Absolute Convergence

Chapter Thirteen

By John Yager

This is the thirteenth chapter of an ongoing series. I sincerely appreciate all the correspondence this story has prompted. Thank you for your encouragement, suggestions and criticism. This is the most serious piece I have attempted and many readers have told me it is the most serious and most issue-oriented piece they have encountered on NIFTY or any other similar site.

My objective in this series is to address the major issues which have impacted and influenced the lives of gay people in the period between the mid-1960s and the present time.

This story is written in fictional form. The story is raising many more questions than it is supplying answers and I certainly make no claim to know the answers. It is my hope that by raising the questions I may prompt a more balanced dialog.

Andrew continues to provide much needed proofing and editorial help, for which I am sincerely grateful.

This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. Any similarity to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. This is a work of gay erotic fiction. If you should not be reading such material or if such material is not to your liking, please exit now.

This work is copyrighted © by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.

All the stories I have posted on NIFTY can be found by looking under my name in the NIFTY Prolific Authors lists.

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"We`ve got to talk," Rick had said as we walked across the playing field after football practice.

It was a cold, gray day in late November and our life had fallen into a sort of uneasy pattern. Almost every weekend we'd go on dates with the girls, me with Joyce, Rich with Deb. Some weekends we doubled, more frequently we went our separate ways. But almost every weekend after football games on Friday nights, he would spend the night with me. My bedroom was more private and we could lock the door. He had a much smaller bedroom, although he did have it to himself. The Carlson house was much smaller than ours and there wasn't much privacy and no way to lock his bedroom door. The other advantage of my room was my double bed. Rick's bed was a single and even with the narrower bed, there wasn't much space left to move around the small room. I kidded him about the room being the size of a rail road car compartment, and that really wasn't much of an exaggeration.

When we wanted to talk on weekdays, it was usually in Rick's uncle's old pickup, which had become more and more Rich's vehicle. It was rare when he didn't drive it to school.

We worked our way through the crowded locker room, got out of our practice uniforms and headed for the showers. The space was heavy with steam and the mingling smells of male bodies and soap. There was always a lot of joking in the locker room and showers and that day was no exception. There was the usual butt slapping and towel snapping and the usual cracks about who was doing who. It was always easy, friendly and heterosexual. I couldn't help wondering if there were other guys among us who were carrying on together the way Rick and I were, but if that were the case, there was no obvious evidence of it. Rick and I were careful to keep our own relationship very much under cover.

As soon as we'd showered and dressed we headed out to the pickup and Rick headed south. On the edge of town we stopped so Rick could put some gas in the tank. When he came back he was carrying a couple of cokes and a big bag of pretzels. "I'm starved," he said as he climbed back into the cab of the truck. With the door open, even briefly, cold, damp air cut across my face.

Two or three miles further south Rick pulled off to the right and headed down a dirt track toward the river. It had begun to rain lightly and the little road was already wet, beginning to get muddy. When we reached the end of the road, Rick turned left into a clump of Sycamore trees and cut off the engine. We were facing across a wide slough to a narrow strip of land on which a dense cluster of thick trunked old tees screened the view of the river beyond. Across it, barely visible through the mist and the fading light, lay the far shore and Arkansas.

With the engine off the truck quickly became cool, then cold. We zipped up our jackets and Rick reached for an old blanket which was always stored behind the seat. We spread it over our legs, sharing the warmth.

The previous afternoon after classes we'd gone to see Ted again. It had been our third conversation with him. "Well, I guess you're right. It isn't like Ted ever answers any of our questions," Rick said as we sipped the cokes and shared the pretzels, "but he sure gives me a lot to think about. I guess talking with him has made me see that there really is more than one way to look at things. I grew up being taught that there was only one right way and any other way was wrong."

"I know," I responded, "but it isn't just your church that teaches you that, Rick. Our whole culture wants us to think that way. Look at the way our schools have educated us to believe the only way is the way our parents' generation approves. There isn't much chance for change or progress as long as we think like that."

A tug boat moved slowly down the river pulling a long line of barges. They were riding low in the water, probably filled with grain from the Dakotas or ore from Minnesota. As the tug passed, a strong wake began to wash along the shore and a flock of wild duck took flight, turning to bank back over us and settle in the slough.

