This story details explicit gay sex between men, teens and boys. If you find this kind of thing distasteful, or if you are underage wherever you live, then stop reading this now, and delete this file. The story is completely fictional; the author does not condone or encourage any of the acts contained herein.



Chapter 35

By: Tim Keppler

"No...No...No!" I shout. "It's not fucking good enough!"

"My Mom thinks it's good. My teachers think it's pretty good."

"They're wrong! You can do better than this, Robbie. You know you can do better than this!"

Report cards have come out, and his looks stellar. He has an A in English, an A- in History, an A in Civics, a B+ in Biology, an A in French (a new class this term, one I forced him to take) and a C in PE. The C in PE pleases me. If I thought he was wasting his time on PE, I'd be even more prone to kick his ass, and it doesn't count as part of his GPA, so who gives a shit? It's the B+ in Biology that pisses me off. Yes, he started from a D six months ago, but Kenny has been working with him almost every day, and Robbie's a smart kid. He isn't working hard enough.

"Goddamn it, Robbie, you are getting so punished for that fucking B+. I will beat you near to death. You know you can do better than that." He starts to cry, and it just melts my heart. He's been doing so well. He's been coming to see us every day. "You know you can do better than that," I say, grabbing him, and hugging him so tight. "You've done so well on everything else. Why the fuck do you have a B+ in Biology? It's just so...mediocre."

By now he's sobbing. I soften. "What are we doing for the A's, baby?" I ask him, caressing his face, as he looks at me through his tears, choking on sobs. "Don't get me wrong. I plan to wear you out for that B+, but I'm so damned proud of those A's, so damned proud of how far you've come. I'm just so damned proud of YOU. No one will know that tomorrow from the color of your ass, but I really am, Robbie. You've done so well. So, how are we going to celebrate?"

It takes him several minutes to get control of himself and to stop sobbing. Finally, he looks into my eyes. "Umm...Tim...I'd...umm..."


"I'd...umm...like to...umm...have a sexual experience."

I'm a little surprised. Not a lot surprised, but a little. He's an adolescent boy, for god's sake. That's what adolescents boys do. "Okay...and who would you like to have this `sexual experience' with?"


Well, that stops our discussion for several minutes as I stare at him, trying to comprehend what this means. "What kind of sexual experience do you want, Robbie?"

"I'd...umm...like you to...fuck me."

Long, long pause. Finally, "And what does that mean to you?"

He gives me this long "what-planet-are- you-from" look, and then spells it out. "I'd like you to insert your penis into my anus, please." A more clinical description I've never heard, and I start to laugh, and he grins. "Is that clear enough?" he asks.

"Umm, yeah. Clear enough. Has anyone ever done this...with you before?"

"No," he replies.

"Umm...how do you know you'll like it?"

Long pause. "Because you're...umm...doing it." He looks at me for a very long moment. "Who else should I do it with, Tim? You told me not to have sex with anyone I'm not sure I love..."

He's very good, and I'm instantly teary-eyed. I reach out and draw him into a kiss. "I did say that, I know. I just never thought... So, here's the deal, Robbie. I'm certainly attracted to you, but you're jail-bait. Do you know what that means?"

He looks confused. "Umm...no."

"It means if we make love, if I succumb to your obvious charms, I could go to jail, for a very long time."

"Please, Tim. I won't tell anyone. And, who else should I do it with? Someone from school, who doesn't love me? A teacher, who also doesn't love me, and is just interested in a one-night stand?"

I look at him for a long, long moment, trying to figure out how to responds to this. Abstinence isn't going to work. He's a teenage boy. He's going to get laid somehow, somewhere, by someone. And, I do love him, but I never thought about it like this. Finally, I reach a conclusion. "Robbie, you're going to have to sell this to your mother, and I'm going to have to sell it to Jason and Kenny, my husbands. If those three parties agree, then I'll make love to you."

Robbie looks sad, and a little frustrated, but nods. He understands the complications. His mother is coming tonight because it's Robbie's night to cook, so he can make his case then. He's making beef stroganoff, he tells me, and when I ask Kenny about that, he shrugs. "Dunno," he says. "He's good, though. A natural. I'm guessing it'll be good."

