Joe, Andrew and Wayne - Part 15

Joe & Andrew on Mindspring
Wayne on Mindspring

Note: There will be parts of this that you see in regular type, like now. Another part will be all lower case. It's not me being lazy. When you see all lower case, it is Andrew and me talking. I won't do any style checking or spell checking on those parts either, on purpose. It's easy to let Microsoft Word do all the formatting for us, but the idea is to let Andrew speak too, and for you to tell the difference. Andrew is very antsy and he wants to write. He says I've made this our journal and that it's a good thing that I've done to help keep the journals going. Joe can't, but this is still Joe's works and still about Joe's life as much as ours. Andrew wants to do another flashback to the love they have shared, but he wants to tell the story and tell me what to type. Andrew wants to put his own voice back in the journals this time.

Some of you are thinking `now how in the heck is he going to do that?'. Others of you already know because you've gotten E-mail lately with Andrew's voice in it again. For those who don't know, it's a technique that Andrew and I do called "lefty/righty". Andrew is the left side of the keyboard and I am the right. By the way, what makes that a little easier is my keyboard is one of Microsoft's "Natural" ergonomic styled keyboards. We talk about what we want to say and then we start typing. Sometimes it's as if we are one mind. Sometimes it means spelling things out and trying to get a rhythm so that each half of us types the right keys. It seems to take a fair amount of effort, but Andrew can keep at it for about a half hour at a time. Then he rests and I either send the mail we've composed then, or finish it off when he's had enough. The first time we did this, in E-mail to some friends, we laughed until we had tears running down our faces. And if I should say "wait, typo", we'd laugh all the more as I backspaced over text so we could correct it. This is a way for Andrew and me to continue sharing, and for you to hear him as well.


October 21 - Thursday

Andrew is with Joe tonight, until I go to pick him up around 11:00. I sit and read my E-mail for awhile, answering some of it along the way. Andrew's E-mail account has over 300 unread messages and mine has over 100 unread. By the weekend, there will be double that on both accounts. When we publish a journal, mail flows for a week or two, steadily inward and not quite as steadily outward, though not from lack of trying.

We are approaching the full moon again, coming up to our favorite time of the month when we sit outside and share the sky with our friends around the world, helping to keep us feeling as if we really do have something in common. Our moonlit rituals have expanded to lunchtime as well for a few of our friends here in the US. Some go out for a walk at lunchtime, knowing I am doing the same thing, saying "Hi Wayno, thinking about you today" while we're out there.

I sat on the grass outside my apartment building tonight, down toward the basketball court. Note: I recently took a picture of what that part of our lawn, shared as part of my apartment complex, looks like. If you'd like to see it, send me E-mail and I'll share what I see each day (and what Andrew would like to see again).

It was damp and cool under my jeans but the night was nice. I was looking at 90% of a full moon alone, watching the clouds track across it and then disappear. The crickets chirped, helping to keep me company. There were times I truly hated being alone. There were others, like now, that it was okay. There is time enough for Andrew and me to share nights under the moon, or stars when the moon has passed its cycle. I put my chin on my knee, wrapping both arms around my legs, listening quietly.

When I finally look at my watch, I realize it's time to go pick up Andrew at the hospital. He asked me if I'd start coming an hour earlier, wanting me to sit with Joe too, to take his hand in mine. Andrew said if Joe felt me too, he'd make another connection.

When I arrive, I walk through the lobby and up the few flights of stairs. Andrew is standing, his back to the wall, across the corridor from the doorway as I exit the stairwell.

"Hi love."

I stand where I am and don't say anything, teasing him a little. He cocks his ear and listens. He scowls just a little.

"Wayne?"

I remain silent, and try very hard not to giggle. I can see Betty further up the corridor. She's trying to figure out what I'm up to and I put my index finger up to my lips to shush her, and smile. She shakes her head and smiles. I know all the nurses now and they seem to find my humor attractive, if not totally off the wall. Just when they have me figured out, I change my stripes a little. God forbid anyone try to pin me down to being predictable.

Andrew is not to be outdone. With his arm in front of him, he walks the seven feet or so across the corridor, right to where I am. He wraps his arm around me and gives me one hell of a kiss. My first instinct is to push him away. Andrew's own mind is saying "I don't care who sees". My own says "I do care who sees, but I love Andrew" so I hold him close instead. I return his kiss, taking my time, my right hand holding Andrew's head and my left touching his chest. Betty and Stacey both see. Betty has this incredibly sweet smile on her face, her head tilted to the side, her arms folded across her stomach. Stacey thinks love is cool, as long as it's real love. This is not our first public display of affection, but it certainly is unlike any in the past. When we're done, Andrew puts his left arm around my waist and we walk up to Joe's room.

"How did you know for sure it was me, by the way?"

"You smell good. And I can hear your heart, love. You've heard that when someone loses one of their senses, others become sharper. It's true."

As Andrew has taught me to do, I take Joe's hand in mine and hold on. I talk to him as if he's sitting up talking back to me. I fill him in about work and my treatments and tell him what the moon looked like tonight. It's not been all that long since I started helping Andrew try to bring Joe back. I bring his hand to my lips and I kiss it. I put it against my face, feeling the fingers that may or may not feel me. I am learning, slowly, how to take care of Joe too, if only for an hour at the end of each day. Andrew wants me to know how, in case . . .

Well, just because. I spend the hour, sitting beside Joe just as Andrew does, talking and listening, holding his hand and seeing if he hears me or feels me. I have no idea. Maybe I'm another warm body to Joe. Maybe I'm nothing to Joe. Joe is a lot to me - a buddy, a man who has shown me love, a man who I've taken love from, and a man who I've taken his Andrew from, if only a little. I won't know what Joe thinks about me loving Andrew until he tells. I'm scared to think he will hate what I have done.

Andrew has done this for up to 18 hours in a day. It floors me that he could. No response, after an hour's effort several nights a week, is hard enough. To do this for 18 hours a day for more than a year, getting no response would be mind-numbing to me. Andrew is indeed a special boy and one who deeply loves his Joe. To be so dedicated and so hopeful is not a gift. It's a blessing. Nobody blessed me, yet, but I hope that if I ever had to give my attention to Joe, I want to think that I could.

It was past midnight and Andrew said he wanted to go home now, so he could be back in the morning.

Note: We have some readers who do not believe that Andrew can love Joe and can love me, equally, and still take care of himself as well. To those readers, please know that Andrew is spending from 7:00 a.m. until midnight with Joe four nights a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). He is spending from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with Joe the other three nights because of his chemotherapy. At night, I hold him close as we sleep. Well, as Andrew sleeps and as I watch over him. Andrew does give to Joe, and to me, quite equally.