"I just don't know if I can do it, Rob," Rick said after a long silence.

"What can't you do, Rick?" I asked after sipping the coke.

"The whole fucking thing, marry Deb, have a bunch of kids, work for my dad, spend the rest of my life here in Spring River, living the dull, respectable life everybody else has planned out for me."

"What about college next fall?"

"I still don't know. My dad's okay with it but my mother just wants me to get married and settle down. I think more than anything she wants me and Deb to give her some grand kids."

"Hold out for college, Rick. You owe yourself to try as long as there's any chance at all."

"Yeah." Rick moved his right hand across the seat to find mine and hold it under the blanket. It seemed so natural but also so odd. There we were, two of the biggest, strongest guys in the school, two of the biggest guys on the football team, tenderly holding hands in a cold truck while looking out over the gray, wet landscape, across the wide, watery world between two states. We just sat there for a while holding hands, not even looking at each other, looking out across the gray water. I don't think I'd ever felt as close to anyone as I felt to Rick just then. Neither of us said anything more and it was at least half an hour before Rick let loose my hand and started the engine. "It's fucking cold in here."

"Yeah, and we'd better get back."

Rick turned the truck around and we headed back along the muddy lane to the highway and home. He dropped me at my house and it was only as I was getting out of the cab that he spoke again. "Thanks, Rob. I think that helped."

"We didn't really say much."

"No, but it helped," he repeated. "I hope we can go talk with Ted again soon."

"It will probably have to be next week," I said, remembering my schedule for the rest of the week. We had a game on Friday night and I was going with Joyce and her folks to a party on Saturday night.

"Maybe next Tuesday?"

"Sure. I'll try to say something to him at church on Sunday."

That is more or less how our life went the rest of that winter. Football season ended and both Rick and I began to work out for track and field matches in the spring. We went to the gym a couple of afternoons every week, lifting weights and, if the weather wasn't too cold and wet, running laps around the track.

Every two weeks or so Rick and I arranged to drop by the church for a conversation with Ted Tucker, the youth pastor. It wasn't that the conversations really led to any real answers or even clarified things. But the chance to take about issues which seemed important to us and which we couldn't talk about with anyone else gave our meetings with him special importance. As Rick had said, it just helped to be able to talk.

Over the Christmas holidays Joyce and her mother made a trip to Hartford, Connecticut, to visit their relatives there and make final arrangements for Joyce to enter Trinity University the following fall.

I went up to Oxford for a few days as soon as our classes ended for the Christmas holidays. I took the bus up from Spring River and came back with my brother Ted when he had finished his exams. Our classes had ended a few days before the university term ended and it gave me a chance to visit the campus and make my own arrangements to enter the University of Mississippi the following autumn.

It was during that visit that I met Roger Bardwell, a young literature instructor, who was to play a significant role in my life over the next four years and beyond.

Staying with Ted for two nights was an interesting experience. His roommate had already finished his exams and gone home so I slept in the vacant bed. Ted and I talked late, very late, both nights. I felt as if I got to know my older brother in a new way. He expressed his own doubts and fears about the future and I began to realize that everyone, even those who presented a facade of confidence, had their own demons to overcome.

I returned to River City, with Ted on the 21st. Dr. Lynn left on December 23ed. to join Joyce and her mother in Hartford. He asked me to drive him to the Memphis airport and the trip up proved to be a sort of milestone for me.

From the comments he made I first assumed that Joyce had said something to him about my sexual orientation and about the caring but non-sexual nature of my relationship with his daughter. As our conversation continued, I realized that he had figured things out for himself.

"Mrs. Lynn and I are really pleased you and Joyce are dating, Rob," he'd said. I wondered if he was going to talk to me about the responsibilities of my relationship with Joyce, or even about any plans we might have for our future. It was soon clear, however, that he was happy that Joyce and I were dating because I put few demands on her and in no way distracted her from her studies.

"So many kids your age get so caught up on their supposed love for each other that a lot of important things get lost in the shuffle. That hasn't happened with you and Joyce."

"No, sir," I'd said, "we both have our own priorities. We both want to make good grades and go on to college in the fall."

"Well, going steady seems to be perfect for both of you."

"Yes," I'd agreed, not knowing where this conversation was heading.

"It has certainly kept the wolves at bay, so far as Joyce is concerned."

