Skip - Part 50


Skip - Part 50

We settled into a fine meal together, catching up on what we did in DC, my surgery, post-surgery, Skip's plateau-of-the-moment, and how nice to be home and back into a routine that's comfortable around the clock. We sat by the fireplace in the den while we had hot tea and dessert. Fred held on to Skip this time. They talked quietly for a few minutes. Fred kissed the back of Skip's head and told him not to fret over anything.

I woke at 5:30 on Monday morning, ready to get back into work. Even though I worked in Atlanta, my crew and I needed a re-introduction. I was antsy, but only a little. Please Patricia, tell them not to worry about me. Just help me though the day. It'll be good enough, and then some.

Skip looked into my eyes.

"You were watching me sleep again," I said softly, looking over his shoulder at Billy, still sleeping soundly.

"I love you," he said, simply.

"Are you worried about me?"

"Less than you are. But ... a little."

"Are you worried about you?"

"Not even a little. I have ... Billy. And then Fred. I ... like him."

"How about your anxiety?"

He knew what I meant.

"We talked about it. He ... will be okay ... to help me."

Skip was not in a hurry to get up. Billy would wake shortly by his natural rhythms. I got quietly out of bed and got into my wheelchair. I went to the bathroom and then went to get breakfast going. Cereal and OJ plus coffee during the week. The boys would have their main meal at lunch. Patricia and I or a crewmate and I would join them. Dinner would be soup and sandwich or something similar. We kept seasonal fruit on the dining table for snacks.

I heard Billy take Skip to the bathroom. I had a large mug of coffee ready for them when they came to the kitchen. One sugar, a bit of creamer. Billy picked it up and sat with Skip at the dining table. He took the first drink, checking the temp. He held the cup while Skip drank.

"Okay bro?" he asked Billy.

"Yeah. It's nice to be a family again."

"We'll be family no ... matter where we are."

"I know. But I like us together. I'm trying to decide if I want to go on for my Masters. It'll mean two more years away."

"Yeah, and a big ... difference in salary."

"Money isn't everything."

"You want to work with Andrew," I said, joining them at the table. I had cereal and bowls in my lap. "Those credentials will help someone who is struggling with cancer or even us with neurological illness. Frankly, I've had enough of this fucking cancer."

Billy looked at me with the saddest eyes ever. I have rarely spoken such words to him. He pulled my wheelchair closer, took the bowls and cereal, and got down on one knee. He hugged me.

"I'm not your cure bro, but I know you've had more than enough. Medicine isn't the only answer either. I know we've both kept you from dying. You teach me the heart and I'll learn the science."

"You already know the heart. Give it away with the passion that you give it to us."

He kissed my forehead and sat back down. He poured cereal and milk for us. He fed Skip while I worked my right arm with my left. When I was done, I kissed my sweet loves and went to shower.

"Want help?" asked Billy.

"Maybe. Lemme see what I can do first."

JD had made it easy. The bench could hold three. I could roll my wheelchair into the shower, get on the bench, and then slide toward the showerhead. There was the standard fixed showerhead. JD had made a flexible one below and to the left, for hands-free or hand-held as needed. I used it hands-free while I washed from top to bottom. When Billy came in to check on me, I was washing my feet.

"Awww, you don't need me," he said in mock sadness.

"Of course I do. Just not at the moment. No burden, remember?"


"Just saying," I said, smiling at him. "Skip needs you so save your energy."

"And I need you."

He stepped out of his boxer briefs and washed up while Skip came in to join us. I moved to my left, sitting at the end of the bench, toweling off. Skip set Billy in the place I had vacated. He shaved him while I got into my wheelchair, went to the sink, and shaved too, brushing my teeth to finish. I went to get dressed. I made it into a clean pair of boxer briefs and my t-shirt. After that, my right arm gave out.

Billy helped me put on my socks, dress slacks, and shirt.


"Yeah. Green one."

I put it on while he tied my Skechers boots. He helped me back into my wheelchair. I went out to the living room to wait for Patricia. She was due before 7:30, in about fifteen minutes. I watched a bit of CNN Headline News to see what happened while we slept. After ten minutes, I turned it off. I was glad that we had slept. The world is a very scary place. We humans have little clue how to be kind to each other.

That last thought made me want to find a local paramedic job as soon as I was physically able. I had a copy of my personnel file from Boston in my desk. It would take a few months, but setting a goal to do something is always another moving forward point.

Patricia pulled into the driveway a few minutes later. Billy met her at the door to give her a hug. She kissed his forehead and said good morning to him. She knelt in front of Skip and kissed his forehead as well. He hugged her as she reached her arms around him. She whispered something to him. He nodded and smiled. I love that she loves us. Billy put me into my jacket.

"Anxious?" he asked.

"A little, but it'll pass soon."

Billy picked me up and set me on his knee a moment. I kissed Skip while he touched my face. Billy carried me out to Patricia's car. She took my wheelchair and folded it. It fit easily into the trunk. Ten minutes later, she helped me out of the car. She pushed me to the entry doors and to the elevator. I had never been inside before because I always took the stairs to the third floor.

Brent met us at the elevator. He got down on his knee for a moment, put my arms on his shoulders, picked me up, and gave me a welcome back hug.

"Hi bud. It's so great to see you. Don't worry about anything today. Everyone is psyched to have you back."

"Me too. A little anxiety, kinda like being the new kid in town."

He wheeled me to Patricia's office. We would have a get-reacquainted meeting this morning. Then Patricia would give me an overview of my next project.

