Skip - Part 42
I picked him up, got into the tub, set him down, washed him from head to toes, washed me, and then sat on his very hard cock. There were no distractions of me washing him this time. It was pure cock inside of lusty ass-sexual only. Rare but sometimes necessary. He shot inside of me as I shot into the water. Then I drained a bit of the water and refilled it with hot water again, holding him so that the love replaced the sex. I loved him more than I lusted him. After a half hour or so, as the water cooled, I took him out to our bed, lay him on his back, and entered him. I made sweet love to him. I came inside of him, wrapped him in my arms, held his arms against my chest, and kissed him until we both feel asleep.
As good as that was, tough times still lay ahead. I sat with Mark one evening at dusk, outside the Center.
"He's not going to walk again. Is he?"
Mark looked at me for a long moment. He slid his hand into mine. The silence of the night spoke volumes. I watched a star come to life in the purple sky.
The thought just blossomed inside my head at sunset, as I sat helping Skip work on his legs. His heart was not as much into his legs workout as with the rest of his body, even if by a few degrees. He had promised to keep working, despite his feeling of his fate. He was not giving in to pain because he had none. He was told to speak up about any pain he had, no matter how minor. But he did seem frustrated-to use his word, 'fed up'. He just knew something that I did not know.
Maybe it was that Skip had lost some ground with his legs. It took more effort lately to do even the simple things. Some things he could not do at all anymore. I have to wonder if our lovemaking did any further damage to his spinal cord. It was slow and easy, but ... I dunno. Just more shit to think about.
Mark and I sat down on the grassy hill, away from the Center, after sunset, feeling the air cool, seeing the red and yellow of sunset change to purple and then into dusk. I saw a bright star at the horizon, one of the planets. I no longer know which planets appear at the horizon in the early evening, depending on the season. This was a lost talent after college because I lived in or near cities where I could not easily see Jupiter or Mars or even the constellations.
Where was Skip's place in the universe? I already knew my place, so I rarely questioned it. I cannot, as I said, ask 'Why me?' because there is no answer to that question. I could almost ask 'Why Skip' and 'Why Billy', or Michael, Sam, Will, David, and Vincent. But I did not.
As there is no answer to 'why me', there is no satisfactory answer to why Skip had to suffer cancer and spinal injury. Either one was bad enough, but both?! Why Billy had to get attacked. Why Michael had to lose to cancer too. Why Sam and Will had been thrown away. Why David suffered badly from cancer for four years. And why we had to lose Vincent. The universe is large, infinite, complex, and chaotic.
"Your mind is wandering again bro," he said to me, rubbing my back.
"Yeah. Skip says 'Earth to Aaron' once in a while to bring me back to him. Actually, I'm thinking about him. He knows stuff that I don't, or maybe just one thing that I don't."
"He's not going to walk again, is he?"
He did not answer me right away. He looked at me for a long moment. He slid his hand into mine. The silence of the night spoke volumes. I watched another star come to life in the purple sky, above the horizon.
"I dunno. No one does, not even Skip. But I don't think so. I love him to surprise me though."
My heart hurt sooo much. I knew or felt, but being told was crushing. A large tear ran down my cheek.
"Last night, while he slept, I ran my fingers down my spinal column, top to bottom. It took a long time. Then I did the same thing to Skip's spinal column. I felt where repair had been done from C1 to C5. I sobbed into my pillow because I knew what happened there. C6 and C7 were like mine. T1 to T4 were also like mine."
"You know what I'm about to say." It was not a question.
"Yes. I couldn't tell you. It's not my place."
"T5 to T11 don't line up. They're twisted and indented, more than just a little."
"Did they abrade his spinal cord?"
He did not answer right away.
"No," he said quietly.
"Maaaark. Awww shit!"
He moved closer to me. I put my head on his shoulder and cried harder than I have in my life. Knowing what I know, and the image of that in my mind, was absolute agony. He never hurt anybody. He knew only love.
Mark held me tight, hand on my face. A teardrop on my neck told me that I was not crying alone. He was not crying for me. Mark cried for Skip. The vertebrae did not rub against his spinal cord. The boy that I loved so purely had a punctured spinal cord. Seven vertebrae were pushed into Skip's spinal cord.
So Skip had been right. He did know his fate, though not about T5 to T11 in medical terms. He knew in human terms, which mattered so much more.
How much stock did he really put in that? Unknown. I did not press him for his feelings about his legs. When it was time to share, he would do so. However, at some point I was going to have to share what I knew too. I was scared of that.
Billy had said, after his attack, that he would not be bothered if he remained blind in one eye. Justice had been served with his attacker going to jail. He got his vision back anyway. Maybe not worrying about stuff made the stuff better.
I wanted to walk, desperately so, after my own accident so that the drunk driver took only two things away from me. Keeping my life was not a fair trade, which Skip, Billy, and the boys would argue. It was better than losing a third time.
And Skip? He made a decision that holding on to me, without my help, was more important than walking. He understood the consequence of that decision. I had to accept it too. It was Skip's wish.
The late September night pressed up against the windows. Rain splattered across the wide windows as if they were trying to escape the gloom that came with them. At times, the wind drove the rain violently into the barrier that they could not see. I could picture Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse, at his typewriter, a thought balloon above his head reading "It was a dark and stormy night."
I sat with Skip on the padded exercise table in the therapy gym, on the other side of the violence of the night. It was past 10:00 so no one was there. I had taken him out of his wheelchair to give his back a rest. He was lying on his back, one hand on his tummy. I lay his other hand on top of his bandage so that he could talk to me. I sat between his legs, facing him, stretching mine out along his body. I took his hand and held it in mine, rubbing my thumbs across his knuckles.
"I have always loved ... that," he said.
He motioned to his hand in mine.
"Oh. Something I guess I do without thinking about it."
"You think about it. Just on a ... different level. Same way I think ... about stuff. You talked to Mark ... about my legs?"
"I dunno. How to you feel about that?" I asked him.
"The same way you feel ... about your legs," he said. He paused, though he looked as though he wanted to say something.