"The other guys don't try to come between people who are known to be going steady."

"Well, you seem to be well liked, Rob. I would assume that plays an important part."

"Thank you, sir."

"No thanks necessary. I'm just stating the obvious. I guess it has been helpful for you as well."


"Yes, you know, dating Joyce silences comments, avoids awkward questions."

We were both silent for several moments and I realized that by not responding to his words, I was agreeing with them.

When Dr. Lynn continued he said, "You are a bright young man, Rob. I'm sure you will make wise decisions about your future and I know you have a wonderful life ahead of you."

"Thank you, sir," I said, "I hope so."

"For my generation it was a lot harder. I'm sure you know that, but things are changing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive. I know we have a long way to go, but I really believe we are finally moving in the right direction, and once change has begun it is harder and harder to stop it. Just look at the progress we've made on the racial front on the last ten years."

"I suppose so, sir, but at times it sure seems as if any change is very slow."

"Well, believe me, it will gain momentum. I probably won't live to see it, but you will. The time will come, and I don't think it will be all that long off, when social change in more liberal areas will prompt new laws, just as we've seen happen on the racial front. Then the legal protections will begin to cause change everywhere, even in dear old Mississippi."

"I hope you're right, sir."

"Well, sometime when you're my age, Rob, just remember this conversation. I know it will be a difficult journey but we'll get there."

"We, sir?"

"Yes, Rob, we." He said no more but I often wondered over the years ahead what exactly he was telling me about himself.

Air travel was new and exciting in those days. I had never flown but taking Dr. Lynn to the Memphis airport was a sort of revelation to me. We'd parked my mother's car, which I'd been given special permission to drive, in a large lot in front of the rambling terminal building and I had carried one of his two bags for him into the check-in area. There had been long lines of holiday travelers and I saw people bound for distant cities all over North America. To be traveling to New York or San Francisco for a few days over Christmas was an entirely new concept for me. I longed for the day when I would be taking such trips myself.

Later, after Dr. Lynn had checked in for his flight, we went into a café in the terminal building and he treated me to lunch. The food was indifferent, but I couldn't help being excited, surrounded as we were, by so many people who were traveling to distant places.

When his flight was called I said goodbye, extending my hand for a formal handshake. Instead, he drew me into a warm embrace, held me for a moment and said, "Have a wonderful Christmas."

"Thank you, sir," I'd said as I recovered from the surprise of his warm farewell, "please wish Joyce and Mrs. Lynn a merry Christmas from me."

"I will, Rob, and you greet your family for me."

He turned to go and I walked out as far as the fence. I stood there in the cold air as he went across the macadam and up the gangway. At the door, he turned and waved a final farewell and ducked to enter the plane.

I waited for the plane to take off and then returned to the car and drove into the city. I found a parking place on Second Street, well away from my intended destination, and walked up to Third and then north, passing deserted warehouses and shabby bars. When I got to the corner I turned away from the river and rounded the block. "Ad lts O ly" was no place to be seen. I went around the block again and eventually found what I took to be the right building, but the neon sign was gone. The only evidence of the building's former use were the black painted windows.

A fine, cold mist had begun to fall and I knew I had to go. In a few hours the roads might begin to ice. I later learned that the porno parlors along the Memphis waterfront had been closed a few months earlier by a new mayor and his crusading, moralistic administration. It wouldn't be long, though, before they opened again in new locations and using new names. At least I had my memories of Todd and Chad.

Before I'd driven fifty miles toward home the mist had turned to rain, the rain to sleet and the highway was littered with abandoned cars and trucks. I crept along, staying to the center of the road, rarely having to move to the right as another demented driver crept by in the opposite direction.

It was midnight before I got home and my mother was frantic.

"You should have called, Little Brother," Ted said.

"There was no place to make a call, Ted," I said, defending myself. "Everyplace was closed. I was lucky to get home without running out of gas."

"Well, the boy's home, mother," my dad said, "no harm done. Let's just get to bed."

By the following morning, the morning of Christmas Eve, the storm had moved on east, leaving Spring River with hundreds of fallen trees, downed lines and large parts of town without electricity or telephone service. It was a very odd, but a very memorable Christmas. The town looked like a winter wonderland, sparkling in the cold sunlight. It was the closest thing I'd ever seen to a real White Christmas, even though it was the result of ice, not snow.

