You call this autumn?
[This story was fabricated and created by me, the author. Any similarity to any real life situation, event, or person(s) is purely of coincidence. Please do not distribute this story in any way, shape, part, or form without my expressed consent.]
Frank came back to school with a bang. I.T. class was even more eventful than usual. He coaxed Mike into joining with him and I was barraged with paper missiles and other items close to hand until the teacher had more than enough of all three of us. Had the bell not rang, to end the class, I'm sure we three would have been spending our lunch break in the principal's office, explaining why we were all acting like elementary school students. I hugged Frank in the hall and told him how much I had really missed him and he smiled.
"Oh, I know. How could you survive without me to hold your hand and pinch your ass now and then?" Mike hung in the background, listening to Frank and me; he had a huge smile on his face and winked at me. "Now let's hurry to lunch. I think I swallowed that last spitball you shot at me, and the taste has made me hungry!" Frank laughed and grabbed my arm. The three of us went to his locker, then mine and finally made it into the line for food. Once we got to the table and took our seats, the conversation turned to the upcoming sports seasons and everyone was excited about the beginning tryouts and practices. I still had plans to tryout for the swim team and when Barry heard me tell Frank, he gave me a big smile.
"You've got a shoe in. I'm swim team captain and I can guarantee you'll make the team if you can swim." He raised his eyebrows and gave me a once over and then nodded. "Yeah, you've got the body for it and I imagine living near the ocean, you'd have to be able to swim." The table got quiet and then I was bombarded with questions from all sides. John wanted to know if I played baseball, Mike asked for hockey, Jerry for wrestling, and Phillip for basketball.
"Whoa guys, wait a minute. I played basketball and beach volleyball besides swam. I wasn't an all around jock in middle school, and besides that, I don't think I want all my time taken up with school stuff. "Thank Barry, I really do want to tryout for swim and maybe when basketball season starts, I'll try for it." I said, and looked to Phillip. "I wasn't all that great at basketball, but I really do like to play."
"Well, if you want to play, then you'll play. Our team isn't state bound this year, I don't think. We lost a lot of our team last year when the all stars graduated. Right now, there are only a couple of the state team guys left and we can use all the new blood we can get." Phillip told me and then gave Frank a proprietary look. I looked at Frank and saw him smirk at Phillip. The rest of lunch was taken up by Phillip and Barry telling me all about the programs and what I could expect. John sat silent beside Barry and kept his eyes on me. He was smiling and somehow I just knew I had made Barry's year by wanting to swim. I met up with Tommy at my locker and we walked to Spanish class together. I filled him in on lunch and he did the same for me. Patrick sat with his group and seemed to fit right in, no problems or comments.
Gym class brought me face to face with Matt once again. He returned from his suspension as well and to my surprise, I was actually glad to see him. As Tommy and I entered the locker room and made our way to our lockers, Matt was already there on the end. He stopped what he was doing and looked at both of us, and smiled.
"Hey guys, how's it going?" His smile was genuine and I could see in his eyes, that he was a little anxious at his reception by us. I walked over to him and without so much as a hesitation, I gave him a hug.
"Welcome back Matt. It's good to see you in school again." Tommy walked over and when I released Matt, he took Matt in a friendly hug as well, and welcomed him back.
"Yeah, it's good to see you. I never got to tell you thanks for looking after Brent, but I appreciate it. He's my best friend and well, I just wanted you to know." Tommy stepped back and looked him in the eyes. Matt appeared a bit shocked from the both of our hugs and his eyes even seemed to shine a little.
"You don't have to thank me Tommy, he's my friend too and I'm not going to let anyone get away with that kind of shit. Not even my brother, or Bobby." He looked at me. "I, I really missed seeing you guys. It was boring at home all day and well, I'm just glad to be back." Tommy and I returned to our lockers to get changed and Frank came walking down the aisle. He looked at me and then walked up to Matt. I strained my ears to catch what he was going to say. Matt turned and saw Frank standing in front of him. He recoiled a little and Frank reached out his hand and steadied him.