We were still early. It was a half hour before most of my mates came in. Patricia, like me, worked 7:30 to 4:00. Brent and I had taken that half hour to get acquainted when I first came back to GE. He's 25, married less than a year, looking forward to being a dad, and a kind man. Before our meeting, he took my water bottle, filled it with ice, filled it with water, and handed it to me. When I took a large drink, he then set it on the table beside Patricia's sofa.

When the rest of our crew arrived, we went over the design spec on our next project. Brent had written it, based on initial notes from Patricia and an off-site meeting with our customer. Well organized didn't even begin to describe our team. Quietly efficient, brilliant, smart working vs. hard working, human, and valuable as a company resource (last and least because everything added up to the complete package anyway, to GE's benefit).

Before lunch, Brent took me to the men's room. He stood behind me and held me up while I peed. We had talked briefly about which was easier-standing or moving from wheelchair to toilet and back again. For peeing, standing was much easier. It was a bit awkward one-handed for me. His solution was to unbuckle my belt and open my slacks vs. me having to 'go fishing'. He held me firmly around my belly and chest. Allowing me to fall would be, in his mind, him letting me down. Only then did he appreciate that I weighed only 110, give or take.

"Damn. A good wind would blow you half way across the county."

"Hold tight then, mate. You don't want to lose me again, now that I'm back."

"Okay bud?" he asked me.

"Yeah. Thanks. You're a man of your word that it would be okay."

"It's just what I'd want someone to do for me."

"I'll probably need to go again before I go home for the day."

"No sweat. I imagine it's harder for Skip. How does he manage?"

"He goes by the clock, every few hours. Billy is with us until school starts again. Fred is going to take care of Skip after that."

"Sweet. We should take the guys out to lunch once a week."

"They'd like that. Billy and Skip or Fred and Skip could come here too. I'll encourage that."

Chelsea went through the salad and soup line with me. Patricia, Brent, and Alfie went through the grill line. We didn't talk about work over lunch. There were too many other things to talk about. Alfie got accepted at MIT for the Fall of 2001 freshman class. He was into custom software for robotic devices. Brain and a half, but not into showing it overtly. I told him about Billy and mates going back to BC to start their Masters studies. He would be thrilled to have a group to hang out with in the city.

I dropped my spoon into my soup twice while trying to eat. My hand and arm had gotten a workout on my PC all morning so they were tired. Chelsea gave me the spoon airplane bit that I had given Skip in Atlanta. I gave her the same eyes that Skip had given me. She laughed but helped me finish my soup anyway.

"Sorry, Chelsea. Feeding me isn't part of your contract."

"Sure it is. Didn't you read the fine print?"

"Ah. The Fine Print. Okay Alfie bud, open wide. If Chelsea is my keeper for meals, your mine."

He didn't skip a beat. He got dessert and a fork. Chelsea helped me feed him. People around us laughed at our antics. Oh man, it was sooo good to be back to work. Alfie wiped his mouth with his napkin.

"Good job, Aaron. I've missed you."

I was ready to go at 4:00 when Patricia came.

"Good day?" she asked as we drove home.

"Great day. Nice to be back. I talked to Mike in Atlanta this afternoon to let him know I'm here again. He's coming up in March for regional manager's meeting."

"He wants you back for a project."

"He can have me, but only when you're ready to give me up."

"Don't put it that way. The decision to go is yours. What about Skip?"

"He is and always will be my first consideration. If we can go together, all the better. But he also has plans to get and stay active. He's a man with a plan and a mission, and it's a good one."

"Care to share?"

"Not just yet. I try not to talk too much behind his back. Maybe over dinner some weekend?"

"You can come any time you want to. The boys will be glad to see you."

'The boys' means her son and son-by-heart, Pete and Charlie. She and Fred had embraced their love. They said what Skip and Billy had said to their parents-they would love each other with or without their parent's blessings. The young men had been boyhood friends, as close as brothers. Their parents were also longtime friends, so the surprise was minimal and the disappointment was nil. My own parents would not have approved of Skip and me. They would be appalled by the addition of Billy, David, Sam, Michael and Will, and even Vincent. I would love all my boys regardless. I could not have been disowned financially back then because my parents had little anyway. Both my folks died knowing that I loved Kate, and that losing her left a void not to be filled again.

I didn't want our family farm, and had known that since I was in high school. It belonged to my brother. He and his wife raised their own two sons there. He didn't approve of Skip and me. Too bad for him. I didn't seek approval in anything I did in my life and did not need his blessing to love the way I do. He'd rather see me alone? Maybe not, but he would rather see me re-married. Again, too bad for him. My life, my choices. I made awesome choices and I am loved beyond anything I ever dreamed. Skip and Billy belong to my heart, and me to theirs.

We pulled into our driveway. I was apparently off in space-again.

"Earth to Aaron," Patricia said, touching my hand. "What's that smile on your face all about, as if I don't know."

"Sorry. Yeah, you do know. You have your sons, and I have my brothers. I'd like to have three, but ... "

"Maybe you can. Nothing is impossible."

"Yeah well."

"I wouldn't trade the love you do have for anything. Not even for the approval of a blood brother."

I looked at her. My brother and I were not enemies. We just weren't friends any more. Sad, because we too were very close growing up, only a year and a half apart in age. We had the same likes and friends. We had played basketball and soccer together in high school. I had even slept in his bed once when I was a kid, scared by a nightmare.

Billy opened my door and took me out of the car. He gave me the sweetest kiss, sending my musings away where they belonged. Patricia brought my wheelchair out of her trunk and into the house. Billy set me on the sofa and gave me a hug. He helped Skip hold me.

"See what I mean?" said Patricia, leaning in to kiss my cheek, and then Skip's. She held his hand for a moment. The mother in her was strong, especially for her boys, including us three. She hugged Billy, kissed his forehead, and went home to her own fine family.

