Orchids in the Sun

© by The Lavender Quill, 2002

Warning: the following story contains graphic descriptions of male/male sex between consenting adults. If that sort of thing bothers you, or you are a minor, or it is illegal for you to read this type of content under the laws of your area, don’t read any further.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

Chapter 6.

“Kenji and I slept together last night.”

There. I’d said it. I wasn’t sure how all this would work out, but I needed to get it out in the open. I looked at Nick anxiously, not sure how he would react to the news.

“Really?” he asked. He didn’t look the least bit bothered.

I shrugged and nodded, looking down.

“Cool,” he said. “I don’t think he’s been with anyone since William died.”

“He hadn’t,” I said. “At least not till last night.” I looked at him curiously. “It doesn’t bother you?”

“Why should it bother me?”

I shrugged again. I didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t care if you slept with Kenji,” said Nick. “I’d be bothered if you went back to Ed. That would make me feel like I must really be a lousy lay.”

I laughed. Nick was anything but a lousy lay.

“Is this what you wanted to talk about last night?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “When we talked yesterday, I didn’t know Kenji wanted to sleep with me. I was a little surprised. I think it was kind of a spur of the moment thing.” I suddenly felt the need to explain myself. “He was just really stressed after yesterday, you know, and I was comforting him, kinda like when he used to get down about William, and we were feeling really close. All three of us have a real bond like that, you know? And it just happened. If you were there, he mighta asked you instead. Who knows?”

“I doubt it,” said Nick. “I can be a little too strong sometimes. I think if I was in his shoes, I’d have picked you too.”

I looked at him, surprised by what he said.

“Like I was trying to tell you yesterday, you have a big heart, Trevor.” He shrugged. “I never know what to say when he’s feeling down. You always seem to say the right thing.”

“News flash for you, brah,” I said. “I don’t know what to say half the time either.”

“Yeah, but you care. Whatever you say, it comes across that way. That’s what counts. He knows how much you care for him, just like I do. That’s why he picked you.”

“You care about him just as much. You been there the whole way for him with William, just like me. You the one that found Masashi yesterday.”

“I know. I’m not saying I don’t care. I just don’t know how to express it right. Like now. I’m blunt. You’re, I don’t know… softer. You’re more, uh, openly compassionate.”

I thought on that. “I suppose,” I admitted.

I recalled our conversation about Ed. Nick had, indeed, been blunt. He’d pulled no punches. If we hadn’t been such good friends, I probably would have told him to fuck off, even though he was right. If our situations were reversed, I knew I would have handled it much differently.

“So,” said Nick. “You ready to go? Kenji’s probably waiting for us.”

“Yeah, okay. Lets go.”

He kissed me once again, a passionate kiss, which left me feeling good, a little horny, and still unresolved about who I was supposed to be sleeping with. We got in our separate vehicles, and I followed him to Masashi’s house.

When we got there, Kenji had just finished seeing Masashi off to bed. I got some poi out of the refrigerator and the three of us went out to the patio behind the house. Kenji carried out some sodas, and Nick brought out a half a pineapple and a knife. Kenji and I dipped into the poi. Nick cut the pineapple into long strips, and then cut off the rind and the core.

“God, I still don’t know how you guys can eat that shit,” said Nick, shaking his head.

Poi is, admittedly, an acquired taste. A taste acquired by most people who grow up in Hawaii, but by very few outsiders. Poi is a grayish-purple paste made up from pounded or ground up taro root. It was a mainstay of the diet of island natives for centuries before whites landed here. Nick has never managed to achieve a proper respect for poi, for which Kenji and I teased him endlessly.

“Snob,” I said.

All of us laughed at the tired old joke. Then we ate a little.

“So, what did the doctor say?” asked Nick, eventually.

“Well, he didn’t seem too surprised,” said Kenji. “He said that this was a normal progression for the disease. Some people deteriorate faster, some slower. He said Masashi will have good days and bad. Some days he’ll seem almost normal, like he did today. Over time, he’ll have more days like yesterday. He said we are going to have to watch him more closely, or get someone to stay with him to help care for him. It isn’t all that uncommon for Alzheimer’s patients to wander off like that if they get confused. He said it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.”