"You worked hard ... at something last ... night. I know what ... you found."
"Dunno. I just do."
"Six, maybe seven vertebrae. I was twisted ... when he bus hit us. The bus ... pushed me against Billy. What happens when ... an irresistible force ... meets an immovable object? SkipBoy breaks. Badly. So does ... the heart of his ... lover."
"Yeah," I said, holding him tightly, choking up. "Yeah."
"Patch and fill time," he said, cryptically.
"Could you stand that?"
"What choice do ... I have."
"Is your life in danger?"
"Don't think so. You want me ... to walk. I can't ... if my spinal ... cord is punct ... punctured."
"I don't want you doing what you can't ever do. Not even if I want it."
"I can do anything ... but not alone."
"And your arms?"
"They'll work just ... fine eventually. I feel a lot of ... stuff in my upper body. Put the back board ... behind me?"
I went across the room to get the back board. I pulled him into a sitting position, put a pillow and the back board behind him, and then sat cross-legged in front of him. I folded his legs into the same position.
"I'm going to show ... off a little," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
He started with his head. He could move his head and neck in any direction he wanted to. That was critical for his mobility, especially if he was wheelchair-bound for life. His head was how he moved his wheelchair forward or backward, or around in circles when he was showing off. Whenever he could lighten the mood, he did so. He rotated his shoulders forward and backward. He lifted his shoulders and then both upper arms. He could not raise his lower arms or hands nearly as well.
"I don't feel anything below ... my waist except 1% lust. I saw you fold my ... legs. It's like me ... folding paper."
"No feeling in your legs anymore?"
"Have I hurt you?"
"I dunno. Not ... intentionally. 1% lust is ... still good to go."
I had to smile. I do not know how much that 1% truly is still 1%, after all this time. But I did know his heart, so maybe our proportion of love and lust still held true. It held true enough for me. I would rather love my man Skip than lust him. Anything I say like that about Skip also automatically applies to Billy, David, Sam, Michael, and Will. And Vincent, because I missed him a lot. He held my head the first time I puked at school, showing me a young man of great character.
"Sorry love," I said when he cocked his head at me. "I was thinking about the 1% lust, which made me think of you and Billy, our special boys, and ... well, anyway. I am so proud of you, love. You've worked so hard and you've come so far. I do wish that you felt differently about walking."
"If I couldn't feel you ... inside of me, or couldn't get ... hard for you, I would feel ... differently. If you still want to carry me ... sometimes, I'm not sad."
"I will carry you around the world, love. I have to wonder about Billy though. Unless technology advances, I'm joining you in a sporty low-rider model one day. Maybe not soon, but it'll happen."
"I do know that. Billy feels ... about us like you feel ... about me. When we need to be ... carried, he will ... carry us. Billy is all heart."
"And more. I shouldn't think twice about it. We should call him."
"Let's send email to everyone ... so they all get the scoop from us. Nothing lost ... when it gets passed on."
"Okay. I'll go get my laptop."
I came back and used a text editor to compose the email first. I had been burned a couple of times when composing a longer message. The laptop hung or the email app froze. Offline composing and then copy-paste worked better. And I would want Skip to proof and approve it anyway.
We're doing well in Atlanta, though we miss you badly as usual. The email from home is a blessing. Thanks for the time you spend in keeping us up to date. Looking forward a little, we might make it home for Thanksgiving. Don't hold me to that. Might still be wishful thinking. We'll know more in a few weeks, as if I know how to plan anyway.
Last night I had a talk with Mark. I came to the realization that Skip may not walk again. I asked Mark (or, I guess, told Mark), that I don't think Skip will walk again. He said we just don't know for certain, but he does want me to realize it's a possibility. It's also possible that I hurt him without meaning to. Skip is thinking about surgery.
Skip already knows that he might not walk again, and has known it for a long while. Maybe some of you know that too, since you know he still wants to hold me tight more than he wants to walk. I trust Skip's instincts more than mine. He's not sad about that. I am, but that's just me. How do you all feel about that? Tell us true, loves, because we'll want to know. Regardless of his ability, we still need to work all his muscles so they won't atrophy.
We both send our love. Chins up ... nothing is forever, as Skip says, except our love for each other. In this case, that means ALL of us.
Skip & Aaron ;-)
"It's just right, Aaron."
"Including what I said about maybe hurting you?"
"Yeah. The guys love ... when you're honest. So do I. But it does ... not mean you hurt me. It's ... only something for us to think about.
I sent it. We had an idea of who would be bummed vs. who would tell us to live in the moment. Being bummed is okay because it's a human emotion, sometimes not easily controlled. Even then, the bummed would be strong for us.
I took both his hands, this time rubbing his knuckles consciously. Then I moved closer to him, wrapping my legs around his hips. I touched his throat. Yet one more thing I did not give much thought to.
"There is so much ... to love about you, bro. I want ... to help with your fear. Another Yoda ... quote, love. Fear is ... "
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. - Episode 1, the Phantom Menace. Good one, bro."
"I'm not afraid. I'll ... keep working. It's just not ... life and death to ... walk again."
"I'm only a little afraid, love. You do know how incredibly hard it is to see you like this."
"I know. I'm still me. Love me ... no matter what."
"Today and tomorrow, in infinite repeating cycles," I said as I brought him into my arms.
I held him for a moment and then kissed him. I turned around, put his legs on either side of me, lay up against him, and then put his arms around me, holding his hands, interlocking our fingers. He kissed me on my neck. His rubbed his cheek against mine.
"I love you ... sooo much Aaron. Today ... and tomorrow. In infinite ... repeating cycles."
We sat together like that for another half hour.
"Time for a shower?" I asked him.
I put him into his wheelchair, aligned his spine and hips, and then put his belts around him. I followed beside him to his room (our room?) and lay him on his bed. I undressed him and then myself.
"Your scars, Aaron. They make ... me sad like I ... make you sad. We sure know what ... Hell looks like."
His eyes were so sad. I brushed his hair out of his eyes.