"Mmmm, the stew smells good in the kitchen."

"Slaving over a hot stove all day. I hope you love me for that."


"Awww geez," he said, giving me a sly smile.

"I love you for everything. You and bro did good today?"

"No. We missed you too much."

"Not that that's a bad thing," I said, putting my left arm around Skip.

Billy took my right arm and held it against his chest. He kissed me softly on my lips. He looked into my eyes, trying to figure out how I was. I was just fine. I watched his beautiful eyes, trying to see how he was. I think he was just fine too.

"Life is good, love," he said to me. "I love to take care of my bro. And you coming home to us is nice. I love you as much right now as I ever have."

"Nice. I can't top that, so I won't."

We sat and held each other, music playing softly in the background. In a while, Billy put Skip in his wheelchair. Skip took off to the dining room. I had to pee, so Billy helped me. Then he helped me get out of my work clothes into jeans and a sweatshirt.

"Geez love, I wish you could put weight on. I can see two of your ribs."

He ran his fingers lightly over my chest, tracing the outline of the ribs. He kissed my chest and then he hugged me close. I kissed his neck. Weight was an on-going issue that was not easily solved. But it wasn't a top issue for me. Getting my right arm and leg working again. I worried more for my brain functions than anything.

"Come on, bro. I'm okay. No worries, huh?"

"I do worry, Aaron. I want you forever."

"You have me in the moments we're in. Those are more important."

He lifted me up and took me to the dining room. Before he set me down, he hugged me to him again and kissed me.

"I dunno, love, I could get used to you after all."

"Let's hope, huh?" he said, setting me down.

He got bowls of stew and fresh focaccia. I poured three glasses of milk and lined them all up in front of my bowl.

"Gimme!" said Skip, mouth open.

"Geez, a guy can't be greedy anymore?"

"No. Gimme."

"You could have my milk instead."

He thought about it.

"Later. Gimme."

I held his glass up to his mouth. He took a long swallow. However, Billy was on his knees under the table. I would be surprised if I ever had to offer Billy my dick twice. Skip laughed aloud, almost choking on the last bit of milk in his mouth.

"You snooze, you lose," I said to Skip.

"Just don't drain ... him dry Billy," Skip said.

"Your stew is getting cold," I said.

"Mmuh huh," he said.

"Don't talk with ... your mouth full at ... the table bro."

We would have to put our stew in the microwave. Who was I to complain? Billy would be gone again soon, until Spring Break. I held Billy's head gently as he enjoyed his appetizer. He looked up at me and licked his lips. He came up and kissed me, and then went back down on me. There was very little that was conventional about any of us. I had to laugh at myself ... and him.

"I assume you got some today?" I asked Skip.

"Yeah. Billy is ... greedy like you."

"Don't say that like it's a bad thing, bro. We're sexy greedy, which is okay."

When Billy was finished, he smacked his lips again. He put our stew in the microwave and gave it a couple of minutes. He kissed me and then kissed his brother.

"I love you both," he said sincerely, looking from Skip to me. "Not for just that, Aaron, but that and everything else. You're aces."

He kissed me again, longer and deeper. He kissed Skip likewise. We finished our meal. I stood at the sink, lightly rinsed our bowls and glasses, and loaded the dishwasher. Billy put Skip's jacket and scarf on him and then helped me. The neighborhood was plowed and sanded, so we went for an early evening walk. A young couple who lived on the other end of our condo building was outside with their young son, putting the finishing touches on three snowmen.

"Snow Mom is looking a bit thick around the belly," I said, unable to help myself. "Is that good news?"

"It depends on who you ask," said Cary, ducking out of his wife's reach. "Okay, I'm kidding. I'm as happy as Carly is."

I started humming "You're So Vain," in honor of Carly's name. I often hummed Carly Simon tunes to see if she was paying attention to me. She giggled. She came over to give us hugs. Cary just rolled his eyes at me.

"I'm glad you're finally home, guys. I missed you a lot," said Carly.

"Same for me, guys," said Cary. "What can we do for you?"

He got down on one knee in front of Skip.

"No worries about ... us, you two," said Skip. "Just healing ... time. We're okay."

"Ride?" said little Tim.

"You bet, buddy. Come on," said Skip.

Dad helped Tim up onto Skip's lap and buckled him in. Mom and Dad obviously had little trouble, anymore, with Skip and I being a couple. I don't think they knew Billy made three, but few did outside of our circle. We showed them our good hearts and shared dinners. They gave us equal friendship back. Skip went down to the end of the block, circled, came back, and went to the end of the next block. Timmy was giggling the whole while. He was a joy to be around. Little blond haired blue-eyed four-year-old kid full of fun.

Skip circled back around. Tim gave him a pat on his chest as Cary helped him step down. He reached up to shake Billy's hand like a little gentlemen. He hopped up into my lap and gave me a hug. He was used to running and leaping up into my arms when he saw me. He had adapted just fine. I had explained that my right leg was 'broken'. He accepted that.

We went on our way under a half moon and a starry sky. When we were near our favorite park, Billy picked me up and put me on the bench near the woods. He hugged me tightly, whispering in my ear. I whispered loving words back to him. Billy told me frequently that he worried about me. He would not be his old self again until I was on both legs again. I tried to get him not to worry, but that wouldn't happen. Even then, he loved me more than he feared for me, if only just. He could deal with Skip's testicle surgery, lymph surgery, and even losing part of his lung. He found it frightening that surgeons had to go inside my head four times in two months to kill tumors. He would have been okay with even that if I was walking and using my right arm as usual. But I was still broken. He clung to me.