“Ugh,” I said. “What did Masashi say?”

“Not much. You know that this is the worst kind of indignity for him. He’d rather have heart problems, or a stroke, or even cancer. Anything but losing his mind.”

“Poor guy,” I said.

“I hate watching this happen to him,” said Nick. “I hope they find a cure before I get old.”

Too late for Masashi, I thought. Even if a miraculous cure was discovered next week, the damage already done to his brain was irreversible.

“The doc talked to me privately, too,” said Kenji. “He says we should make the house safer. Kind of like childproofing. Like, we should flip the circuit breaker off for the stove when no one else is around, so he can’t turn it on and burn himself. Stuff like that.”

“So what we gonna do?” I asked. “I could give up surfing for a while,” I said with very little enthusiasm. It was a sad prospect, but I was willing to do it. “I could stay here in the mornings. Then maybe you could come home earlier, Kenji.” I turned to Nick. “The business is doing good, isn’t it brah? Can we afford to hire someone else part time like?”

Even though I often did the day-to-day bookkeeping, Nick was the one with the big picture, business wise. I had no clue whether we were millionaires or losing our shirts. Truth be told, I didn’t much care. It seems I have inherited my father’s sense of finances. Kenji spent most of his time with the plants, more botanist than businessman, so I doubted he knew much more than I.

“You guys have no clue, do you?” I shrugged, somewhat embarrassed by my lack of knowledge. Nick grinned and shook his head. “The nursery is doing great. We’d do even better if Japanese tourism picked up again. You guys remember what it like when you were kids before I moved here right?”

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Hawaii had been awash in Japanese Yen, before their economy tanked. We still get a lot of Japanese tourists, but nothing like it had been when we were little. Kenji and I remembered. We nodded.

“Anyway, the answer is yes. We can afford to hire someone. Full time if you want, or even a couple of part timers. But I don’t think that’s the solution.”

“Me either,” said Kenji. I looked at him, surprised. “You can’t give up surfing, brah, and I can’t work half days at the nursery. This could go on for years, not just a few weeks or months.”

“Look at Ronald Reagan,” said Nick. “He’s had Alzheimer’s for over a decade.”

“That’s a depressing thought,” I said. I imagined myself at age thirty, still trying to take care of Masashi. It seamed impossibly far in the future.

“The doc said sometimes they go much faster,” said Kenji. “We just don’t know.”

“How about the rest of your family?” Nick asked.

“What? The happy Mormons?” said Kenji derisively, referring to the rest of his family, who had converted to Mormonism and moved to Oahu a couple of years ago.

“I thought they were big into taking care of family,” said Nick.

“Maybe if Masashi converted to L.D.S.,” I said, sarcastically.

L.D.S. is for Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints, far too much of a mouthful for any sane person. They sometimes dislike being called Mormons, but that is how the rest of the world knows them. I normally try to respect other people’s beliefs, but I confess I find Mormon missionary zeal to be a bit nauseating. Plus, I held them largely responsible for killing gay marriage in Hawaii, for which I would never likely forgive them.

“That don’t seem likely, brudduh,” Kenji laughed.

“How about insurance?” Nick asked. “Or Medicare, or the state or whatever?”

“I was checking that this afternoon. Medicare covers some of the basic medical expenses, but it won’t help much with anything else. Uncle Masashi was smart when he was younger, though. He took out an insurance rider that will pay for most of the cost of a nursing home or home health care. He still hates the idea of a nursing home, and really, I don’t want to do that either unless we have no other choice. But I think it’s time to try some help with home health care.”

“That’s a great idea,” I said, brightening immediately. “What can they do?”

“Depends on the situation. Right now, we don’t need much more than a babysitter to make sure nothing happens to him while nobody’s around. I think we can afford to pay whatever the insurance doesn’t cover. I’m gonna call around tomorrow to see how I find someone to do that.”