"We do. But we also know what deep love looks like, and feels like. Hell is behind us both. We have each other. 'If you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts could tell'."
"Gordon Lightfoot, 1970-ish. Nice tune."
"Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail ... "
"You would not fail me ... or anyone else, ever. It's ... impossible. Do you know ... that in seven ... and a half years, you ... have never let me down?"
"I did let you down. You suffered for it and cried in the night. You eventually had to wake me up, in more ways than one."
"That's not failure ... That's a learning ... process. How could ... you know what ... I needed? It's in the past. Why do you worry?"
"Because there is always the possibility that I will let you down again."
"It won't happen. Come on bro. Let's ... go wash away ... the worry."
I carried Skip into the bathroom and set him on the toilet. He did his thing and I did my thing. I made sure the water temp was just right. I set him on the bench and washed his face. I washed mine too and then rubbed my nose against his. It automatically made him smile, just like his eyebrow wiggles made me automatically kiss him.
"Kiss me here," he said.
He could not point to where he meant, but I knew. I kissed his forehead.
"Kiss me here," he said.
I kissed his lips softly, pulled back, and looked into his eyes, waiting.
"Kiss me there."
I kissed his heart, three times, for us three.
"I could not ... possibly be in love with ... you more, Aaron. My Aaron."
"I love when you call me 'my Aaron'. I know I belong to your heart."
"More than forever. You're my Skip, too. It's more than love, but there is no word for that."
"The words for that are ... 'we are three'. It is love and more, in three words."
"By yourself, you're pretty incredible. Billy is just icing on the cake. Me? I dunno. My ego won't let me go there."
"Then let me. I would not be ... in love if it ... weren't for you."
"Would you have eventually married a girl and raised a family, if you hadn't met me?"
"No. I would not love ... anyone but Billy until another perfect heart ... came along. Like you dream about ... someone in PA, I ... dreamed about you."
"Hmmm, yet something else I don't know how to feel about. Maybe I robbed you. You could have anyone you wanted. Surely there was someone better than me."
"Hardly. You really made my heart ... beat fast when I saw you the first ... time. I sought you out b ... because of Jason telling me ... about you. I have never made ... a bad choice in my life. The best two I ... ever made are the men I love more than life."
"Really? Besides Billy, would that that be?"
"I'm not being dense, bro. I just want to know if ...
"I love you, Aaron. I won't ... ever not love you."
I wet his hair and then put shampoo in my palm. I rubbed it into his thick hair, getting deep down to his scalp. He was not dirty, just a bit sweaty from workouts. I curled his hair around my finger and made it stand up, like a cupie doll. If he knew that I messed with him like that, he would slap me, or withhold nookie.
"I'm thrilled you love me so much."
"You let me. I just knew ... that you had to have ... love, even if was with ... another man, and only me."
"I don't care about gender. If loving you means we're gay-by-stupid-label, so be it. But we're more than that. Look at how we're accepted here, including by the spouses we met. I want to get you home soon, but I want to come back here at least once a year."
I continued to wash him, from his face down to his feet. He watched me, smiling at me.
"I like everything you're ... doing. I want you."
I rinsed the soap off him and then toweled him dry. I lay him on his bed.
"Hold that thought while I shower."
I cleaned myself up thoroughly, inside and out. I stood naked in front of him while I toweled dry. I pretended to dry my hair. He smiled.
"Do you think you can make love to me, in bed?"
I touched this throat.
"Let's find out. I think so. Me ... behind you?"
"You behind me. Weird, but I want you to work your arms and your hips."
"That's not weird. Practical loving."
I lay him on his left side and put pillows behind him. I lay in front of him for a few minutes and sucked him so he would be nice and hard. Never neglecting his testicle, I sucked it into my mouth and rolled it around my tongue. I was so thrilled when we first discovered that he could get hard. I had automatically thought that quadriplegic meant 'nothing below the neck'. It turned out to be cruel to assume that because he got hard and could not relieve it. After a while, that becomes very painful. Keeping Skip sexually healthy was a must, not just something fun. That being said, it was also something fun.
"To quote a well hung buddy ... love me, love my ... cock."
"I do. And I do."
After a couple more minutes, I lay on my side and backed up against him, holding his cock in my fingers.
"Okay love, I'm going to pick up your hand and arm. When it's around me, pull toward me and push into me."
I took his hand, pulled it and his arm around me, and put them against my chest. I interlocked our fingers. He entered me. He did it so perfectly the first time that he left me speechless for a moment.
"Okay?" he asked.
"Sooo good. Can you rock on your hips?"
He tried and succeeded.
"I can rock."
"Yeah, love, by the hour."
His cock slid further into me, out to the head, and back in again. I helped a bit by pulling on his arm to get him into a smooth rhythm. I did not have to reach back to put him inside of me again.
"Aaron, you really do ... rock me. I never dreamed I ... could make love to you ... like this. It's almost normal."
"*Is* normal, love. You wouldn't do this if you didn't love me. Is any of it painful for you?"
"Physically, no. Emotionally, a little. I don't want ... to cry, but I feel like it. This is not ... proof that I love ... you Aaron, except you ... in my arms."
"Hold me tight, lover. No tears. This is only 1% of what we are."
"You're right. Wipe my face then. And kiss me."
I turned my head toward him. I wiped away his tears and kissed him softly and then more deeply.
"Where do you want my cum?"
"Inside me, lover. It keeps you inside of me forever."
"I'm not ready yet. Just wanted to know. Inside you is nice."
We made love, together, for another half hour. He did not just give and I did not just take. He gave to me and I gave to him. He took from me and I took from him. That is the magic of our relationship. He does not want a passive lover, sexually or otherwise. Our hearts define us.
His stamina is helped by his lack of feeling elsewhere. I knew he was going to come when he leaned in to me and kissed my neck. He held me tighter while he unloaded inside of me. Even then, he kept sliding in and out of me. I knew how he tingled from that, and it was so awesome to know he felt that. When he was done, he put one more sensual kiss on my neck.