My mother called it a Mississippi White Christmas.

Dad closed the lumber yard until December 27 and, like most of the town folk, we just hunkered down to outlast the storm. Our part of town never lost electrical power and we were never without telephone service.

Ted and I made it to church on Christmas Eve but it took us almost an hour to walk the few blocks from our house. Mom and dad stayed home, as did most people. We had to detour fallen trees and downed power lines and saw two cars that had been badly damaged by fallen limbs. As we approached the church we saw that it was completely dark, another victim of the storm. There, at the usually crowded service, were only a couple of dozen people and the forced darkness gave special meaning to the candles which shed a sparkling glow through the nave.

I'd hoped to see Ted Tucker and introduce him to my brother, Ted, but he had gotten word of the approaching storm the day before and headed for his family home for the holidays. No one knew if he'd made it safely or not, but assumed someone would have heard if he'd had problems. My brother had only been motivated to go when he learned that his girlfriend, Betty, and her family planned to walk the much shorter distance from their house to the church. Ted and I sat with them, huddled in one pew in the largely empty church.

After the service Ted went back to Betty's house for a while and I walked home alone through the icy streets. There was a strange, almost mystical light over houses and trees and I felt as if I was alone in some enchanted world. I felt alone and very restless.

As I walked slowly and carefully home, I thought of my parents, alone there, probably already in their bed, together, warm. Ted was with Betty and her family and Joyce was a thousand miles away in Connecticut with her parents and her aunt and uncle and a brood of cousins. She was completing plans for the next phase of her life, a phase in which I would have no part. Ted Tucker, I had to suppose, was with his family. I realized how little I really knew about his personal life and wondered if he had intentionally directed our conversations away from himself.

Rick and Deb were probably together. They only lived a few houses apart and their families were so intertwined that holidays were times for themselves and their own tight circle of friends and fellow church members.

As I walked those few blocks home I felt suddenly very alone. I was surrounded by a magical world, a mystical, enchanted world and I wanted, more than anything, to be sharing it with someone. A harsh wind stirred up and bit at my face.

At home at last, I undressed and got into my bed alone, between cold sheets. The wind had picked up and rattled the windows. There was the occasional snap of a breaking limb, as loud as a rifle shot.

On the morning of Christmas Day we opened presents. My family had always done so then, rather than on Christmas Eve, as so many of our friends did. Later dad rested by the fireplace and Ted went back to bed. I had no idea when he'd made it home the night before. Mother worked alone in the kitchen on our meal. Still restless, I walked over to the Lynns' house to check on things there. As the storm had moved east it had been followed by very frigid air. Not only were the streets and sidewalks incredibly slick, but even the slightest breeze was bone chilling. There were no cars on the streets and only a few kids out playing on the ice.

I was in the kitchen helping mother with some last minute chores. It was about two-thirty and we planned to have our Christmas dinner at three o'clock. When the phone rang, I was closest to it and answered it. It was Joyce. I was glad I went over to the Lynns' in the morning. She wanted to wish me Merry Christmas, but also, they had heard about the storm on the national news and her parents were concerned to know how bad things really were. I was able to tell them that except for a few broken limbs, their house was fine.

As we finished the call, she again said, "Merry Christmas." and then added, "I love you."

"I love you, too." I said. It was so much easier over the phone with so many miles between us.

My mother, overhearing my words, turned and smiled. I smiled back at her and when I'd hung up the phone I went over and kissed her on the cheek.

"Merry Christmas, Mom," I said, "I love you, too."

At six that evening I had a call from Rick. He said their festivities were winding down and he hoped to get away. Later, about ten o'clock, he knocked quietly on our front door.

"I had to see you," he said, slipping into the entry hall, followed by a cold wind. My folks had gone to bed and Ted was in the kitchen talking on the phone with Betty. I saw Rick had a backpack and assumed he expected to spend the night.

We walked into the kitchen just as Ted was finishing his call with a succession of rather crude kissing sounds. "Oh, hi, guys," he said, looking a little embarrassed as we sat down at the kitchen table.

"What we do for love," Rick said with a grin.

"Yeah," Ted grinned back, but he really did look uncomfortable.