He brought Skip over to the bench as well, wading through snow that soaked the lower legs of his jeans. He kissed Skip very lovingly, just as he did every time he carried him to and from his wheelchair. It was his way of showing vs. telling Skip that he was not bothered by the care that Skip would need the rest of his life. Skip worked hard every time to put his arms around Billy and to hold on to him for a few minutes. Our bodies had let us down from time to time. Our love for each other was as constant as anything got.

Billy sat between us both and hugged us in his two strong arms. I put my left hand on his cheek and kissed him deeply again. He put his forehead to mine and watched my eyes.

"What do you see in my eyes love?"

"A man who loves me. A man that I love as much, I hope."

"You love me just right, bro."

Billy kissed Skip again too. He knew he had to love Skip equally to me, or love Skip a little more than me. I had told him that often enough. He was brother, friend, and lover-surely a tough task to pull off wholeheartedly. He did that and more.

I wrapped my left around Billy and drew him back to me. I kissed him, turned his head to Skip, who kissed him, brought him back to my lips, and then back to Skip's.

"Okay okay, I get it love," he said. "Equal. But I don't. I love you more."

I looked at Skip. He nodded to me that it was okay. He loved me more than he loved Billy too. I was not comfortable with that in the least. There's no reason we three can't love each other equally.

Skip let out a sigh. I gave him a raised eyebrow.

"There is one reason," he said.

"Don't treat me like I'm dying," I said, harsher than I meant to.

"Aaron, you gotta understand ... "

"I do understand," I said, cutting Billy off. "You HAVE to love us the same. Don't you think we're three, forever?"

Billy shook his head sadly. Skip looked at me sadly too.

"Why not?"

"Because you have a headache."


"You can't worry every time I have a headache."

"But we do," Billy said looking at Skip. "We both do."

"The ONLY thing you two have to know is that I love you."

"I know but ... "

"Stop. Back up."

"I know."

"You're not going to live in fear for me, Billy. I won't stand for it."

I tried to back off a bit. I took a deep breath and took Billy's hand. I tried to take Skip's too, but couldn't. Billy helped me.

"Come on guys. Love me for me. If I die tonight or tomorrow, then so be it."

"I want you longer than now, love."

"Love me to life then. Don't pity me. I can't stand it."

Both were silent. Both were sad.

"Billy, I don't love you because you're gonna die some day. I love you because you wanted my heart. I gave it and you've kept it for almost eight years. Can't you love me like you used to?"

He shook his head.

I had no more to say. The moments we're in aren't good enough. My words, those that I could live by forever, did not ring true to my boys. I couldn't be insulted, rightfully, but it did hurt. Those words should see us through everything.

"Losing you is more ... real Aaron. Billy and I ... can't lose you."

A headache was not going to kill me. A headache was a headache. I had done a lot today, more than I have in months. I earned that headache.

"I love you like I always have. Both of you. If you know that, you know enough."

I made it clear I would not say more for now. With all the effort I could, I pulled Billy to me and held on. Billy pulled Skip to him and did the same. I wanted to yell at them both. Their sadness was nowhere near justified. My moments were the basis for my life. To disbelieve or to suspend thought of my long philosophy was insulting. Skip and Billy were at the center of my universe, making my moments all the more profound. The rest was fluff. The moments were moving forward points. I would prove that to them, and more.

I kissed Billy's nose. This was telling him I wanted to do something. He closed his eyes and I kissed them. He loved that. I put my cheek to his and whispered in his ear again. He pulled back to look at me. He nodded. He sat on the other side of Skip, pushing Skip to me. I kissed his nose and then his eyes. He too loved that. I whispered to him, something different that I had said to Billy because he was not Billy, and Billy was not Skip. I loved them both so much, and as equally as I could manage. I understood that they were afraid for me, but living a life in fear is living half a life.
We sat quietly and watched the moon track across the sky. We were warm enough so we stayed out a long while. Once home again, Billy put Skip and me on the floor beside the fire in the den upstairs. He sat up against me, crotch to crotch, hugging me and kissing me softly. He pulled Skip close to us. Skip put a hand on each of us. Billy helped Skip get his arm around my shoulder. He held Skip's hand in his.

"I love you both. I'm sorry for making a big deal out of a headache, love. But it does scare me."


"Four surgeries."

"Another four if I had to, love. It's not a reason to be scared all the time." I looked at Skip too. "For either of you. Don't insult Andrew either. He's been there every time and will be again."

"I know," said Skip softly. "I love you more than ... I'm afraid. But I'm ... afraid too."

"Love me every day as if we don't have tomorrow."

"I do," he said. "You're my heart, Aaron. No ... way I could love you ... more."

"We're home love, after a long time away. This is good enough for me, right here and right now. Fuck tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. There's only you two. Why would I want more than you both to love and to love me?"

"I hope you wouldn't," said Billy.

"Then be happy for us, love. Be innocent and sweet like you were at dinner. Love you brother first. Love me 2% less. Fifty-one for your brother; forty-nine for me, if only for the fact that Skip has to depend on us both forever. It's still 100%, no matter what."

"Okay," said Billy quietly. He knew I was right. I looked at Skip, holding his eyes.

"Same for you love," I said, meaning it.

"Okay," he said, meaning it too.

The brothers kissed for a while, holding each other and me. Billy gave his brother sweet love, necessary love. He gave me only slightly less, just the way I had asked. My life was not over tomorrow or the next day. The headache would pass. I would work tomorrow and I would eventually find a fire station to work at. I needed a license in Connecticut to be a paramedic. I would have one, because I wanted it. It was third in my list, and I already had the first two.