My neck is the second place that I love being kissed the best. Lips are first, forehead is third, and cheek is fourth. And then downward from there, but only for Skip, Billy, and our boys. I know all of us feel the same way about kisses. Kisses are intimacy with a dash of friendship with a pinch of sex. It is a recipe for long-term love. Seven years for Skip, Billy, and me, six years for the 12/13 BC boys, and five years for the remaining four boys-Alex, Kirk, Patrick, and never least, Sam.
I turned all the way around to face him. I rubbed our noses again.
"Good?" Skip asked, working hard to hold me.
I took his hands and put them in mine, holding our hands to my chest.
"Good and a half, love," I said.
I tucked into his neck. I kissed him lightly and just knew that he smiled. There's my boy.
Monday's mail brought pictures of the party at my apartment development. Billy had sent me an email to get my work address. A couple in particular made me laugh aloud. All of the boys were slow dancing together while Betsy, Jillian, Marissa, Kathryn, and Amanda looked on, laughing and applauding. The boys all re-created how they came into the therapy room to see Skip the first time. Patrick held Alex and Kirk in a dual fireman's carry over his shoulders. I could not tell which was which, only that there were two fine asses on display. Jeremy was atop Jake's shoulders. Michael was wrapped around Will's shoulders.
Betsy, JD, and Billy recreated their heads on top of each other in the doorway. They took two group shots of the BC boys, first the tall boys standing behind the shorter boys, and then the taller boys sitting down in front of the shorter boys. The Boston crew all stood together hugging, or mugging for the camera, happy to have seen us and to spend some quality time with us.
We were not there at the party that day, so I loved that the pictures told a story to Skip and me, and of friends together once again after months of separation. Skip was going to love all the staging, especially the recreated shots of how they arrived at Shepherd.
He did indeed. I sat down behind him that night after work, after his second workout of the day. I held him against my chest, head on his shoulder, as I showed him each 4x6 picture. I could feel his cheeks smile, pressing against mine each time he did so. I did not need to see his eyes or his facial expressions to see that he was right there with our loves, feeling the mood.
I touched his throat finally.
"Nice, love. They're the ... best. We need to ... go home soon."
"I know, love. I miss them so much every day. It won't spoil anything to tell you this. When we do go home, we're having as grand a party as that. But if you need surgery?"
"We can talk to Mark ... and Deb. I would rather have ... it here."
"I would too. But it would mean ... "
"Being here longer. S'okay. When I get ... home, I want ... to stay home. No more hospitals."
"Do you want to go outside for a while? We can watch the sun set."
"What took you so long?" asked Mark when we arrived.
Megan was with him. She rose for a moment and kissed my cheek. She knelt beside Skip and kissed his forehead.
"Hi Megan. We knew you were here. Not."
I sat on a bench beside Skip. Mark was on the grass as before. Megan rejoined him. I took Skip's right hand in my left, putting my right hand over his bandage.
"You knew we ... would come?"
"Yes, bro, I did. This was a sad place the other night. I know Aaron. Sad places need to become happy places. Like Nova Scotia and PEI."
"Yeah. We are ... going back at ... Christmas. No matter what."
He said those words meaning them, so therefore it would happen. Our first trip to Canada had brought us the love of the innkeepers, and then Will. Michael and Will together was a wondrous thing. Therefore, Canada was our newest 'happy place', though not unlike Boston College.
"I'm glad you feel that way. How do you feel about talking to an orthopaedic surgeon tomorrow morning?"
"I want to. I know what Aaron ... did in bed Saturday ... night. It made him ... so sad. I know ... he cried for me. Would it ... happen soon?"
"Wednesday morning," he said, not surprised at us two at all.
Now that surprised me, and not a little. Not that he wanted surgery, but that he wanted it now. I had no doubt that he knew what the surgery entailed.
Mark got up on one knee beside Skip.
"May I?" he asked.
"Any time," said Skip.
Mark took Skip's hand in both of his. "It will be a very long surgery. It will take two teams, and maybe 14 hours."
"So you really do want to walk." Again, not a question.
"Of course. Just ... less than I want ... to hold my Aaron."
My Aaron. Again. Incredibly awesome to hear and ten thousand more times awesome to feel. Mark and Megan both looked at me.
"I can see why, bro," said Mark. "Your Aaron. I know that doesn't mean you own him. It means he's always in your heart."
Skip looked over at me. He wiggled his eyebrows. I kissed him unashamedly.
"My Aaron is my world. If I can't ... walk again, even ... with surgery ... we don't care. It's worth trying. He won't ... leave me because ... of my inabilities."
"Your abilities will always be more," I said, no thought required.
"Nicely said, Aaron," said Megan. "For both of you, and likely for Billy too."
"Not just likely," said Mark. "Is. Megan and I will soon be three, differently than you, but not by much."
"You're pregnant?" I asked.
"Can't you tell by my glow," Mark said, jokingly.
"I thought that was ... uh, never mind."
Husband and wife both laughed. We sat quietly for a while, watching the sun sink over the western Georgia mountains. Crickets started up almost as soon as the last light disappeared. Fireflies blinked in and out, further down the hill.
"I want to try something, but at this moment, in my mind, it sounds so silly."
"I want to," said Skip.
"You know what he wants?" asked Megan.
"Yeah," said Skip. "We're connected ... or I am more connected ... sometimes. Aaron wants to dance with me. Mark?"
Even I looked a bit astounded.
"Yeah," I said. "I do. No insult Megan ... "
She raised her hand. What I wanted to do would take Mark's knowledge and strength, though I did not doubt Megan possessed as much strength for this task.
