Dawn came and it signaled another day of surviving. Getting better wasn't even considered, just survive it. That's how it has been for the last three weeks. The Doctor had asked Becky to stay away for a while to allow him to separate himself from everything in his life until he could sort out what was good and what was painful. He said right now he was so distraught that even family would represent Tad and his pain. It was hard for Becky to agree but she knew he was right.
The boys had grown closer, but today was going to be a turning point; for both of them.
Breakfast had come and gone, meds had arrived and it wasn't as long or hard of a stretch for Andy anymore. His body had grown accustomed to the medication and the overwhelming sadness occurred less often. It was manageable; almost tolerable.
Michael on the other hand hated the night, hated the sleep. It meant the nightmares were coming to get him. Today Andy was going to ask him about it. He had waited for him to offer, but it didn't happen. Climbing into the others bed had become commonplace for them, but was reserved for comforting. Anything sexual was saved for their individual showers and sometimes, the meds prohibited focusing, so even the shower was non-productive at relieving the hormonal tirade that lay subdued beneath the layer of drugs in their systems.
Andy climbed out of bed, closed the door to the room and pulled the privacy curtain to buy a moment if the door was opened by the nurse or doctor. He dropped the rail of Michael's bed and climbed in next to him, propping his head up on his hand as he lay on his side looking at him.
"What?" Michael asked, sensing that he had something on his mind.
"We've become friends in our misery."
"Yeah, I suppose we have. Sorry, that's not a safe place to be around me."
"I think it's time we shared our stories with each other. Do you want to go first or should I?" Andy asked.
"I don't want to talk about it at all. It won't change anything."
"Well it isn't my favorite topic either. But I want for you to know my hell, and I want to understand yours. So I'll start. . ." He told the tale leaving nothing out. He choked towards the end but felt good to tell it all to someone. It felt good that Michael now knew it all.
He finished and his eyes had pretty much dried out. He looked at Michael and said nothing. Michael took a breath and began.
"It was just a little over a year ago that I met Terry. He was my first and I was his. We both knew early that we liked . . . boys. That we were . . . gay. But finding another was tough, so when we found each other and found the courage to come out to each other, it was beautiful. Finally, to not be alone, to be with someone like ourselves, who understands. We had someone we could touch. My family would not ever know as far as I was concerned. I knew my father would have no part of a queer. Mom has been gone for a long time. She died of cancer when I was around eight or so."
"So we would meet in a park about half way between our two homes. Terry's family suspected, but he had never come out to them either. We were very careful." Michael took a breath as the tears began to well up, "but not careful enough."
"My older brother Jimmy hung out with a bad bunch, red necks; the real bad kind. Zero tolerance for queers, blacks, Asians, anybody that was different; but especially gays. Jimmy wasn't that way really. His heart was good. He had just grown up around these guys and somewhere along the line they changed. Well, we had been seen in the park kissing passionately. The good ol' boy call went out. Jimmy was the closest to the park and showed up there. He was really surprised to see it was me in Terry's arms and was convinced, I am sure, that Terry had forced himself on me because there is no way his brother could be gay."
"He grabbed Terry out of my arms and began to punch him. I went after my brother, trying to stop him, to tell him it was me, it wasn't Terry. He pushed me back and I fell on the ground and he jumped on Terry. They were rolling on the ground when the two Hollingsworth brothers ran up from behind and shot what they thought were two queers getting it on in the park. I crawled over and hid like a coward, under the end of one of those cement picnic tables. They shot Jimmy in the back and the bullet went through him and killed Terry too. They even joked about killing two queers with one bullet."
"The idiots didn't even figure it out when they rolled Jimmy off of Terry. I remember one of them saying, "Who'd ever figure Jimmy for a queer." His face scrunched up as he broke down and cried. Speaking through the tears, he went on. "I hid, afraid they might find me. I didn't move. Not for a long time. The police came and they found me in my hiding place, still frozen, terrified. I should have gone for help or fought them. I should have done something, but I was scared."
Andy held him and kissed away his tears. "There was nothing you could have done but become another body. You are only fourteen. These guys were big, had guns. There is nothing you could have done. Shhhhh. It's alright. Anyone would have been terrified. I would have done the same thing, I just know it."
"When the police asked me, I had to tell them the whole story. When my dad found out, he spit in my face and said it should have been me who got shot. Not the good one. He said I was dead, he had no sons left. After that I just remember blacking out and waking up here. They said something about an emotional or nervous breakdown."
Andy just held him, silently reflecting on all that was said. "Dr Raburn was right. You lost so much more than me. I lost my perfect love; an absolutely perfect love. We knew everything about each other, every detail. We even knew where and when to pause during sex because the other one liked it that way. We knew how to touch the other to make them tremble, to make them beg you to continue it. There will never be another like him."