"Look Matt, all that shit that happened is in the past now. I've been over it a long time, and you proved yourself with Brent. Bobby and I are never going to be friends, but that doesn't need to stop you and me from being all right with each other." Frank took his hand from Matt's shoulder and held it out. "We going to be all right now?" Matt looked past Frank to me and then reached out and took Frank's offered hand.
"As long as we both understand that I will always be looking out for Brent, then you and I are good with each other. He's my friend and I'm not going to let anyone fuck with him Frank." Matt paused and I saw him look past Frank and in Tommy's direction. "No one fucks with Tommy either. I know they can look out for themselves, but with you and me helping, well, I think we got them covered." They both shook hands and Frank turned to look in our direction.
"No one fucks with what is mine, not anyone. Those two standing there looking like they've been punched in the gut are mine." He turned back and looked at Matt. "Patrick is mine too. Just so you know, don't cross with him and you and I will get along fine." Matt nodded his head and we all recovered ourselves and finished changing.
The weeks passed without much happening. School moved along as usual and with the coming of autumn, the season moved along as well. I could tell that things were going to be a lot different from what they had been in California. Already the nights were getting colder, but I had Tommy to keep me warm. Tommy's father had insisted that he spend his after school hours at home, completing his chores, and having dinner with the family. Tommy insisted that his home was my home, and I spent most of my after school and evening time with the Weber's. Eventually it became routine for Hank. He would pick us up in the morning for school; drop us off in the afternoon at Tommy's and then return to take us home when he came to get Scott at Tommy's house. Connie soon included Tommy in our nightly chats, both of us telling her what our day had been like and her offering us her take on events and suggesting ways to deal with some of our problems. I loved her so much for including Tommy in our circle.
My father took the whole thing in stride. Weekends were spent at my house. Tommy and I would spend as much of it with my father as we could. Our bond grew strong and the love I felt for and from him was the best feeling in the world. I continued my driver's education classes and eventually we were taken in small groups, to learn to drive. Robert was in my group. He parents had come through and he got his permit, allowing him to remain. My life was happy and I wanted for nothing more, but then as the month of October arrived, so did the shock of what was in store for me in North Dakota.
I woke at the sound of my alarm clock and rolled over to turn it off. I turned back to Tommy and cuddled up to him. I kissed the back of his neck and told him good morning. He turned and smiled at me.
"Good morning to you handsome. I wish we could stay in bed today. I don't feel like getting up." I smiled at him.
"Well, we have tests today and I don't think either of us can afford to fail our classes. My father would think it was because we spend too much time together and yours would agree with him, even if he said the sun was going to come up purple in the morning." I hugged him to me and then turned, throwing the covers off of me. "Oh my god!" I gulped.
"What? What's wrong Brent?" Tommy sat up in the bed and reached out for me.
"What's wrong? It feels like a freaking refrigerator in here!" My skin felt all goose pimply and I could even see the mist caused by my breaths of air. It was amazing how I had not even felt the slightest bit chilled when I had been lying next to Tommy under the sheets. But now, with the blanket thrown off me and me only in my boxers, it felt as if I had walked naked into a freezer.
"Jesus Christ Brent!" Tommy laughed. "You are in North Dakota after all. This is nothing compared to how it's going to get. Wait until January when the warmest it gets is like 16F and the coldest I've felt is like -20F. That's cold! This is still a nice autumn morning!" I looked at him aghast. The coldest I could recall in LA was maybe 45F. To think it was going to be maybe -20F made my mind want to shut down. I jumped up out of the bed and dashed for the bathroom. I flipped on the overhead heating element and stood there waiting for it to warm the air. Tommy eventually made it into the bathroom with me, looking at me all strange and foreign. "You poor spoiled city boy. You just stay close to me Babe. I'll keep you warm. It might look funny to everyone else, with your hands in my pockets as we walk down the halls in school, but I don't mind. I'll just remind them you're from California." He paused and looked at my face, then burst out in a huge laugh.