I squatted in front of Skip. I unbuckled him. This was going to be tough. I thought about it intently, planning every single movement that I would need to do ahead of time, as a chess master could think many moves ahead. I took Skip's legs off the supports of his wheelchair and put his feet on mine. I put his arms on my shoulders. Megan stepped up quickly and interlocked his fingers. She held his hands and arms. Skip smiled at her. She may be a businesswoman, but she was human first. As I lifted Skip, Mark squatted in Skip's wheelchair and then eased out of it, pushing Skip against his body. He quickly wrapped his right around Skip and his left arm around me. I put my left arm around Skip and right arm around Mark. I could not feel Skip's weight on the tops of my feet, which means Mark and I were supporting him, no pressure on his spine. Skip was a sandwich and he would not slip out from between Mark and me. The only music was what existed in my mind. I chose a Celine Dion tune that I knew well called "To Love You More."
"Nice," said Skip. I did not know if he meant Mark and me holding him, or my choice of tune.
It was not a slow dance tune, but not overly complex either. [If my readers are not familiar with the song, check YouTube.com. It's a nice love song -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3yJL4bbrnU]. Mark followed my lead as if Skip was not between us, perfectly tuned in. The ultimate professional and the caring man. Mark's head was on Skip's right shoulder, mine on his left. Holding them both was nice. Megan smiled, a bit teary eyed.
I cannot describe otherwise how wonderful this was. My eyes were closed. I wanted only to dance with my love, to show him we can do this, and not only tonight. Mark let me do whatever I wanted, following my lead a half second behind. When the song ended in my head, I looked over at Mark. I gave him eyebrows. He kissed me softly on my lips. He was right there in the mood with us. I was so pleased.
"Thank you, love. What an amazing heart you have."
He nodded. He could not talk.
By the time we set Skip back in his wheelchair, he was beaming.
"Nice, Aaron. So nice."
"I can't say it better than that, Aaron," said Mark. "Thanks for allowing me to be part of your heart. You probably know I've never experienced anything like this before. I won't ever forget it."
"What, you've never danced with two guys cheek to cheek before? Man, you just don't know how to live, do you?"
I gave him a wide cheesy grin.
"Heh heh. Put me on your dance card for next time though, bro. That was so amazing."
"It's how I love Skip. Words don't mean 1/10th as much. Megan, next time we're at your place, with real music, would you dance with me? I feel a bit guilty for not ..."
"Now shush. I couldn't hold Skip like Mark can. That was so beautiful, even as a spectator. I'll gladly dance with you."
Mark and Megan headed for home. I brought Skip into the lobby. We said goodnight to the night security guys. They were smiling, but not like usual. I caught a glint in one of the guy's eye. I blushed. I could see the security monitor. I saw the scene that we just left.
"Uh oh," I said.
"Not even close, Aaron," said Thomas. "I don't know how well Skip will get, but I don't think it matters. Tim and I were just thunderstruck with how beautiful that was."
"Now I feel guilty," said Tim, "for watching. We couldn't stop."
"S'okay," said Skip. "You know ... Aaron is my mate."
"Yeah, and not even just that. Good night guys. See you tomorrow?" asked Thomas.
"Yeah," said Skip. I nodded. "Good night guys. You're aces," I said.
I pushed the button to the fourth floor. As the doors closed, I leaned in to kiss Skip. The elevators also had a camera, up in the corner, for the safety of a patient and family member, unaccompanied by a staff person. I bet I made the guys blush bigger than I had. I blew them a kiss too, but not jokingly. They would know that. We did touch many, and often in very unexpected ways and places.
"Your room or the therapy gym? Or somewhere else?"
"Anywhere in your arms. I'm ... on a high."
"Awww, you liked my little sudden brainstorm? I guess we need to go to your room."
"Our room. Your idea was ... so sweet. You give ... me so much."
"And how about Mark behind you, holding on to us both?"
"I love Mark. He didn't ... hesitate at all. He got, um, hard."
"So did you and I. He'd have to be a zombie not to get hard with us. Your ass is, how they say, uh, tre magnifique!"
"Yeah. You might need ... to cool me off later."
"Oh my. Whatever. Do You. Mean?"
"Funny. You Know. What I. Mean. Lust me."
"But I'll blush."
"Get over it."
"If I don't do it right?"
"You'll have to do it ... again ... until you get it ... right."
"Sigh. Such a huge burden you put upon me."
"You're tough. Your ... burden handling ... ability is awesome."
"You are not burden in any way. You will never be a burden in any way."
"I know. Because you love me. Don't ... take me seriously."
"Sorry love. I started it. Bad choice of words. But don't think for one minute ... "
"Sshhhh. I don't. I never will. You held me so ... tight and you stood me ... up and we ... danced," his voice broke.
"And made Mark ... so happy. You even sur ... prised me. Not easy to do ... anymore."
"You have put so much into loving me, from bringing me into your life to bringing me back to life twice. The biggest honor is being here with you. I will go anywhere with you, anytime. I already told you I will carry you around the world, and I mean it."
"I know. But holding me ... is good enough. For tonight."
"Will you be inside of me?"
I undressed us. He was rock hard, again or still. I don't know which. Actually, I did know. Still. Once he got hard, he stayed hard until I did amazing things to him.
"Still," he said. "When I get hard ... only you can help."
"I should clean up a bit. Do you need to?"
"No. Can you get me ... in place first?"
I did as before. I put pillows behind him and got him somewhat on his side. I put his left hand on his throat so he could talk when he wanted to. I kissed him for a moment and then cleaned up in the bathroom.
"How annoying is that, love?"
"Bad, but only before you ... rediscovered ... me sexually. I don't worry ... anymore."
"You do know that I'm older than you. You don't plan on wearing me out and ... you know."
"You're worth more to me ... alive, bro. Will you dance ... with me again?"
"Anytime, love. I'll keep my portable CD player handy for time. God love Mark for being so in tune with me. You don't know this but he did not miss a step. He loves you a lot, bro. Not just casually."
"I know. I feel him. It will be harder ... to leave here ... than I thought."
"For me too. We'll come back, like we do to Canada."
While we were talking about Mark, I backed up onto Skip's cock. I wish I could see him as he entered me. The position needed work, especially considering what I know about his spinal column. I could not fold him in half like I liked the best. This one worked just fine though. He loved to hold me, even if it meant me holding his arms.
"I'm overwhelmed," he said.
"Why? I'm the same man you fell in love with."
