Skip - Part 45


Skip - Part 45


"I'm sorry."

"ALL I ... want to do is hold ... you. Fuck my legs."

"Not that easy, for me anyway."

"Get over it."


After we got back to our room, Skip noticed my sneakers. He gave me eyebrows.

"Long story."

"Enlighten ... me."

I did. I told him everything about the two weeks away. I also told him about Mark and me.

"You should know that Mark helped me get off, twice. In the hospital in DC. And back at my apartment."

"Nice. Was it ... 1% lust?"

"Yeah. Ummm, maybe a little more."

I looked into his eyes to see how he felt about that.

"You already know how ... I feel about that. He did ... what I asked ... for one thing. Did he ... p--put his heart into it?"

"What would you do, in his place, I mean?"

"For you? Anything. Whatever ... it takes."

I slid my arm under his back and lay my hand on his chest. I kissed him.

"Not everyone feels that way, love."

"Mark does. I ... had help too."

"I know. I'm glad. You did hear me say that I got off before I came here."

"Yeah. I'm a little sad about that. I really want you inside of me."


He looked at me. "Bro."

I shook my head a little.

He hugged me. It took every ounce of his effort, but he pulled me to him and kissed my head.

"It was ... worth it, love."

A tear ran down my cheek and landed on his neck.

"I didn't have to be inside of you. It was good enough that you could enter me."

"Aaron, sooner or ... later you'll have ... to trust me on this."

"No. Not about this one. It's unforgivable."

He did not say anything. My sadness overruled his common sense. Oh yes, I knew he had common sense. My mind, even with the tumor gone, said I hurt him profoundly. It did not matter what he said or thought this time. It was not the same as my legs going numb when Andrew put needles into my tumors. Andrew did not hurt me, intentionally or otherwise. But I just had to put my cock into Skip. All I had to do was wait until his next MRI and x-rays on his spinal column.

"Stop. This minute! Dammit Aaron!!"

He was angry this time. It was an almost impossible emotion for Skip.

"Just hold me, Skip. I can't be inside you."

We lay quietly together. His anger faded as quickly as it came. He rubbed my back.

"I love you, Aaron ... so much more than ... I can say. Words aren't enough."

"I know," I said so softly that he could not have heard me.

Skip has no need to hear me. We are connected. He kissed me.

"I hate being so sad, Skip. The facts are there. When you tell me I did not hurt you, you always leave out one word."

"Because it's a stupid ... word."


"You're still ... d-dumb as a tree stump."

"Yeah. There's no cure for that. Even NIH's finest couldn't find the cause of that one. Maybe we need a telethon."

I could feel him smile. I looked at his face again. He rubbed our noses together.

"Me loving ... you is the cure ... for anything."

"Do you need a bath?"

"Need, no. Want ... yes. It req-requires an obligation ... on your part."



"I never had a problem with you inside me, love. It was for you more than me. Something more for me than you sucks so bad, which is where the problem lies."

"Let it go."


Sigh, from him.

I got up and closed his door. Our door. Whatever. I still felt disconnected from what this room really was. I took off his t-shirt and sweatpants. I rubbed his cock through his boxer briefs. He responded with a wide smile on his face and a twitching of his cock.

"I don't usually ... do this, and won't ... ever again. But you have ... to fuck me first."

"Come on, love. I can't."

"You can. I need you ... so bad, Aaron. You *have* ... to come back ... to me all ... the way. You have to ... prove you love me."

"You risk pushing me away. My urge is run is ... "

"You and me ... are worth any ... risk. I already told ... you that."

"You're killing me."

"Look what you are ... still doing."

I did. I had not taken my hand off his cock, and I was still fondling him.

"Because it's for you, not for me."

"Are you hard?"


"Get hard. Better yet ... put your cock in ... my mouth."

I hesitated, but only for a moment. He knew what he was doing, and I needed to be brought out of my funk. Listening to everything he said is the only way that was going to happen. My cock in his mouth was not his need. Me inside of him was his need. My hand or his hand was not going to get me hard enough to enter him.

"You do love me. Says you. Words are ... not enough this time, Aaron. You ... have to fuck me."

I know I had to. I took off my shirts, socks, and jeans. When I pulled down my boxer briefs, he saw that I was truly not hard. I was going to take a greater act than even his mouth to change that. I got up on his bed and straddled his chest. He gave me those eyes that always brought a smile to my face, no matter what else was going on. I leaned in and kissed him. I put my soft dick into his mouth. I watched him as he made me tingle, even against my better judgment. Something happened inside of me and I felt my cock get semi-hard. This was not even close to 1% lust. This was his urgent need to bring our lives back in sync. I withdrew from his mouth only long enough to kiss him deeply. I put a hard cock back inside of his mouth. He winked at me but kept sucking me to absolute hardness.

"Now eat me out, love," he directed.

I lay between his legs and started in on his hole.

"No. Not good enough."

"Please don't."

"Don't hold back on me. You're not a ... half-assed man, ever. Aaron, my ... legs are dead. They're not ever coming ... back. Ever. My spinal cord ... can't get worse."

"I'm scared, love. I'm really scared."


He gave me eyes that were not angry nor pleading. He gave me eyes that wanted my heart back. I raised his legs, giving me access to his hole. I gave my lover the attention and the pleasure that we wanted. My cock was throbbing. Stupid cock had a mind of its own. I put his testicle in my mouth and rolled it around while I probed his hole with my finger. I released his testicle and went back to eating him out, instinct kicking in. He was sweet and clean, as I knew he would be. He would have had a bath this morning before I came back. Whoever had cared for him had done as good a job as me. Not better than me, because no one could. No one was so fully vested as me, except for Billy who was in Boston.

I got up on my knees and put his legs over my shoulders. I kissed his calves and then his thighs, less meaty than even mine. He was not far from me in weight loss. I pushed all those thoughts out of my mind while I entered him in one long push. I folded him in half, knowing that the damage was long done. I could roll him into a ball and not do anything worse to him.

He did not say a word. He did not have to. He expected me to put my heart into him as if he was completely fine. His heart was into it. He put his arms around me slowly and with great effort. He rubbed my back and then held me tight.

"I love you Aaron. I want you ... to love me uncon-ditionally."

What Skip wanted, Skip gets. My fears ran out of me, sliding into an unseen drain, disappearing into a black hole and into non-existence. Hardly possible, but my cock got harder inside of his warm moistness. He clenched tightly around my cock as I pulled out, unclenched as I pushed in. I got into a rhythm that made him moan. I pushed into him and stayed inside of him all the way. I was shocked to find that I was ready to come.

"Schoolboy!" he said in mock disgust.