October 22nd - Friday

This section is copied from E-mail to our friends tonight (and a good example of `lefty/righty' mail from Andrew and me):

dear loves,

11:40 p.m. and wayno and i are just settling in. we've been home only since 11:00. doc had to run a 2nd bone marrow on wayno early today because wednesday's was kinda off from normal. tonight's was taken from his breastbone instead of hip. we won't know until tomorrow or sunday what the counts are. picture wayno crawling up the walls and across the ceiling as he waits very patiently (NOT!!!) for doc to page him over the weekend. waiting sucks. wednesday's count said 15,000 above normal, up from the 9,000 or so that he had last week. with progress so good lately, up is not what was expected. so doc is also looking for an infection within his system. he drew blood too. you'll know when we do. doc thinks wayne should also start a 4 week radiation cycle, but he wants to see what the bloodwork and bone marrow aspiration show first.

i had a good day today. i had two of what wayno calls the "headaches from hell" this week. i'm okay again since the last one let up overnight. I read wayno's journal again today (well, margie read it to me). by the way, it's been published in the archive, as of last night. if you didn't get a final final, it's at:

Joe, Wayne & Andrew 14 on Nifty

or whatever mirror you would connect to when you go to The Nifty Archives and when you get routed automatically, then gay, then college, then chris-and-joe, then the latest story (#14).

mail has started to arrive already. we got five new E-mail on my account today and two on wayno's. the cheering is loud. people are saying they want to hold on to my wayno to make him stronger for me. people say it has heart and candor. they agree with wayno that it's a hard read but that they can't put it aside. margie couldn't stop reading this afternoon. she kissed me on my forehead, like wayno does, and held my hand. she didn't know some of the stuff that wayne wrote and it upset her but she says it's about time someone wrote without hiding. mim has read it all. joyce and carrie (the 7:00 to 3:00 nurses) have put sticky notes in the sections where they have stopped. beth (3:00 to 11:00, with mim) copied it and took it to a friend who is nearly suicidal, trying to convince him that he's not the only one with a need to talk to someone. stacey and betty (11:00 to 7:00) read it and want it back again when joyce and carrie finish. wayne says he blushes knowing what he wrote about sex. but the nurses know us and know what love is between us. the physical stuff has to be hard to take sometimes. some people have asked why we're so open. well, considering that we are writing for an erotic stories archive, we don't want to hide the sex. cuz wayno loves me too and not just my body. and i love him, including his body, but way more than just that. he wrote what was inside, hurting and making him sad. shared pain is pain halved, or lessened anyway.

stacey said she loved how he used the few lines of the backstreet boys song interwoven in the paragraphs. her son has the cd and she listened to the song a couple of times. she sees why we like it so much. our tech friend said he got the song from Wayne's web site. wayne sent him the lyrics so he could follow them. wayne says he won first prize with me. i think that I am lucky to have two who love me with all their hearts. we take today for what it is and hope for one more day to share. tomorrow we start all over again.

wayne started chapter 15 last night, after a walk outside to watch the moon before he came to pick me up and then wrote more after he picked me up because we stayed outside until very late. we're glad because we got rain tonight and can't see the moon. the weekend weather is more clouds than sun, so we may not see the full moon on sunday night like we want. we'll see.

my arm is really tired and i have to stop. wayne says we'll send this one now, too.

October 24 - Sunday

Joe's sister, brother-in-law, and nephew came for dinner this afternoon. His sister and Andrew worked on dinner, asking my help only rarely because she was comfortable with my kitchen.

Joe's family is tremendous. They have taken Andrew in as their own, and I am a welcome addition as well. It seems that we aren't separate families, but that we are a larger shared family, supporting each other as well as we can. They know that I am now an `orphan', so they make me welcome. Andrew's folks have done the same. We try to see each other every month or six weeks. We talk weekly by phone and every couple of days by E-mail. They are a cool family; Joe's nephew is 21, the first of five nephews in the family, and about as mature for his age as they come. Joe also has a niece, the first born in the line. Joe's nephew says, without thinking about it, things about "when" Uncle Joey comes home. He's never once said "if" or thought anything negative about Joe's living. It's humbling to me to see the young man who really does believe.

The family and Andrew went off to be with Joe. They head home from there (about an hour away) and then I'll pick up Andrew as usual tonight around bedtime, after I've had some time with Joe too.

News from Doc came late in the afternoon -- my 2nd bone marrow showed the same as my first, even though the source of the bone marrow was very different. Doc had done another bone marrow after my counts showed still higher on Wednesday. The first is done from my hip. This second one was taken from my breastbone. My counts are around 15,000 above normal. I wasn't really ready to hear that because the counts have been dropping over the past few weeks. It's been slow and steady, but at least down. 9,000 or so was the low point. 5,000 or below is where the magic is.

There was no magic today, or this week. So, we stay with twice a week chemo. Doc is starting me on a 6 week radiation cycle this week too, probably twice a week as well. When you have cancer like this, you are supposed to accept the setbacks or the news as it comes. All I want to do is help Andrew and I'm feeling that me being sick 3-4 days a week isn't giving him what he needs. I hate to sound like I'm discouraged. But I am discouraged. I've been without a remission since the first day of summer, 1995. That's terribly wearing, no matter what I try to do about my attitude.

I have a one track mind and it's on Andrew. Having to think about this stuff for a few more weeks isn't what ... I can't finish the thought. It doesn't seem to matter what I want.

I'm too antsy to sit. It's cold out, so I'll put on some layers and go for a walk. Then I'll come back and look at the smiley faced picture that I sent to several of my friends yesterday, and remember that yesterday I really DID smile. Andrew and I will check in later.

October 25th -- Monday

Doc called me late morning at work to tell me that he would like me to work only half days this week because of a kidney infection. Doc doesn't mess around when he sees that I am having problems with the kidney, since I have only one and the one I have is a transplant. So, I took this afternoon off, arriving at home around noon. I plan to do the same on Tuesday afternoon. Then I plan on taking Wednesday through Friday morning off so I can help Andrew with his class in the afternoon. Today I read E-mail, lay back on the sofa and read, watched a movie I had bought from Columbia House, and then listened to my stereo. The afternoon passed slowly, unlike an afternoon in the office. I hated being home on a week day afternoon because I had no schedule I fit into. Andrew was with his Joe and I wouldn't see him until about 4:30.

I closed my eyes. I see why Andrew got horny when he used to come home alone after leaving Joe at the hospital. I found myself reaching inside my jeans. Andrew had taught me about `Andrew-style', no briefs or boxers under jeans. I was so hard. The denim really did feel quite good against my bare skin. There was only one image in my mind, and I did not try to close it out. I loved thinking about my Andrew.

I thought back to six weeks ago when we were in the Pocono Mountains, our third day together on a long holiday vacation. It was pouring outside our tent, but it was a relatively warm rain. We were secluded from anyone but the most ardent hikers. Andrew and I stripped off our shorts and slipped into the pond nearby. He held on to me and kissed me slowly and softly on my lips and chin. He worked down to my throat and over to my ear. He whispered "I love you my bud" to me as I held him. And he played with me so much that I would surely come without much effort.

He got down on his knees in front of me and licked around my groin, taking each of my balls into his mouth and playing with them gently with his tongue. He swallowed my cock about half way, running his tongue on the underside, licking up and down the length of me. His mouth was wet and warm around me. He licked just the head, then wrapped his lips around it and sucked it. Ugh he felt so good on me. When he wasn't sucking on them, he rolled my balls very gently between his fingers. He pressed his hand into the V of my leg and hip, touching my skin. He licked and sucked on me, making me tingle all over. It was an incredibly hot experience. I caught my breath a couple of times and pulled out of his mouth for a moment.

"No man, let me suck you."

"Andrew man, you're gonna make me come!"

"I know, that's what I'm trying to do."

"Not in your mouth Andrew!"

"Yes, love, in my mouth. I want to taste you."

"But "

"Don't you even dare say what you're going to. Shut up and let me take you."

"Damn Andrew."

He went back down on me again. My mind said one thing - what the hell is Joe gonna say? Andrew didn't seem to care. The rain fell on us. My cock was all slicked up from Andrew's spit and the rain. My legs shook as he ate my cock and fingered my ass. First his middle finger slid up inside me, then two. He worked my ass while he increased the fire. I pulled out of his mouth again. He slapped my hip and pulled me back inside.

"Andrew, you're making me crazy. I'm so hot."