“If you can get someone to come over and watch him during the day,” said Nick, “it won’t totally disrupt our lives.”

I was relieved. I was willing to do almost anything to help Masashi, or make Kenji’s life easier, but for a minute it looked like our lives were going to be a big mess for a long time. I suspected caring for Masashi as his Alzheimer’s worsened was not going to be easy, but it sounded like we could manage, at least for the foreseeable future.

Having resolved as much as we were going to that night, we sat in companionable silence for a while. Eating pineapple cut into large strips is not necessarily neat, but we were out on the back patio, and none of us was all that neat anyway. I like it that way. When Nick’s mother buys it, she cuts it into little chunks so it looks just like pineapple out of a can. A pointless exercise, I always thought. Who wants to be reminded of canned pineapple?

I watched as a little pineapple juice dribbled down Nick’s chin. I had to resist a sudden strong impulse to lean over and lick his face clean. Nick looked at me staring at him, and I could tell he knew what I was thinking. His eyes burned in to me and the corners of his mouth turned up just a little. He made no attempt to wipe his chin. He was taunting me, daring me to do something. I blushed. Much to my surprise, it was Kenji who leaned over and swiped away the juice with his finger, then licked his finger clean. The three of us looked at each other. It was a strange moment. Then Kenji cracked up, and Nick started laughing too. I was a little weirded out by it. I stood and picked up the container of poi.

“I guess we’re done with this. I’ll go put it away.”

I went into the house and put the poi back in the refrigerator. Kenji and Nick followed shortly after, once they had their giggle fest under control. Nick dumped the pineapple rind and core into the compost can, which we brought out to the nursery every few days.

“I should get home,” said Nick. “I’ve got homework to do. I got one other idea I want to check out, too. You guys need anything else?”

“No,” said Kenji. “Thanks for coming over, brah.”

They hugged. I watched closely, and I was pretty sure I was picking up some kind of vibe between them. Their hug seemed subtly more intimate than usual. Or maybe it was my imagination. I usually didn’t pay that much attention. Then Nick came up to me and we hugged too. Nick slipped me a wet kiss, right in front of Kenji, and I pulled away.

“You take good care of Kenji tonight,” said Nick with a shit-eating grin on his face.

His message was clear. We all knew that I’d now slept with both of them. Nick wanted it all out in the open. He wanted Kenji to know that he still had intentions with me, and he wanted me to know that he expected that Kenji and I would have sex again that night. Nick really had brass balls sometimes. I would never pull a stunt like that.

I said nothing. I just blushed. When Nick left, Kenji and I looked at each other. I thought it was an absurd situation to have gotten myself into. I hadn’t really thought about what Kenji and I might or might not do, despite Nick’s presumptions. I didn’t quite know what Kenji wanted either. Was that just a one-time thing for him? Was I just a stepping-stone on his road back to dating? Or did he want to be with me in a more permanent way?

I wasn’t even sure what I wanted. Did I just have sex with him the previous night because I felt sorry for him? No, I decided. I had loved him for years, as I had Nick. Last night was just taking that one step further than we’d gone before. I felt strange because it seamed like there ought to be something wrong with what I was doing, something immoral. I was a little lost, emotionally, because I didn’t feel like I expected I should feel if I was sleeping with both of my best friends. Wasn’t I setting myself up to get hurt? Or worse, wouldn’t I inevitably end up hurting one of them?

Maybe that was why Nick was acting the way he had. If we were all out in the open about what was going on, there would be no lies, no hiding from each other, no backstabbing. He not only wasn’t bothered that I had slept with Kenji; he had actively encouraged me to do it again.

“Trevor?” said Kenji, breaking my jumbling thoughts.


“You were off in la la land. I lost you for a minute.”

“Sorry,” I said, not sure what else to say.

He came up to me and took my hands in his. He stood very close to me but not quite touching. Close enough that I could feel the heat radiating from his body, feel his breath in my hair. He kissed me tentatively on the forehead, lips soft as orchid pedals.

“You don’t have to sleep with me just ’cause Nick expects you to,” said Kenji. “I don’t want you to just to be nice.”