"No, not even close. You're so special ... in every ... way possible. I really do mean ... that you not in my ... life would be no life. It's why I ... pulled you back. Billy would have been okay ... here. But I wanted him ... to go back to school. Do you know he wants ... to work with Andrew in DC?"
"I didn't know. I know he wants to be a researcher, starting off as a lab tech."
"Specifically ... for Andrew."
"Then it'll happen. Billy is brilliant. It runs in the family, by the way."
"I'm more than brilliant. I'm deep."
"Well, love, at the moment, you're *in* deep. My tonsils, if I had any, would be in danger of being tickled."
"No time. I'm coming, love!"
I pushed back on him and grabbed his arms, pulling him to me. I felt his cock get nice and slick as he unloaded inside of me. I will never get tired of that. When he was done, he kissed my neck. I did not need to get off, so I put boxer briefs on us and tuned into PBS for a couple of hours of TV.
On Tuesday, I went to work as usual. I wanted Skip to see the orthopaedic surgeon with Mark and Deb. The decisions were his to make. He would talk to me later to fill me in. Other than that, I made excellent progress on my project at work, and spent the last half of Skip's second session with him. He wanted me to work his legs in earnest. He was tired when I lay them both flat on the table again. By 8:30, he was asleep in my arms. I watched "Nova" on PBS, missing the ending as I went to sleep too.
In the morning, Skip was prepped for surgery. He had a hard time of convincing me to go to work but he would not bend on that. My iron will won out anyway, the first and probably only time. Skip's wishes always won out, but not this time. No way was I going to work while he was going through such a major surgery. At best, anything I did would have been half-assed.
"I'll be waiting for you, here inside my heart," I told him before he was taken away to surgery. (Thanks to Celine Dion for putting just the right words in my head.)
I lay down on his bed and hugged his pillow. It smelled of him. That was going to be one very nasty incision in his back, I thought to myself. I did not want that tenuous psychic connection that I had to him. He could read me almost any time. I could read him only when he was in pain. Once they cut him open, which would be about now, I had to shut down that link. I faced the window, looking at bright blue sky. From my mood, it should have been cloudy and pouring rain. It pissed me off that the sun was shining and everyone was out and about, having no clue what went on here today. Dumb. I had to wonder if I was becoming insane.
I heard someone come in. A hand brushed my cheek, as we did to Skip when he could feel only his cheek. I turned onto my back.
"Aaron? I, uh," said Mark, a bit awkwardly. "I want to hold you, bro. While Skip is in surgery."
"I'd like that, a lot. What about your patients today?"
Mark kicked his sneakers off. He climbed onto the bed with me, laying on his right side. He slid his right arm under my back and laid his left arm across my belly. For a guy, he sure knows about love Aaron-style. I hoped that I did not say that out loud.
"I'm taking the day off. I knew yesterday that I would want to. Deb is covering for me. It's as much for me worrying about you as worrying about Skip."
"All the more reason to hold on then, 'cept the worrying part."
"No other patient of mine has needed this type of surgery before. It really breaks my heart to know what his spinal cord looks like."
I rolled onto my left side, facing him. He adjusted his hold on me, moving close. I looked into his eyes. There was definitely sadness in there. Skip was his and Deb's patient, so it had to be hard.
"May I put my arms around you?" I asked.
He nodded, smiling a little. I moved in closer. I wrapped myself around him just as I would with any of my boys. We wrapped our legs together, which meant even our crotches were together. I kissed his forehead tenderly.
"Now I know why Skip loves that so much. That's quite sexy without the sex."
I kissed his lips, softly but briefly, bringing him further into my heart. He belonged there, having earned his place. Mark reminds me a lot of James Marsden, the actor. A tad cocky-looking, but far from cocky. Beautiful dark eyes. It is not easy to see a man's soul, unless you are me. Skip taught me how to look that deeply into someone. He did not avert his eyes. Remember that I said, in my very first journal, that true friendship began when you could hold your buddy's eyes, not needing to look away in shame or embarrassment.
He kissed me back, shyly. He smiled at me.
"I hope that wasn't ... " I said.
"No. I like it. I'd like another sometime."
"I don't kiss half-heartedly, bro. That was a sweet kiss vs. a chaste kiss. I don't do chaste with people who I hold close to my heart. You are very special to Skip, and equally to me. Our dance proved that. By the way, we both think you're hot. When I bathed him that first time, I asked him if his growing erection was partly on account of you. He said it was."
He blushed and then smiled very widely.
"I'm honored. My ego won't allow me to be more than that. Obviously, you being a couple, and now you holding me like this, is so sweet. I know he won't care that we're like this."
"Not even a little. More likely, he'll be thrilled. We take care of those who are needful. You are, at least for now. Me too, of course. I don't want you to be worried about either of us. Worry isn't going to help me bare this today, and will help Skip even less. Just love us. Both of us. You know how because I've seen your heart too."
We just held each other after that. I tucked his face into my neck. He did what all our boys do, automatically. He kissed it. Sweet. We did not nap. Neither of us was tired. We just needed to hold on. I rubbed his back like he rubbed mine or Skip's on occasion.
Through the day we held on, had lunch together with Deb, went for a walk, sat in a nearby park with Deb, and thought only about Skip. Cal joined us after work. Megan had class tonight but brought snacks first.
Seventeen hours after he was taken from me (and us), Skip was rolled into Surgical ICU. He was laying on his stomach, head laying to the right, yet again on a respirator. I kissed his cheek and whispered into his ear. If he could smile, he would have. I just know. I could not stay long. Most certainly, I could not stay with him overnight, even though I asked. Pain management would keep him down for the count for the next 48 hours.
"Come home with Megan and me?"
"I dunno. I'd rather ... "
"Please? Tomorrow night too."
I thought about it for a minute.
"Okay. Come help me put a duffel bag together. I'll go to work tomorrow and Friday. Thanks for the offer."
"I know you don't like 'home alone'. Neither do I. When Meg is in classes, I usually stay here."