"You make me feel like it's our first time, love. I don't have words for you. Yet."

"My ego won't stand ... for that."

"You have no ego."

"Oh. I forgot."

"Do you love me? And my dumb as a tree stump-ness?"

"More than life ... itself."

"Awww, bro. How can you? That's way too good an answer for me being a shit."

"You are not now ... nor have you ever ... been, a 'shit'."

"I really don't ... "

"In time. If I can love ... you, you can love you."

"If you can love me."

"Okay, bro. Try ... this on. The fact that I can love ... every moment of ... my life means that ... you have to forgive ... yourself."

"Forgive myself what?"

"For your ignorance."

"Oh. Ignorant? Really?"


"Low blow."

"Ignorance is not ... stupidity."


"I need you in ... my heart, love. 100%. Please?"

I nodded. I resumed making love to him. I put aside the remaining doubts, which were indeed much less than my fears. The fears were gone. Soon they would be forgotten. Love rules, and love rocks. His for me way more than mine for him.

"No. Equally. Except by one ... heartbeat in time."

"Okay. One heartbeat in time."

"I can't love ... you more than that. It's ... physically and ... emotionally impossible."

I was close again. His words were so heartfelt that they were more than the physical stimulation of cock to ass.

"Inside of you?"


I gave him deep and then I tingled from head to toe. I cried out from the heat inside of me. Schoolboy indeed but I loved the feeling of our first time. Being able to feel that all over again was pure magic. He really did love me. And I really did love him, up to the maximum possible. I have never come inside of him, or Billy, so hard. If I shot any harder, it would overflow his ears.

"My stud boy Aaron."

I stayed inside of him.

"My hero, Skip. I have to tell you that you being able to hold me so tight is what makes the difference."

"I worked on upper body ... only while you were ... gone. We still have to move ... my legs, but not to ... make them stronger again. It won't happen."

"I wish I could accept it, like you do."

"I told you, with my ... heart, that I only ... want to hold ... you. Walking is nothing ... compared to holding ... you so close, love. Would it be ... to you?"

"I dunno. Honestly."

"Good answer. It's sincere. You know ... a wheelchair is ... out there for you. You ... have to accept ... that mine is permanent."

"Doesn't mean I have to like it."

"I know, love. I know."

"Guilt sucks."


"You're not going to tell me not to feel it?"


"You're a better man than I am."

"Because I love you ... Aaron. I waited for ... you, here inside ... my heart."

"I want a Saturday night date."

"Me too."

"But let's live in our moments first. Do you still want to be inside me?"


"I love you. I find it hard ... "

"So do I. Really hard."

"Not what I was going to say."

"Let me love you ... back, Aaron."

I went into the bathroom and drew a hot bath. I put in the bath oils at the beginning. The smell was nice and the soft cottony bubbles were so nice. It was the simplest thing in the world right now. Loving Skip is in the details. I went back to get him. I picked him up. He put his arms around me.

"I love that, so much," I said.

"I know. Me too."

"Will your arms be strong enough to push a low-rider?"

"Dunno. Maybe. Who cares?"

"I do. Just because you shouldn't be trapped forever."

"Nothing is forever, love ... except you and me and Billy. I cannot ... care about anything else."


"The moments I'm in. There is no 'someday'. My ... love for you. Your love ... for me. Nothing ... else matters, my Aaron. Nothing."

"Awww love, something else has to."


He gave me wonderfully thoughtful eyes. I sat on his very hard cock. I had truthfully thought I would never feel this again. Not after breaking him. I looked at him as I had that thought.

"Don't take that the wrong way."

"Okay," he said.

"Are you finally giving me a break?"

"Somebody has to. You won't."

"I won't. I can't. It's not guilt as much as it's instinct, love. We always trust instincts."

"Your instinct says you ... pushed my spinal column ... into my spinal ... cord."


"Doesn't make it true."

"Maybe only to me then."

"I got my wish, love. It's ... all I need. A wish ... fulfilled. How many people ... can say they have ... a fulfilled wish?"

"Not many probably."

"I can."

I washed him as we talked. I washed his hair.

"You need another haircut, love. It's always in your face."

"Deb threatens ... to put me in ... a ponytail."

"Your discipline is awesome in every way except for a haircut."

"Amanda will cut it in the morning. At her house, by the way."

"A day away from here?"

"A weekend."


I washed his upper body without saying anything more for long minutes. His skin is smooth and pale. Too pale. He gave me eyebrows because I was thinking too seriously again.

I kissed him, my hand behind his head. I touched his cheek.

"Aaron? Do you have a wish?"

He was still filling me up as I rode him. He was not close yet, but enjoying himself.


"Tell me."

"Spoken wishes don't come true."

"This one will."

"You already know my wish?"


"My wish is that you will love me until my very last breath."

"And well beyond."

"Guilt still sucks."

"I know."

I started squeezing my hole tighter as I made the journey from base of is cock to close to the head, without pulling off him.

"Wanna come?"

"Yeah. Feels so nice."

I clenched my hole tightly as I pulled up his cock. I went to the base and did it again, drawing his cum out of his insides. He lay his head back and let out a soft moan. I kept milking him until there was no more cum. I was so greedy but he already knew that.


"Sooo good, lover man. This ... is only for me, but ... so nice."

"But I took all of your cum, so it's for me too."

"Welcome back, love. I missed you. And ... I don't mean only ... while you were in ... DC."

"I know, love. The crap will pass eventually."

When I was done bathing him again, I rinsed us off with the flexible shower hose. I drained the tub as I took him out and lay him on his bed. Towels had magically appeared on his bed. I would never know who did that for us. But a kind-hearted person would know. Other people can love us as well as we love each other. I looked over at the closet. It was open. There hung our dress clothes, back from the dry cleaners.

After I put on his t-shirt and boxer briefs, I put on mine. I went to the door. There was no knock, but I knew someone sweet was there. He stood with his arms behind him.

"You have a half hour to get dressed in your good clothes. You will also pack a duffel bag for you two for three nights."

"Yes sir," I said to Mark.

He smiled. He kissed us both very sweetly and then he hugged Skip so nicely that I shed a tear. Skip did not return the hug. That struck me a little strange, but Skip was always a step ahead of me. For the moment, I wrote it off to him being unable to, maybe for being tired. But then again, what do I know?

"I'm off the clock, so I can do that. I want one thing from you tomorrow my friend."

"It's yours," said Skip.

"Two things, actually."


I looked at them both. I think I knew, but then again, what do I know?

I got Skip dressed for our now Friday night date. We could have a Saturday night date too. If I was a good boy, we might have a Sunday night date too, since Mark said to pack for three nights.

