissed him. They hugged while they cracked up. "Good one, Bueller. Yes, I do love you, bro. Not loving you would be not loving myself."
"Okay, guys, outside," said Paul. "We're burning daylight here. Then we can go for dinner."
"You guys all got T passes?" I asked.
Everybody said yes except for Sam. "Mine's at my dorm room."
I handed him my spare from my wallet, showing that it is indeed a spare.
"Let's go to our favorite diner, but on one condition."
"How about no conditions, Aaron?" said Vincent. "We can fend for ourselves, bro. It's too expensive, if you treat, even with cheaper meals."
"It's not a condition that's open for discussion, which you already know," I countered, giving him attitude with my hands on my hips, smiling.
I expected a discussion anyway. I hugged him for being thoughtful, but he would not win the argument.
I stood chest to chest with him.
"You know our bro," said Skip. "He likes to treat sometimes. Don't deny him, huh? How about Chinatown instead of the diner. We can order individually and then share. Easy on Aaron's pocket, and on your consciences. I know a couple places that handle large parties with little bother."
"Now I'd be okay with that," said Vincent. "Sorry, my bro, I don't mean to be contrary. I know you like to treat. If you couldn't afford to, you wouldn't offer."
"No harm, no foul, love," I said, kissing him again. "Let's get some snowman making done. We can work up an appetite."
"Whoo hoo!" said the group as we all headed down the stairs in one thundering herd."
We made four very large snowmen. [Billy would call me later in the week to tell me that those four snowmen ended up with caps, carrot noses, scarves, and twigs for arms, courtesy of unknown students. Spread a little fun for no cost. If it makes students happy, even for a few moments, life is good.]
We made a family of three snow people (Papa, Mama, and Baby) outside the Chinese restaurant as well. Maybe one more person will see them and smile, just a little. It's what I'm supposed to do while I'm here—make people happy and to have fun.
We lucked out in finding a slower night, so the staff put three tables together for us all to sit as one. We had a blast at the restaurant. Everyone ordered their favorite dinner and then we moved plates around the table. Even I ate a lot of food. Skip and I held hands under the table. Jake, to my right, saw us. He kissed me on my cheek. Paul, to Skip's left saw us as well. He whispered into Skip's ear and then kissed him on his cheek.
Skip kissed Paul's cheek in return. "Pass it on," he whispered to him, motioning to his left. Paul kissed Ste's cheek. Ste kissed Vincent. Vincent kissed Brian. Brian kissed Jerry. Jerry kissed Jeremy. Jeremy kissed David. David kissed Sam. Sam kissed Henry. Henry kissed Greg. Greg kissed Kenny. Kenny kissed Jessie. Jessie kissed Matt. Matt kissed Billy. Billy kissed Jake. Jake kissed me, again. I kissed Skip.
"Wow. It's true, bro," I said. "What goes around comes around. God bless you."
"God bless Skip," said Paul, raising his soda glass.
"God bless Skip," rang out around the table, glasses clinking.
"God blessed me with Billy, and his beautiful love for me. You guys know everything possible about us, and you support us anyway. I am twice blessed with our Aaron. I am triple blessed with you guys, every one of you, your hearts, and your souls. I wouldn't trade any one of you for someone new. He does bless us all."
"Amen," said everyone at once.
After dinner, we headed back to the T and to school. We put everything in our rooms. Skip and I will sleep in Billy's bed, and Billy with Ste. Sam always sleeps with David. Patrick arrived later, having been out with his girlfriend for dinner. He will bunk with Matt.
"You know I'm gay," said Matt, the first time that Patrick wanted to stay over as well.
"I do. And I don't care. Gay because someone thinks he or she can label you. Can you hold me, and keep me warm?" he said with a smile. "Or would you let me hold you, and keep you warm?"
"Of course, either way."
"You and Sam, David, Billy, and Henry are more than that friggin' label allows you to be. Skip and Aaron, too, and then some. If the homophobes are going to label you, let them, but don't label yourself. Stop saying you're gay like it's a bad thing. Really."
Matt nodded, and smiled. "Patrick, will you have my baby?"
We cracked up. Nice humor. And nice sentiment. I think we need a DNA sample from Patrick to inject into the US water supply, for starters. I do not want world domination. I want hate to die.
The guys started shutting down as the evening went on. David and Matt carried Sam and Patrick to their room. Matt is stronger than he looks. He's of average build, and so is Patrick. Matt lifted him as David, our tall boy, would lift Kenny, our compact boy.