"Yeah, yeah, you laugh it up Cutey! I'll just tell everyone the way you reacted to seeing the ocean for the first time. I wonder what they will say when I tell them it took you almost an hour before you would even stick a toe in the water." I raised my eyebrow and then chuckled when I saw him blush. The element had finally warmed the air and I was able to loosen my muscles and soak in the warmth. "I need to tell my dad to get the boiler, heater or whatever it's called, going from now on." We both relieved our bladders and jumped into the hot shower. Once back in the bedroom, I looked at the clothes hanging in my closet. I opened the bedroom door and then opened the hall door. I yelled downstairs. "Connie! Could you please come up here for a minute? I don't have any winter clothes to wear!" I turned back around and Tommy was standing in the bedroom doorway laughing.
"Brent! It isn't even winter yet! It'll still get up to at least 60F today!" He kept laughing and then looked behind me when he saw Connie enter the room.
"What was that Brent? All I heard was something about clothes." She asked me. I turned around and looked at her.
"I don't have any winter clothes to wear. It feels like a refrigerator in here and Tommy thinks it's funny because it's going to be minus 20 in JANUARY! Why isn't the heater on and why is my rooms so cold? I don't think I have any warm clothes, especially if it's going to be as cold as he says." She looked at me, then at Tommy. She returned her eyes to me and gave me a look from the top of my head to my feet.
"Well, it probably feels like a refrigerator in your rooms because you're standing there in your birthday suit. I must say you have grown quite a bit since the last time I saw your bare bottom, but I never expected it to be THAT much!" Both she and Tommy exploded in laughter when I realized I was standing there naked to the world and displaying myself in front of Connie. I turned from her and ran past Tommy into my bedroom. The heat from my embarrassment warmed me sufficiently as I rummaged for clothes to throw on. I pulled on a pair of boxers, a t-shirt and found some pajama bottoms that I also pulled on. I could still hear the two off them laughing in the outer room. I walked back to the bedroom door and looked into the game room. Tommy and Connie were standing facing the bedroom door and when they saw me peek out, they renewed their laughter.
"All right you two! Enough of that! I'm sorry Connie, I'm not used to having anyone else up here in the morning and, well, I wasn't thinking about anything except how cold it was and what I was going to do about it!" She looked at Tommy, who still had a huge smile painted on his cute face.
"Well, it didn't look like the cold had affected every part of you like I imagine it should have, but let's see what we can do about finding you some warm clothes. We'll probably have to go on a shopping trip before winter arrives, but I think you have something that will do for now." She gave one more laugh in Tommy's direction and offered me a smile, before turning and walking out of the room.
"Brent, it was priceless Babe! You should have seen the look on your face and I swear when Connie looked you over, her eyes got as big around as dinner plates. It was sooo funny!" He started laughing again and I had to admit, it probably was an amusing sight to see both our reactions.
"Why didn't you tell me to put on some clothes after you heard me yell for her? You at least knew I was standing there naked and had called her up here!"
"How was I supposed to know she was going to get up here so fast? I swear she got here within ten seconds after you yelled for her! Anyway, I wouldn't have wanted to miss that show for anything, so I'm glad I didn't." Tommy said and winked at me. He walked past me, but did give me a quick kiss, before entering the bedroom.
"Well I'm so glad to entertain you, but next time I think I'd rather do it with clothes on." I sat on the bed and watched as he got clothes and dressed. He pulled on a pair of blue jeans, a short sleeved polo shirt and then sat next to me on the bed and worked a pair of socks on over his feet. "Are you out of your mind?" I asked him. "It's too freaking cold to wear a short sleeved shirt!" He just turned and smiled at me.