When we were dressed, I followed Skip out as he expertly guided his wheelchair. Deb and Mark were once again dressed in their nicer clothing. Mark pushed the button for the elevator. He pressed two first. I knew where we were going.

"My, don't you all look so nice. A Friday night date for the boys, Deb?"

"Yes Annie (The Missus). Skip has something for you."

The Missus got down on one knee. She knew what he had for her, without asking. His hands were on his thighs. He started at the shoulders, raising his upper arms, which raised his lower arms and then hands. He embraced her so sweetly, like he does with his mom.

"Oh Skip that feels so nice. What a treasure you are. This is a surprise, a pleasant one."

"A wish fulfilled ... Missus, as I told Aaron earlier. My ... legs won't work anymore."

"How do you feel about that?"

"Aaron will hold ... me and carry me. It's a ... fair trade."

"If you can accept it, others will. Your lover will come around as well," she said, looking up at me. She stood and took my hand. "Accept him and honor him, Aaron. He knows best. You had your priority and he had his. I knew he was working harder on upper body. It's good enough because he says so. To be granted a wish is a life made happy."

I nodded. The lump in my throat was too large. She came around Skip's wheelchair and hugged me warmly and I returned it in kind.

"Thank you for your email, while you were gone. Mark told us the tale of your momentary childhood on the NIH campus. I felt like I was there, watching you two fine men. You are admirable, Aaron."

"Thank you, Missus. A young lad helped me return to that younger self easily. Thank you for looking in on my lover while I was away. I know you spent time with him while I was in surgery. He could feel me through you while I was unconscious, you know."

"Somehow I do know that, Aaron. Your link is special. Skip was not alone for a moment during those 17 or 18 'dark' hours that you were in the void. He was not sad. I was, but only briefly. You'll have follow-up care here, of course, but I understand the tumor was successfully removed."

"Yes ma'am. I'm sorry for your sadness, however brief."

"Someone wise says that you cannot know good unless you know bad. That same wise man gave me those words, over there," she said, pointing to the wall. I went over to look. My mantra was on a beige background of cloth, cross-stitched into the fabric.

I smiled. She came over to stand beside me. "Those are the most beautiful words I have ever heard, and I've heard many."

She turned.

"Now go and enjoy your evening. Off you go."

We left her office and went back to the elevator. In the lobby, Tim and Thomas were again at their post. They had not been in yet when Mark and I arrived this morning. Thomas was talking to a woman and her patient son, but Tim came around to give me a hug.

"Welcome back, Aaron. We hear the news is good."

"It is, and not just for me. Kneel down beside our friend for a moment."

He did so. Skip reached out and gave Tim a fine hug.

"So nice, Skip. Excellent."

"And one for me?" asked Thomas, "if ... "

"Easily," said Skip.

He proved it. He did indeed easily, and warmly, hug Thomas.

"You accomplished your wish, finally," said Tim, beaming at Skip.

"Got two of them," Skip said, reaching for my hand and holding it.

"Bless you both. Even though some of Aaron's own hope had to be done in DC, this is still a place of hopes fulfilled. I'm pleased," said Thomas.

"Enjoy your weekend, all of you," said Tim.

We went down the long corridor to the back of the building. Mark opened the rear and brought down the ramp. Skip slid onto it and then moved forward inside. Deb and I went behind him. I handed over a ginger tablet, which he swallowed.

"The itinerary is almost the same as last time, except that you will stay with Cal and I tonight. Mark and Megan host you tomorrow night, and then Amanda, Mike and the twins, who are missing Awon greatly. Okay by you two?"

"Sweet. Are we winding down? To go home?"

"Yes. Mid-November," Deb answered.

"I feel two ways about that."

"So do we, love," said Mark from the front seat as he started the SUV.

We headed south toward the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Deb and Cal's neighborhood. The journey was easier on Skip this time thanks to the ginger tablet. He held Deb's hand. She held mine as well. We arrived at Deb's home in twenty-five minutes. The sun was setting on this cold October day. I smelled smoke from fireplaces around the neighborhood. October was my second favorite month because summer's heat was gone, bright color was everywhere, the air was crisp and clean, and fireplaces got their first workout of the season.

Cal came out the front door and down the steps as we pulled in. After Mark came to a stop and opened the back door, Cal helped guide Skip back and onto the lift. Once on the ground, Cal got down and gave Skip a welcoming hug. He was taken by surprise though when Skip returned it.

"Really?" he said, pulling back, still holding Skip.

"Like it?"

"Enough to want another if you can manage it."

"I can."

"Sweet. You made your wish. How about your legs?"

Skip shook his head. Cal understood.

"Hi Aaron, so glad you're back with us," he said, giving me as fine a hug as he had given me the day I left Atlanta.

"Thanks for having us, Cal. What can I do for you?"

"We'll let Mark and Deb help Skip inside. Come on in to the kitchen."

Cal opened a bottle of wine after giving me one to open as well. Deb came in, hugged and kissed her mate, and took a cheese and crackers tray into the living room. Cal and I followed. Their fireplace was lit as well. Celine Dion sang to us. The CD cover said this was her "Collector's Series" disc, a compilation of her best. Nice. I poured wine for Skip and I. Mark wanted white zinfandel as well.

"A short one, bro. I'm heading out. Dinner is for you four."

Deb and Cal had a burgundy.

"To Aaron's successful journey to Washington, and his return," said Deb, raising a toast.

"To Skip's wish fulfilled," I said, "because that's as good as life gets."

"Cheers," we all said as one.

I got down on my knee beside Skip. I helped him drink his wine.

"I'll leave you to dinner," said Mark. "I'll pick you up around 4:00 tomorrow afternoon."

He kissed Skip's forehead and Skip returned it. But Mark was not getting away just yet. Wiggly eyebrows brought him back to a sweet kiss.

"Thanks, love. I'll always love those wiggly eyebrows."

"I love you, Mark. I can't ... just say the words."

"For that, I'm thankful. Goodnight, love."

Deb and Cal both gave Mark a hug, none too half-assed either. He came over to me. He wrapped me into a tight hug as I did the same to him. I do not do half-assed. [I will make a friend in Boston smile when I say, using his term, that this is a gourmet hug-finest kind.]

"You okay?" he whispered very softly into my ear.

"Perfectly," I whispered back. "We made love. Twice."

"Nice. Keep doing that. He needs your whole heart and soul."

I nodded. He reached for Skip's hand for a moment. Skip met him half way.

As Mark left, Deb went to the kitchen. Cal showed us to the dining room. I set Skip onto the chair at the round dining table. It had padded arms, so he could hold himself upright. I made sure his legs were not pulling down on his back. I sat to his right, close to him.