Jake threw Jeremy over his shoulder. They are not roommates but they obviously have naughtiness in mind.
"Good night, loves," they said, together. "Thanks for dinner, Aaron."
"Are you two going to behave yourselves in your room?" I asked.
"Nope. We're gonna beat our meat," Jeremy said, hanging almost upside down. "Free show down the hall, guys!"
We all laughed. If I were not such a prude, I would go and enjoy the free show.
Paul and Kenny joined Jake and Jeremy, a weekly activity at least. Don't knock it; it improved morale around here. Henry and Jerry went to their room with arms around each other's shoulders. Greg hugged Brian and walked him down the hall. Vincent and Jessie paired up and went to bed.
Some were going to bed to sleep, depending on when they jacked off last. Matt, David, and Sam would jack off as well. I don't think Patrick is one for the sidelines, so that will make four j/o buddies tonight.
Skip and I, Billy and Ste would wait until morning. We would rather just hold each other tonight. The day had been full, and good.
"Good morning, loves," said Billy to Skip and me, kissing us awake gently. "It's after 8:00 and we're up, in more ways than one. Come join us."
Skip and I have no problem rising to the occasion. We threw the covers aside, showing our morning wood. We have morning wood because we have been awake at least a half hour before our roommates. We played enough to stay hard.
We stood in front of the boys, me in front of Ste. They both lay back, so we straddled each boy's chest. Ste reached up and stroked my cock. He pulled my foreskin back and lightly licked the head of my cock, to moisten it. He gave my cock the attention that he would give his own. I will take care of his in a while. Ste made this all about me. He got a bit brave this time and ran his finger over my pucker. He looked at me with questioning eyes.
"Anything you want, bro. I know that you finger your own hole. Go for it."
He sucked on his finger for a moment and probed inside me. He found my joy buzzer but hit it very lightly, for now. He licked my cock head again, adding a small amount of spit. I bent down and kissed him. Skip's hand was across my shoulder, mine across his waist. Billy gave Skip's cock expert attention. He sucked him and stroked him alternately.
Skip was the first to fire off. He came in Billy's mouth. Billy gave some of it back to Skip in a kiss. I forget the term for that. Duh, it came to me as I looked out the window, at the snow. It's called snowballing. Swapping cum is what it amounted to, usually in a kiss.
Seeing Skip come into Billy's mouth made me tense up. Ste hit my joy buzzer, wanting my load. He opened his mouth and went down on my cock. He sucked me deep into his mouth. I pulled out a bit so I would not choke him with my load. Losing it all down the throat defeats the purpose of coming in a guy's mouth. We who like cum in our mouths want the taste, too. Ste swallowed it all, licked his lips, and smiled.
"Yum! I couldn't share that, love. You taste too good to share it around."
"You're forgiven. My greediness has worn off on you a little. That's okay."
"Thanks for the load, Aaron. I like it. I like you inside me, however you get there."
"Me too. I want you and yours, as usual, too."
He moved over so I could lay behind him. He lay against my chest. Billy lay on his left side, facing us, as Skip got behind him, reaching around for his brother's cock. Billy turned his head and they kissed each other for a few minutes.
I went down on Ste's cock, not what he expected. I saw him watching Billy sucking Skip, so I want him to enjoy the same. We three boys are more used to kissing and fucking than sucking, but sucking is obviously quite nice.
Skip stroked Billy's hardness. They kissed while Ste and I looked at each other. He nodded.
"You've got nice eyes, Ste."
"Nothin' special, but I see your soul in yours, bro."
"Special enough that I know you not only have good soul, but a very good heart."
He kissed me, and I kissed him back. I went back down on Ste. He moaned while I sucked him. I also played with his balls.
Skip and I have talked about this. Ste meant a lot to Billy. Skip said that if it felt good, do it. Two overnights a month, at least, made sure the boys know we love them. There's not much love in a blowjob, but I like cock. We did not plan to jack off every time we came. In fact, we did not. When it happened, we would enjoy it for what it is. If it did not happen, there were many other things to do. Nobody was sexually deprived here. My purely sexual daydream is to have an orgy in the common room. I kept that to myself. Fourteen dorm mates, plus Sam and Patrick, plus Skip and me. Who would hate that? If'n you're gonna dream, dream large.