Billy took my jeans off. He took Skip's off, and then his own. He put couch pillows under our heads as he laid us beside each other. He slid inside Skip first, making love to him for a few minutes. He pulled out and went inside of me. He loved me for a few minutes. He wanted longer inside of me. I told him we were three, not two. He pulled out of me and loved Skip until he came inside of him. He stayed hard like the young stud boy he is and entered me again. He came inside of me when he couldn't hold it any more.

"Mmmm," I said. "Nice."

"For me too," Billy said. "I love you. Please don't ever doubt that. I'm afraid because I love you so much."

"I'm not afraid," I said. "I love you because you're in here no matter where we are."

He put his hand on top of my hand on my heart. He kissed my heart and then my forehead.

"Okay love. It's not easy, but I can let up. You're right that it insults Andrew. I'm okay."

"Me too," said Skip, "but I reserve ... the right to fear."

"Love me more," I said.

"I do. I always have."

I played with his dick for a few minutes. When he was nice and hard, I looked at Billy.

"He's ready for you, love."

"Come on Aaron, you got him hard ... "

"For you. Let your brother make love to you."

"Be inside me too then," he said.

Billy liked something that was just for him about as much as Skip and I did. It felt selfish.

"Okay. Help me get on my knees."

He got me into place. He sat down on Skip. Using my left hand, I also got inside of him. Truthfully, I loved my dick against Skip's dick. We had not done this in a very long time. It was like Skip putting his dick inside the opening of my briefs to snuggle with mine. We had not done that in a long while either. Billy did most of the work. Once in a while, he stopped and let me slide inside of him.

"Okay love?" I asked.

"Yeah. So nice."

I looked around him at Skip.

"Can you feel?"

"Yeah. Billy's tight."

"And you guys are huge!" he said, moaning. "Good thing I'm such a stud."

We kept it going on for a while. Easier for us since Billy had gotten both of us earlier.

"I'm close," I said.

"Me too," said Skip.

Billy gave it all he was worth. Skip and I moaned at the same time. If Skip was doing what I was, he felt like he was going to come for hours. I felt like a teenager. We stayed inside of him until we naturally slipped out. I held Billy around his tummy while Skip kissed his chest, throat, and lips. I kissed him on his neck and then kissed Skip.

Billy carried Skip to the upstairs bath and sat him on the shower bench. He came back for me. The shower was running when he set me down. He put body wash on a washcloth and washed my face, neck, and head. He rinsed it, re-soaped, washed my shoulders, arms, hands, back, and chest. He watched me watching him.

"I love doing this you know," he said.

"Someday I'll wash you like this, so you know how good it feels."

He washed my groin, butt, legs, and feet.

"Did I do good?"

"You missed a spot. I don't know which one."

"This one," he said, kissing my navel.

"Squeaky clean."

He moved Skip into place and started by washing his thick hair.

"I'll take you out tomorrow for a haircut. It's in your eyes again."

"I forgot to ask ... you today. Can we ask ... Pete and Charlie to dinner?"

"Yeah," I said. "I'll call them before it gets too late."

Billy looked at his watch. It was almost 9:00. Too late to call tonight. We did not bother people after 9:00. He told me the time.

"Okay, I'll call Pete at work tomorrow. How about Wednesday? Break up the week."

"Skip and I will go shopping whatever afternoon. I'll get Mom's mac and cheese recipe. The guys ate out-of-the-box mac and cheese sometimes."

I made a face. Out of the box is okay in a pinch, barely, especially the powered stuff. I'm no food snob, but I know yellow-orange powder does not excite my unsophisticated palette. Gone are the post-college days when I ate it because it was twenty-five to thirty-three cents a box. The nice thing about boxed stuff is I can jazz it up a bit. A bit of kielbasa and some frozen peas, maybe a chopped onion.

"We can show Pete and Charlie how to make it better."

"They're both slim, but they don't eat right. We should help them out."

"Love to. My mom taught me how to cook," I said. "Slim is healthy, but not empty calories."

We sat for another hour in the den, waiting for the fire to die down. Billy took Skip and then me downstairs. I sang the Rolling Stones version of "Beast of Burden." Billy chuckled.

"I'll carry you from here to Boston and back, love. And further, because I love you."

"You say it just right, bro. I love you too, more tomorrow than today."

"Then let's go to sleep so I can be loved more."

"Greedy much?"

"I learned from the best."

Flattery just right got him a place in the middle of the bed, with Skip and I wrapped around him. There was no bad 'seat' in the house, but the middle was an equally shared space, no matter where we planted our butts or bodies.

On Wednesday, Pete and Charlie were at the house already when Patricia brought me home. Charlie took me out of the passenger seat while Patricia and Pete walked arm-in-arm into the house. Both boys loved their parents, both sets, very much. They were not ashamed to show it. Charlie's folks were long-time friends of Fred and Patricia. Coming out to their parents was done with all four parents present, both boys giving pendants to each other. I told them that this is how Skip, Billy, and I proclaimed our long love as well.

Charlie set me down on the sofa, got me out of my jacket and shoes, and gave me a fine hug. I was trying to hug him back, but my arms were tired after using them all day. Patricia stepped behind Charlie and helped me.

"Sorry bud. Next time I'll do better," I said.

"Mom helping you to hug me is okay, Aaron. Any hug is a good one, even half if that's the best you can do."

"You guys ready to cook?"

"Yeah, join us in the kitchen?"

I nodded. Charlie picked me up again and set me down on a counter stool at the stove, as I requested. Patricia gave us hugs and went home to Fred.