Andy went on, "But I lost only one person. You lost your lover, your brother, your father and your home. There wasn't even anyone to hug or comfort you for your losses. How tragic. No wonder you wanted to die. You lost everything that you loved in one afternoon. All you had left was hurt and anger. That's why you never cried when you first came in. You had no love left and without it, there is little to hurt." Andy looked him in the eyes. "But you can cry now, I've seen it." Andy smiled, knowing why, and he kissed him. His tongue parted his lips and the return was immediate and hungry.
Their kiss broke apart and Michael laid his head against Andy's shoulder. Andy leaned his head against Michael's. He thought for a moment. "Michael, I'm still a mess too, and I don't have much right now, but . . . would it be alright with you, if I kinda loved you . . . Just a little?"
"Yeah," Michael whispered, "I think I'd like that a lot." He snuggled in a little closer and they lay there just holding each other and thinking about what that meant. A stern knock came on the door and Andy jumped up parting the sheer curtain and opened the door. He found three firemen standing there.
"What?" Andy said.
"You Andy Harter?" The oldest man asked.
"Yeah," He said leaning on the door.
"Mind if we come in for a minute? It won't take long, I promise."
"Sure," He went back to his bed, stopping to open the privacy drape so that Michael was included and the room was open.
"Andy, I'm Chief Thomas and these guys here are Bill and Jerry. They were both there when your awful ordeal went down. How are you today, by the way?"
"I have good days and bad ones. But I'm doing a lot better now, I guess," He was looking at Michael when he said the last part.
"Andy, the reason I'm here is to ask you for your help. What ever you said to Pat when he was here the other day really took hold of him. He's a wreck, a real mess. He came back to the station and turned in his badge. He was in tears. Come to think of it, he's been in tears almost every time I've seen him since.
Now, I don't know what you said and he won't talk about it, but I have lost a valuable man on my team. They don't come as dedicated as this one. He won't give up. He goes above and beyond the call of duty on every call. He has saved a lot of lives. He worked exceptionally hard on yours. You left us three times I understand. He didn't give up."
Bill stepped forward and leaned around the chief, "Andy, I was there. I know what happened from beginning to end. Pat dove in that icy water to get you without hesitation. He brought you out and wouldn't let me or anyone else take over. I think he knew he would try harder when others may give up. You were down there for a long time. At best, you should have had some brain damage. You should have heard him yelling at you, telling you to hang on, telling you to fight. You were going to live, if for no other reason than he willed it. He even went on the helicopter with you, still soaking wet under his gear. Pat's got an instant kind of love. You'd have to know the guy. It's like every person he saves adds to his love for the job. He recognizes that every life is important. It's going to affect a lot of other lives. I don't know what you said to our Pat, but watching you run off that cliff into that icy water, I can just about guess. But it has ripped his heart out. His absence will certainly cost lives. We want to ask you to fix it. Forgive him for saving your life, love him for doing the right thing. Give us back our Pat."
Andy looked at them. "No. Now get out."
The chief started, "But you don't understand . . ."
"NO! You don't understand. He had no RIGHT! I was almost happy. Now I'm alone and empty, hurting inside every day of my life. I might live another 80 years! 80 years of hell, every second of every day! I hope he rots in hell!" Andy was screaming and they were retreating.
The nurse came in and ushered them out, returning moments later with his medication to find the sobbing boy being held once again by Michael. He was rocking him gently, holding his face against his chest, kissing the top of his head, shushing him into silence.
Andy spoke through his tears as the nurse administered his medication, "Michael, you have to help me. I know I should forgive him. I just can't though. I don't want to hurt anybody. I don't want to hurt him. Nobody should hurt like this."
"Shhhh," Michael soothed, "I'm right here. We'll get through this and fix it. I think maybe Dr Raburn can help us sort it all out. I think we're ready to talk to him more." He looked at the nurse.
"Would you like me to call him for you? He may not make it in until tomorrow, but I'll call him if you would like." She said waiting for an answer.
Michael looked Andy in the eyes, "What do you think? Is it time to give him our demons?" Andy's eyes filled with water and he nodded yes. "Yes, please call him and tell him that we both want to talk to him, we're ready to be helped."
The nurse smiled and laid a hand on both boys' shoulders and gave them a little squeeze. They looked up at her. "You boy's are very brave, I'm so glad you have each other to lean upon. There's safety in numbers ya know." She smiled and left the room pulling the privacy sheers and closing the door, leaving both boys holding each other in Andy's bed. The meds were working but he was getting used to them now and they didn't knock him out like they did before.