He didn't say anything. He looked up at me and kept sucking my cock. It slid in between his sweet lips, into his warm mouth. I was getting harder if that was possible. I started to pull out one more time but he held on. I felt my balls boiling up, getting tight against my groin. So did he. He pulled my dick out enough that he could taste my cum without it all shooting directly down his throat. He held my hips as he continued to suck my cock, drinking my juice, me bucking against him and almost falling. He held my hand and looked up at me as I pumped cum out of my cock.

I finally had to lay back in the water for my legs shaking so much.

"God Andrew, what you did to me!"

"You like that?"

"Yeah love, I do. Lemme return the favor."

Andrew sat at the edge of the water then lay down on his back, the rain hitting his face. He smiled. I touched him and brought him to near instant erection. I put my face between his legs and kissed all around, then licked his soft wet skin. I took his cock into my mouth and swirled my tongue around the head, tasting his flesh and adding to the wetness of the rain. I gently pushed a finger inside him and massaged the soft tissues. I pushed my tongue inside his ass and licked the rainwater from it. Andrew squirmed beneath me as I paid more attention to his asshole than his dick, but his dick stayed rock hard. I held it in my left hand and jerked it, squeezing it, licking it, and then sucking it all the way into my mouth. I played with his balls and continued to probe into his ass with my fingers.

"Do you want my cum, bud?"

"Yeah Andrew. I want it to fill my belly and to stay with me so I know who you are. Are you close?"

"Yeah bud. Keep sucking."

So I went back down on him and gave his cock most of my attention while massaging his warm and wet insides, occasionally licking him out with my tongue. I kissed his ass cheeks, kissed his asshole, kissed and licked his balls, and kissed and sucked his seven inches of meat. His cock tasted like the rest of him; sweet and nice. It throbbed in my mouth. Andrew breathed a bit heavier so I sucked him in longer, deeper strokes. He was up on his elbows. He lifted his feet out of the water and put the soles onto my shoulders. I left just the head of his cock in my mouth as he shot eight or nine streams of his hot juice into my wet mouth. I swallowed eagerly, relishing the taste of his salty cum, letting it slide over my tongue and down my throat. I licked him clean and got out of the water so I could lay on top of him.

Andrew wrapped his arms around me as we lay, kissing, in the rain. I looked at his eyes, marveling at his sweet features. I kissed his forehead. He automatically closed his eyes so I could kiss his eyelids.

"I'm hard again, Andrew."

"Put it in my love. Fuck me."

The lube was in the tent but I didn't think I was going to need it. I let the rainwater fall on my cock and on Andrew's ass. I added a little spit. I pushed the head of my cock up against Andrew's puckered ass. I pushed just the head into him and he swallowed it easily. Over the next couple of minutes I slid all the way inside, slowly, then back out, then back in, getting a rhythm established. He wrapped his legs around my shoulders, pulling me down on top of him and kissing me deeply as I slid into and out of his ass. Andrew spread his legs wide and I watched my hardness slip inside of him. I pulled out to the head, the slid back in again, giving him long slow strokes. He moaned under me as he wrapped his legs around my back. I lay on top of him and gave him my cock, and gave him myself as well, not just the sexual me. I held Andrew and let him hold me because I loved him.

"It feels so good Andrew, but if I could only ever hold you again, it would be enough."

"It feels good for me too, bud. You know what you're doing. And I'd let you hold me forever, if that's all we could ever do again."

I was throbbing by now, watching Andrew as he watched me. He flexed his ass and clenched tightly around my cock. I wasn't going to hold off long because his asshole swallowed my length and wouldn't let it go easily. His soft wetness was like a velvet cloth, stroking me gently and getting my fire.

"I'm going to come, Andrew. Ugh, oh man . . ."

And I spurted into Andrew's tight ass, shooting my cream up and into him, letting him take something from me and hold it. My cock tingled and I shivered as I unloaded. My strokes became shorter and shallower until there was no more to give. Andrew took it all, hungrily. The rains came harder as we lay there holding each other, kissing softly.

"Let's go back to sleep for awhile, love," I said as I pointed to the tent. He nodded.

I picked him up and held him in my strong arms. He put his arm around me, his hand behind my head. He smiled at me, kissing me easily and deeply, his tongue exploring my mouth. Inside the tent, I lay on my stomach.

"Andrew, fuck me now. Can you?"

He reached for the lube. He poked some of it into my ass as he rubbed the rest onto his erection. He pointed the head into my ass as I spread my legs and lifted up. He was inside me in one smooth stroke, letting my ass swallow his cock deeply. And then he lay on top of me and held me as we drifted off to sleep, Andrew's dick throbbing inside me. He would finish me off later when we awoke.

I had opened my jeans, undoing the button and unzipping them. My hand lazily fondled my dick. I felt close, so I wrapped my fist around my shaft and stroked just a few times. My groin tingled at the thought of Andrew in my arms. I shot spurt after spurt, my whole body tingling. I continued to play with my cock until my erection subsided. I pulled my hand out of my jeans. My cum lay thick and creamy on the back of it. I licked it all, cleaning up my hand. I kept it on my tongue and moved it about my mouth for a few moments. Mine tasted a little different from my bud's, but I liked it. The habit was now six weeks old, since the first time I had swallowed Andrew's cream. Mine or Andrew's - it didn't matter. I liked it all.

Andrew and I had chemo as usual Monday late afternoon. We got home by 8:00. Within a half hour I was throwing up mightily, with Andrew laying on my back, his arm wrapped around my chest, holding on tightly so I would not kill myself with my still-cracked rib. The poor damn rib has never had a chance to heal properly with my puke marathons. My head ached and my throat was so raw that the only thing I could drink was cold water.

Shortly after I ended my first siege, Andrew began his. He could no longer just get up from the chair, sofa or bed and run to the bathroom. I would hear "Wayne bathroom" and have about 30 seconds warning at most. I usually just picked him up and raced to the bathroom about 12 feet down the hall from the living room. Or I would carry him from bed into the bathroom 8 feet away. There were times I'd take him to one and run to the other one immediately, clean myself up, and then come back and clean him up. There were times we would camp out all night there. Toward morning I would fill the bathtub up with as hot water as we could stand and then lay him in it, letting the water take care of his chills and fever, often lying in the water beside him too.

October 26th - Tuesday

I sent mail to my friends after 9:00 saying that I was going to beg off chat tonight. I had eaten some dinner about 5:30 and by 7:00 was throwing it all up. The antibiotic I was on had to be partly the problem since I was now over 24 hours beyond my last chemo session. Too bad it didn't work as well on my system for the better.

It was late by the time I brought Andrew home. We sat at my PC to read mail. Andrew has a new way to touch me, to feel that I'm really here. I hold him, as usual, sitting behind him when we're at the PC together, my arms wrapped firmly around him as I read to him. My hands are on his bare chest, his belly, his shoulders, or his neck. He can't feel me on the right. So, he puts his left hand behind him and touches my stomach. I take off my shirt when we sit together so he can feel my flesh. I love my bare skin against his back. I often lay my head on his back.

"You feel good, Wayno. Now I know you're still here, to love me."

"Andrew I will always love you. I don't have to be near you for you to know I love you deeply."

"Yes you do. It's the only way I really know."

I turned his head to me and lightly kissed his cheek. He turned it to me so I could kiss his lips. I tasted him, gently pulling his lower lip into my lips. My God how I loved my boy. The more I thought about him, the more afraid I got that something would happen to him and that I'd lose him. I held him tight.

"Wayno you're hard."