Our friendship with the guys was nice. Jacking off was nice. We all have cocks. We have all seen cocks. I have seen all fourteen in this dorm suite, and they have seen Skip's cock and my cock, both soft and hard. Skip had seen all as well. We all played with our cocks. It's what boys do. And boys jack off together. No one here hides away in secret, as if it is nasty. The showerheads in the bathroom are mounted on a high tile wall. There are no shower curtains for the house staff to launder. Up to six guys shower at the same time. Another thing—guys like competition. You can let your imagination run from there. I had even participated in that competition, and came in second. The cool thing about that kind of competition is that there are no losers.
On top of all that, I am not dead. I thoroughly enjoy a nice cock. Mine is a nice cock. The cock in my mouth is just as nice. It was not mine, which made it even better. Ste is just the right handful and mouthful. His dark hair is nice to run my fingers through, though he could not return the favor to me. He liked my bald head anyway. His green eyes are nice to look into. I also love lips. The lips connected to mine, as I stopped a moment to kiss him, now are nice, too. I like most everything about a young man.
There you have it. Boys, lips, and cocks. I liked all three, so sue me. We are not going to fuck each other. But we sure the heck are going to get each other off.
The `getting off' came after about a half hour of enjoying each other's nakedness, balls, hands, and cocks. I also fingered Ste's hole, hitting his joy buzzer when he asked me to make him come. I edged him, as I have taught him before.
Billy and Ste came at the same time. Skip got down on Billy's cock while I went back down on Stephen's cock. I sucked him the same way I sucked my guys. I enjoyed the taste, and feel, that made him unique. I licked, sucked and swallowed. I cleaned up all of his cum.
That was hot. Ste thought so too.
"My first real blowjob, bro," he said to me. "I'm glad it came from you."
"It was okay? I guess I got kinda bold there, but ..."
"It was awesome. Like everything you do, it's not half-assed. You surprised me, but in a good way."
"We can do that next time we're alone, if you want to," said Billy.
Like I said, Billy likes Ste. He's not going to `make him gay', but he is going to show him the full experience of close friendship.
"I want to. You might have to teach me," he said to Billy. Billy smiled and nodded.
We four went to the showers. Two showerheads were open, so we told Ste and Billy to go ahead. We could enjoy the view, which all of the guys thought was cool. I'm one who happens to like clothes, a lot, but when there are naked boys to ogle, I can ogle with the best of them.
When we were showered and dressed, those who were ready headed out to the dining hall. Breakfast could be an all-morning affair, so even the late comers get to have breakfast with someone.
It was past 4:00 before Skip and I headed back to New Hampshire. We will be back again in two weeks. The boys are great friends. My age difference meant little to them. I was brother, Dad, counselor, confidant, cheerleader, fellow student, study buddy especially during exams, a curiosity at times, a sadness sometimes, a jack off buddy at other times, and a friend. Where does age matter in all of that?
My only wish is to live long, so I will not leave them too soon. Skip is the reason that I would live long, and thrive. There are difficult times ahead. How we face them is the quality that makes us good men. It attracts others to us.
Andrew asked if I could return to Boston, for an extended stay. I talked to Skip, asking if he would come too. Unless I have surgery, I will be at my apartment. Even after surgery, I will be at my apartment, within reason of recovery.
I did not want to be there alone, not after being so much in love with Skip. He did not even think about it when I asked.
"Sure, love. When do you need to be at Mass General?"
"A week from Monday, in the morning by 11:00," I said. Today was a Friday.
"Let's go down on the Saturday afternoon before that. We can have dinner at Jillian's place."
"I have an idea about how we can keep our classes going, even if we don't attend classes. We'll do whatever we can online via email or chat. We can do mid-terms and finals on campus. It'll be harder than being on campus, but it could work."
"Works for me. Let's get your apartment down there set up for Internet access."
"Already done. I had the phone company come in and wire up another phone jack. I asked Andrew and Claire first. It meant some cutting into the wall for a new jack. No problem there. All we need now is a PC."
"Let's go shopping. You still haven't spent your Christmas money. I'll go in for half, of course."
"I'm ready. Let's go out to Durham so we can get the educational discount paperwork. It'll save us about 40%."
"Oh gee, I never thought about that. We'll talk to our professors while we're there, to get waivers on quizzes in exchange for research work."
"And I never thought at that. Two great minds, like a well-oiled machine."
We got the student discount paperwork and then went to a computer superstore near campus. Instead of paying over $2,000 for a mid-range computer and printer, we got it for $1400. My share left me with over $1200 to put back in my money market account.