"Now what would a city boy from southern California be thinking to try and tell ME what I should wear? I've lived here my whole life. I told you it was probably going to be in the high 60s or even 70 before the day is through. You just follow my lead lover. I'll make sure you get through your first winter without a hitch!" He smiled at me, showing his full mouth of pearly whites. I looked up at a sound from my bedroom door and there stood my father looking at the both of us on the bed. He smiled at Tommy and then looked at me.
"Connie informed me that you were a near icicle up here and that you wanted to know why it wasn't a balmy 80 degrees. She also asked me if you take after me. I'm not quite sure what that meant?" He asked and raised an eyebrow. Tommy laughed out loud and I blushed hot. My father looked from my face to Tommy's and then shook his head. "Never mind, I don't think I want to know." He chuckled. "However, I'm sorry I should have warned you about the cold here in Beulah. It's something you will just have to get used to and believe me, you will survive. Just look at Tommy. He's alive and well, and you'll adapt just fine. It's refreshing to me. I had forgotten how invigorating it was to wake up and have the cold air snap you awake."
"Oh yeah, very invigorating. Almost enough to give me frost bite!" Tommy and my father both laughed at my comment. "Seriously, we need to crank the heater up! This is ridiculous." My father just shook his head and chuckled. Tommy put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close to him.
"It's going to be just fine Brent. Look, here comes Connie and it looks like she went and mugged an Eskimo somewhere, or maybe skinned and cured a bear hide for you!" Tommy fell back on the bed laughing again and Connie shoved my father out of the doorway, carrying a bundle of clothes that looked like it could outfit a group of five survivalists in the depths of the North Pole. I ignored everyone except her as she piled the clothes on my bed. She and I rummaged through the pile and I came up with what I thought was sufficient to keep all my body parts nice and toasty for the day. I thanked her for the clothes and watched and my father and her filed out of the room, leaving me to finally dress for the day.
By lunch time, I was sweltering in my get up. Frank had no sympathy for me, Tommy having informed him, when we arrived at school in the morning, that he had tried to tell me I was over dressed. I felt like I was standing in a baker's oven, while being slowly basted like a roast for the evening meal. I started unclothing myself and thank god I had the extra set of gym clothes in my locker, otherwise I would have been well done for serving by the end of the day.
I placed my life in Tommy's hands from then on and though I scoffed at his selections and insisted he was crazy from the cold, he proved himself right day after day. One weekend, we all piled in the SUV with Hank, and drove to Bismarck to do some winter clothes shopping. I wasn't completely without some warm clothes, but nothing I had would suffice for the winter to come. After three hours of non-stop shopping, Connie declared herself satisfied and we all piled back in the car for the trip home. Tommy had a smile plastered on his face the whole day and Hank kept giving me strange looks now and then. I didn't care what either of them thought. Connie and I were on the same page. Even over the protests of my father, she would listen to no one. Her mantra was my survival of winter. Even I looked askance at the winter coat, so filled with down, it looked like I weighed 300 pounds when I tried it on and immediately broke out in a sweat. I did notice my father covertly pick a coat off a rack and carry it with him to buy it separately from the rest of the horde. He gave me a sly wink, and I returned a grateful smile.
Even with the weather playing a dominate role on my state of mind, I still remembered my want to join the swim team and as October progressed, the day for tryouts rapidly approached. Tommy and Frank were excited as well. Wrestling for Tommy and hockey for Frank were starting at the same time swimming was to begin. We waited out the days as each passed closer to the beginning of something new for Tommy and me, and for the beginning of what Frank felt defined who he was, sports.
Thanks for everyone's patience while I visited family and friends. Sorry it took so long to update. School is in full swing now and I expect more delays, but those on the Notification list will be informed the moment Nifty posts new chapters. I also apologize to those who tried to e-mail me using the address Iprovided at the end of the last two chapters. For some brain warped reason, I left out the second "o" in corona, which I have fixed in this post. I hope you enjoyed this segment of Learning to Love. If you'd like to e-mail me, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org . Feedback is welcome and appreciated.