"Michael?" Andy asked quietly, "I know you have your own private hell and you don't have a lot of love but you're braver than I am. You have a strength that I don't. If I give you my extra love, the love I was saving for Tad, even though its second hand love, it's still good. Could you be strong with me? I don't think I can do this alone."
"It sounds to me like second hand or not, it's the best love out there. I think I would like that a lot. I have a lot of room for love. But I don't have bravery. I just cowered there, I didn't do anything brave."
"Yes you did, you went on. I was the stupid one that stood up and begged for the bullet. My bullet was just a pool of icy cold water. I wasn't brave enough to go on."
Michael thought for a moment, "It's all very confusing but I'll be strong as I can, and as brave as I can and I'll take all the love I can get from you. I don't care if it's fifth hand love. I just know that deep down you can't hold anything against Pat for doing his job. I know one thing for sure. I'm grateful to him. You are my ladder out of hell. If he didn't save you, then who would save me?" They sat quietly for a while. "Andy, can I have a little of that love now?"
Andy ran his hand up under his gown and found his flaccid member and tugged on it gently. He turned his head a little and with his lips bit on his nipple through his gown. He grew in his hand. Andy slid down under the blankets and his face found his abandoned love home. He breathed it in. It was a pleasant enough scent. He fought back the notion to compare it to Tad's. He took his hardening boyhood into his mouth and swirled his tongue against the cut five inches. Michael shivered and gasped, as he spread his legs apart for more room. Andy started up and down, swirling the crown every now and then. He could feel the heat building and his girth enlarging as his balls drew up. His breathing was growing rapid and shallow.
"Stop, Andy, I'm gonna shoot!" He said rapidly, yet as quiet as he could. Andy responded by increasing his activity telling Michael that he wanted it, was waiting for it, desired it. Michael's hands quickly moved to the back of Andy's head over the covers; his automatic bucking took over.
Michael grit his teeth and arched his back, digging his heels into the bed as he tried to empty every drop of come into the mouth of the one person on earth that loved him. That thought alone was enough to make him cry. And he did. He felt a warmth come over him that he thought was gone forever. Andy finished and felt the stomach contractions caused by his tears. Andy understood the good and bad of it. He slid back up and kissed him.
"I know, it's different, this is ours not theirs. But it was good I think." He said looking into the tear stained eyes, "You're beautiful you know? Terry had to feel very lucky."
Michael chuckled through his tears, "Andy, I was just asking for another one of those kisses . . . but this was much better. How lucky can a guy get, stuck in a bed next to a love starved homo with bad eyesight! But I'll bet your Tad told you that every day; and meant it." He kissed Andy.
Just then they heard a ruckus in the hall. "Is they all wearing shirts what is open in the back? . . . Damn!"
Andy heard it and a huge smile grew on his face, breaking his kiss with Michael. "What? What's going on?" he asked getting up to see what the commotion was. Andy just pulled him back to the bed.
Speaking progressively louder with each word, "That would be the voice of the infamous Toome. And I guarantee, you don't have to look for him because he will be dragging his scrawny ass in here any moment." Then, whispering, he said to Michael out of the corner of his mouth, "Looking for any dick he can swing off of."
Toome backed in through the door, his attention split between something he saw in the hall and his hand on his package working away through the material of his shorts. "Damn, wonder who I have to kill to get locked up in this place." He turned, looking at Michael and Andy both looking at him slack jawed over the comment. "Oh, uh, sorry. Poor choice of words." he said, pointing out in the hall. He went on without missing a beat, "But Andy, what are you doing in bed when out there is. . . Hello! Andy, either you grew another hot looking Siamese twin or there is a hot looking dude wearing one of those sexy night shirts in your bed with you. What's your name?" he said slipping his hands under the sheet to cop a feel on the new kid.
Michael jumped at the touch. "Hey." Andy was covering his mouth and looking away laughing. He knew where this was going and knew there wasn't going to be any stopping him until he got what he wanted. And Toome figured this was a Smorgasbord made to order and Michael was an appetizer.
"Uh, Michael? Trust me on this, just go with it. I'm going to find my mom and the rest and we'll be back, but I won't let them barge in or nothin'." He grinned and left the room closing the door as Toome closed the privacy sheers.
"Hi Momma, How are ya?"
"I'm fine, glad to see you out of bed and with a smile too! That's more like it. You see Toome?" Reducing her voice to a whisper, "He disappeared again. I swear that boy must have drained half the floor already!"
"Yeah, he's in my room at the moment. There's something I want to talk to you about. Come on, we can sit in the corner of the day room. Momma, I have a friend here who is in more pain than I am. We sorta help each other. He's strong when I'm weak and I'm there when he is. I think Dr Raburn put us together for a reason." He took a deep breath and let it out.