With the Stroganoff in mind, I decide to postpone his punishment for at least a day. When I'm done with his ass for that B+, he's probably not going to be in the mood to cook. And, I really am so proud of him for the A's. There'll be time for punishment later in the week.

His Mom arrives at around 6:30 and the house smells amazing. My mother used to make Beef Stroganoff – from a package. I loved it, but haven't had it since. This is the real thing, made from scratch. I am so looking forward to this. Kenny answers the door, and leads Robbie's mother to the kitchen. Robbie is hard at work, and I think she's a little amazed. I don't think she ever expected to see her son cooking, so on the few occasions we've had her over thus far to sample his fare, she's been a little...surprised. This time, the minute he sees her, he turns his saucepan to simmer, and leads her to my office, giving me a questioning glance that says "Is this okay?" I nod, and the door closes. This is his case to make.

At some point Kenny takes over the Stroganoff, stirring the pot and adding a little Cayenne and Paprika, and thirty minutes later, Mom and Robbie come out of the office. I'm in the living room on my laptop. Kathy sits on the couch across from me, her eyes red, teary. I give her a quizzical look. "Rober...umm...Robbie has asked me if..." She pauses, a long pause. Then she starts again. "Robbie has asked me if the two of you can make love. Umm..." She looks me in the eyes. "I'd like that, Tim. I'd like his first experience to be...safe. I'd like it to be with someone...mature, with someone I...umm...trust. I have no objection." Then she comes and kisses me on the cheek, and goes to join the boys in the kitchen.

Am I surprised? I don't know that I am. He's not going to get a disease from me, and she knows it. And she knows that his emotional well-being is very important to me because I'm driving him hard on his grades, about which she is absolutely delighted. She's probably concerned about the disparity in our ages, and is probably concerned that this will change our relationship. But, I imagine she trusts that I'll handle those issues. I don't know. This is my guess at what she's probably thinking. Who knows if I'm right? But, he's sold this to her, and that was the first step in the process. Next are Kenny and Jason.

When I get to the kitchen, Kai is in Kathy's arms, giggling furiously. "Have you been tickling that boy?" I demand with a smile.

She laughs. "You don't need to tickle this boy. He's just all giggles. No tickling required."

She's right. Kai is the happiest little boy I've ever met; just a bundle of fun.

And then Kevin comes running in, chased by Thumper, the cat. The minute they hit the kitchen, Kevin turns on the cat, and the cat turns and runs the other way. "Kev," I shout. "Come and nest." And he does, jumping into my lap and snuggling. "Stop torturing that cat," I command, and he erupts in laughter.

"Me? He chases me. That Thumper-cat chases me. He's a...a...terrorist." There's a new concept: Thumper the Terrorist. Where'd Kevin get that word?

"Yeah, right," I respond, cuffing Kevin, who continues to giggle. But, in truth, Thumper is waiting by the kitchen door, waiting for Kevin to come play with him. This goes on for hours, and then Thumper runs out of gas, and lands in Kai's lap, falling asleep, which is the signal that it's all over. Kev always wins these skirmishes. He has more energy than this kitty.

The Stroganoff is lovely, though I think it's spicier than Robbie intended. It's that extra Cayenne that Kenny snuck in there while Robbie was talking to his mother. Everyone raves. Jason, who isn't fond of dairy, is very charitable about the sour cream. Kenny just flat out loves it, and so do I. It's a little spicy for Kathy, but she gushes anyway. Robbie drinks a lot of milk, to kill the effects of the Cayenne. It's really good. "Why is it so spicy?" Robbie asks, confused. "There wasn't really anything in there to make it this spicy."

Kenny looks a little guilty, and I have to laugh. I'm not going to rat on him, though. I think it's fantastic, personally. And so does Kevin. "Yummy," he says. Kevin and Kai love it spicy.

After dinner, after Kathy and Robbie have gone home, after the boys have been put to bed, Kenny brings some tea to the living room. "Guys, I need a minute. Umm...Robbie would like to...have sex. With me. He's never done it before, apparently. He'd like me to be his first. Waddya think?"