The ingredients for the mac and cheese were out and ready. Billy brought three cheeses out of the fridge. I stood at the stove, tending the pasta shells. Pete and Charlie sat on either side of Skip, attentive students in the art of homemade. Billy grated the Vermont sharp cheddar. He handed a block of Colby cheese and the grater to Pete who grated it as easily as Billy had done his. Monterey Jack was up next. Charlie went around to the counter to do his share while Pete came around to hold Skip on his stool. Skip didn't want to be in his wheelchair longer than necessary each day. It was for getting around, not for sitting still in. Billy took the casserole dish and put pats of unsalted butter in the bottom. He added the cooked pasta shells. The cheeses were put on in no particular order. I toasted some finely chopped breadcrumbs to put on the top at the end of the baking time.

We went to the living room to sit around on the floor while dinner baked. Charlie went through our music collection and found his favorite Yanni CD. He put it on and snuggled behind Skip. Billy was behind Pete. He had spent last summer, while Skip and I were in Atlanta, letting the boys take care of his injuries, physical and emotional. The boys had no problem holding on to Billy as often as he needed it. Holding on now was comfortable. Pete planted my butt between his legs, sideways. He kissed me on my cheek. I returned the sweet kiss. Charlie massaged my feet and legs.

"Tell me if I hurt you, bud."

"You couldn't. Just do what you'd do for your mate. Maybe you can help me get the feeling back."

"I hope. Looks like you're headache-free tonight."


"I know about your eyes. Billy told me."

Billy looked a bit sheepish.

"S'okay love. It's no secret."

We listened to half the Yanni CD. Billy went to check dinner.

"Needs a few more minutes. What do you want with the mac and cheese?"

Skip and I got carried back to the kitchen. The two young men liked hot dogs with their mac and cheese, so I put them on to boil. Pete partially toasted the hot dog buns in the toaster oven. Billy brought the casserole out of the oven for a moment and sprinkled the breadcrumbs on top. He returned it to the oven. The three boys set the dining table. Billy poured five glasses of milk. The boys took them to the table. Pete sat Skip at the table and Charlie came for me. I hummed "Beast of Burden" again.

"No way, bro. I love you. Try this one on for size."

He sang "Ain't No Sunshine When You're Gone" and Pete joined in.

"Awww, sweet. Just don't let me take you for granted."

"You couldn't, any more than we could hurt you with massage. I'm sad for Skip," he said, looking at Skip, "but I'll get over that too. Pity bites, but Skip knows how I feel."

Billy passed the serving spoon to Pete so he could take what he wanted. Pete served for Skip first and then for himself. He passed the spoon to Charlie. Charlie served for me and then for him, and then passed the spoon to Billy. Without hesitation, Pete fed Skip and himself, like I used to, so that they ate at the same time. I was okay on my own for now.

"Speak up when you need a hand, Aaron. I know you worked all day. Is it annoying not to use your hands and arms?"

"Nah. I do what I can. When I can't anymore, someone helps. I try to make my keepers at ease. Obviously you two," I said motioning to Pete, "know how to treat us."

"No need to make Skip ask for help," said Pete. "I hope someone would do the same for me."

"What goes around comes around, love," I said to him.

"We're living lives only to help each other is how I see it," he said. "Mother Theresa, you know? Like you taught us a long time ago."

"Amen," Billy and I said together.

The boys had it right. People would hate them for being gay. Gay is the bottom of a long list of things both of them, and we other three, are. Fuck the naysayers otherwise. Flaming hypocrites. [End of yet another rant]. Sigh.

"So, how is dinner?" I asked.

"Yum. More please?"

"Help yourselves guys. We made a lot on purpose, and you're welcomed to leftovers too."

"Yeah baby, we'd love it," said Charlie. "How do we warm it up?"

"A little milk and butter or margarine in a sauce pan or microwave dish. Just watch it close so the milk won't burn."

"Easy," said Pete. "We brought dessert. It's in the fridge."

I hadn't seen it, but I don't turn down dessert.

Billy and Pete cleared the dishes when we were done. Pete bought a Boston cream pie out of the fridge. Billy gave him a knife. He sliced five large pieces so there were no seconds. Pete was a former engineering student turned engineer, so slicing a cake five ways was easy. I would have cut it into quarters and then one of the pieces in half. Then I would have eaten both halves. I'm into software, not dessert portioning.

After dessert was cut, Billy took me while Pete took Skip and brought us up to the den. They went back for our dessert and more milk. Charlie fed Skip this time and Pete helped me move my hand up to my mouth. I drank milk using my left hand. Billy added another log to the fire. He had gotten the first two going before we got home from work. When the second Yanni CD ended, Charlie put on our favorite songstress.

"Show us?" he said simply, coming back into the upstairs den.

"I dunno. I can't dance yet."

"I'll help," said Billy. "Skip, you trust me?"

"Of course bro, every time."

Billy got down low and worked his way to standing height, holding Skip tightly against him. He had not danced with us yet. Charlie helped me to stand. Billy grabbed Skip with his left hand and grabbed me with his right. Charlie grabbed Skip with both hands, settling my weight onto his feet.

"Which CD and track?" Pete asked.

"Track 15 of this CD," said Skip. Pete went downstairs.

"Ready?" he asked.

"Yeah," said Billy loudly enough for Pete to hear.

Charlie stepped off first, his cheek beside mine over my shoulder, Billy's cheek beside Skip's. Pete came in and stood at the doorway. We got lost in the music. The song we danced to on stage in Atlanta followed. We danced for eight and a half minutes to the two songs. Charlie cried a tear onto my neck. Billy and Skip's eyes were sparkly. Pete came over and kissed Skip and me on our cheeks.