"Momma, he loved a boy. In one afternoon, he watched his brother beat up his lover, two red necks shoot his brother and his lover, thinking they were together, had to hide to keep from being shot himself and then told by his father that it should have been him that was shot and told that he was dead in his father's eyes. He lost every thing in life that he had any love for. Momma, he wouldn't even testify against his lover's murderers because they promised to finish the job and come back and kill him too. Momma, it is so sad, he was so empty of love that there was nothing tender left to be hurt." Becky sat and listened and tried not to cry. Watching her son in so much pain, and yet, the cure seemed to be caring for someone else. He was finding love in his need to be needed. She listened on.
"Three weeks now he's been my room mate. He holds me and cries when I'm having a bad time of it. He told me today that he loves me and I think I love him too. Not like I loved . . . Tad, but differently. Momma, he has no place to go and no one to love him. Can we bring him home when it's time? Do you think Aunt Gladys would let him come home so that he can help me and I can help him? We really need each other right now."
Becky paused for a moment thinking how to say it. "I think there are some things we will need to research first. Who makes the decisions for his life now that his Dad refuses? I'll need to talk to Aunt Gladys and Dr. Raburn too. It is important that a move like this is carefully looked at. It has to be analyzed to make sure it is what's best for both of you."
"He has a case worker, a Ms. Carmaletti I think. Dr Raburn would know for sure. He's coming in this afternoon. Maybe you can ask him if you're still here. Momma, I have missed you so much." He said hugging her. It was the first time since the accident that he has really said anything he didn't have to. He had come alive again.
"I'll check with Aunt Gladys, but I think she will be ok with about anything that will bring you back to life. She misses you so. For her, it is almost like she lost you too." Those words made Andy's eyes instantly flood.
"I'm sorry, I never even thought about other people. I've been so selfish."
Becky pulled him into her and hugged him, "Shhh, it's alright son. You did what you needed to do, she understands that. She just misses you so. It's alright. You did the right thing. You had a full plate to deal with son, still do. But now you're getting better. It's all as it should be for this moment. No worries. I'll talk to Dr. Raburn and see what he thinks. Come on, let's go and you can introduce me to your friend."
"Uh, yeah. Mom, let me check to make sure Toome is done in there before you go in."
"Andy! Did you turn Toome loose on your room mate?"
Andy blushed, "It's been a month or so since he first came in and well, I think he needed the release of tension." He went crimson, "And twice in the same day must certainly be a treat." He turned and ran down the hall towards his room. Walking in, he saw that Michael was smiling a huge toothy smile staring straight ahead. Andy looked right and saw Toome's head buried in the crotch of a candy striper named Jeff who was pinned against the wall, his eyes rolled back in his head, holding on to Toome's head. He was beginning a gentle rocking motion. Andy heard a throat clearing behind him. Mom was in the door. Andy pulled the privacy curtain around the vacant bed where Toome had his victim. Michael's jaw dropped at Andy's calm demeanor. Almost like it was commonplace.
"Mom," he said taking her by the hand and leading her over to his bed where Michael still remained sitting under the sheets. "This is Michael, the boy I told you about. Michael this is my Mom but you can call her Becky."
"I'm pleased to meet you Mrs. Harter." Michael said.
"It's alright dear. He's right. Becky works so much better." she whispered, "Doesn't make me feel quite so old."
"Oh, Mrs. Har. . . I mean Becky. You have no need to worry about age for a long time. Andy shame on you for not telling me your Mom was so hot." He leaned back and relaxed as Andy went around and climbed back in his spot and Becky took a seat.
"So Andy, have you talked to Michael about what you spoke to me about?"
"Uh, no Momma, I didn't want to say anything until I checked with you."
"Well, I think it is something we should find out about. It may not be something he even wants. We need to ask him first if that is something he would like."
Michael looked at the two with a look of concern. "What? What's going on?" Michael asked looking at the two of them.
Becky looked at Andy. He took a breath, "Well, I was just thinking, that you and I help each other a lot, and well, you don't really have a place where you can belong, so I was sorta wondering if maybe you wouldn't mind, when it's time to go home, coming with me and staying with us so we can help each other some more."
He looked at him for a moment and looked at Becky and then back to Andy. With tears welling up in his eyes he asked, "You would do that for me?"
Andy furrowed his brow, "I thought you understood what `I love you, too' meant. Of course I would do that, but it's not just up to me. We have to check with Aunt Gladys because it's her house, but Mom's pretty sure she'll say yes. And we have to check with Dr. Raburn and then your social worker. So a lot has to happen, but we wanted to see if it was something you even wanted."