"Give your arms a break, love. I can feed you. Is that okay?"

"Yeah. They're tired anyway, but you know that."

I did. He had no pain. The feeling in his arms came and went like the tide's flow and ebb.

Cal brought in a nicely sized ham, looking like it came out of a gourmet magazine. Deb brought in roasted sweet potatoes and a large bowl of roasted corn cut from the cob. Cal went back out to the kitchen and brought in three goblets of milk. He poured iced tea for Deb. The perfect hosts, knowing what our favorites are all the way around. My guess is there is a pie in the kitchen. Or perhaps a torte.

Deb asked about the leaf pile 'incident' in DC, having caught only a hint of it from Mark earlier today. I told them in detail what Mark and I did, before, during, and after, including the mutual 'Uh oh'.

"Mark and you connected? Oh that can't be good," she joked.

"Scarier for him, trust me. When we go home, do something silly with him on your lunch hour some day, just because. That really was fun."

"Consider it done," she said. "And the kindly/gruff older man. I think I would have peed my pants being caught like that. Your response is priceless."

"I kinda surprised myself. I'm not always good for a comeback like that, until hours after the fact. Being called a 10-year-old seemed to be an insult to Andy."

We all laughed.

"Now I know why you feel no need to travel with a camera," said Deb. "The images are as strong now as days ago, and probably will be for years to come."

"Not depending on a camera makes the images stay sharp. 99% of photographs I ever take are of lighthouses. Pictures of us three are a rare find."

"Like you three," said Cal.

"Well yeah, there is that. Nice compliment, by the way Cal. Thanks for that."

"Well timed because it's true, bro. The hardest thing I did in my life was spending a night searching for you. That gives 'rare find' a whole new meaning. How is the head?"

"Achy but the edge is gone. It took over 18 hours to kill the tumor. I'll have follow-up therapy at Piedmont."

"Actually, with another therapist at the Center. Medically you'll have a check up every other day at Piedmont. Otherwise, you're with us. Brain tumor is treated like brain injury, at least with us."

"Sweet. I'm grateful."

"That's Andrew's doing, so thank him. NIH is picking up the tab, so they think. The Missus won't bill them."

"I love her more every day. As much as we really want to go home, it's going to be hard leaving you all."

"Nah," said Cal. "Just come back to see us. Mike wants you back for another project. You actually worked on his project in DC?"

"Yeah. That 10-minute attention span thing."

"To the point of being done within a week?"

"Well, yeah."

"Hey don't be ashamed of that. You said you'd finish by the time you left. Mike is beside himself and he's praising you to anyone who'll listen, which is everyone."

I finished eating at the same time I finished feeding Skip. He looked at me, pride in his eyes.

"Of course I'm ... proud, love. You promise ... and then things happen. Good things."

"Except ... "

"Don't go ... there."

"Except a promise never to hurt you."

"You kept the promise, love," said Deb. "Please go easy on yourself. Our staff determined at what point Skip lost the use of his legs permanently."

"I'm listening."

"Five months ago, before the first time you made love to Skip."

"Are you ... "

"If I've learned one thing from you, it's never to lie and never to be insincere. I don't lie to spare someone's feelings, love. Truth is always better. You said Skip wanted a challenge to be set up. That implies he wanted hope to reach as far as he could. He did that."

She looked over at Skip. He nodded.

"My reach is my ... arms to you, love. To hold ... you so I can feel you ... and you can feel me. You know ... I feel things you don't. I felt my ... legs were lost. I tried ... anyway. For you."

"Okay, love. I understand. You're still the bravest man I've ever known. I love that you put me ahead of you, sorta."

"Revise that."

"I love that you put me ahead of you. One more way to tell me how important I really am to you."


"Take your love to the living room, Aaron. We'll bring dessert and coffee."

I put my napkin on my plate. I held Skip's glass so he could finish his milk. It left him with a milk mustache, which I kissed away. I wiped Skip's face again with his napkin and put it on his plate. I pulled his chair back and got down in front of him. He put his left arm on my shoulder. He turned my head to him again. He leaned forward and kissed me lovingly.

"Cal? Do you know ... how to dance?"

"Your way? Because of Mark, yes."

"You know about our dance ... at his house? Do you think ... you can help me ... dance with my Aaron?"

"Yes love. I can. I hoped you'd ask."

"After dessert," Skip said.

Cal nodded. He and Deb went to the kitchen. I caught a glimpse of them hugging each other nicely. Skip saw it too, because he kissed my cheek.

I set Skip down on the sofa and then sat beside him. Deb and Cal obviously had 'their' favorite chairs, next to each other, with a small round table and a lamp between them. A book sat on top of another. His and hers. Cal came in with the coffee service. Deb came in a minute later with a tray. Raspberry almond torte.

"You tried my recipe?"

"Yes. It's so easy."

"Almost as good as ... "

"Strawberry rhubarb pie?" said Cal, walking in with a whole pie and a pie holder. "This is for a snack at bedtime or for after lunch tomorrow. Anything left over goes to Megan and Mark's place."

"Thanks Mr. Pie Man. Deb told me you had something up your sleeve."

"And I have something up mine as well," said Deb. "How would you two like to see a concert in town on Wednesday, including dinner of your choice before?"

"Love it," said Skip. "Mark for an ... escort and driver?"

"With co-pilot Megan."

"May I ask who's in concert?" I said.

Deb showed me a CD.

"I'm gonna pass out." I showed Skip the CD. His eye lit up like Christmas morning. "Seriously?"


She handed Skip an envelope. He opened it in his lap. He brought out two items to show me.

"Two tickets. Front row. My God!"

"And?" said Skip, taking out two more items.

"Backstage passes."

"Special backstage passes. Two of only two. No one else in Atlanta has these. She wants to meet you."

I could not speak. Skip just stared, eyes welling up. Tears overflowed his eyes and ran down his cheeks.

"Thank you," he finally managed.

"No problem. This is the depth to which you have touched us all. And also her," she said, touching the CD.

Skip raised his arms. They dropped back but he picked them up again. Deb leaned in and held him. Cal held Skip's arms around Deb. He dried Skip's tears. We had dessert and wine. When we were done, I put our plates together.

"Ready to dance?"

"Yeah," said Skip. Cal nodded too.

Cal made sure Skip's wheels were locked. I locked Skip's arms around my neck. I took Skip out of his wheelchair. Cal immediately got behind him, grabbing him and me. I grabbed Cal and Skip as well, making a Skip sandwich, thinking back to Mark being able to do this so lovingly. Cal was no less a loving man. He kissed Skip gently on his neck as he held us together.