"Geez Andrew I wasn't until you started to grope me. Are you done yet?"

"Nope. Take me to our room."

I picked him up and carried him, placed him on my bed, and lay on top of him so we could kiss all night if we wanted to. I opened his bluejeans and went down on his cock immediately.

"Hey! I groped YOU, remember?"

"Nope, I don't. Mmmm, Andrew you taste so good."

I pulled his jeans down, little by little. They were sexy in their softness. I buried my face in the crotch of them and sniffed deeply, smelling Andrew's musk. I pulled them off his legs and put the denim against his chest, rubbing softly. I licked down to his throat, sucking deeply on his Adam's apple. I went across his chin to his left ear and whispered dirty things to him. He giggled.

"I hope you do," he said.

"Only when you tell me I can, love."

"Any time you want, Wayno. I love you and you can touch me anytime, any way you want to."

I took off his socks, then my socks, and then my jeans. I lay down again and kissed my Andrew on his sweet lips. He touched me, first holding my head with his hand. Then he kissed my throat and put his hand on my chest. He kissed his way down my body and put my cock in his mouth. I got into a 69 with him and sucked him while he sucked me. I did to him everything he did to me. It made him giggle to see me imitate everything he did, lick for lick, ball play for ball play, probe for probe. We stopped for a few minutes and sat up a bit so we could kiss some more. I held his cock and he held mine.

In a while, I felt close. Andrew went back down on me and I on him. He licked my purple head and played with it with his finger tips. He stroked my shaft and then licked it from tip to base. He sucked my balls one at a time. I did everything he did so he knew what I felt like. He was smiling at me. I watched his eyes. I loved them so much, even though he couldn't look back at mine. He said he saw me, all of me, anyway. He fondled my cock, its stiffness wrapped in his fist, his tongue sliding all over it. My cock head disappeared into his mouth.

"I'm gonna come, Andrew."

"Me too bud, I'm close. Keep sucking."

He kept sucking me, running his tongue up and down my cock, swallowing me into his throat. I moaned deeply and let the cum shoot. He swallowed it all. I started to shoot into his mouth, almost at the moment he shot into mine. His cum was thick, creamy, still salty and rich. I left it on my tongue for a few seconds and then swallowed it.

It took him awhile to convince me that I should let him do that, to swallow my cum. He'd done it with only Joe, and I didn't want him to do it with me, feeling that I was taking too much. He said he loved me as much as he did Joe and that we were to share everything.

October 27th -- Wednesday

Andrew in class is an amazing thing to see. The end of the month has rolled around once again, the time that Andrew takes three days to teach Microsoft software classes. Excel is the most in demand at the moment. He can also teach Word, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. He continues, if ever so slowly, to prepare for his Microsoft Certified Professional certification in instruction. When he can see again, he plans on taking the first of the series of exams to become certified.

It was about 1:15 and everyone had settled down in his classroom. I sat at the front of the room, on the right, at the PC. He knew his slides backward and forward and knew Excel so well that he rarely had to say "I don't know, let me find out and call you back." I counted 10 students, most a repeat from last month's intro. class. This was Andrew's intermediate class. He would teach an advanced class in either two or four weeks, depending on demand.

Andrew looked like a professional, without being stuffy. Today he wore a blue button-down collared shirt, a bright blue patterned tie, black pleated-front slacks, and black dress shoes. I had helped him dress this afternoon at lunchtime. We had kissed as I tied his tie and buttoned his collar. I had kissed his hip as he pulled on boxer-briefs. I helped him with his slacks, tucked in his shirt, and then I looped his belt. He finished it off as he kissed me. I put his right arm in his sling as he wrapped his left arm tightly around me, drawing me to him, putting his head on my shoulder. I tied his shoes and then held him for ten more minutes, before we had to leave.

For the next three hours, with two short breaks, Andrew played narrator, teacher, patient questioner, listener, and tutor. We had worked together enough that I knew the timing of his slides. Once in a while, I told him which one he was on, but I tried hard not to move ahead or stay behind while he was talking. No one minded, after the first half hour, that the teacher could not see the students. They talked to him as they would anyone. He talked to them as adults, spiking their curiosity and interest, telling them little tricks that were not generally published, and answering questions about specific spreadsheets that they may be working on for their department. If the problem was not one to be solved in class, he would go to their desk and they would talk him through what they wanted, playing hands to his eyes, listening to and appreciating this man of quiet ability. At the end of class, he told me he felt quite good about the day. Andrew was not a prideful man, but he loved his job. For now this was the only job he could do.

Doc asked Andrew, while hooking him up to chemo, how the day had gone. Andrew smiled so wide that Doc knew right away. He let Andrew tell him about today and about what tomorrow would be like. Doc patted Andrew on his shoulder and told him to never change his attitude about his work because it's why he was so good at it.

And as good as the day was, the evening was once again wrought with great illness. We had barely been home a half hour by the time Andrew had to throw up. I was not sick until after two hours but I threw up for 20 minutes with hardly a breath in-between. While Andrew was laying on my back, holding my ribs, he flushed the toilet and threw up right along beside me.

"Andrew you must really love me to help put up with all this."

"I do love you, my bud. Someday we'll know what life without constant puking is like."

We went to bed for awhile and held on to each other. Andrew became restless about 3:00 a.m. and wanted to sit at the PC. He didn't want to do mail, but he wanted to write. So we wrote, lefty/righty-style.

Note: we had to type the following into the Windows Notepad because Word kept auto-correcting or suggesting corrections. We don't want a grammatically perfect journal. We don't correct except the most obvious of errors. We talk here as we talk in mail or in chat; like flesh and bone imperfect humans, not machine-corrected automatons. We have at least three friends (two of them female) who would love to take a red pen to our story before we publish it. Nope, sorry. We're men and we have earned all the faults we have. All lower case has become a known and accepted way of Andrew talking. Andrew has no voice if you can't tell it's him talking, so we copied and pasted this in after the fact and ignored all the glaring warnings that my software has produced.

i don't remember the date exactly, but joe, wayne and i had been at my folks one fall day, toward the beginning of september. 1997 had been a hot and muggy summer. september always meant relief and many #10 days. we had gone to spend the weekend after a week of working 10 hour days. none of us knew that six months into the future joe would be lying in a coma. joe was always telling me to 'live in the moment', to enjoy what today was because tomorrow was at the mercy of someone else as much as it was in our own hands.

joe and me were on our own for the day since pop had taken wayne into his office to help him upgrade two of his pc's. joe was restless and wanted me to go out to the woods for a walk. he loved the property around my folks place. we had 20 acres that was ours, bordering state property of several thousand more acres. kevin and i had played here all our days as kids. sometimes if i listen close, i can still hear his laughter and voice in these woods.

i took my joe to a favorite tree high on a hill. he said it reminded him of the big old maple tree on his dad's farm, the one he and chris climbed. below us, off to the distance, was the river valley. as the crow flew it was probably about seven miles. drive time would have been nearly an hour. the day was so bright and sunny. there were a few puffy clouds in the distance. we watched them change shapes and scatter in the light breeze.

joe sat in the crotch of the tree, his legs hanging over both sides. i sat with my back against his chest. he put both his hands under my t-shirt and put his head on my shoulder. he kissed my neck as he tweaked my nipples.

joe has a gentleness about him. joe is not like most any other person i have ever met. he has a quiet dignity and boyish manner, even at 41. i often wondered how he could get along so well with me, who was eight years younger. but then i realized where the boyish manner comes from.