Jason has no problem with it. Kenny stops to think. "I have no problem sharing you with Jase, because I'm as in love with him as I am with you. But, if I brought a friend home and said that I wanted to fuck him, what would you say?"

There's no hesitation on my part. "Absolutely not."

"So, this isn't a two-way street. Why not?"

I pause to think for what must be 30 seconds. "Umm...because I...adore you. Because I can't give you up to anyone else. Because I'm a hypocrite? And, umm...because I wouldn't know where your friend had been, because I'd be concerned about disease."

He smiles. "Then why would you ask me to let you and Robbie play around?"

I stare at him a long, long moment. Finally, "Because I'm a fool?" Long pause. "Because I'm a fucking idiot?" I give him a long, sad look. "I'm sorry I'm so stupid."

He leans over and kisses me. "So, this isn't going to matter?" he asks.

I give him another long look. "Are you asking if I'm in love with Robbie?"

"I guess so, yeah."

I roll my eyes. "Kenny, he's sixteen."

"I know," he says. "I guess I wasn't really worried about you. I guess I was worried about him. What will he think it...umm...means?"

I pause to think about this very good point. "I don't know. It's something we'd have to really clarify, though. I hadn't exactly thought about it that way."

Kenny leans over and pulls me into a long and sensual kiss. Finally breaking that kiss, he cuffs me. "I'm fine with it, Tim. I understand what this is about now. You're safe for his first time. That's cool. I just think you'd better be clear with him about what it means, because I don't want to share you, either. You're ours. I...umm...don't want that to change."

Kenny is so adorable, and not just because he's done what I'd hoped he'd do. He's objectively adorable, such a sweet guy. I nod, lean over, and kiss him. I love him so much.


Robbie bounces in the next day thinking that the world has changed. His Mom approved our love-making, so he assumes it's going to happen. And, what else does he assume? I've no idea. We have to clarify. "Kenny and Jason had issues," I say, and his face falls immediately. "You need to understand, Robbie, that I'm married. I'm in love and I'm married. Why wouldn't you expect that Jason and Kenny would have issues? I did. I expected them, and they had them."

He looks very, very sad.

"Look, here's the thing. I love you, Robbie. But, I don't love you in a sexual way. I love you more like a friend. Jason and Kenny have given me permission to...umm...fuck you," I say, choosing my words carefully and specifically, "but only once. And, after we've done that, our relationship goes back to the way it's been. We won't do it again. You'll find someone nearer to your own age, fall in love, and pursue a relationship with him. Do you understand?"

He nods. His face is blank – no expression.

I reach over and lift his chin so he's looking into my eyes. "Do you understand?" I repeat.

"Yeah," he whines, looking really sad.

"Why the long face?"

"Umm...I guess I'd just hoped..."

Long pause. "You need to understand what love is, Robbie, and how it differs from lust. I'm crazy in love with Kenny and Jason. They're the center of my life. They're what my life is all about. They're not just for fucking. They are my heart and soul, and that's why we make love. The love comes first and the sex second." And then I realize that I'm being an idiot...again. This isn't about what I feel. It's about what he feels. He's in love with me, or at least thinks he is. And he's looking very sad. I reach across to him and pull him toward me, hugging him and kissing his face. I need to make this not seem like rejection. "I'm sorry, baby, but you've just come to me at the wrong time. I could love you. I could love you so easily. I do love you... but not like that. I can't love you like that. Not now. I can't let myself love you like that...Do you understand?"

He nods. "Uh hunh."

"So, what do you want me to do?" I ask.

There's a long, long pause as he clings to me, his head draped over my shoulder. I'm hoping that he'll tell me that he'd rather not, but that's not what he says. "I...umm...think I'd like you to...fuck me...anyway."

"Okay," I respond, resignedly. "We'll do that tomorrow. Today, we have the little matter of that B+." He nods. "In the bedroom naked in five minutes."

He scurries away, and I go off for a cup of coffee. When I get to the bedroom, he's naked, standing near the head of the bed. He's a very beautiful boy, but has changed since the last time I saw him naked. He's shaved away his pubic hair and, by the look of it, his underarm hair as well. He looks much younger, perhaps younger than he wants to look.

"Wow! You look really nice," I comment.