"What song do you want?" asked Deb.

"The Prayer. Andrea Bocelli."

"Nice choice," said Deb, making the selection. Skip knew the lyrics by heart. He sang them into my ear, quietly, emphasizing certain words, singing the Italian perfectly:

La forza che ci dai
We ask that life be kind
E'il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amore
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a se
Another soul to love

It was so beautiful as he held me tight, able to squeeze me as he told me he loves me, smiling through teary eyes, going way beyond love for me. Deb was sitting on the arm of the sofa, now knowing, words-to-images, what Mark had recounted about dancing with Skip and me. Cal was lost in the moment, seeing only us three as we floated somewhere along the celestial plane. I could easily follow where he took us. He looked into my eyes but did not say a word. Skip kissed my neck as the song came to an end.

Deb lowered the volume as The Prayer faded out and "All By Myself," in Spanish, faded in.

She stood sideways to us and hugged her three men tightly, head on Skip's shoulder, kissing his cheek softly. She did not speak, nor did we, as we stood together. Letting go seemed like insanity, but we did anyway. I sat Skip on the sofa again, beside me. He put his head on my shoulder, looking at Deb and Cal.

"I don't need ... legs for this. But I ... need my arms. We have to ... make them stronger."

"Yes, love, we do. We will."

At bedtime, I carried Skip upstairs as Deb showed us to our room. I undressed my lover and then myself. We did not need to make love tonight. We had already done so, as intimately. He and I lay on our sides, naked, facing each other. I checked. Neither of us was hard. We did not need to be. He held me again, just us two this time.

"I love you ... m-more every day. My Aaron. My heart and so-soul."

"I don't know how I can possibly love you more. Will this magic ever fade?"


He kissed me and closed his eyes, tucking his face into my neck. He could speak one-word answers that spoke complete sentences. I held him tighter. I followed him across another celestial plane, this time to dreamless sleep.

We sat in the breakfast room in the kitchen, eating a light breakfast, me feeding Skip with him able to do a bit more than usual with his arms. He could not hold the fork very well, yet. I had an idea. I took it out of his hand, closed his hand, and then put the fork back in it. He now held his fork like a child (or a barbarian) does when they are learning to use the new tools. It was still awkward, but a bit less so. I cut his English muffin in half, put raspberry jam on it, and put it up to his mouth.

Deb and Cal watched us, silently. They held hands under the table. I gave them eyebrows. They put their hands on top of the table. I nodded and winked.

"We'd like to ... explore the neigh ... borhood after breakfast. So you can ... do your usual. We'll ... bring lunch."

"Okay. There is a lot to find out there," said Cal. "Anything you want to bring for lunch is fine by us. Take your time, too. We have no regular lunch time."

I took my bud upstairs and took off his white t-shirt and sleep pants. I dressed him in a BC t-shirt, boxer briefs, long shorts, and sweatpants. I dug out a long-sleeved polo shirt and then a sweater. If he got warm, we could take off a layer. I dressed about the same way. I tied our sneakers to our feet. Cal did not covet my Nikes like a certain someone else did. At least not openly. No one knows about sneaker coveters until they expose themselves, so to speak.

We spent hours exploring the Georgia Institute of Technology, known more familiarly as Georgia Tech. We sat for a while on a green space off Hemphill Avenue, people watching. A young woman and perhaps her boyfriend came up to us, after stopping on the path and looking over at us.

"I don't mean to be so forward," she said, "but you are such an attractive couple. Uh, I'm ... "

"It's okay. We are a couple. My bud here is Skip. I'm Aaron."

"I'm Maggie. My boyfriend Trevor. Nice to meet you."

She got down on one knee beside Skip, as people naturally seem to do. She took his hand gently.

"Quadriplegic? Are you here for rehab? Aaron," she said looking up at me, "your accent is New England."

"Right on all ... counts," said Skip. "New Hampshire, now ... in Connecticut. We've been here ... since early June. We can ... go home in a few weeks, b-before Thanks ... giving maybe."

"Homesick?" asked Trevor, kneeling on the other side of Skip. We both nodded.

"I would guess, from the way you say 'home'. I'm also from New Hampshire."

He picked me out as a French-Canadian, therefore from up north. Skip was more Bostonian in his accent. Trevor was from the seacoast. Maggie was a Georgia native. We spent a half hour talking and then the couple invited us to join them for a snack across campus. They showed us around some of the higher points on campus. We had two email addresses to add to our growing address book, and a young couple interested in future tech for paraplegic and quadriplegic patients. We would meet again at a future date. The world is about connections.

We left around 12:30, stopping at a Chinese takeout place on the way home. I called Deb to find out their favorites. Cal's basic need was "one of each." I knew I liked him. His need was like ours, Chinese food-wise anyway. I brought a good variety and of mixed 'heat'. I am more 'meat and potatoes' because of my heritage, so the hot and spicy was not to my taste. A southern boy like Cal loved heat. Deb and Skip liked it mixed. We spread the containers out on the kitchen counter and then filled our plates. I sliced up two egg rolls for Skip, poured a light amount of duck sauce over them, and then fed him with my fingers. I do not do chopsticks because dropping ones food onto ones plate repeatedly is just silly. Chinese is not fork food, even the messy stuff. Especially the messy stuff. I cleaned up his fingers in the same manner as I cleaned mine up, and then went to get wet paper towel to finish cleaning our hands and faces.

Once clean, I held his hands and just spent time looking in his eyes. I could get lost in those eyes. God gave him expressively beautiful eyes, and then that and more to Billy.

"How do you feel about a game of Electronic Battleship bro," Cal said to Skip.

"Love it. Therapy too."

"Busted! You read me too easily."

"It's Deb's ... fault. You're contam-inated."

Skip gave Deb eyebrows. She hugged him from behind and kissed his cheeks. She loaded the dishwasher.

"No cure either, bro, but her punishment is to love me. Let's go set up in the den."

I took Skip out of his wheelchair and brought him down the hall. Cal opened the two-sided case while I set Skip into a chair with arms. I took the ships from Cal and put them on top of the electronic pad. Skip picked each one up and, with a bit of effort, put the five pieces where he wanted to. Cal did the same on his side. Cal told Skip to go first. He called out a location. Missed. The pegs were too small for Skip to manage, so I plugged them in as the game progressed. It took a while before either one got their first hit. Cal struck one end of Skip's cruiser. Skip hit the middle of Cal's aircraft carrier and then sank it in short order. Deb sat on our side of the table cheering against her spouse. It took an hour and 20 minutes but Skip prevailed, having lost only parts of his larger ships and two cruisers. Cal wanted a rematch. Skip soundly defeated him.