joe whispered in my ear. i had no clue how we would do what he wanted, but I was game to try. i raised my butt off the tree enough to shuck my jeans down below my ass. joe pushed his down too and spit on his hand. i raised up once more and then lowered myself onto his erection. he slipped into my ass with little effort. if anyone (not likely) was out walking around the state property today, they would get an eye full. joe and i would be hauled off to jail. but being in the open outdoors seemed to make us very horny, as if we needed any reason at all.

we weren't able to move very much but it was more than enough just to have joe inside of me. he could move just enough to hit the favorite places in me. we had been too worn out to make love much during the week, trading the comfort of hugs for the joy of sex. joe wanted me to get off at the same time he did, so he reached his two hands around. with his left, he played with my balls. with his right, he stroked my cock to full hardness. he spit in his hand occasionally so it would be slick as he stroked me.

and he kissed me on my neck all the while, telling me he hoped we didn't get caught because it would most assuredly kill the mood. we could see quite far and we were also off the beaten path enough that we stopped worrying. he was so hard inside me. i could feel his cock as he moved, firm and long. i held on to both his bare legs as he fucked me deeply.

it didn't take long before he was beyond stopping. i kept squeezing his cock with my ass, even when he told me to let him relax a couple minutes. i didn't want him to relax. i wanted to feel his cream up my ass, to know that he was shooting strong and hard inside me, giving me the stuff that kept us connected even when he was no longer inside me.

"andrew i'm gonna come," he said as he pumped my rock hard cock in his fist.

"me too joe. keep it up bud."

he stroked me and i spilled over in his hand as he shot inside my ass. his cock got wetter and slicker so i knew he had come. a few moments later we relaxed. he put his hand to his mouth and licked off my cream. i had produced quite a load for him to have. we pulled our jeans back up and tucked ourselves carefully away, soft for now.

"i love you with all my heart andrew, and not just because you let me screw you everywhere we go."

"then why joe?"

"you do know, don't you my love?"

"yeah. tell me anyway, in case i ever forget."

"because you are the man who brought me to life again. you make me love you and to give you everything you want."

"i don't want much, joe. only you."

"andrew they could take away my car and all i owned. as long as i had you by my side, i would not want for anything."

"joe?"

"yeah andrew?"

"i think you're Aces, love."

he held me from behind, two arms wrapped firmly around my chest. i stood up and turned around carefully, sitting back down facing my joe. i put my arms around him and pulled him to me as he held me again. we kissed, just the softness of our lips touching. he hugged me close and we put our heads on each other's shoulders.

when we climbed down from the tree two hours later, we had looked at all the scenery there was to see today. pop and wayne would be home by 4:30. we took our time and walked back to the house. mom would be cooking and we helped.

after dinner, we helped mom clean up. we sat in the living room with tea and blueberry pie an hour later. we knew it was getting nicer outside, so we told the folks we were going out for awhile. the heat of the summer was about past. the fresh air helped us sleep so much better. mom and pop went on their own short walk route. on a clear night, with the scent of nature in the breeze, we took wayne to the pond about a mile from the house. we had brought two blankets so we could sit on the ground. we had also brought sweatshirts so we wouldn't have to go home when the coolness settled in.

there were no city lights to take away from the brightness of the night sky. the night symphony had come out to perform for us. shooting stars occasionally fell across the sky.

we talked for hours about very little that was serious. i had been behind joe, holding him close. the breeze picked up and wayne shivered.

"are you cold, bud?" joe asked him.

"only a little," he said

"come over here, wayne. get warm with us."

joe held out his arms to wayne. wayne moved over and sat between joe's legs. joe wrapped his arms around our friend and held him. i had one hand on joe's shoulder and one on wayne's, rubbing away the slight chill. it was not half a hug. it was the hug of someone who loved someone else.

"wayne? are you okay like this?"

"yeah joe. i like to be held. i'm okay if you are."

"i'm okay, bud. i'm glad you came with us this weekend."

he kissed wayne softly on his cheek. wayne smiled back, truly pleased to have joe and me with him.

"me too. don't let me say no in the future, okay? i need the peace and quiet of this place. andrew, i sure do love it out here."

"you're welcome anytime, bud. mom and pop already told you the same thing."

it wasn't too long after we had met wayne that i asked him to let me be his brother. i didn't have one any more. i told him about kevin and told him that everyone should feel like they had someone to be close by. wayne wasn't a loner. like joe and me, he had some quality friends. but joe and i had become closer to wayne than he'd let anyone else. i told him that from that day onward, we'd be like real brothers, in all the ways you counted on having your own family around. i was not flesh and blood, but it didn't mean i wouldn't take him to my heart.

when we got home, we sat for awhile longer in the den. mom and pop had gone to bed by 11:30 since they were early risers. we guys tended to be night owls on the weekends. during the week nights we were in bed by midnight and up by 7:00. but on friday and saturday nights, we loved being out at all hours, especially now as the weather started getting a little nicer.

mom had turned on the bedside lamp in both bedrooms when she had come upstairs. this had been kevin's room and was right beside mine. it now had a double sized bed. joe went over and kissed wayne again on his cheek. wayne kissed joe back, and hugged him close. both men knew what it was like to be alone. neither was going to take the other for granted, even in friendship. and neither was without the knowledge and strength of loving friendship. joe loved wayne as much as i did, and he loved us right back. we weren't distant with each other. we could hug and not feel weird about it.

i went over and hugged my friend while he hugged me. two arms and a firm solid hug. he kissed my cheek and i returned it. i held him a moment longer with joe still on his other side. mom and pop had adopted my joe and wayne into our family. instead of being an only, i was one of three. i might be the 'little brother' but i got love enough to go around from them.

both mom and pop had hugged us three the same before we went outside. my affection came easily because it came from my parent's teaching me. joe had had the same from his family. wayne was an only child but never in need of affection either. he told us that his folks and my folks were the same in their manners.

wayne left the bedroom door open. he'd never liked his closed, especially when he was a little boy. the house was warmer with it open and he felt safer. joe and i kept ours open as well. we always had, and for the same reasons. mom and pop closed theirs so we could have privacy. we tried being respectful in their house anyway. they knew we loved each other. joe had long been an accepted part of our family. wayne was adopted the first weekend he was ever here. mom loved having her boys home.

during the night, joe heard wayne get up and go downstairs. i was sleeping soundly. joe was a light sleeper and heard most things, which is probably why i slept a bit deeper.

joe went downstairs and found wayno curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a glass of milk on the coffee table beside him.

"is that warm milk, bud?"

"no. i didn't take the time."

"can i? i'm going to do the same for me."

"yeah, thanks joe."

when the milk was warmed up a bit in the microwave, joe brought it back and sat on the floor in front of the sofa. he took wayne's hand.

"you having trouble sleeping again?"

"yeah."

"you can talk to me you know."

"you shouldn't be up joe. it's not even 4:00 yet."

"you either. we went to bed barely two hours ago. did you sleep at all?"

wayne shook his head. if he'd said yes, joe knew he was fibbing because his eyes were all bloodshot.

"let me lay behind you?"

wayne moved forward so joe could get on the sofa too. he covered them again with the blanket. joe put his right arm around wayne, touching his chest, his heart.

"joe you should be holding andrew, not me."

"no bud. you're having a tough night, so you need me. andrew's sound asleep, bud. he doesn't need me. you don't have to talk, but you do have to let me be here."

wayne was quiet for awhile.

"joe? you don't know much about my kidney, right?"

"no bud. you haven't talked much about it. i wish you would."

"i'm scared of it, joe. i think that if i don't give it a lot of attention, that the rejection will stop and it'll just become normal. but i'm scared to death of it. it hurts so much and i'm still peeing blood sometimes."