"Thanks," he says, smiling.

I motion him to the bed, and he lies down on his belly. I stroke his back quickly, and then, on a whim, I give him a push. "Flip over."

He does, confused. I run my hand down the front of him, from his throat to his dick, petting the now-shaven area. He's very smooth, and becoming erect very fast. Next, I lick the pubis. Very smooth. And then I take him in my mouth, and he gasps as I begin to suck him, swirling my tongue around the crown of his dick before sliding up and down his shaft. He is nearly frantic, moaning and squirming. Robbie is pretty average in the size of his dick when he's erect, so with each plunge, he hits my throat and I'm able to swallow him slightly, which drives him nearly insane by the look of it. It doesn't take him long, maybe three minutes, and then he floods my mouth with spunk in what appears to be a pretty powerful orgasm.

Once he's calmed down, I tell him to roll over and grab the razor strop from the cupboard. "That blow job was a gift, Robbie, but this spanking won't be. It's time to pay for that fucking B+."

And then I let fly with the first five really hard strokes, signaling that this is not going to be pleasant. With the sixth stroke he's crying and by ten he's sobbing, the point at which I'd ordinarily stop. But I want him to remember this, and by fifteen he's screaming with each stroke. By twenty he's a mess of snot, tears and bruises. I put away the razor strop, and lift him off the bed, carrying him to the chair and onto my lap. "A B+ is not good enough, Robbie. Kenny worked with you nearly every day. What do we tell him? That he didn't help you enough? Or that you decided to just blow off this class?"

Robbie is sobbing. "No. Please..."

"What should we tell him, Robbie?"

"Please," he chokes, "please. I'll do better. I promise..."

"I expected better from you, Robbie. You're a bright boy. I expected better."

Suddenly his grip tightens and he hugs me as though for dear life, wailing. "I will. I'll do better."

"Okay, baby, but I'm holding you to that. That grade needs to improve. You need to improve. Are we clear?"

"Yes," he sobs.

I hug him tight. "I love you, Robbie. You have to believe that. I didn't when we first started, but I do now. So, my investment in you has grown. It's not just to help out your Mom anymore, it's to help you, who I love, reach your potential, which is nearly infinite, I think. If I didn't care, I wouldn't give a damn about that B+. But I do care."

We sit for nearly an hour as he recovers, sobbing most of that time. Guilt can be a powerful ally, and he's feeling plenty of it at this moment. When he has finally recovered, he kisses me. "I'm sorry, Tim. I'll do better." I kiss him back, and he gets up and dresses. This is Kenny's night for dinner, and I smell curry, something he's made before, with coconut milk, pineapple and chunks of lamb left over from the roast we had three days ago. "Yummy," I hear Kevin scream as we approach the kitchen. Kevin is usually right about these things.


Robbie is back the next afternoon, and works with Kenny on biology for the first half-hour, and then with Jason on math. Jason is a whiz in math, and has a knack for simplifying things so that they're comprehensible. He's also patient, which I sometimes am not. He'll go over a concept as many times as it takes to sink in, whereas I expect it to be clear in one take. After 45 minutes of math, Robbie appears at my office door, and plunks himself down in one of the chairs in front of the desk. "'Sup?" I ask.

"Umm...I don't think I want...to..." He pauses, and then starts again. "I don't...umm...think we should...change our relationship."

"Okay," I say, a little confused. He senses my confusion.

"I...umm...don't think we should make love. I like us the way we are...umm... I like the relationship we have. Let's...umm...postpone."

I smile at him, turn my chair, pat my lap, and he comes and sits on it. I hug him tight. "I love you, Robbie. I don't want to mess up our relationship, either, and sex can do that faster than almost anything else. I'm proud of you."

He smiles, and kisses me. "Although an occasional blow job like yesterday would be...umm...okay."

I giggle, and push him off my lap, and he moves to the door. "You should stay for dinner tonight. My best friend and his husband are coming to dinner along with his husband's nephew, who's about your age, I think. He's just moved here from...somewhere on the east coast. I'm not sure where. He'll be looking for friends about now. Wanna meet them?"

"Sure. Who's cooking?"

I snaugh. "Jason."