"Mind trapped in a ... body is still a mind ... trapped, so it has time to ... make plans and ... strategy," he said.

This made me think of something. I went upstairs to get my laptop. I opened it up and set it in front of Skip. I helped him move his fingers to the keyboard. Deb had not gotten this far with Skip's occupational therapy. She beamed at me. I opened up Word to see if Skip could type. He worked his fingers over the keyboard, typing sentences that made me smile and blush. We kept those to ourselves.

We went out for another long walk, this time with Deb and Cal showing us some more of the neighborhood. We had told them about going over to Georgia Tech, so they took us to quiet places in the neighborhood. Skip needed a bit of help on some of the bumpy sidewalks in the older parts. Cobblestones did not bother him, nor did brick paths. When he got tired, I pushed him along. We arrived at home in time as Mark pulled up into the driveway. I ran inside and got our duffels. Skip had help getting loaded into the SUV. I would guess that he got two very fine hugs before he settled in. I got and returned two very fine hugs of my own.

A light rain started to fall on the way. I put Skip's windbreaker on him once we got into the driveway. Mark backed part way into the garage. I could see his car behind Megan's, hers in the garage, his in the driveway. I knew there were stairs to navigate once inside the mudroom, so I took Skip in my arms while Mark took his wheelchair. Mark put it in the kitchen while I took Skip over to the dining table. The kitchen was just now beginning to smell quite nice.

"What can we do to help?" I asked.

"Not a thing until we're ready to serve. I'm roasting a pork loin and potatoes. You can do your twice-baked recipe in a while. Mark is going to grill corn outside. I see we have dessert. That's a fine looking pie."

She poured hot tea for all of us. I gave Skip a couple drops of honey and then gave him a spoon. He stirred the honey into the tea. He looked up at Megan as if to say 'look what I are doing, Megan' and gave her a bright smile.

"Awww love, that is so sweet."

He went one better. I helped him wrap his hands around the cup. He raised it to his lips and drank. The only thing I did was watch. He had to bend over to meet the cup half way but that was okay. He put the cup back on the table gently.

"Can you feel both your arms?"


"Can you do what we talked about, love?" asked Mark.

"Yes. Come here."

A hug. That is what Mark wanted. And to be held like he holds Skip, more than just in his heart. Mark knelt in front of Skip's chair. Skip leaned forward, raised his arms, slid them around Mark, drew Mark to him, kissed him on his neck, and held him tightly. Mark held on to Skip just as tightly.

"Sooo sweet. All my work comes down to all of that. A+ bro. Summa cum laude."

Skip beamed. He did not let Mark go yet, and Mark would not have let Skip go just yet either. This was their long moment and Megan and I gave it to them.

Once Mark sat back in his chair, Skip resumed drinking his tea, asking for another cup when he was done. I gave him honey again and he stirred it. It took effort, especially a second time, but effort was needed. He drank his tea by himself. When he was done, he reached across the table for my hand. I took his and we wrapped our fingers together. I rubbed my thumb across his knuckles.

"I love you, my Aaron."

I did not say anything. I took his words and let them sink in. Those words say a thousand things more than 'I love you, my Aaron.' I brushed his hair off his forehead and then kissed it. I did not have to say I love you back to him. I told him with a kiss and my eyes, which were better than words.

"May we have a short ... nap before dinner?" he asked our hosts.

"Of course, love," said Mark. Living room sofa or perhaps upstairs?"

"Rainy day is made ... for the sofa."

"But wake us when you're ready for help in here," I said. "It was a busy morning and afternoon, but a half hour will be just fine."

Mark nodded. I picked Skip up and Mark followed me. I lay Skip on the sofa and then got behind him. Mark held him from the front until I settled in. He gave both of us a light kiss on our cheeks. I pulled Skip's body against mine and put my arms around his chest. I kissed his neck and he held my arms. A very small gesture on his part, but a large heartfelt one for me. After all the crap, he loves me. We dozed as the rain fell.

A while later, I heard Mark come in to get us.

"Sure you don't want to stay put?"

"Nope. Places to go and things to do," I said.

Mark took Skip this time, carrying him out to the kitchen again. He held Skip at the sink because Skip wanted to wash his hands. He then set Skip on a stool at the counter. I scooped potato flesh out of the skins. I added butter, salt, pepper, and half-and-half to the bowl. Skip put his hands in the bowl and squished the large pieces of potato. I gave him some paper towel so he could clean his hands and then gave him a spoon. He stirred the mixture together. When he was done, I helped him refill the skins.

Mark brought the corn in from the grill. He sliced it off the cob. Megan finely diced some sweet peppers. I chopped a small onion half to add to the mixture. I put Skip in a chair at the table. I took the plates and silverware from Megan and set the table. Mark took the pork loin out of the oven and let it rest a bit. He brought glasses to the table while Megan put the potatoes back into the oven and the veggies onto a warming tray. Mark handed me the milk jug and asked me to pour four.

A few minutes later, we settled at the table. We talked about the plan for Wednesday since Mark and Megan were also going to the concert. We asked them to make a restaurant recommendation. I wanted to pay for us four. They made an argument but two pairs of eyebrows prevailed.

"You do so much for us. Dinner for you is what we want to do for you."

I fed Skip as I ate. We had done this together often enough that the rhythm was easy. I had quickly gotten it back even after two weeks in DC. I put the glass of milk up to his lips and tilted it so he got some without choking on it. That was harder, but not hard. I wiped his mouth when I wiped mine. I held his hand when we were done.

"What's usual for you two on a Saturday night?"

"Movie on TV or tape after dinner. We usually run around most of the day, so a quiet evening is nice."

"Same for us. With it being a rainy night, home sounds nice. We have HBO and Cinemax. Or, come and look at our movie collection downstairs."

"Anything come to mind that you want to see?" I asked Skip.

"Nope. You three ... pick something."

"Okay. Here's the movie guide," said Mark. "See if something catches your eye. We'll be back with one or two other choices."

A while later we were settled into watching "Toy Story," with "Toy Story 2" up next. Skip was thrilled when we brought the videos back. I knew he wanted to see both, but had not gotten to it yet. We four sat on the sofa facing the large TV, feet up on ottomans that matched the sofa. Mark sat on one end, Megan next, Skip next, and me on the other end. We laughed like kids as we watched both films, sometimes saying lines as they were being said.

After the end of the second movie, I kissed Skip on his forehead.

"You want a shower?" I asked.

"May we?" Skip asked Megan.

"Of course. Phew," she said, making a mock face.