Michael was overwhelmed and couldn't answer; he just nodded his head yes as he scrunched up his face and bawled like a baby. Andy took him in his arms. Becky moved over beside Michael on the other side and pulled him from Andy's and into her arms and held him. Andy rubbed his back as Becky rocked him in her arms. It was an automatic Mom response. She just instinctively knew.
"It's alright Michael, honey. You just cry all you'd like. We all need it now and then." A gentle knock came on the door, it was Dr. Raburn. And just as he came in and took a chair next to the mound of embracing people he smiled.
"Oh, Oh Shit! Aaaah!" came from behind the privacy screen. Dr. Raburn looked toward the area and started to get up.
"OH, Doctor Raburn, we were just talking about you. So glad you are here. Your timing couldn't be more perfect."
Dr. Raburn turned back towards Andy and Michael as Toome led a very disheveled looking candy striper boy out and through the door. Michael and Andy were breaking into huge smiles at the sight going on behind the doctor's back. Becky knew what the noise was and bit her lower lip until she saw the smiles on their faces. It told her what happened.
"Well," Dr Raburn said, looking a little amused. "I don't know what is so funny but it's good to see you both laugh. Tell me what's going on. The nurse called and said you both wanted to talk to me."
"Well, I think I'm making some headway Doc. Michael has really been there to help me work through the rough spots, and well, I think the same goes for Michael. . ."
"Yeah," Michael agreed. "It's like, all of a sudden, there might be a spot of light in this hole I've been living in. It's sorta like by ourselves, neither one had anything to . . ah, care about."
"To love?" Dr Raburn asked. In unison they said, "Yeah."
Andy looked at Dr. Raburn. "It's not a replacement for either of us. It's different, but it is still good. I still have a lot of bad moments, like when something reminds me of something, or sometimes I still feel down for no reason at all. But it's easier with Michael because he understands my hurt. He holds me and let's me cry it out. It makes it easier to take and it's happening a lot less too.
Then Michael added, "And there's more too it than that. Like when he's sad and I'm holding him, it's like a warm feeling inside me that happens because I know his hurt and I know that holding him makes it better for him, so I feel good inside. I have felt like there was no warmth left in me. I thought I would never feel warm again, until now. I like holding him, it makes me feel better."
"Needed?" Dr. Raburn said smiling.
They answered again in unison, "Yeah, exactly."
"How about the meds? Are you finding that you have to call for them as often?"
Andy answered first, "No, and even when they are late bringing them, it isn't usually such a big deal. I think I've only had two times in the last week where the sadness got to me before the meds did. And Michael was right there for me."
Michael jumped in then too, "Doc, I almost feel alive again. And Becky and Andy have even said that if it was alright with you and Ms Carmaletti, that I could go and live with them when it's time to go."
"Really!" Dr. Raburn said, looking at Becky, "That is really most generous. We'll have to talk about that. Is that something you would want Michael?"
"Well, yes but, well, before I could do that, I would need to make sure I wasn't bringing danger to them. I need to get hold of Ms. Carmaletti and see if I can still testify and put those creeps where they belong."
"Wow," Dr Raburn said. "I can't believe how fast you two have turned the corner. But Andy, have you thought about this? When you go back, everything you see will remind you of Tad. The house, your room, your bed, the house next door, the quarry. All these things will be tears, I expect. And how will you feel if you come in and find Michael wearing a shirt that used to belong to Tad? Seems like it will be pretty tough to take. Have you thought about that?"
He could see Andy's eyes move back and forth as he looked for pictures in his head. "No, I haven't. It will be really really hard." He looked at Michael, "I might not stop crying for a long time at first."
Michael wrapped his arms around him and pulled his head to his chest and rested his chin on top of his head, after gently kissing it. "Then, I guess if they'll let me, I will have to hold you for a long time. I won't quit holding you until you stop crying."
"What happens if you both get into the blue funk at the same time?" Dr Raburn asked.
"We've been there. We hold each other. And if this works out, then we'll have Mom and Aunt Gladys to hold us too. It isn't over Dr. Raburn, but it's getting easier. Well, maybe easier isn't the right word, because the hurt is still the same. I think it is becoming less painful if that makes sense. I am tolerating the pain better because I know it will only last for a while. Somehow, I think you can live through anything if you can see the end of it. And having each other to hold during the bad times even makes it more tolerable. At least for me," Andy said.
"What about your nightmares, Michael?" Becky looked at Dr Raburn and then at Michael.
"Well, I wish I could say I don't have them at all, but I do. But not every night now. Seems like, on the nights when Andy crawls in bed with me that I don't have them as much. It's not like when ever he's there they don't come, but every night they didn't come, Andy was sleeping in my bed."
"Are you boys having sex?" The room got very quiet.
Andy spoke, "We have just started to feel that way this morning. We mostly have just cuddled."