I looked up at him, his loving brown eyes.

“I didn’t sleep with you just to be nice,” I said. “Don’t ever think that. I wanted you too.”

I went to the refrigerator and pulled out the container of poi again, more just to do something with my hands than because I was hungry. I turned and leaned against the counter.

“I, I’ve loved you for years, you dope,” I said with a nervous laugh that fell flat. “Just like you told me that I could have had Nick any time I’d asked him, you could have had me any time too. You just found William before I knew enough to tell you.”

I dipped my fingers in the poi and scooped some into my mouth. Kenji came over and dipped a finger into the poi too. But instead of eating it himself, he slowly brought his finger to my mouth.

Unlike Nick, Kenji was not much for words.

I opened my mouth and he slipped his finger in, the same finger he had used to wipe off Nick’s chin, I realized. I sucked his finger and licked the poi off. I continued sucking long after the poi was gone.

When I finally released his finger from my mouth, I set the container of poi on the counter, and Kenji pulled his tee shirt off over his head. I dipped a finger in the poi, and smeared it on his tit. I licked and sucked on his nipple. He giggled at first. I suppose it was pretty silly. But soon he was hissing and moaning with pleasure. When we were both sufficiently aroused, I pulled away.

“I’m not putting poi on your dick,” I said, grinning. Kenji smirked. “It would be a little hard to explain if Masashi decides to come in to the kitchen for a snack, don’t you think?”

Kenji just gave me a lascivious grin. He picked up the poi container and walked down the hall toward the bedroom, glancing over his shoulder to make sure I was following.

I did.

* * * * *

The next day I skipped surfing. I could live with the sacrifice for a few days or a week—however long it took to get home health care set up. I stayed with Masashi while Kenji went in to the nursery. Masashi seemed to be okay, and we both pretended that I wasn’t hanging out just to watch over him. I cleaned up the kitchen and threw the empty poi container away. I washed some clothes, including the stragglers in the back of my Rav4, and Kenji’s bed sheets. We’d made a bit of a mess.

I’ll never be able to think of poi as a simple pasty snack again. In almost no time after we’d closed the bedroom door, we were both naked on the bed and smearing poi on any body part that seemed interesting. Kenji was less hesitant, more self-confident than the previous night. He was still quiet, though, and every bit as gentle as he had been before as he plumbed my depths again in long deep strokes. It was exquisite. I came twice before we finally drifted off to sleep.

Now that Kenji was gone, and I was wandering the house in search of an excuse to be there, I began to ponder what I was doing. Nick was great. Kenji was great. Yet I had no idea where it was all going. The potential for disaster was enormous, though so far both of them seemed happy. Frankly, I was baffled, mostly by Kenji. Nick had enough self-confidence in his sexual prowess that he would be less likely to be jealous. Kenji, however, was pretty vulnerable, and I especially worried about him.

I decided it was time for another talk with my father. I called our apartment and left a message on the answering machine. I asked him to find something to barbeque, since he would get home before I did.

After the drama of losing Masashi and the intimacies shared over the previous two nights, it felt almost strange that I hardly saw Kenji that day. He had left pretty early to get to the nursery. After I ate lunch with Masashi, I drove out to the nursery. I talked to Kenji briefly, and then he left to go home. He had talked to the insurance people and the doctor, and had lined up a couple of interviews for the afternoon for people to help care for Masashi. I wished him luck, and he was gone.

The afternoon went by in a blur. There was just me and Marlene. I worked on autopilot, letting my hands do their thing while my mind wandered. By the end of the day I’d packed up a bunch of mail orders, and had all the cut flowers ready for Zan’s delivery run the next morning. I got a call from my father about an hour before we closed. He’d gotten my message, and planned to pick up some veggie burgers to grill. He wanted to know if I’d eat that, or wanted the dead cow flesh variety. Sometimes dad’s not too subtle. I told him the veggie burgers would be fine.