"what does doc say about that?"

"that it's kinda normal. not the pain, but the blood. he's worried about the pain too. i won't take the meds every day because they screw up my day."

"i know. i see how sick they make you. when should it stop rejecting?"

"end of the year is most likely, but it could take longer. the meds have stopped the heavy rejection stuff, but it still wants no part of my body."

"it does, but it doesn't know it yet. it wants its owner."

"doc says the same thing. they wouldn't have let me have it unless they were sure i could handle this. other people needed the kidney too. but . . ."

"but still, wayne, you're not superman. you're wondering if someone else would have done better with it, right? or if you'll die anyway."

"no to the first. yes to the second."

"no one knows, bud. not even doc. he's going to keep you alive, but this isn't a miracle cure. but i know doc. if you weren't able to have it, you would not have ever seen it. come on, man, please go to sleep. i'll stay here with you. you're safe, okay?"

wayne nodded. joe wrapped two arms around him tightly, kissed wayne on his neck, and held on. they were both sleeping soundly when mom came downstairs at 6:30. she made a cup of tea and went out to the patio quietly. she knew her joe was watching out over her wayne. that's all that mattered. she loved her sons.

i came downstairs at 8:00. joe and wayne were awake but haven't moved yet. mom came around the corner as i did and we almost hit each other. she grabbed me by my shoulders and planted a kiss on my cheek.

"wayne, let me go up and draw a bath for you. the hot water might ease your backache a little," said mom.

wayne nodded. i asked him if i could bring a cup of coffee up to him when he settled in.

"yeah. but don't wait breakfast on me okay? i'm not hungry."

joe wasn't ready to eat either. i could but if'd wait until they were. i told mom to go ahead and fix something for her and pop and that we'd eat lunch instead. i waited for the coffee to brew and poured five cups. joe took two and headed up to the bathroom. wayne could take his time. there was one other full bath in mom and pop's suite and a half bath downstairs. joe sat with his back to one wall and i with my back to the other.

"here, lemme wash your back, bud," joe said to wayne.

he took the washcloth and bar of soap and washed wayne's neck, shoulders and back thoroughly. he handed the washcloth back to wayne so he could finish up when he wanted.

"andrew, does mom have a thermometer?" joe asked.

"yeah, lemme check the medicine cabinets."

i looked in this one, then went to mom and pop's bathroom. i found it in there. it had a digital readout which made reading easy. i went back to my bathroom.

"okay bud, open up," i said as i put it under wayne's tongue. half a minute later it beeped twice. "101.8. how's that compare to your daily?"

"about average. my log is in my duffle bag. there's a pen in the notebook too."

i brought the notebook in and sat back down. i wrote the date and time. wayne was meticulous about keeping his temp. logged. doc wanted to know the readings once a week.

"your lowest in 7 days was 99.8. your high was 102.1."

joe put his wrist on wayne's forehead. he frowned a bit. then he kissed it.

"my mom always kissed my forehead when i had a fever," he said.

"mine too. tlc (tender loving care). beats most any meds i've been on in my life," said wayne.

"then lemme," i said as i bent over the tub to do the same. i gave him a light kiss. "we can leave you alone if you want."

wayne shook his head. he held up his coffee cup, as did joe. geez you'd think i was a waiter or something. i rolled my eyes, giggled, and went downstairs for more.

in the meantime, joe got wayne some aspirin for the fever and ache. i came back in with coffee. it was too hot to use with his aspirin so i went downstairs again and got us each a glass of oj. mom giggled that i kept appearing in the kitchen.

"i hope you get a good tip," she said, smiling. "can i do anything for you boys?"

"thanks mom. we're fine. son #3 has a fever so he's taking some aspirin. his face looks better already since joe's taking care of him. take care of pop. we'll be down in a bit."

joe took my hand when i sat down again. he'd been holding wayne's since he finished washing his back. his fingers were intertwined with wayne's, not just some half gesture. joe couldn't do anything half way. he was obviously very worried about our friend.

he rubbed his fingers across my knuckles. i bet he didn't even realize he did that. i loved it. i kissed the back of his hand. he put his beside my cheek and drew me forward to give me a soft kiss on my lips. wayne smiled. he liked that joe loved me. this was not the first time joe had kissed me just that way in front of wayne. not one of us felt strange about it.

when the water got cooler, wayne reached over and lifted the drain lever. i got him a towel and he dried off. he put it around his waist and chuckled. he told joe and me to come downstairs with him. we looked at each other. no telling what wayno was up to. wayne walked over to mom, gave her a kiss on her cheek, walked across the kitchen to go back upstairs, and dropped his towel, bending over just a bit, giving mom a full moon. pop was coming up out of the basement and got the full effect too. he did his usual pop thing. without saying a word, he turned around and went back down the basement stairs, closing the door behind him. mom cracked up with tears running down her cheeks. she finally stopped long enough to tell wayne to get upstairs or she'd kick his naked butt.

"and note that i said 'kick' too, you wiseass boys." she smiled.

wayne was laughing. even i never mooned my mom and pop. i mooned kevin a few times, but you can do that to your little brother. his sense of humor shone through. i was thinking that his cure was going to be self-inflicted. joe and i gave him the bum's rush up the stairs, laughing out loud at his antics. his laugh was infectious. he said he mooned his parents a few times and katie's folks twice. once was on a dare on the coldest day of the winter. kate's mom said wayno's cheeks were almost red from the wind. she must have been a good sport too. i think mom's tolerate more than pop's, but me and joe and wayno all talk about our folks like they are tops.

for the rest of the weekend we helped mom cook, laughed at ourselves, walked, held each other, and lived in the moment, like joe says. the moment was good. we took time as it came.

Now back to the present -- i know what it is like to be loved by two. wayne will hold me the way i talked about joe holding me. i have held wayne the way i held joe too. there is comfort and security in it, and it just plain feels good. i spent a lot of days telling wayne to do all to me that joe has ever done. i need the touch. so does wayne, even though he'll say his needs have no place mixed with mine. they have every place mixed with mine because i love him too.

It is much harder to write lefty/righty with Andrew but it is so appealing. He stopped about every half hour, his left arm becoming too achy to keep up a steady pace. The whole previous section has taken about 16 hours of effort total, spread across three days. But it has Andrew's voice in it and his own thoughts, not mine, except for trying to recall things we did, or what Joe did for me when Andrew wasn't there.

October 28th -- Thursday

Doc called me at home around 10:00. He wanted me to stay home today. I didn't want to because Andrew was to teach again today and I wanted to help him. Doc said Andrew could live without me for two days more. My bone marrow from last night showed my counts were again on the rise, from 15,000 up to 19,000 greater than normal. If I didn't take care of myself better, I wasn't going to be around to help him next month, so two days more off were for my benefit, not Doc's. I didn't always see stuff that way. I loved helping Andrew in class. But I went out only long enough to take Andrew to work and to drive home again.

"I won't do as well in class without you, you know."

"You better do as well, love. You don't want to let anyone down do you?"

"No. But you and I got a rhythm."

"And you and my replacement will do fine. Don't beat on him either. I'm replaceable and you know it."

He took my hand and put it on his chest.

"Except right here, bud. I love you. I'll see you later, okay?"

"I love you too. Go an impress everybody. Don't moon anyone either, okay?"

"Aww jeez, Wayno, you take my fun away."