Skip and I laughed aloud. I picked him up and threw him over my shoulder, fireman's carry-style.

"Kiss Megan," I said.

He kissed Megan. I did too.

"Kiss Mark," I said again, moving in front of Mark.

He kissed Mark. I did too.

"Thanks for such a nice afternoon and evening. Wake us when you get up, assuming it's before noon, or after 5:00."

"How about 8:00 to 8:30?"

It was now just past 11:00 p.m.

"Sweet. Goodnight guys."

I stripped us out of our clothes and sat Skip in the shower. Seems that all of our hosts had bought stools or benches for Skip to sit on. I leaned him up against the shower wall as I washed his hair. I put a bit of the soap bubbles on his nose.

"Now kiss me," I said.

He kissed me and more.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Everything. And coming ... back to me."

"Me without you and you without me, as a very wise and loving man said, is no life."

"You remember ... things I say?"


"I'm not ... dense."

"Dense as a tree stump."

"No fair."

"All is fair in love and love."

"You love me?"

"Oh yeah, I love you very much." I ran my fingers through his hair. "You are my Skip, as much as I am your Aaron."

"You better ... kiss me before ... I cry again."


"I cried last night ... after you went to ... sleep. It's how ... much I love you."

"Awww, love. Don't cry for me. I hate knowing you're sad enough to cry."

"You're worth it. Your scar scares ... me so much."

"Are you afraid it'll happen again?"


"Me too. But Andrew told me to tell him when I get a headache that won't go away. Every headache makes me so anxious, love. I can't live afraid all the time."

"Don't ... run away again."

"I'll try not to."

"Try hard."

"More than the scar scares you."


"Hold me tight."

He did. He kissed me until I felt his lips no longer. And then I fell asleep too.

When I opened one eye to look at the clock, Skip was watching me.

"What's the matter, love?"

"Nothing. I love to ... watch you sleep."

"I believe only the second part of that."

"And I love you."

"I believe that too. What about the 'nothing' part?"

"Not important."

For him to be awake at 5:30 a.m., probably sooner, it was not 'nothing' and not 'not important'.

"You've been with me only ... two days. Give me time."

"Be inside me. Hold me tight."


I sucked him enough to make him wet. I helped him onto his side and them backed up onto his cock. He slid in smoothly and worked a bit to hold me. I held his arms in mine. He kissed the back of my neck and shoulder while he made love to me. I turned my head to kiss him.

"Feels nice," he said.

"Am I hot?"


"Am I 'the ut'?"

"Always. Even better. You're ... my Aaron."

"Love that sooo much."

"My Aaron. Every ... moment we're in."

He held me more. I could feel his cock throb inside of me.

"Coming. Unhhhh ... unhhhh."

When he finally went soft, which took a while, he kissed my neck again.

"Every moment ... we're in."

He kept holding me and went back to sleep. We woke up again when we heard someone come to the door. I had not closed our door. Even when we were talking, we did so very quietly. We made very little noise when Skip made love to me.

"Breakfast in a while," said Mark. "You guys okay this morning?"

"Skip loves me. Life is good."

"And then some," said Mark.

Skip gave Mark a thumbs up.

I got up and closed the door a bit since we were naked. I took Skip to the bathroom. We took a quick shower to get rid of sweat and cum. I dressed Skip in an Adidas t-shirt, his boxer briefs, socks, bluejeans, and a polo shirt for now. I put my Nikes on him. He smirked.

"Sshhhh, don't tell Mark."

I took my time getting dressed. Skip sat against the headboard watching me. I let my cock hang out of my bluejeans until after I put on my socks, shirt, and Skip's sneakers. They were one size too big, on purpose, for future braces. I finally put my cock away. Skip gave me a mock pout.


"Whoo hoo."

I picked him up and carried him in my arms. Mark had put a Savage Garden CD on. "I Knew I Loved You" was playing.

"Now that's appropriate," I said, looking at Skip.

"I did love you way ... back then. I still do."

He kissed my forehead. I brought him closer up to my chest. He held me around my neck. The only thing that made me sad how his legs hung loosely over my arms.

"No, Aaron."

"Can't help that, love. It'll take time."


I poured cereal for the three of us. I heard the shower upstairs, so Megan would be down in a while. Mark had a bowl of oatmeal ready for her and water coming up to a boil on the stove. As she came into the kitchen, Mark made her oatmeal and handed her a glass of OJ. He kissed her cheek. She hugged him sweetly and he hugged her as well.

"Lovers in love," I said softly.

"We got nothing on you two," she said.

"Maybe not, but you two are as sweet a couple as any we know."

After breakfast, we went for a long walk around the neighborhood. It was a quiet family neighborhood, different than Deb and Cal's but as nice. Other young couples were out either by themselves or with little ones in strollers. We went to the park, which is one we have been to before, not far from Amanda and Mike's place. I had come here after not accepting the hero talk. I took Skip out of his wheelchair and set him on the swing. I made sure his fingers were wrapped around the chains tightly and stood behind him, pushing him gently. Mark was staring sadly at Skip's legs.

"Mark?" Skip said gently. He then shook his head at Mark.

"Just because I'm a therapist, love, it doesn't mean I don't feel sad for my patients. I will always be sad about your legs."


"You should be able to walk and run."

"Can't. Therefore ... they are just legs."

Mark shrugged. He looked at me. Of course, I shared his sad eyes back at him. He knelt in front of Skip, wrapped his arms around him, and kissed his forehead.

"I'm sorry we couldn't make them work."

"Not your fault. And not yours to worry ... about."

"Maybe not. I will anyway."

"Please don't. Look at what ... I *can* do."

"I'm trying."

"Try harder."

Mark nodded. He touched Skip's cheek.

"Just legs, Mark. No more. No less."

"To me, a job half done."

"To me, a job well done. Aaron, hold me a ... moment."

I got behind him, down on both knees. Skip took his hands off the chains. He reached forward and hugged Mark tightly, putting his head on Mark's shoulder. He whispered into Mark's ear. Mark whispered back to Skip. A tear rolled down his cheek. He pulled back to look at Skip. Skip brushed Mark's tear away. He kissed where the tear had been.

Megan had been standing behind Mark, both hands on his shoulders. Skip looked up at her. He gave her eyebrows. She bent down and kissed his forehead.

"Please don't be sad," Skip said. "I'm fine. I have Aaron and Billy. That ... makes me better ... than okay."

"I'm glad we're friends, love. You're the first I've brought so close to me."

"I made you."

"Well, yeah, you did. I'll miss you when we're not together. But I promise to let the sadness go."



"Sooner than ... later."