I followed Mark home, since I would need my car for the morning. It was late by the time we got home. (Home is wherever I am that is comfortable; therefore Mark and Megan's place is home).
"I hoped you would accept our offer to stay over," she said, hugging me as we came in. "I need to get to bed, but we'll show you your room first. Come on upstairs."
I followed the couple upstairs. My room looked like a comfortable B&B, much like Joan & Walt's inn in Nova Scotia. Mark set my duffel on the bed.
"I'm going to bed too, love," said Mark. "If you need anything overnight, come and wake us."
"There's some chocolate pudding in the fridge if you want a bedtime snack. Please help yourself, Aaron."
"Thanks Megan. I can't pass that up. Our B&B friends in Canada always left Skip and me something for bedtime too."
I hugged them both. Megan left. Before I let Mark go, I kissed him on his lips again, softly and briefly like before. He smiled at me and returned it, not shyly this time.
"See you in the morning," he said quietly. "Thank you for loving me."
"Thank you for loving me back. You love my buddy. It's only natural to return it, even if he can't. Yet."
He nodded and let go of my hand as he left.
I turned off the bedside lamp so I would not disturb my hosts. I went quietly down to the kitchen and raided the fridge, pouring myself a half glass of milk, after checking how much there was. There was plenty, but I did not take more. Even at home, I rarely take the last of anything. Billy is still a growing boy, so Skip and I let him finish stuff off.
When I went back to my room, I stripped down to my boxer briefs. A light breeze came through the bay window, carrying the sound of crickets with it. I had to listen closer to hear the bullfrogs. They were there. I turned down the comforter and blanket, leaving just the sheet to cover me. I got into bed and looked out the three windows. I saw a couple of fireflies wink at me. I put my hands behind my head, interlocking my fingers. I knew Skip was okay. What would those seventeen hours in surgery do for him? Maybe nothing. Maybe even a little something. All I had was hope. Hope wrapped itself around me, letting me sleep all night.
I got up when I heard someone go down stairs. I put a Nike t-shirt on, plus khaki shorts for now. Mark was up, making coffee. It was 6:00 a.m.
"Hope I didn't wake you, bro."
"No, just right. I woke up about a half hour ago. I've been working 7:00 to 3:30 lately. My department has flextime, which I why I usually show up at 4:00 for Skip."
"What would you like for breakfast?"
"Sure. Help yourself to the pantry behind you."
I opened the pantry door and surveyed the many cereal choices. I took mini-wheats down from the shelf. Mark put two bowls on the counter in front of me. I poured cereal into the bowls and he poured on the milk. He brought fresh blueberries out of the fridge as well. I poured some over both our cereals. Megan had smelled the coffee so she came in looking bright and perky.
"Ugh, cheerful person at 9:00 (meaning to my left)," I said, giving her a wise-ass grin.
"It's too early to be a wise-ass, Aaron." She looked at her watch. "Wait for it ... okay, now you can be a wise-ass."
"Takes one to know one," I said.
She went over to kiss Mark good morning. He held her warmly and kissed her. He obviously loved her very much. Soon they would have a child together. Nice. That would be one very blessed little person, just like Dylan and David were blessed for their folks.
Mark and I ate while Megan made oatmeal for herself. Mark poured boiling water in her bowl. The coffee was about ready. I put a teaspoon of sugar into my cup before Mark poured me a cup. I finished off my cereal and then my coffee.
"Okay if I shower?" I asked.
"Feel free," said Megan. "Your bathroom is beside your room. Hot water is plentiful."
The water felt so good over my achy muscles. Morning was hard on my muscles as the MD advanced. I shaved in the shower as usual. Once dressed, I headed back down stairs. My hosts were sitting together at the counter, holding hands.
"Okay guys, I'm off to work. Mike and I are going out to a customer site in Marietta this morning so I can demo my project. Not sure what to do after work."
"Come at 4:00 as usual? We'll do therapy in the pool."
"Okay. Will the ICU nurses let me see Skip?"
"Yeah, no problem."
I gave both of them hugs and better than average kisses on their foreheads. Megan watched me kiss Mark as I had kissed her. She smiled.
"That was nice," she said.
"Your husband is very special to Skip and me. I do love him, very much. It's fair you should know that."
"Sweet," she said. "I can't imagine you doing much half-way, Aaron. Your heart is there for us to see."
"It's hard being away from home, Megan. I've travelled all over the country for GE. Mike has made it easier by offering me a project, but the circumstances still bite. Mark and Deb have brought more life back to Skip than I imagined they could. It's easy for me to love them both for the heart that they also have. I'm not shy about showing affection, either."
"Don't ever be," she said. "I think Mark and Deb have about as challenging an occupation as you do when you're being a paramedic. The rewards are many, after seeing so much heartache when you both see your patients. I hope your lover is doing okay this morning."
"He is. I can feel when he's in pain. He's not."
"Nice. See you tonight. I'll make shrimp on the grill."
"May I bring home a dessert? I found a bakery I like. Maybe something like a fruit tart, or individual ones?"
"Yeah, nice," said Mark. "Neither of us are finicky eaters, so any fruit, or any dessert is fine."
"Cool. See you after work Mark. I'll make sure we're on time for dinner Megan."
I smiled almost all the way to work. I told Mike that I was staying with Mark and Megan until Skip was brought back to his room. He was pleased that I decided not to mope around Shepherd.
I stopped at the bakery before I went to the Center. I found strawberry, blueberry, peach, kiwi, mango, and pineapple/orange tarts. I did not know what Mark and Megan would have, but these worked for me. Nah, I would share. Probably, but no guarantees per my scrawny ass.
We sat outside by the pool. Mark and I had both gone for a swim, even though we had spent an hour at the pool earlier. The shrimp was served with a coconut and fruit plate, topped with a splash of balsamic vinegar. (JNM - no EVOO. I hope you laugh aloud when you see this. I have a wide grin on my face as I write this).
"Time for dessert?" I asked as we drank hot tea. "You may not have seen the surprise I put in your fridge."
"Yeah, ready and willing," said Megan.