He smiled at me. I kissed him lightly. Our friend met us in the lobby and walked Andrew upstairs. Andrew could do it on his own, but why struggle when you got a friend to help. He would be home around 5:30 or 6:00. No treatments tonight, so I could hold on to him all night. I went to my room around 2:00, after sending E-mail to our friends.

I woke at 5:40 as Andrew slipped into my bed behind me, holding me the way he likes me to hold him the best. His arms were warm as he wrapped his left one around me. He kissed my cheek and told me to go back to sleep. He said he too was tired.

"How was class."

"I was inspired today love . . . by you."

I went back to sleep easily, safe and secure in my buddy's arms. We slept only two hours, but it was okay. We would try to sleep again by 11:00. I held my Andrew close. He faced me this time. We wore only our gym shorts.

Andrew was quiet. His eyes were open. Had he been able to see, he would be staring at my chest. I pushed his hair off his forehead and gave it a soft kiss. I held his head in my right hand as I held him in my left. I touched his lips with two fingers.

"So how much does it frighten you, Andrew?"

"I'm more afraid of the pain than I am of dying, bud. I'm not sure anyone would understand that. You know what my headaches do. You've felt the pain of cancer too, so you know how it burns and how it eats at you. I know you lie awake most of the night and watch over me. If it weren't for my meds, there would be no sleep for me either. I know the cancer scares you too, I just wish I knew in what way."

"In the way that I'm afraid it'll take you from me and Joe, love. In the way that imagining life without you is an empty place, forever."

"No bud, you got Joe."

"No love. YOU got Joe. I got nothing."

"But you promised Joe won't be alone."

"And he won't be, Andrew. But right now, all I want is you."

"You're going to make me more afraid if you tell me you can't be there for my Joe. Wayne "

"Andrew we've had this discussion."

"Wayne, tell me. When I die, what's to become of my Joe."

Words weren't going to stop Andrew from asking the questions. I had little clue what was to become of Joe, because I did not know, for sure, that Joe would survive. It drove me nuts that he was in a coma and couldn't talk to us, even in the barest of signals. I was not like Andrew; there was no deep belief in my heart that our friend would ever come home. I woke up constantly thinking about Joe. When Andrew wasn't on my mind, Joe was. I didn't think about me much because there was no time left over to. Twenty four hours a day was spent fighting what my brain told me vs. what my heart told me. The brain won out. I didn't believe any more.

"I don't know Andrew. I can't answer that."

I made him cry. Tears welled up in his eyes immediately and he sobbed. I felt like a bastard, but I couldn't lie to him. I wanted to talk, but I didn't know what to say. I couldn't take back what I had said, because what I said is what I knew. Andrew did not know that my heart ached so badly for Joe, and it had only gotten worse as I sit beside him at night. Andrew felt better being close to Joe. I didn't. The knot got so big in my throat that I often thought it would cut off my air and I'd die on the spot. He pushed me away and got out of bed. He stood and put his back to the wall, wiping away his tears as they flowed too fast.

I got out of bed and stood in front of him.

"Andrew. Please."

"Fuck you."

He did not shout. It was more of a loud whisper that came out of his throat. The words were harsher said that way. If he shouted, I could have accepted his anger. What I got was despair instead.

I held out my hand. He couldn't see it but he felt it, just like the way he'd felt me when I walked through the stairwell at the hospital the other night. He pushed it away. I let him, and then I held it out to him again. He pushed it away, not as forcefully. I let him, but stood firm and held out my hand again. He reached out again to push me away, and I took his hand. He tried to pull away, though not with much conviction. I wouldn't let him.

"Why don't you believe, bud? Why are you so afraid?"

I thought for a moment. I knew why but the words wouldn't form right in my head. I pulled him to me and kissed his forehead. He closed his eyes. I kissed each one lightly. I kissed his cheeks. I put my head on his shoulder and pulled him closer. I brought him back to bed. We sat down on the edge, his left arm around me and my right around him.

"Don't shut me out, Wayne. I can't stand that. How many times do I have to tell you I love you?"

"At least one more, love."

He smiled.

"I love you Wayne. Do you doubt me?"

"No. Not ever."

"Why are you so afraid?"

"Because Joe's coma brings back how I felt when I woke up from mine Andrew and all I felt was terror. It was like waking up in a pitch black room and at the same moment being seized by your throat by a stalker. He hissed `why didn't you die? It would have been easier' at me. I didn't know anything. Not who I was or where I was, or why. I was blind when I reached a level of consciousness enough to know I existed, without my identity. I hurt too, love. Everything that was broken screamed at me to fix it."

"Do you think Joe will feel the same?"

"Yeah."

"But he's Joe."

"It doesn't matter, love. Joe's broken. Can he see? Can he think? Will he feel anything at all except pain in his chest from too many surgeries? He's going to raise holy hell when he knows that his leg is gone. The pain won't be gone just because he wakes up."

"I know all this. And I'm not afraid."

"Why not? I'm terrified for Joe."

"Because Joe has me. And you."

"Joe needs me like a hole in the head."

"Joe needs you because of this, for one."

Andrew reached down and touched my stump. His touch was light because he knew it was tender with my counts rising again.

"Jesus Wayne, your leg is so cold."

"I know."

"Why?"

"The tumor is cutting off my circulation."

"Only you know what this is like, my bud. I don't. I don't feel my leg still there even though it's not. I don't know what it's like to wake up and be told that my leg is gone and that I now have to fight yet another goddamn hard fucking battle after fighting already."

"And you think I'm going to make it better for Joe? I don't Andrew. I think he's going to feel beaten on. I think I could talk until I was blue in the face and he wouldn't come around until he was ready."

"But I know better, Wayne. Joe isn't like anyone else."

I thought that Andrew was in for a rude awakening. But then I thought that if I ever wanted anyone to help me out of my despair, it would be Andrew. Joe had loved his Andrew for almost eight years before his accident. Joe had known me for almost five. Would the two of us be enough to bring him his will to live and to heal? I guess if I was smart enough to ask the question then I was going to have to think about it.

I lay back across my bed and brought Andrew on top of me. I touched his face and his lips with just two fingers. I know he liked that I had a gentleness in my touch. I knew about gentle touches, but Andrew let me appreciate it again. I put my thumb and forefinger on his chin and just watched his face.

"You're staring at me again."

"No, I'm staring at your dick."

"Liar."

"Andrew?"

"I know Wayne."

"No you don't Andrew. You got no clue what I want to say."

"Then say it, bud."

"Andrew, you are so beautiful. I hate to make you cry."

"Then don't."

"But Andrew I can't lie to you. I'm not going to say something just because you want to hear it. You're too important to me to do that. I'd rather you say `fuck you' because I hurt you with truth than hurt you with lies and half truths."

"And I want you to know that you and me can do anything we want to for Joe. It's not about you or me separately. It's about you and me and Joe. We are three. We don't stand alone and we'll die if we try to."

I moved again, putting my back against two pillows on my side of our bed. Hmmm, "our" bed - Andrew's and my bed, where we have made love, held the other, and even slept sometimes. I had not made love to Andrew at Joe's apartment, even though Andrew and I spent time there running the vacuum and cleaning up in general. Joe's place was still very much separate from my own. My place was now Andrew's home, at least until Joe came home. I wondered what we would do then. But sometimes, Joe coming home seemed like a long way away. Andrew knew that I felt that way.

Home. It had to be hard on Andrew to make a home out of mine. He says not. But I don't think I would like, at all, having to disrupt my life so much as Andrew has. His own apartment, his place to spend quiet time in the past, is 45 minutes away. Joe's place isn't home because Joe isn't there. The hospital was as much home as anything because that's where his love is. He made it home 18 hours a day until it wore him out so much that he couldn't do it any more - and until I asked him to be with me, selfishly, because I didn't want to be alone.