Perhaps to cover his embarrassment, Ted launched into an animated discussion of our football season, congratulating Rick and me on our successes.

"I guess mom and dad have gone to bed," I said when there was a pause in the rather one-sided conversation. "Rick's going to spend the night."

"If you guys want to stay up and play cards or something, it won't bother me," Ted said, "but count me out. I'm tuckered out and just want to hit the sack."

"Well, we'll keep it quiet, whatever we do," I said.

"Okay, then," Ted said as he stood and headed up to his room. "Rick, it was good to see you, man. Maybe we can talk more in the morning."

"Great, Ted," Rick said. "I hope so."

After Ted left, Rick and I sat at the kitchen table for about half an hour, just talking about our Christmas celebrations. His family and Deb's had spent much of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. Deb and her family had only gone home a little over an hour earlier. Rick had quickly put some things in his backpack and made the slow trek to our house.

"I tried to call two or three times but the line was always busy and I began to think your lines were down."

"No, it was just Ted talking with Betty. They've been on the phone for a couple of hours."

"Don't they see enough of each other at the university?"

"Yeah, sure, but she's been home a week and when Ted and I got home the other night she was off seeing some aunt in New Madrid." I paused, not wanting to give away Ted's news, but then figured it didn't matter and added, "I think he gave her a ring."

"Yeah? Like they're getting officially engaged?"

"I think so. I just overheard part of his end of a phone conversation and I may have gotten it wrong, but I think they are going to tell our folks and Betty's on New Year's Eve and are planning on getting married next summer."

"I sure won't tell anybody anything. The only person I would tell is Deb and that would just get me more in a hole."

"She's wanting a ring, too, right?"

"Oh, does she ever."

"I told her a month ago I wasn't going to get her a ring for Christmas, which is what she'd been hinting at." He looked down at the table and then added. "I mean, Rob, we're only high school seniors. It's not like I even have a proper job.

Last night was really bad. The pastor was over and he insisted that Debbie and I needed prayer. I'm sure it was planned, a real put-up job. I sort of suspect Deb was even in on it."

"So they prayed for you? Why was that so bad?"

"Well, they put us in the middle of a circle, us in chairs, holding hands, side be side, the rest of them gathered around us, standing there with their hands on us, on our heads, on our shoulders, and praying up a storm."

"This was your pastor and your folks?"

"Yeah, plus my grandmother and Deb's grandmother and grandfather and three of my older married brothers and their wives and my older sister and her husband and a few others I can't even remember now. I really thought for a while I was going to lose it."

"How do you mean?" I asked, having a little trouble envisioning the scene and, to the degree I could, finding it rather amusing.

"I mean I felt as if I was going to bolt and run, or just jump up and push my way out of that circle. Really, Rob, I couldn't breathe."

"What were they praying, Rick? I guess I don't get the point of the whole thing."

"Oh, they were praying for us to have a clear vision of God's will for our lives. They were asking God to override any unclean lusts and help us see our union as holy and blessed and ordained by God for the furtherance of his kingdom."

"How was Debbie taking all that?"

"Oh, she was fine with it, I guess. I mean, that's the stuff she is always telling me she wants for us, you know, the happy young Christian couple, doing God's will and breeding up a storm. Having a brood of Christian kids for the growth of the kingdom of God. That's what they all see marriage being. Hell, that's what they see life being all about. If you don't get married and have at least half a dozen kids, you haven't fulfilled God's will for your life."

"And that's what Deb sees for the two of you?"

"Sure, Rob. I know it's hard for you to understand, but we were both raised to think that was the perfect life, doing all over again what our parents and grandparents did. To question that is to question the foundation of our church."

"Man, Rick." I said after a minute, "I guess you've got more of a problem than I understood."

"Yeah, I do, and I think they are all beginning to figure out they've got a problem with me. I mean, my marriage to Deb has been more or less arranged, Rob. I did ask her to marry me, but it was so programmed from the time we were kids that they had us believing it was the way things were supposed to be., the way things had to be. They just didn't take into account that my sex drives might veer off the intended course."

Rick slumped down and rested his head on his crossed arms. I was silent, not knowing how to respond. Some minutes later he looked up at me and said, "Those prayers last night were being said for both of us but everybody knew I was the bad boy. I'm the one who's resisting God's will and I'm the one they have to get back into line."