Money is not a struggle for me. There was no insurance from the accident that killed Kate. The guy who hit us head-on was young and stupid, and financially inept. He had no insurance on his truck. New Hampshire's insurance law sucked. That was blood money anyway, so I would not have taken it. I was the beneficiary of Kate's folks life insurance. I have not known this until after her mom died. Kate had been an only child, so I was the only family left for them. My own mom passed a few months later, and had left me money as well. My first trust fund came from my paternal grandparents, in the mid-`80s. I drew only interest from it. Someday I wanted to buy a house, when I know I would live.
Kate's Dad passed over a year ago, and I got the bulk of his estate. My main source of monthly income is disability benefits. With greatly reduced rent in New Hampshire and rent-free in Boston, my expenses were less than $600 a month. That's the long version of why the money for a new PC is not a big deal.
Some of my father-in-law's estate was where my contribution to Sam came from. Even that was a small dent, so I would contribute each semester for him. The boy's parents have deposit access to the account, for any contributions they wanted to send on Sam's behalf. Their names would not be associated with their contributions. Sam would see only deposits. That being said, the boy's parents are generous to Sam.
I had brought him to the bank one Friday afternoon to show him how to access his account, how to check balances, including by phone, how to budget for school using Microsoft Excel, and how to set up auto-pay for his tuition and room & board. He has checks and a debit card. He had made me a promise to do a monthly accounting to me of the fund. I told him it was not necessary, but he said that earning trust would make him be responsible. He even told me when he spent money on himself, for clothing or a CD. I had made sure there was 10% more in his account than he would need for his total school expenses. He figured that out through his budget. He honored us all by being wise with his funds. He kept in mind that many of the boys were going on to get Master's degrees. He wanted to be there with them. I promised that I would make up for any shortfall he had.
In the future, he would never make me fulfill that promise, and he would even return money to me at the end of his education. It would be his idea to set up for a fund for others like him. We would find such a student each year. Sam would pick that student, and return the love that was given to him.
Skip and I went through help wanted ads from the Boston Sunday Globe. He wanted a job to stay active, since we were not on UNH campus any longer. Our professors helped make our courses an easy transition to online learning.
Skip had two interviews with a contractor based out of Cambridge. They offered him 40 hours a week, with the option of more if he wanted it. He would be working mostly at Harvard University. Yeah, Skip was good at finding prized jobs. His building and carpentry skills left mine in the dust, even though I have helped David renovate Dad's garage last summer. His work ethic was second to none, without being a workaholic. I loved everything about the man.
When I was not at Mass General, I was in my apartment, hitting the books hard. Skip did his assignments in the evening. I uploaded ours together to our professors in the morning. Instead of returning to campus for quizzes, Skip and I were assigned research projects. I loved to research. Skip, not so much, so I showed him some tricks to make it better for him.
After he got his first paycheck, he bought us matching silver neck chains. He talked to his mom first, to see if he was being stupid. Betsy told him that she did not raise stupid sons, only sons that know how to love sincerely. She gave him some tips on looking for quality jewelry. She also told him how to avoid being ripped off.
They were not fancy, but they were quality. They were made from titanium and had our birth signs, Pisces, on a pendant. He told me he spent half his paycheck on the set. I told him that that is a lot of money to spend on me.
"No. I would have spent my whole paycheck if I needed to. I love you."
He held them in his hand while we sat in front of our fireplace. My eyes watered up.
"I love you, and we belong to each other, so I want our friends to know we are more committed than friends."
Skip lifted my shirt and t-shirt off. I did the same for him. He put the first neck chain on my neck.
"I do, for as long as you love me," I said, smiling.
I put his on his neck.
"I do, forever," he said, smiling and then kissing me.
We held on to each other and kissed deeply. I loved him so very much, and he loved me no more, and no less. We took our time and made love, and then slept soundly.
Skip and I showered together the next morning at 6:30. He hugged me and kissed me before going to work. I do not feel like we are a married couple. We are not married, and it's not important to be such, but we are a couple, and in love at that. I walked him out at 7:30 and then I went grocery shopping. I bought something special to celebrate that evening. When I got home, I stuffed two hens and put them in the fridge for now. I will roast sweet potatoes and make a raspberry torte after I get home from an appointment with Andrew.
He saw the neck chain after I took off my shirts. He lifted the pendent to get a good look.
"Can I assume that this is one of a pair?" he asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. For friendship and for more."
"It's quite elegant. You bought them?"
"No. Skip did, with his first paycheck."