"You say you have just felt that way this morning, what does that mean?" Michael was feeling a little embarrassed having this conversation in front of the Doctor, let alone in front of Becky.
Andy jumped in again. Michael thought it odd how he could so easily talk about sex and having it. Not just having sex, but having sex with another boy. "Well, we were cuddling and just after, the firemen came in and I yelled at them. Michael came over to hold me. Then, I asked him if I could love him and he said yes. So I found his heart and then moved my mouth down and found his fire."
"Tell me about the firemen Andy," His brow furrowed.
Andy explained what was said and how he responded. "I'm so confused," Andy said. "I know he is a really good man and I shouldn't be angry, but I am. It's like he is responsible for this daily hell. I could experience this daily for the next eighty years. That's hard to wrap my head around. If he could have just let me go, I wouldn't hurt any more."
"Do you still want to die Andy?"
"Only once in a while. Now I've got Michael to help me and I know I have to hang around to help him. I don't think I will feel that way anymore. But why am I still angry at this man that tried so hard to bring me back? Why does the thought of forgiving him make me so angry? Doctor, when he came in to see how I was doing, I just blasted into him and he cried and hugged me, then walked out the door and quit his job. I should feel awful about that but I just can't."
"I think if he is willing, we should have him in and talk it out. You can tell him why you feel this way, but that you know he is good and there are a lot of people who want saved."
"You see, it's not him that you are angry with. It's Tad, for leaving and not taking you with him. I think you're just blaming it on him, because subconsciously you feel he has the power over life and death. You want him to change his mind and put you out of your misery. So you try and hurt him so he will undo what he did."
"Andy, he saved you because he knows what you've just found out. Other people depend on you. You will change other people's lives and every day you are alive, you touch someone else's. Tad's life ending early is tragic on so many levels. It is always sad when someone so good, so able to help others, leaves us early. And it was a senseless death. He didn't die being a hero. He didn't die from a car wreck. There is no one to blame it on. It was just an accident. Sometimes those are the hardest to deal with. So what do you think? Want to have a talk with him? You can even have Michael with you if that will make it easier. I think this is a big hurdle to jump, but I think it will help you get to a point where you'll be able to let your anger go and maybe then start to heal."
Andy thought for a few minutes, "Yes, I think I would like to talk to him."
"OK, you guys appear to be really good for each other, but I have to tell you that you are both very fragile right now. I'm a little concerned about your relationship. It isn't terribly strong, but you both are depending on it a lot. If your love falls apart for each other then you may do more harm than good. But you are both pretty smart. I think you have figured out that this is important for both of you. Having said that, I expect that your relationship is going to grow, not wane. So I would ask you to go slow. Don't rush things. Being gay, you were both tested for Aids and STD's when you came in, but still, I am ordering you both condoms and if you have sex, I want you to use them. I would rather you don't get that far yet, but if you are going to, then I want you to do it safely. I will let them know that cuddling has been approved for your mutual mental health, but this is not permission to have sex."
"I will check with the fireman and I will talk to Ms. Carmaletti. And, if I can have a few words with you Becky, out in the hall please?" He rose smiling, then, walked to the door. "She'll be back in just a few minutes, I promise."
It was a good day and an even better night. The boys got to visit with Becky and Toome. They found Markie in the dayroom playing cards with another boy. He was pleasantly having a giggle fest. Dr Raburn called back to say he would meet with them to talk with the fireman at ten in the morning.
It was now five till ten and the boys had just finished breakfast and got their ten o'clock meds. A knock came on the door and Dr Raburn came in, followed by Pat, the fireman. He didn't look as handsome as he did. It looked like he let himself go. He hadn't shaved, his hair was in need of cutting and his clothes were wrinkled. There wasn't any muscle tone and his face bore nothing that came close to a smile.
"Hi Andy, Michael. You remember Pat I am sure. Here Pat, have a seat here," he pushed a chair closer to Andy and Dr Raburn sat at the foot of the bed. "Pat, like I told you on the phone, Andy asked me to call you. I thought if we discussed why he feels the way he does, that we might find some healing. So Andy, why don't you start."
Andy sat up and dangled his feet so he could look at the young fireman. "I understand you quit being a fireman." Pat nodded. He was looking at the floor. "Pat, I am so sorry. I blamed you for bringing me back from . . . being dead. I only saw that if you had not done that, I would still be with my Tad. The doctor explained that in my mind I thought that since you had the power over life and death that maybe if I hated you enough, was mean enough to you, that I could change your mind and make you undo what you did. That I could make you re-kill me. Then I wouldn't feel the hurt and the pain every day. I understand that now and know that it is not only wrong, but that I really have reason to live. There are people I don't even know that are depending on me. I just haven't met them all yet. I met one," he took Michael's hand. "He needs me and if you had not saved me, I wouldn't be here to know his love or for him to know mine."