He giggles. "Then I'll definitely stay," he says, smiling playfully. "I'll call my Mom and let her know."

Anyone who thinks there's no gay gene isn't following things very closely. Statistically speaking, a boy who is gay and has siblings has a 50% chance of finding that one or more of those siblings is also gay, and I can't tell you the number of gay friends I have for whom this is true: Ron and Laura, Ming and May, Ronda and Claudia, Phil and Morgan. Jimmy and Fran came out to each other first, and then to their parents at the same time. It was quite a surprise, I guess. PFLAG (Parents and Friend of Lesbians and Gays) was a godsend for these parents! What also appears to be true is that it runs in families, and this is apparently the case in Nathan's family. Nathan's brother, Sean, is gay, and now he's found that his nephew, Cliff, is gay. Trouble is, conservative Vietnamese families don't always handle these revelations well. Cliff's parents – Nathan's sister and her husband – saw their son's homosexuality as a shameful thing. They wanted nothing to do with it, or him, and promptly froze him out of their hearts. This sent him into a period of serious depression, so serious that the boy began cutting himself with razor blades. Word of this reached Nathan's mother, who in turn reached Nathan. The boy is now living with Nathan and Gary, shipped 3,000 miles from his east coast home to the west. I haven't met him, yet. Tonight's the night, and Jason is working on a Vietnamese menu that he's hoping will make Cliff feel at home.

The smells of Vietnamese cooking are quite distinctive. They use huge quantities of fish sauce, for one thing, and lots of tamarind, lemon grass, basil and mint. I love Vietnamese cuisine, but I'd expect Kenny to be better at whipping up a Vietnamese menu than Jason. But, it's Jason's night, and he hasn't asked Kenny to swap with him, so he has apparently taken this as a challenge. He's making Canh Chua Ca (sour fish soup), Goi Du Du Kho Bo (shredded papaya salad with jerky), Cha Gio (spring rolls – that he's actually wrapped himself rather than buying from one of the local venders), Xiu Mai (basically, meat balls), Ikan Pangang (fish steamed in a banana leaf), and Pandan seven-layered cake for dessert (a weird and wonderful combination of tapioca and bean paste). The house smells amazing. Cliff should feel right at home. And sure enough, at 7pm, when they arrive, he does.

The Vietnamese are often rather petit, and Cliff is no exception. He's maybe 5'3" tall, and I'd be surprised if he weighs in at over 100 pounds. He's very slender, and almost lethally cute. He's a very pretty boy. Like Ian, he's also rather effeminate, and if the fact that he's gay took his parents by surprise, then they're...not very observant. In truth, parents are often further in the closet than their children. They're often in denial, sometimes deeply. That was apparently the case with Cliff's parents. He came out to them one day, probably forced out by some event, and they freaked. How do you come out to parents? Ideally, you plan it, playing it out in your mind to make it as "natural" as possible. But that doesn't always work. Kenny says that he came out after taking his folks to tea, and still his father screamed at him, "Enough of this silly talk!" It's probably rarely easy. What I've never understood, though, is how parents can choose to give up a child because of something as inconsequential as his or her sexuality. I've tried to understand it. I haven't succeeded. How could Cliff's parents simply slough off a boy like this? No idea. But it's no clearer to me, frankly, why the gay community rejects boys like Cliff and Ian, boys who aren't "macho" enough. We have a fetish for "straight-acting." Straight-acting boys are supposed to be somehow "better" than those who can't quite cover up who they are. Lance Bass, a member of the very popular N'Sync boy band, was very taken with his own "masculinity" when he came out publically, I recall, something I thought was comical given his behavior. What it comes down to, I think, is that a lot of gay men are no more comfortable with their own sexuality than their straight counterparts, and don't want to be seen associating with "fairies" lest their sexuality be diagnosed. In essence, they're still in the closet, and want to stay there. How sad.