I brought the desserts out on a tray, all six of them, so we could choose. Megan picked the peach. Mark took the orange/pineapple. I took the mango. I put a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top of each, at their request. The other three would serve as dessert for tomorrow night. It would fulfill my dessert quota for the month.
"Hmmm," Megan said, looking over at me, halfway through her dessert. "Seems like someone owes me a dance."
"What? In the middle of dessert? Well, I dunno ... Isn't that almost sacrilegious?"
She gave me a pouty face and I crumbled immediately, after which I immediately laughed aloud.
Mark ran into the house to put on Megan's favorite artist, Martina McBride. He chose a slow-dance tune. She came into my arms and I took her by the waist. We put our cheeks together. Mark came back out, smiling at us and sitting back down, his towel still over his shoulders. Everything in the world, except the music, disappeared through two songs.
She pulled back from me for a moment and then leaned in again, kissing my forehead. I returned the kiss.
"Nice, love. You truly do dance divinely. You're a complete package, Aaron."
I blushed. How many times have I heard that from Skip or Billy?
We finished our desserts, not talking for a long time, until the music faded. Later, I climbed into bed. I had to connect to my lover.
"Hi love. I thought about you so much today that it was almost obscene. Do you feel me, love? Do you know how much you mean to me, at this moment in time, and far beyond the moments we're in? I wish I could hold you. I'm not lonely tonight, though. I had a good evening with Mark and Megan. Megan and I danced. Jealous? Nah, I know. She's a very cool lady, but my heart is yours. It's so awesome that they will be parents in a few months. Usually there are more important things to talk about, but it's important enough in its own right. I love you, Skip, sooo much. I can't wait to hold you in my arms again. Goodnight my love."
I had found out from Mark that he and Megan were college sweethearts, eleven years together. There was going to be renewal of their vows tonight, Friday night. It would take Megan by surprise. Men love to conspire in the romantic when they both had romantic hearts. Mark says mine was better but I said that we are equal in many ways. I had brought a couple Celine Dion CDs with me.
"This is the song that we danced the other night, with Skip. Is this something you can dance to?"
I jokingly made a move toward Mark, taking Megan in my arms at the last minute.
"Oh you are such a heart tease!" he said, laughing. "I already know how to dance to this."
"Prove it," is all I said, suddenly very serious.
He walked over to the CD player, looking back to see if I was bluffing. I was not. He reset it to play from the beginning, and asked Megan to press 'play' when we were ready. He walked over to me and put his arms so lovingly around me, perfectly knowing what I wanted-Skip in my arms. Since I could not, he figured I could settle for second best. In the moments I am in, Mark is not second best. He has my heart. I held him just as I would hold Skip. He put his head on my shoulder and I put mine on his. He nodded subtly. Megan pressed play and stepped back. I lead, as I usually did when Skip and I or Billy and I danced. Skip had told me once that if I would lead, he would follow me anywhere.
"I'm glad to finally hear the song that was in your head the other night, the way Skip heard it too, I'm sure."
"He did. He can get inside my head as easily as he gets into my heart."
We did not talk through this song. Megan went back one track on the "The Colour of my Love" CD to the title track.
"The color of your love is this, Aaron. Keep going. This is magnificently beautiful between you two. I'm overwhelmed, and jealous, for what you and Skip mean to each other."
Mark and I kept going. Tears streamed down his cheek onto my neck. Neither one of us made a move to stop to wipe them away. A man's tears on my neck, and a man such as Mark, was a beautiful thing. This was not gay. This was so far away from gay that I would scream denial of the label if anyone dared to do that to us. This is heart, at its finest. (And if anyone is contemplating that Mark is bi, cease immediately!)
At the end of the two songs, we hugged each other tightly. We finally both wiped tears off our faces.
"I will never forget this, Aaron. It is as special as having Skip between us. You're making memories that will last my lifetime."
"Mine too," said Megan, also wiping away a tear.
"Where did you learn to dance?" Mark asked. "Your style is not necessarily American. It feels almost European, smooth and elegant for lack of a better word."
"I'm a trained dancer, though back to when I was 17 and 18, with Kate. We went to a dance studio in Canada once a week for two entire summers. I can dance to pop all the way up to stylized ballroom dancing. At our senior prom, our classmates stepped back twice when we danced, once during a Frank Sinatra slow dance and once to a Fleetwood Mac song."
"The love you knew, and that you know now. I agree with Megan. I'm almost jealous."
"Time to put an end to that, love. First, a couple of dances for you."
I set the music. Megan and Mark walked into each other's arms, as elegantly and as warmly graceful as any couple. If Mark and I were beautiful, Megan and Mark were gorgeous. Their baby will be as royal as any prince or princess. He gave her love twice, at least, as nice as the heart he had given me, and that was saying something. They were cheek to cheek and heart to heart. I faded into the background.
Near the end of the second song, he reached into his slack's pocket and pulled out a small box. He stepped back as the song faded into a more upbeat tune. I turned the volume down. He knelt down in front of her. He slid her wedding band and diamond ring off her finger. He showed her a new diamond ring, almost as one makes an offering to a deity. A single tear ran down her cheek. She put two fingers up to her lips, smiling, I would assume, like the first time Mark proposed to her. She nodded, choking up. He slid the diamond onto her finger, and replaced her wedding band. He stood and whispered in her ear. She laughed aloud. They went upstairs.
I went out for a long walk. Tonight was about as magical as it could get without my Skip. I sat on a swing in the park and wept softly at the beauty of Mark and me, and of Mark and Megan. That people truly did love so comfortably and so sincerely was a testament to humanity. We were not all bad after all. I watched stars shoot across the sky occasionally. The crickets and frogs were not as wonderful as Celine, but wonderful enough.
It was after midnight by the time I came home. They would not be worried about me, and would be asleep long ago. I climbed into bed and smiled until I slept. There were no more tears, of any kind, tonight.
"Good night my love. I miss you so much, but I love you so much more."
I fell into a somewhat restless sleep. He called out to me.
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