"So beautiful," he said softly. "Just like Mom told it, from your email. I could picture it. When you can dance, Aaron, I want to hold you."

"Hold me now, love. You're okay right?" I asked Skip. He nodded.

Pete slipped into Charlie's place.

"Which CD?"

"Falling Into You. First two tracks. We're ready as soon as you start it up."

Charlie set up the CD and came running back upstairs. Billy led this time, stepping off after nodding to Pete. Pete followed smoothly. He held me tightly, cheek to my cheek, looking only at Skip, as Charlie had done. Nothing else existed for the nine minutes of music. I looked only at Billy. He kissed me softly.

Pete gently sat me down in an easy chair and sat with me, still holding me. Billy did the same with Skip.

"Thanks for showing us," Pete said. "I was almost afraid to ask."

"We'll do this again. It's slightly better with only three, but this was special enough. Don't be shy around us guys. You accept that we're three. A bit hard to wrap your head around."

"No. It's not, Aaron. It's easy to see. Everything you three did tonight, from dinner onward, shows that it has to be three for you. It's hard when Billy is away."

"Only a little," Skip said. "We have a ... lifetime."

"And you two?" Billy asked, already knowing the answer.

"Same as you. We grew up together. The day we realized we loved each other was day one of our own lifetime. Mom and Dad accepting it was just icing, but ... "

"Same for us," said Billy. "We're glad Mom and Dad accept us, but if they didn't, it wouldn't change anything. Aaron dying wasn't part of any deal, but Aaron needing us was."

"What about that ... Billy and I are ... brothers?" asked Skip.

"What about it?" said the boys together.

"Duh," Skip said, like it was obvious that we were bad.

"Duh yourself. Billy told us why and how he loves you. It's brilliant. Pete's the closest thing to a brother I have, since both of us are onlys. Even without Skip's cancer back then, I still think you'd be lovers anyway."

"The only thing that might not have happened is Aaron," said Pete. Thank God and creation that he was needful and that Skip knew how to love him."

"No argument there," I said. "Nicely said."

"We should go home and let you guys get to bed. Mom's back by 7:15 Aaron?"

"Yeah. How about a cup of tea? We have one at bedtime."

"Sure," said Pete. Charlie agreed.

They took us downstairs again. I hummed "Beast of Burden" again. Charlie laughed. He kissed my forehead after he set me down.

"And an honor to be one," he said. "I love you Aaron. Thanks for loving us back."

"I hear my Dad is going to be with you during the day," Pete said to Skip. "Charlie or I will be his backup for any day he can't come."

"Sweet," said Skip, all smiles. "Your Dad is so ... cool. Runs in the ... family."

"He made my Mom so proud when he said he had a plan. No pity from Dad either. He wants you guys to have what you need. Mom too, of course."

The boys made sure we three were okay for the evening. They kissed each of us and gave us warm hugs.

"Come again in a week or two? You make the date. We'll teach you about beef stew."

"Yum. The last stew I made was not so good," said Pete. "Charlie almost left me."

"Wow, that's pretty awful huh? We can make you a hero."

"Thanks guys. We'll buy the ingredients. Next Friday?"

"Yes and yes. Call us early next week," I said. "Billy goes back to school a week from Sunday."

Billy showered with Skip after he put me in bed. I'd rather have a shower in the morning when I was working. Billy put Skip beside me on the right and helped me put my arm around him. He climbed over us and held me from behind, tucking his face in the back of my neck. He kissed me and fell asleep. Skip and I kissed for a few minutes until we also fell asleep. "I love you Aaron," was the finale to the day.

David and Sam arrived on the Friday before their return to school. It was a nice surprise to come home from work, be scooped out of Patricia's car by tall David, and hugged by our loving boys. Patricia and Fred plus their sons had met the boys when they came to be with Billy at summer's end. The boys spent a couple minutes exchanging greetings with Patricia. She headed for home, not wanting to interrupt our company.

Also on Friday, as planned, Pete and Charlie had arrived early with dinner makings. I was still at work and would not be part of the cooking lesson. Six boys in the kitchen were quite enough. My mom's recipe called for diced pieces of potato and carrots, but I modified it. Chunks were better than a dice. When I checked the progress, it looked just right.

This is an easy meal, so here's how the guys made it. Pete and Charlie had bought a good cut of steak instead of stew beef. It's what we did, but I was a bit surprised they did, since that can be quite expensive. They grilled it about half way done on the charcoals out back. Adding the cubed meat to a pot, they added enough water to slow-simmer the beef. Fifteen minutes later, they added the potatoes plus enough water to cover to simmer for a half hour. A bit of flour or cornstarch helps the broth thicken a bit. Billy knew to stir the lumps out of the flour. They added the carrots and more water to cover to simmer for another half hour. Onions are optional but we all loved them, so they put them in toward the end of the stewing process. Fifteen minutes before serving, Billy added a one-pound packet of frozen peas. The color of the browned meat, white potatoes, orange carrots, clear onions, and green peas was just so pleasing. The saying goes that we eat with our eyes. True enough. Stew needs no side dish since it is hearty enough by itself. My mom would serve fresh-baked bread with our stew. We were not good bread bakers, so we all would have seconds instead.

Sam sat between my legs on the floor while the stew simmered to completion. I hugged him from behind. He turned his head so I kissed him sweetly. He looked at my eyes.

"Awww, my bro loves me so much," he said.

"So much, love, truly."

David held on to Pete while Billy held Charlie. Charlie held Skip, hugging him tightly.

"I'd almost be fine without dinner," said Pete. "This is nice."