"Like I did, with Claire. I bought her a simple necklace, with her birthstone. A year later, I bought her an engagement ring. I know you both, so I know this is a commitment to you. Bless you."
"I am, truly. He says he is too."
"Don't say it like he isn't. He is blessed with you. Believe it."
"Skip asked me to do one thing for you when you got like this."
Andrew hugged me close. "You, my friend Aaron, are a special somebody. Those are words for eternity, not just for a moment in time."
"Thanks. I'm scared, that's all."
"This fits you both. Skip is a fine young man, and you deserve his love. He has earned yours as well. You love brilliantly."
"A little fear as well. I've made promises that I want to keep."
"I want to help you keep them, love. There should be no such thing as empty promises. We need to take care of your tumors one at a time. You can't stand up to one long surgery. I want to schedule you for your first surgery on Friday."
"Okay. I'll be here."
"You believe me, don't you, what I said?"
"I do. I love him, Andrew."
"He loves you just as much."
When I got home, I made the raspberry torte. I baked it and then set it aside to cool. I sat in the big boy chair and read for a while, working on a research project. At 3:30, I put the hens and the sweet potatoes in the oven. Skip arrived at 4:30.
By habit, he got naked, washed up in the bathroom, put on fresh warm clothes, and stood beside me in the kitchen.
"I'll set the table," he said, after giving me a hug and a `I missed you today' kiss.
I plated up our meal. I surprised him with a bottle of his favorite wine from the Napa Valley. Our dining table was the coffee table, but we moved it next to the window and looked out as we ate. Candles were lit and the fire was warm and comfortable. He wrapped his arms around my waist and put his head on my shoulder.
"Dinner is great. I love the cornbread stuffing in the hens. The bit of cinnamon in the sweet potatoes is how Mom makes them. Just right."
We finished the main course. Dessert Part I was a fresh serving of kisses and arms in front of the fire. I pour more wine before we sat down, facing each other. We sat crotch-to-crotch, legs wrapped around our butts. His shoulder was on mine, mine on his. He whispered into my ear, things that I loved to hear. I whispered back to him in answer. He smiled and then laughed, holding me closer.
"You are so beautiful. I don't know how I work for eight hours away from you, but I do. My boss is already getting compliments about my style."
"You have a lot of style, love. You like the job a lot, so that helps. You know I'm the reward at the end of the day. Also, speaking of style, Andrew is impressed with your gift to us. Elegant, he said. He says we love brilliantly, in his British accent that we love so much. He, too, has style."
"I think we are surrounded by style. But yours is first class twenty-four hours a day. My challenge is to love you as much or more each day."
"How do you love me?" I asked.
"With my heart and my soul, sincerely, deeply, willingly, and amazingly."
The words flowed from his heart, not from his brain, so they came quickly and beautifully sincerely.
"Wow. You're good!"
"I don't do anything half way, especially for you," he said. "How do you love me?"
"Every second of every day."
"Whoo hoo! That beats my answer by a million miles."
"Nope, but I'm glad you noticed how I said that, and not just what I said."
"I hang on every word and emotion from you. My little mind meld with you tells me you have news to share."
"I'm having surgery on Friday, for one tumor. Andrew is working on finding the one that is causing me the most distress."
"Give me a few minutes," he said mysteriously.
He looked into my eyes while he put his hands on my back. He scowled three times.
"There," he said, after several minutes. "Put your finger right there for a moment."
I reached to the lower middle of my back, just near my spine. It felt very cold.
"Now feel this one," he said, finding another spot.
"Warm and a bit of throbbing."
"And this one."
"Hard, like the one you found over a year ago, while I flinched during sex."
"Do you think you can show that to Andrew tomorrow? Get a good feel for where they are. Hard. Warm/hot and throbbing. Cold. The cold one is the troublesome one. Well, the most troublesome one."
I looked at him, trying to read him.
"I just know you, intimately and otherwise. You'll have to let Andrew do to you what I've done, so he sees for himself. I'm no doctor, so I want him to find the three and compare notes. If he says what I say, tell him that's the one he should start with."
I stood up to put a new Yanni CD on my player. Skip listened to the first two songs and smiled. Yanni is the best musician, by far, in my collection. My collection, however, was three hundred strong, and quite diverse. My earliest music is The Carpenters. My latest is whoever is on the radio in the top 40.
Skip made tea for us while I cut the torte.
"Wonderful. Whose recipe. It's got an English flavor."
"English is right. Claire's recipe. Light, not too sweet, but sweet, a bit of a tang from orange marmalade."