It was dark by the time I got home to our apartment. I looked longingly at my dive gear in one corner of our cruddy living room. It had been ages since we’d gone diving. I realized that most of my dive stuff had been gifts from Nick over the years. The three of us had dived a lot when we first met, but less after Kenji had started dating William, and only a few times since William’s death. Nick and I dived together sometimes, and I sometimes dived with my father, but I missed the three of us going.

“Hey dad,” I called. He was out on the little balcony. He had coals burning in the cheap Hibachi barbeque.

“Hi Trevor.”

He must have been able to tell I was troubled. He got up and gave me a big hug. He seemed to be able to sense when I needed that. He didn’t ask, though. We didn’t talk much as he grilled the veggie burgers. He must really be on a health kick, I decided, when I discovered he had bought whole-wheat buns too. It made me smile. It was comforting just to be around him.

After we had eaten, we both sat on the balcony. I rested my foot on the metal railing. I didn’t think it was safe to lean on. It was so rusty; I doubted it would support even my meager weight.

“So how are things going with you and Nick?” asked my father.

“Well, uh, things have gotten a little more, um, complicated since then,” I said. “That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I’ve spent the last two nights at Kenji’s.”

He looked at me expectantly. I frequently spent the night at Kenji’s, and this would not be news to him.

“Me and Kenji, we, uh, you know, did it.” Jeez that sounded intelligent.

“You had sex with Kenji?”

“Uh, yeah dad.” I looked down.

“So you’re not seeing Nick anymore?”

“Well that’s kinda part of the complicated part.” How the hell am I going to explain this, I wondered. I pressed on. “Nick and I still have something going on. We haven’t slept together since that one time, but he’s definitely interested in more.”

“Are you interested in more with him?”

“I don’t know. Yes,” I confessed. “I don’t know what they want. I don’t know what I want. They’re both sexy as hell, though in very different ways. I love both of them more than anyone else in the world besides you. I, I…” I stopped, not knowing what else to say.

“Does Nick know you slept with Kenji?”

“He not only knows, he practically insisted I do it again last night.”

“And he is still wants some kind of relationship with you too?”

“Something. I’m not sure what.”

“He sounds very sure of himself.”

“Yep, Nick is that,” I said, smiling at the thought. I wish I had half Nick’s self-confidence.

“And how about Kenji? He knows about you and Nick?”

“Yeah. Its all pretty much out in the open.”

“It sounds like the sleeping arrangements are out in the open, but your feelings about each other aren’t,” he said. “It sounds like you’re falling for both of them.”

I looked at my father, amazed at his perceptiveness.

“You’re right. I am, I think,” I said.

“And you feel like you have to choose one of them.”

“Oh, God, dad. How the hell do I choose? I’m gonna have to sooner or later, I guess. But how can I?”

“I don’t know,” He said. “You guys have been like three peas in a pod ever since you met. Even when Kenji was going out with William.”

“I know. Dad, I’m afraid I’ll hurt one of them. I can’t do that. We’re so close. And this, the, you know, sex, has just made it more intense.” The words began to flood from my mouth. “It’s like a whole other level. How can we back away from this and go back to the way things were? I don’t think we can. I don’t think it will ever be the same as it was. But it can’t go on like this either. I mean, it’s fantastic. They’re unlike any other guys I’ve ever been with. A week ago I was thinking of begging Ed to take me back. Now I’m thinking, like, what the fuck did I ever see in him anyway? He was never half as nice to me as Nick and Kenji. And the sex doesn’t even compare. In a way, I wish I’d never slept with Nick, or not with Kenji. Then I could just fall in love with one of them. But now that I have, I think I just love both of them more than ever. I’m glad I did. I think. I, mean, I can’t imagine not. But I’m afraid what will happen now. I can’t bear to hurt Kenji. He’s gone through so much. I’d rather die. But just because Nick is stronger doesn’t mean I want to hurt him either.”

My father looked at me, one eyebrow cocked. I looked at him.

“I think I’ve gotten myself into a huge fucking mess,” I said.

“Love can be very messy,” he said. “Not that I’m an expert. But if love were easy, this country wouldn’t have the divorce rate that we do.”