I kiss Gary and Nathan, and hug Cliff, and we make our way into the kitchen. Cliff is very shy, but the smells draw him out. Once in the kitchen, he tries to start a conversation with Jason, clearly the chief cook, in Vietnamese. That doesn't work, so he switches to Cantonese, and Jason smiles. They begin to chat, with Nathan and Kenny joining the conversation. Cantonese is a tonal language – seven tones, I think. That means that the same "word" can have seven different meanings depending on how it's inflected. I can understand that on a conceptual level, but have real trouble with it in practice. What blew my mind, though, was when Jason told me that he can tell almost instantly where someone is from depending on the accent – down to the region or town. I can do this for US cities, differentiating between specific mid-western cities and southern regions, but English is not tonal. How does this work in Cantonese, in which you're already dealing with seven distinct tones? Isn't the tonality what I listen to to identify regions? I thought so. But sure enough, after about five seconds of conversation, Jason announces to me that Cliff's parents are from Huế, a town midway between Noi to the north and Sąi Gņn to the south. Cliff giggles, and nods. "He's right. I'm not quite sure how he knows that because English is my first language and Cantonese isn't especially indigenous to Huế." It must be his musical ability that gives Jason this talent.

They continue to chat for five or so minutes, laughing as Cliff makes suggestions about the spicing of the food, about how it could be more authentic. And then Robbie comes from my office, where he's been talking to his mother on the phone. Cliff turns to see who's come into the room...and as their eyes meet, the rotation of the earth...stops – buildings topple over on each other, and rivers overflow. They stare at each other for probably fifteen seconds, and then shy little Cliff walks over to Robbie, looks up into his eyes, and introduces himself, "Hi, I'm Cliff. I'm Nathan's nephew. And you are?"

"I'm Robbie. I'm a friend of Tim's. Well, actually, I'm the son of a friend of Tim's."

"No," I correct. "He's a friend of Tim's, and Jason's and Kenny's."

It doesn't matter a damn what I say. They are missing in action. It's not that sparks are flying. It's that we have a major forest fire in our kitchen. They are just head-over-fucking-heels, and that's how they stay throughout the remainder of the evening – lost. They cannot take their eyes off each other and change seats so they can sit together. They talk about anything and everything, and talk to almost no one else. They are completely smitten. And, it's funny because they are so completely and utterly different. Robbie is probably 6' tall, blond, blue-eyed. He looks like the boy-next-door – if you happen to live in Minnesota. And, by this time, he's reasonably outgoing and confident. Cliff is slight, dark hair, dark eyes – pretty, and painfully shy. Who'd have known? Gary is amused, and giggles as we sip our Sherry in the living room after dinner as the boys clean up.

"Well, there's a storybook meeting," he laughs.

"You have no idea," I confide, and relate our recent history, including Robbie's recent desire to get laid.

"He's sixteen, for christ's sake. That's how he's supposed to feel."

"Yeah, but I'm so happy Kenny put the brakes on me. That's how Robbie's supposed to feel, but not with me. That's how he's supposed to feel with Cliff."

Gary nods. "That's probably true. And they're going to have a lot of time to explore that because they're going to the same school. Nathan just enrolled him at Lincoln. He starts on Monday."

We pause, a long pause. "What are his parents like? Cliff's, I mean. Because, I...umm..."

"You can't figure it out, can you?"

"No. I mean, he seems bright, articulate, respectful, in touch with his feelings. And he's just..."


"Well, yeah. I'm just confused, I guess, Gary. Why would anyone...throw that away?"

He nods. "They're quite rigid. He did everything they asked him to do. He studied hard, got good grades, socialized in the `right' circles, made the `right' friends – although not many of them, I think; he's very, very shy. He just made one mistake, and they caught him at it. They caught him kissing another boy. While Vietnamese men are different from Caucasians in the way they show affection, commonly holding hands or hugging, kissing is not acceptable, at least not the kind of kissing these boys were doing. His parents were very angry, apparently. They were even angrier when he confessed that this wasn't the first boy he'd kissed, that he was gay, and had known he was gay since he was ten. Kissing is as much as he's done, he says. He's just very shy – although you wouldn't know that based on what we saw in the kitchen this evening," he says with a laugh. "He's a very sweet kid, very considerate. He adores Nathan, and I think he likes me. But his `coming out' is going to be...umm...protracted."

Suddenly we have pandemonium as Kevin and Kai race through the living room naked, as they do nearly every evening. It's bath time and they're wet. I catch Kevin on his second circuit around the living room and hoist him onto my lap. "Aren't you cold, baby?" I ask.