I made him welcome though. Nothing around my place was mine any more. It belonged to us both. My music was now a shared library that was as much Andrew's. He loved my music. His birthday CDs have even been recorded in my CD database for insurance reasons, in case of fire or theft so his would be replaced in addition to mine. We shared groceries, cooking, cleaning up, quiet time on my balcony, hour after hour on the sofa, a million hours a week puking up together, the shower, the closets, and our bed.

Andrew settled in against me, laying his head on my chest. I ran my fingers through his hair. It was thin because of his treatments. I kissed the top of his head. He raised his head, exposing his throat to me. I kissed it gently, sucked at his Adam's apple, and kissed his ear. Anytime I kissed his ear, I also whispered `I love you Andrew' into it. He would then, by habit and by love, kiss me very softly on my lips. God how I loved my boy. I stared off into the distance and was very afraid to see just how far ahead Andrew and I would be together, and when I would be alone.

"Wayne stop that?"

"What? You can't even see what I'm doing."

"No, but I can feel you. I'm here, love. I'm going to stay with you."

"You can't promise that, Andrew."

"Fuck the future, Wayne. Stop planning on me dying. I won't stand for it any more."

"But . . ."

"I'll slap you, bud. I'll slap you so hard that I'll hurt you, and not just physically. Do you want me to believe that I'm going to die from the tumors in my head?"

"I want you to think realistically, love."

"No! Not if it means that I have to believe I won't live."

"I don't believe it. I just have to think about it."

"Why?"

"Because you asked me what I'll do when you die."

"I wish I'd never asked."

"But it was something you needed an answer to, at the time."

"But that time is past."

"Is it?

"I hope so, Wayne. Our flashback to the weekend at my folks with Joe helped me remember what Joe always said - `live in the moment'. Remember this - `yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why we call it the present'. I don't know who said it. But I like it. Today is a gift my love, just like you are to me. You're the best thing in my life right now."

"No, love, don't say that. It's unfair to Joe."

"No it's not. YOU are the best thing in my life right now. I love you, today."

"You know I'm not going to fight you, love. I need you. You brought me life again. I hope we can do the same for Joe."

"We will. Believe it, Wayne, or it won't happen."

"Okay my love."

"I need to sleep Wayne. Hold me?"

"Yes, always."

Andrew fell asleep on my chest a few minutes later. It took him little effort these days to go to sleep. It was his protection against his pain. I continued to hold him tight. I had made him cry, and he forgave me anyway. His head on my chest, his left hand touching my shoulder told me that he loved me. I fell asleep, finally, safe in his love and friendship. I wanted both - needed both.

October 29th - Friday

Doc came to see me as soon as he got into town. He checked my blood pressure, temperature, heart, and lungs. He had brought bagels and Earl Gray tea with him. He put the water on to boil. When the tea was ready, he sat at the end of the sofa as I folded one leg toward me, making room for him. Andrew was with Joe. Doc was going to go pick him up at 11:30 and bring him home so he could get dressed. A friend was picking him up to take him to work so he could teach his third day of Excel.

"Doc, do you know I love Andrew?"

"No Wayne, you don't love Andrew."

"Come on Doc, I . . ."

"You're in love with Andrew, friend. There's a difference. You watch him and protect him, even from me sometimes. I think you'd give your life for him, if it meant he'd live."

"Don't hate me Doc, I know you don't "

He put his hand up, shook his head quietly and smiled at me.

"Maybe not generally, but I'm not closed-minded. I have gay friends and I'll never change how I take care of a person for something that's really nobody's business. I've seen you head-over-heels in love with Katie, Wayne."

I must have made a face of some sort. He stopped for a moment, then continued.

"And I've seen you close your heart to the world, too. And then I've seen your mood greatly improve over the past few months. It's not rocket science to figure out why. Or who."

"Am I going to lose my Andrew, Doc?"

"What do you want me to say? Yes? No? I don't know the answer to that. Wayne he's a fighter. I figured he was lost to me when he decided to stay home for a week. I held no hope I'd ever see him again. I don't know what drove him to come back, other than figuring you wore him down enough."

"Nope. He struggled so hard that week to make up his mind, Doc. But he listened to his own heart, thought about me, and thought about his Joe. He came back because he has too much to lose, especially without giving it his effort first. I wish you could see him, Doc, not just as Andrew the patient. He didn't want the headaches to come back. Even you haven't seen what the onset of one is like. I hope you never see because it'll do to you what it does to me."

"I've seen a lot in my few years as a physician, Wayne."

"Nothing like this, man. Trust me that if you saw the onset of his headaches, it would break your heart. He reaches out to me and holds me so tight. One time, when he got one in the middle of the night, he just lay there and cried as it came on. It was his first one after resuming his treatments. It took over four days to happen, but it crushed his head. I can't imagine the death grip it has on him until it passes."

"Wayne, please know that Andrew is getting as much of my attention as you are. I don't want to see him die any more than you do. You're been my friend for nearly half my life, so what's important to you is important to me. Believe him if he tells you he's going to be okay."

"I try, Doc. He does tell me. We talk about everything. I love my boy, Doc. He captured my heart and he won't give it back. Help him live."

We ate our late breakfast. Doc drove out to bring Andrew home and then went off to do this thing at the hospital. We'd see him later. I wanted Doc to be a magician as much as a doctor. Andrew's life was in his hands. If he ever let me down I'd never forgive the man.

October 30th - Saturday

>From an E-mail update to friends:

Hi loves,

My mood seems to be a bit on the mend today. (Can't honestly say I'm not in a funk, but at least it's a higher class of funk today). It's a bright sunny warm (about mid-70's) again. I sent out some howl-oween and birthday E-cards to friends, was in chat for awhile (thanks guys you're Aces for helping cheer me up), and have been listening to good music (Yanni is the hits of the day). I've re-read some recent E-mail from a friend who said some things I wanted/needed to hear (young friend you are so good for my heart). I'm having trouble with my leg again though -- it's getting very tender and I'm having a hard time wearing my leg much at all. I've been that way for the last week or 10 days. Seems to happen as my counts rise. :-( No results on my kidney biopsy yet either but I'm not expecting anything wrong there except the infection because Doc keeps a VERY close eye on that. We can't afford not to. Relying on one kidney makes one watch it like a hawk. I was going to shoot hoops for bit this a.m. but sat out on my balcony instead. (I took a couple pictures off the balcony too since it was a little foggy this a.m. If you want to see them, lemme know.) I went out for a long walk this afternoon -- that's a daily habit with or without Andrew around.

Speaking of Andrew, he's been with Joe since about 7:30 this morning. I'm about to go pick up some dinner for us and meet him at the hospital. Andrew says Chinese takeout; our favorite next to pizza and chocolate. :-) And to our friend who sent us a gift yesterday, it has been delivered, with love. I told Andrew to lay beside Joe and to let the nurses cover him and Joe up with it.

We'll be home around 10:00 or so. Hope all is well with you all. Take good care. Know my buddy and me love you guys and gals for the cheering you give. No way to get by without it, so please know it is VERY appreciated.

Love

us guys :-)

On Sunday, I did nothing but lay low. My fever had picked up again, running steadily at 102. Doc called from home to check on me. He wanted me on half days at work again this coming week. The fever wasn't going away on its own without me resting up. So, I stayed off my PC and dozed off and on all day. And during the night, I held my Andrew. He slept securely in my arms and in my love.


To be continued ...