Pat looked up at the long silence and saw the tears in Andy's eyes. "I'm sorry I said those mean things to you Pat. Please forgive me. Please tell me you will go back and save more lives, help more people. Bill and Jerry told me how you fought for me to live and went beyond where others would have stopped. I still hurt, but it's not you that have caused it. It's just life sometimes. I lost sight of the love others had for me, how much they would miss me, how much they would hurt. You saved all those people from this kind of hell that I've had. I would never want any of those people to feel this. So you saved them too. I'm just so sorry." He slid off the bed and sat on Pat's lap uninvited and hugged him as his tears rolled off his face onto the young man's wrinkled shirt. "Please forgive me."
Pat took him in his arms and hugged him, "Sure Andy, I forgive you. Will you forgive me?"
"If there is, or were, anything to forgive you for, I would and do, certainly forgive you and I thank you for seeing beyond my grief and pain and doing what you knew was right. I know a lot of people who love me that I had no regard for. For that, I thank you."
Pat's eyes filled with water, "I never thought anyone would not want saved. Then I saw the depth of your hurt and your pain and I had to wonder if I really did you a favor. Your love for Tad was so deep for being so young. And then I played your words over and over in my head, eighty years of tears. I decided that I couldn't make that choice for anyone ever again."
Dr Raburn put a hand on his shoulder, "Pat, keep in mind that no one truly wants to die. And grief, although it stays with us, becomes more manageable with time. Always make the decision that you did with Andy. He has already touched lives that will forever be changed, simply by knowing him. You are one of them, just as he is one touched deeply by you, and your affect on his life. It is how lives are woven together. So, how about it? Will you go back and do what you do best? Who knows how many lives slipped past because you weren't there?" At this Andy's mouth fell open and tears ran down his face.
"Oh, Pat . . ." he stammered. His mouth moving but the words wouldn't come out. Then they came in the form of crying words, "I'm killing people . . .You're not there . . Because of me . . . Oh, Pat."
Pat took him and hugged him, "Nonsense, there are other paramedics out there who are really good." Lifting his chin up and looking at his sullen eyes. "And I'll be back out there again tomorrow. Don't you worry, you just work on getting yourself happy and well again. Maybe, when you get out of this place and get back on your feet, you can come by the station and see the place. Who knows, maybe someday you'll choose to help people too."
"I think I'd like that." Andy said, standing up off his lap and casually noticing that his hand remained around his waist and had slipped inside the slit back of his gown and his hand rested on his naked butt. He started to tent when the Doctor stood up. "Well, I have to get to another appointment. Guys, I think we made a major leap here. I think we may be getting ready to kick your butts out of this hotel in just a week or two. So I want you to think about that and I'll talk to you in a couple of days." He shook Pat's hand and walked with him out the door. Pat waved as he left, with a little wink and his eyes dropped momentarily to Andy's protruding tent pole.
"Wow, home." Andy thought for a moment as he slid his butt back up on the bed. Michael snuggled up to him.
"What you did was good." Michael said to him.
"I just get through one mess and find there are more that I can't fix."
"I don't get ya."
"How long has he been off work? How many people died because of what I said to him?"
"I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you this. We all make choices. He made the choice to quit. You didn't make it for him. Let's not make your life more complicated than it is. You can't make yourself responsible for his choices."
"That's pretty smart for a nut ball." Andy said with a little levity.
"Hey," he said. "I'm disturbed, not stupid. Besides, that's what they told me about my Dad. He made the choice. He has to live with it. I'm not responsible for his choices."
"Remind me to send your Dad a thank you note."
"What the fuck?"
"Hey, if he wasn't such a dick head, you may not have ended up here. But he did, so now you're here to help me. Sorry, but that is certainly at least a thank you note."
"Well, that sounds like you're endorsing what he did."
"How about if I just send him a card that says, `Thanks for being a dick head'?"
"That works. Hey, you really want me to come live with you?"
"Yeah, I think it would be good. It isn't going to be easy. I'll see Tad in everything. I'll be a wreck."
"Can I ask you a question?" Michael asked.
"Sure. If we're going to make this work, we have to be able to ask each other anything and get an honest answer. So ask me anything."
"Do you think Tad would approve of me moving into your life? I mean, with all these problems I have?"
"I don't know. I can only say that if it was the other way around, and God, I wish it was, that I would want someone like you to be with him. Tad had so much goodness in him. I couldn't bear to see him alone and in this misery. So, I guess the answer to that has to be yeah. He loved me and knows I need you."