"I'm not a baby," he screams, and giggles furiously as Kai lands in my lap right next to him, snuggling close. Kai is cold. You can tell it. He cuddles with his brother to get warm. And then Kenny appears with an enormous towel, giving the boys a mock-threatening look that has them screaming with laughter. "Where are those naughty, naughty little boys?" he screams, trying to sound like the Wicked Witch of the West. And then, the boys launch themselves off my lap and make their escape down the hall toward the bathroom at supersonic speed, with Kenny in hot pursuit.

Gary gives me a look. "Sorry," I say. "We replay this particular scene nearly every night. They're...exuberant."

Gary rolls his eyes, and giggles. "At least."

Watching Kev and Kai race around the house, my confusion mounts. I adore these boys from the depths of my soul, and they aren't even mine. Imagine, then, disowning a child, an only child, because he's gay. I look across at Gary, teary-eyed, and the Vulcan Mind Meld kicks in. He knows exactly what I'm thinking. "I know," he says. "The bottom line is that they're assholes. Nathan won't even speak to them on the phone. But, their loss is our gain. Cliff's still having some...trouble...getting over the rejection, but he'll get there."

I shake my head, and we move on to other topics until Jason and Kenny finally join us, and Jason begins playing a Chopin Mazurka on the piano. A little more sprightly than the Nocturnes, the Mazurkas are lovely and his interpretation is, as always, very thoughtful and moody. Somewhere in the middle of the piece, Robbie and Cliff wander in, drawn to us by the music. Robbie has heard Jason before, both on the violin and the piano, but Cliff, obviously, hasn't, and is rapt, and at the end of the piece he applauds. "You are amazing," he says in English. "You're just fantastic!"

"Do you play?" Jason asks, recognizing a fellow enthusiast.

"Sort of," Cliff replies, "but nothing like that."

"Can you play us something now?" he asks. "Anything."

Cliff looks so embarrassed. He's so shy. But, he moves to the piano, sits down, and begins to play Beethoven's Piano Sonata Number 14 in C-Sharp Minor, the "Moonlight." It's a chestnut, but one of my all time favorite chestnuts. It's a piece that is so astonishingly beautiful that I don't even need to hear it played to begin to cry – I can hear it in my head, and that's enough. It's another one of those pieces that, played well, sounds so simple, but isn't. Cliff's rendering is very nice. His cadences and timing are a little off, I think, but the depth of feeling is remarkable for someone so young. Jason leans back on the couch, his eyes closed, and absorbs the music. It's almost as though it permeates his skin, as though he's awash in it. At the end of the piece, he opens his eyes and stares absently at Cliff, who stares expectantly at him. "Beautiful," Jason finally says. "I've never heard the first movement played that slowly, and at first I didn't think I liked it, but ultimately it was lovely, really...revealing. Your phrasing was really elegant, though your timing was a little shaky initially. The problem was here," he says, going to the piano and sitting next to Cliff, playing several bars of the sonata as Cliff played them. "It might have been better if they'd sounded more like this," he says, re-playing the same bars of the sonata again, but with a much greater precision. "When'd you start playing?"

"When I was six."

"So you've been playing for ten years?"

"Nearly," Cliff responds.

"You shouldn't stop," Jason says. "You're really good. I can help you if you want."

Cliff's eyes light up. It's the first sign of true adulation I've seen from him since he caught sight of Robbie. "Would you?"

"Yeah. Sure. It'd help me focus on interpretation for some of what I have to play this coming season. I mean, I play mostly violin, but I can transcribe pretty quickly, and interpretation doesn't really depend on a specific instrument," a statement I find incredible. They arrange to meet twice a week at our place, which will also bring Cliff into frequent contact with Robbie, the prospect of which pleases them both.

"Well," Gary says absently, looking at Nathan. "If Cliff's going to continue his piano studies, we're going to need to find him a piano." Then, focusing on me, he asks, "Where'd you get Jason's piano?"

"Same place I got Jason," I say with a laugh, speaking of Jason as if he's a dog. "From Craigslist."

Published first at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nemo-stories/