“You’re not being all that helpful,” I said.

“There isn’t a whole lot I can do to help. There’s only two guys who can help: Kenji and Nick.”

“I was afraid you were gonna say that.”

We both smiled.

“It seems to me the three of you need to understand each other better, figure out what you want from this on an emotional level. Try talking to them instead of fucking them.”

“I don’t fuck them…” I said reflexively, then snapped my mouth shut. Too late. The unspoken implication that I was on the receiving end was obvious.

“Jeez, Trevor. I don’t think that is the kind of detail a father needs to hear.” He shook his head, more amused than mad.

“Sorry dad.” I was blushing furiously now.

He laughed.

We picked up our dishes and carried them into the kitchen. I cleaned up while my father went in to his room. He came back out with a half a joint. He always preferred pakalolo to alcohol. We went back out on the balcony and sat down. He lit up and passed it to me.

I’m sure neither Nick’s nor Kenji’s parents would ever get high with their kids, and would probably be appalled to see me smoking pakalolo with my father. But dad was of the opinion that if I was old enough to vote, get married, own property, and join the army, then I ought to be old enough to imbibe. And he saw no difference between drinking a beer and smoking a joint. We had never done it when I was younger, but once I graduated from high school and settled in to working at the nursery full time, he had declared me an adult, and said I could make my own choices.

I pondered the quandary I was in while we passed the joint back and forth.

“I’m such an idiot,” I said.

“None of that.” He didn’t like me to talk down about myself. “If everybody cared about their friends half as much as you do, the world would be a better place.” He dropped the spent roach into the Hibachi. “Talk to each other, Trevor. I’m sure you’ll work it out.”

Maybe he was right.

“Thanks dad,” I said.

I wasn’t really high. The pakalolo just sort of took the edge off, mellowed me out a little, lessened my anxiety a bit. Or maybe it was the talk with my father.

I called to check in with Kenji before I went to bed. He told me about the two people he’d interviewed, both of them nurses. One was a middle aged white woman. She’d seemed nice enough, at first, till she started asking if Kenji had a girlfriend. When told her that he was more likely to have a boyfriend than a girlfriend, the interview deteriorated. The other candidate was a huge Hawaiian guy. Kenji liked him better. After the first interview, Kenji explained about the three of us and how I sort of lived there part time, none of which seemed to bother him. He got along well enough with Masashi. Kenji wanted Nick and me to meet the guy before hiring him.

Before we rang off, Kenji hesitated.

“I wish you were here tonight,” he said. “It, it was really nice having you with me the last two nights.”

“Kenji,” I said. “I, I…”

“Not just the sex, Trevor. I loved just holding you afterwards. I haven’t slept so peaceful since, you know, William died. I’ve been so lonely, and you’re so, I don’t know, da kine. You’re so right.

“Oh, Kenji.”

I sighed. I wanted to cry. I also started to get an erection just thinking about being with him. It felt right to me too. Trouble was, Nick felt right to me as well.

“I’m kind of a mess right now,” I said. “I think we need to talk before this goes any further. All three of us.”

“You think maybe we shouldn’t have made love?”

“No, I’m not saying that. I’m glad we did, and I want to do it again. I’m just a little confused, though. I gotta deal with some stuff, and I need to talk to you guys both.”

“I’m sorry, brah. I didn’t mean to mess you up. I just, well, love you. More than just friends. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I just do. I’m sorry.”

Oh, wow.

“Nothing to be sorry about,” I said. “I feel the same way, I think.”

Neither of us said anything for a minute.

“Trevor,” said Kenji. “I’m not sorry. No matter what happens, I’m glad we made love.”

I couldn’t speak. There was a lump in my throat.

“Goodnight,” he whispered. He made a soft kissing sound, and then I heard the line click off.

I decided the three of us needed to have that talk very soon. The trouble was, with Nick in college and the nursery to run and Masashi needing more attention than ever and interviewing the nurse, I couldn’t figure out when we would ever have time to do it.

(To be continued.)

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