"So maybe it wasn't just Deb who was expecting you to give her a ring this Christmas. I mean, if they are planning on you getting married as soon as school's out in the spring, you would be expected to make the engagement official about now."

"If I did get her a ring now it would have to be some cheap thing we'd both be embarrassed by in a few years, and even then, I'd probably have to borrow the money from my dad."

"I'm sure your dad would lend you the money, Rick, if that's what you decided to do."

"Oh, hell yes, he'd lend it. He'd probably even tell me I didn't have to pay it back. They're all so crazy to see us married they'd buy a ring and call the preacher and have us hitched this week if I'd agree to it."

"Still playing hard to get," I grinned, trying to put a lighter face on the obviously desperate situation.

"Still playing scared shitless, you mean."

As we mounted the stairs Ted was just coming out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waste. "I'm through in there," he called over his shoulder, "it's all yours."

Rick and I went into my bedroom and pulled off our clothes. I tossed him a towel and without a word, peeked out into the hall to be sure no one was on the prowl. The hall was empty and we slipped across to the bathroom, locking the door behind us.

While I adjusted the water temperature, Rick hung his own towel on a hook beside the tub and then yanked mine off and hung it up as well. Without anything being said, we seemed to understand the need for silence. I stepped into the shower and he quickly followed. I put my hands on his shoulders and turned him to face the tiled wall of the tub enclosure.

Rick's muscles were very tense. I worked up a thick lather and spread it over his warm skin. Slowly, as I worked the hard cords of his back, I began to sense that he was relaxing a little and quickly washed myself as he submissively leaned against the tile wall. He didn`t move and he didn't offer to wash me, as he usually did. Returning to him, I washed his rear and worked the lather deep into the crack of his ass, probing his pucker with a finger as he groaned and pushed back against me.

"Yeah," he moaned and I slid a second finger in, knowing what he wanted. Soon I had three fingers in him and he was humping my hand like a bitch in heat. Despite his pent up lust, his body took much longer than usual to relax. Finally, when I felt his sphincter surrender, I withdrew my fingers, turned him and slowly washed his front. I knew not to stroke his pulsing cock too vigorously or he would have immediately come.

"You're tense, Buddy," I whispered as I backed him under the shower and rinsed his glistening body. Then, hugging him to me, I leaned down and kissed him gently at the base of his neck.

"Yeah, I fucking hate the holidays."

"Well, let's see if we can't make things a little better. We'll have our own private celebration."

"Yeah, Rob. I really need that." His muscular arms came around me and we embraced, our bodies pressed together, his lips finding mine. His wet, eager tongue snaked out between his lips and ran along mine, wetting them with his saliva, working his way in. I grinned a little and held my lips tightly together, making him work for entry. He opened his own eyes and our gaze locked, a twinkle of amusement passing between us.

When his tongue pressed against lips again I opened to him, causing his tongue to shoot into my gaping mouth with more urgency than he'd intended. We chuckled together in private delight at our loving, private joke.

When we broke from our deep kiss, Rick leaned against me and said, "I love you."

"I know, Buddy. I love you, too" It was the third time I'd said those words that Christmas day, first to Joyce, then to my mother and now to Rick. I meant them each time.

"You know what I want."

"Yeah," I whispered, pushing the shower curtain back a little and reaching out for our towels.

We stood there drying ourselves and each other. I ran my towel over my chest and then over Rick's. He smiled and did the same, turning so I could dry his back. I held the damp towel to my face, blotting the steam off my cheeks and forehead, realizing that the soft, absorbent fabric contained a magnificent mingling of Rick's aroma and my own. It was both touching and arousing.

"Let's go," I whispered, suddenly urgent to be in bed with him. We wrapped ourselves with the towels and stepped across the hall from the bathroom to my bedroom. I stepped aside so Rick could go in ahead of me. I held back just a moment to listen for the sounds of anyone astir. The house was quiet. The wind had stopped and the only thing I heard was the slight suggestion of someone breathing deeply in their sleep, Ted, perhaps, or my parents, locked, as I knew they were, in each other's arms.

I went on into my dark bedroom behind Rick. I softly shut the door and secured the lock. Rick was standing with his back to the window. He'd loosened the towel from around his waist and hung it on the back of the chair at my desk. I took off my own towel and hung it over his. Rick was silhouetted against the diffused light which came through the window behind him. The curtains were open and I could see past him to the ice-covered limbs of trees and the glowing sky beyond.