"We do this at school too," said David. "We lost a mate last year in a car accident. Aaron taught us to hold each other. We live like we all won't be together 24 hours from now."

"Billy taught us that over the summer. Sad to lose a friend, but maybe easier because you live like you do."

"We all tucked Vincent into our hearts. He's not far from us."

David looked over at me as he said that. I nodded to him. I still talked to Vincent many times during the week. My promise to walk in the world for him was not for a few weeks or months. He'll be beside me forever. I held Sam closer. He held my hands. I kissed his neck. He laid his head on my shoulder and I whispered sweet things into his ears. He didn't say anything, but the smile on his cheeks said he loved me like I loved him.

We settled at the dining table for dinner. David fed Skip while he ate. Charlie helped my when my arm got tired. All the boys cleared the table when we were done. Pete and Charlie loaded the dishwasher. Billy and David made to-go leftovers for Pete and Charlie. Even with seconds all around, there was a lot of stew left, including for the boys for lunch tomorrow. Stew tasted so much better the second day, much like pasta with sauce did.

After watching a movie, we settled back to listen to music and to be close.

"Can you guys stay over?" I asked Pete and Charlie.

"Sure we can," they answered.

There was plenty of sleeping space in our condo. Our den did not have a sofa bed. Betsy and JD had bought us the same style Murphy bed that was in our apartment in Boston.

Charlie went out to bring in the boy's duffel bag. They did what we did-kept one packed for last minute changes in plans. There was plenty of hot water if the four boys wanted to shower. We hired plumbers to come in the first week we were back and had them put in a tankless hot water system. The guys wanted a little playtime, so Pete, Charlie, David, and Sam went upstairs to shower together.

"Oh my God!" told us three that the boys had been amazed by David's Beast. We laughed aloud. They spent a while in the shower, so we knew they indeed were having playtime. David and Sam settled into the bedroom while Pete and Charlie settled into the den. Billy put Skip and me in bed, snuggled between us, and we slept. My waking found Skip slowly entering me. When I opened my eyes, I found that Billy was also inside of Skip.

"Sure beats the hell out of an alarm clock," I said as we made sweet love.

The patter of footsteps upstairs lead me to believe two become four in the bedroom above us. We were having breakfast at a local diner by 7:00 a.m.

"Looks like these three got some this morning too," said Sam, grinning broadly.

"Yeah, the hidden camera in your bedroom turned us on," I said, straight-faced as I could.

Pete and Charlie turned red. I laughed aloud again. I assured them that there was no such hidden camera.

"Yet," I continued.

"We now understand the 1% lust, bro," said Charlie. "Even without being intimate this morning, it was so nice to be together.

"Charlie and I figured we'd be horny forever when we finally moved in together. Didn't happen. Maybe that's what love is, not just sex."

"Welcome to our world," Billy said. "1% lust is great, but ... "

The guys agreed.

On Sunday afternoon, after lunch, the guys got their stuff together. The BC boys headed for Boston. Pete and Charlie wanted to hang around. We wanted them to as well. We made our friendship better that afternoon. Both boys made the slowest and sweetest love to Skip and me as they could manage. They were now part of us forever. We too seeded them with our love and cum. Charlie cried when I came inside of him.

"So sweet Aaron. You don't use just words, but the words are cool in their own right. I know you mean what you say. You inside of me is just as good as Pete in me."

Pete agreed. "No matter where we are," he said, "we'll have you with us." He and Skip kissed and held each other. We did not have to hurry. Throughout the afternoon, each of us made love again. To be a part of each other was what made us human and capable of love. Friendship will always count more. The 1% lust was a bonus with our boys.

"You've made love to David and Sam?" Charlie asked, and then blushed.

"Yeah. Sam ... "

"Sshhhh," said Charlie. "You don't have to tell us. Pete and I have had so much. I'm glad Sam had David and his family to love him. I'd like to kick his father in the nuts."

"You'd have to get in line," I said with a small smile. "But his Dad is outstanding, so no worries."

"Okay," said Pete.

We lay together a while longer. They helped us shower and get dressed. We made a light dinner and then hugged us for a while before going home. The snow started to fall. The phone rang in the early evening. Billy, David, and Sam told us they loved us so much. Would we come for Spring Break? Skip and I told them we would indeed. Boston was only three hours away. Ten other voices said 'I love you Skip and Aaron!" before we hung up. I held my love in my arms, alone for the first time in a long while.


"I know," said Skip.

We laughed. How were we going to get to bed? Well, Skip could manage easier than me since he was used to it. I made a practice run. Satisfied that I was not as handicapped as I had panicked about, we listened to music before we finally went to bed. By 10:30, we were hugging each other.

"Feels a little empty," said Skip. "Don't take ... that the wrong way love."

"I agree, bro. But we're far from alone. I'm glad to have Pete and Charlie inside of me."

"Yeah. That was nice. Two more to love. But ... I love you best, Aaron."

"Please don't," I said.

"Have to. You make me ... love you best. My Aaron," he said as he kissed me sweetly and then snuggled against me.

"My Aaron." Okay, I could live with that. Even with all the great boys in our lives, I did love Skip best. My heart was big. I thought only of Skip as I went to sleep.

Comments: ajlangille [at] gmail [dot] com

Note: We've had a large handful of email requests lately to join Facebook. Sorry guys. We don't do Facebook and won't in the future. Besides privacy issues, there are not enough hours in the day to add that to our lives.

My hours recently changed and I work 6:00 pm to 8:00 am (yeah, 14 hours). Billy works 12-hour days and doesn't touch the PC during the week except to talk to his brother. Skip and some of the BC boys are on the road for a few weeks at a time. Keeping up with email is the best we can manage.