By 10:30, we were tired and full. We put an extra blanket on the bed and let the fireplace burn itself out. I went deep into sleep the darker the room got.
Andrew took me at my word, about Skip's diagnosis. I took my shirts off and then my jeans, so I was wearing only boxers. I did not want to make Andrew uncomfortable with my commando style.
"We need to sit quietly, so can you arrange that we won't be interrupted? This will take ten or fifteen minutes of your concentration. Skip wants to see if you feel what he did."
He went out to speak with his office administrator, telling her to hold calls and visitors.
I sat on the floor when he came back in, Indian style.
"There are three spots that Skip made note of. You've seen them from inside. Now tell me what you feel, Mr. Physician."
He sat down on the floor with me, knowing how Skip and I sat. We sat close. He closed his eyes and worked his hands over my back, top to bottom, side to side. By the time twenty minutes had passed, he found the three tumors, especially the cold spot that concerned him the same way it had caught Skip's attention.
"This one, love. It feels cold. I would say there are nerves around it that are dead. It's not getting any blood or oxygen. No wonder you feel cold all the time. This one is also very close to your spine."
"Skip said the cold one bothered him more than the hot one. Maybe the hard one is minor. We should start with that one."
"Agreed. The surgery will take up to two hours. You'll be able to go home on Sunday."
"Good. Tomorrow then, Andrew. Skip said he's no doctor, but he knows me well. He knew you'd find what he found. Maybe that's medicine, too, but it's the power of love as far as I'm concerned."
"He does indeed know you well. He's very no-nonsense."
I finished dressing. Andrew gave me a hug. "I love you, my friend. I'll see you around 7:00 a.m."
"I love you, too, Andrew. I feel better."
Skip was pleased that Andrew felt what he did. He wanted to take the day off and be with me for surgery.
"No. Please, go to work and be busy. Come and see me in the afternoon. It'll be two hours in surgery, and Andrew will be right there."
"Okay, love, okay. I'd rather not make Andrew feel like I'm the only one who can care for you."
"You are, but don't tell anyone else."
Surgery was far from uneventful the next day. I'm glad that Skip would not be waiting for me. Two hours became over three, stretching the limit to my endurance. The surgeon wanted to do more. Andrew nixed it. The extra hour had been needed to repair damaged nerves.
When I woke up in my room, Skip sat beside me, holding my hand.
"Hello love. What can I get for you?"
I gave him a raised eyebrow. He gave me a kiss. "That was a silly question. What else can I get for you?"
Skip poured me some from a pitcher. He put his right arm behind my neck, lifted me up a bit, and carefully let me drink. He held my head longer, to make sure I did not choke. The water was cold, just like I needed, so he must have known I was waking up soon.
He gave me more, as carefully.
"What time is it?" I could see that it was late afternoon.
"After 4:00 p.m."
"You went to work?"
"A full day?"
"Half a day."
"Skip. We talked about that."
"I know. I lied. Rare, but necessary."
"Why? Andrew is here."
"I sent him home to Claire. He was very tired. Your surgery was very intense, and longer than planned."
"Crap. What happened?"
"It took almost three and a half hours. There was nerve damage around the tumor, and bleeding. Removing the tumor was easy. The rest was hard."
"So I guess I'm not going home on Sunday. Truthfully it feels like a truck ran me down."
"No. Monday maybe."
"Andrew is coming back this evening. For now, you're stuck with me."
"Oh how will I survive?"
"Sshhhh, wise guy. Do you love me?"
"Lucky me. Do I love you?"
"Luck has nothing to do with us, bro. We've worked hard to love so richly. And we spread it around, too. Can you imagine life if you had not talked to me at work? If you had not cared for me?"
"It would be empty. The only person I would have is Billy, not the likes of David and Sam, and the boys at school. If I died today, I'd already have a full life, up until this moment. But best of all, I have you. I don't just love you. My heart beats because of you."
"We've made a lot of love. I thought, after Kate, I would be unable to love again. It was crushing to lose her. God gave me you, to tell me He was sorry."
"I wouldn't say that. He gave you more, because He was not only sorry, but knew you could love us all incredibly well. I see you do it, but I'm still amazed. What a blessing you are, to so very many."
"Amen," said Andrew, stepping into my room.
He kissed my forehead.
"As for me," he said, "I seem to bring you only pain. I wish I could give you the love you deserve, a completely normal life. Instead, well, I am trying, my friend. We've much work to do. The news from surgery is not what we expected. Your second kidney is dying."
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