I loved how we all used 'okay'. One simple word that said a lot.

Mark put Skip's fingers on the chains again. I stood up again, continuing to push him for a while.

Mark and Megan joined Skip on the swings. We could be kids for a while. Skip eventually looked over at the unoccupied slide. He looked at me upside down.

"Still feeling ... kid-ish," he said.

"Alrighty then."

I carried him over to the slide. Mark took Skip's legs and helped me sit him on the top of the slide.

"Don't bang your head, love. Maybe ... "

" ... lean forward. Got it."

He did not say that rudely, just finishing my thoughts as usual.


Megan and Mark stood on each side. The probability of Skip flopping sideways and off the slide was very high. However, we live boldly.

I pushed. Skip teetered sideways on both sides, probably not on purpose but one never knows, and said 'wheeee' like a little kid does. He made it to the bottom and off the end, landing on his butt.

"Do it again!" he said.

"Uh oh. Third childhood. There's little that we can do," I said.

Mark and I put Skip back on the slide. He slid down again but stopped short of the end. I climbed the ladder, hopped onto my butt, and slid down, stopping in time to hold on to Skip and plant a quick kiss on his neck.

"Megan's turn," said Skip.

I lifted him up off the slide and set him down beside it, at the end. Megan had no problem climbing the ladder, sliding down, followed by Mark, running around to the ladder again, following Mark closely behind as he reached the end. They kept it up for four or five times.

"Second childhood for ... you two," Skip said, happy as could be. I helped him clap his hands together.

When they were tired, we put Skip back on the slide. This time I sat right behind him, holding him tight as we went down together, and off the end, him landing his somewhat bony ass in my bony pelvis. Ouch.

"Good thing I didn't have a boner, love. You woulda broken it."

Having had our fun in the park, I put Skip back in his wheelchair. He moved forward to unknown parts. I suddenly realized that we were nearly in front of Amanda and Mike's place.

"Hey, there's an adventuresome four," said Mike stepping down off the porch.

The twins followed and Amanda was right behind them. Each twin leapt into daddy's arms and he set them down on the ground. They came running up the sidewalk, giggling and clapping. Dylan fell on one knee, got up, brushed off his corduroy jeans, and kept running. He was about to launch himself into my arms. I knelt down to catch him and then put him on Skip's lap as David waited for his own launch. He took a running leap after his brother was safely in Skip's arms. I caught him and set him beside his brother, and then putting them inside of the seatbelts that held Skip in. He turned and took off the way we came.

"Come, momma!" one of the twins yelled.

"I'll catch up," she said.

Mike, Megan, and Mark followed and I waited for Amanda as she came back out with jackets for the boys. We walked arm-in-arm back to the park. Skip stayed on the sidewalk and circled the entire park, no small feat. We waited on the roundabout, lazily spinning around with one foot beneath us four, all pushing us around with the other foot on the ground.

"Will you all stay for lunch?" Amanda asked.

"Love to," answered Megan and Mark together.

"Me three," I said. "I'll speak for Skip, of course, since he's still in his third childhood, and showing no signs of coming out of it anytime soon."

I told Amanda and Mike that we had just spent an hour or more here.

Skip came back with the boys over the somewhat bumpy terrain.

"We want to slide," said Skip.

"Oh boy," I said, skeptically.

"Nah, love, we can do it. You ... know I won't hurt ... the boys."

Mike and I helped Dylan climb the ladder and then told him to sit. David came next. He sat up against his brother, holding on. We put Skip at the top yet again. He put both arms around both boys. A nervous Mark, Megan, and Amanda stood at the sides. I gave the trio a push.

Skip flew off the end, landing on his butt, padding the boys landing.

"Told you so," he said.

"Go boldly, huh Skip?" said Amanda.

"Every time," he said.

"Swings," said David.

Mike took the boys, threw them over his shoulders, and walked over to the swings. He put the boys in the saddle seats and put the belts around them. The rest of us went over and sat down. We passed the rest of the morning talking and taking the boys on the rides as they asked, including the big kid. I had not seen him so happy in so long, other than with me in his arms.

Back at the house, I carried Skip in over my shoulder as Mike brought Skip's wheelchair inside and set it in the den. I put him in a chair in the kitchen, one with arms, beside both boys. We started making sandwiches as Amanda took cold cuts out of the fridge. Mike grabbed chips and pickles from the pantry.

"Are you staying for the rest of the afternoon, or coming back at dinner?" Mike asked.

"What do you think, love?" I asked Skip.

"Coming back," Skip said, after getting Mark and Megan's okay.

The twins went down for a nap after lunch and we headed out. I told our Sunday hosts that we would be bringing pie for dessert. Megan and Mark would help us finish off the torte as an afternoon snack.

After an afternoon spent mostly outdoors, I gathered up our stuff from upstairs. Mark would be taking Skip back to the Center tomorrow morning and I would be going to work. We settled in at Amanda and Mike's as the twins played in the living room. Dinner needed some prep time, so we left two little ones and a bigger kid to play. After a while, I peaked around the corner. I went back to get Amanda and Mike. The boys were using Skip's chest and stomach as a building area for their Lincoln Logs. I went in quietly and put a pillow behind Skip's head as he lay flat.

We three sat on the back deck, occasionally peaking in on dinner. The couple knew that we liked Italian the best, so we had stuffed shells with a variation of my lasagna sauce. At the table, Amanda divided one in two and put the halves on small plates for the boys. She gave them spoons, which they promptly ignored and picked up the pasta. In mere moments, their faces were sauce-covered. The twins watched as I fed Skip. He leaned in toward Dylan when Dylan offered up some cheese. David offered up a stray piece of pasta.

Mike and I gave Amanda a break by cleaning up the kitchen and putting leftovers away. We settled into the den to watch a movie after dinner. The boys were more interested in Skip and me, so we divided our attention as needed. At bedtime, Amanda took the boys upstairs for their bath and then put them down for the night. As before, they did not fuss. I could learn a thing for two from them about bedtime.

We four loved "Nature" on PBS, so we watched it. Mike put on a Richard Marx CD to carry us through the evening. It was a do-nothing evening after a full day, so it felt nice to sit and talk. We all went upstairs together and said our goodnights as we hugged each other. I undressed Skip and myself, giving us both a quick shower.

"Our days are ... full again, love. It feels normal."

"That it does. It's been nice to give you a break from the Center. There's more work to be done, though."

"I can do it all," he said, confidently.

The only thing left to do was to get through two occupational therapy levels. First, we slept-soundly. My lover spooned me from behind. Normal felt good. We were almost home.

For one moment our lives met, our souls touched
~Oscar Wilde

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