Rick took a single step towards me as I moved towards him. He didn't embrace me as I'd expected, but placed his hands lightly, softly, on my arms, just above the elbows, caressing the muscles there. He gently squeezed my biceps as he brought his lips to mine. It was a gentle kiss, unhurried, but I knew there was passion behind it.

Rick's lips barely caressed mine. I held still, letting him lead the way. He drew back a little so his lips were no more than an inch from mine.

"Merry Christmas, Rob," he whispered.

"Merry Christmas, Rick," I quietly replied.

His hands moved up along my arms as if he were trying in some way to record the contours and textures of my body. He gently kneaded my shoulders and then moved on to stroke my neck, his fingers along my jaw and the ball of his thumbs moving slowly over my slightly opened lips.

The lightness of his touch was more arousing than any firmer, more aggressive touch could ever be. Rick was showing me another side of himself, a gentle, caring side. Was this how he made love to Deb? I wondered.

The earlier urgency was gone but in time we moved to the bed, not bounding onto it as we usually did, but to sit side by side on the edge, our feet on the cool floor, my arm around his shoulder, holding him gently against me. We sat like that for some time, looking at each other in the strange, enthralling light. Our skin had no color in the cold glow reflecting off the ice. We were pale and white and the contours of Rick's muscular body showed as if this were no longer a living, breathing lover whom I held, but some white marble statue come to life.

"I want you in me," he said after a while. I knew we'd go that way. We always did. But somehow that night I didn't want to hurry it. I knew the end of the journey but the pleasure of the passage was tender in a way I'd never known. I think that night my love for Rick and his love for me moved beyond the limits we'd established for ourselves. Our love slipped through our fingers and escaped our attempts to govern it. Our love refused to be controlled.

We had told ourselves that we would only go so far, that we both had other needs, other goals, and our feelings for each other would not be allowed to complicate our lives. The boundaries we'd established for ourselves were not physical. We had not denied ourselves any pleasure we desired. But we had established psychological limits. We'd told ourselves we wouldn't care too much. We'd put up fences to constrain our hearts, not wanting to be hurt ourselves or to hurt the other.

I learned that night that love is not convenient. It exists in and of itself, not subject to the wills of those who hold it, or who are held by it.

Rick slipped back on my big bed, spread his manly legs and held out his arms to me. I moved over him, hovered there, looking down at him, reveling in his beauty, in our love and our caring and our youth. His arms closed around my chest and his hands moved slowly, lovingly, along my back. His legs came up to encircle my hips and his body, practiced now at such things, positioned itself for me.

"I need the lube," I whispered as the oozing head of my cock pressed against his pulsing ass.

"No, you're wet enough."

"I may hurt you."

"It's fine, just press in."

I did as he asked and found, to my amazement, that my shaft moved slowly, but without resistance, into the hot, wet recesses of his body.

We sighed and he pulled my full weight down onto his body. Without moving, at least for a while, we lay like that, joined, happy, one.

In time the urgency came, the demands of our bodies, seeking release. I felt it first in his pulse, in his body's rhythm, in the beat of his heart against my chest, in the slow rise and fall of his body under mine as his breath came and went.

When I responded with a tentative movement of my hips, pulling back a little and then gently thrusting forward again, Rick murmured, "yes."

From that point on we were on familiar ground. Our rhythm was quickly established and he held my body to his. Our chests were pressed together by his powerful arms locked firmly around my torso. His legs had come up over mine, pressing me to him, restricting the movements of my pelvis but also adding a greater level of intimacy to our lovemaking.

We knew from past experience that neither of us could last too long like this. It was a given, but our passions drove us and no attempt was made to slow down the process. Within moments I felt Rick tense under me, every muscle of his body flexing. Then there was the shudder of his release and the feeling of his hot seed spreading in the constricted space between his belly and mine. I held on for a moment longer but the vice-like grip of his sphincter on my cock set me off. My own seed flooded him, filling him with my love.

"The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David," I read to Rick the next morning as we still lay in our warm bed. The souls of Rob and Rick were knit as surely as if we'd been made of one fabric, one strand, one being.

To be continued.