"What about Terry?" Andy asked. "Would he approve of me?"
"I don't know. I didn't know him well enough to say. We met and had sex. Love was too far away from us. That would have required that there was acceptance, or at least a little tolerance. I think I could have loved him and maybe he could have loved me too. But we settled for what we could get - sex. As it turned out, even that ended up killing him and almost me."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. There are some real assholes out there."
"How did your mom find out?" Michael asked.
"Well, that's a long story. For that I would have to go back a long ways. Let's do that one tomorrow. Right now, it's about two thirty. We shouldn't see nurses, doctors or anyone else for at least an hour or two. You want to take a shower?"
"You saying I need one," Michael started sniffing his pits.
"Yeah, you do. That first day I laid here looking at that butt hanging out of that sexy gown all day. Now I think I wouldn't mind washing them buns of yours."
Michael's eyes lit up, "OH! That kind of shower."
Andrew paused reaching for the button, "HEY! What are you doing?"
"I was just going to call Nurse Jackie for the condoms."
He took Andy by the hands and led him towards the bathroom, "And if she wants to try and fit them? What if she wants to measure them for size?" The bathroom door closed. They had already figured out that Terry was his first, and Tad was Andy's. And Terry was a virgin and had no other relationships. They decided to go bareback.
Andy helped him untie his gown, and then Michael did the same. It was a big shower with two showerheads and a bench to sit on. It had bars to hang onto. Probably for old people, he thought. Andy reached in and turned on the water. "You like it hot, cold or what?"
Michael was staring at Andy's butt as he leaned in to turn on the water. He had never had time to study Terry or even enjoy him. It was always quick sex and gone. He didn't even hear the question. Andy glanced over and saw his gaze, and then saw what was in his hand. He wiggled his butt, and Michael gasped and realized he was caught. He turned completely red.
Andy stood up and turned around. Putting his arms around his neck, he kissed him and it was apparent that this was relatively new to him, but he caught on quick and his breathing even got quicker. "Just how gay are you?" Andy asked with a smile, his rod probing his as they got near.
"Completely," he kissed Andrew, this time taking the lead.
Andy was laughing, "Hey, I'm not going to get away, slow up, calm down. How many times did you and Terry fuck?"
"Well, exactly . . . once, and it hurt like hell. We didn't know about the need for lube until after. We mainly jacked each other off or sucked each other off. We did that a lot. But the park, you know, ah, you can't run with your pants down."
"I never thought about that. Well, we're going to go slow here, so neither one of us get's hurt. And both of us enjoy it. Let's start with a lot of soap and just explore and enjoy each others bodies." He soaped up his hands and started to wash his chest. He soaped his nipples and they perked up quickly. He reached around and soaped up his back as he leaned against his chest. Michael reciprocated by washing his back gently. Andy ran his hands down and over his buns watching his face and closed eyes carefully. He rubbed his dick against his and he paused and moaned.
Andy's fingers explored his butt crack and brushed across his sphincter. He shivered. Andy repeated it, he shivered again. Andy moved his hand up and wiggled his finger against his brown rose and pushed until he felt that familiar pop. He wiggled it again against the top of his ring; Michael stopped everything and laid his arms across Andy's shoulders.
Andy moved his finger in when he felt it relax. He found what he was looking for and he rubbed his finger against the prostate and Michael whimpered. He did it again and Michael moaned and started moving his hips. Andy wiggled his finger again and smiled when he whimpered and shuddered again. Andy took his finger out and his eyes opened. "No. You can't stop. You have to go on."
Andy smiled and turned him around over the bench and soaped his ass up as well as his dick. He moved up and first rubbed his dick against his perineum and then up his but crack until he got to the point of entry.
"I'm going to push in a little and it's going to hurt just a little. But I'll stop there until you relax a bit and get used to it. Just don't tighten up. In fact, push back like you're trying to take a dump or something. But breathe out and relax." He pushed in and felt his ring give way and he stopped just as his head passed through. Michael came up. "No, don't tighten up, it'll hurt more. Just let it happen. Breathe out and relax your muscles." Andrew massaged his butt with his thumbs and felt the muscles relax. "Good. Now I'm going to move a little at a time, just stay relaxed." He pushed forward and heard him gasp. He paused a moment and went in more. He pushed the rest of the way in and said,
"There, I'm all the way inside ya. Are you alright?" He nodded the affirmative. "OK then, here we go. You tell me if it hurts and I'll stop ok?" He nodded. Andy pulled back almost to the head and he went wild. He pushed back in to it. "Well, okay then. I guess we're to the feeling good phase," and he reached around and found his tool and gave it a soaping. He gasped and grabbed the rails to hang on. Andy started to move circling his ass with each thrust. Michael went limp and dropped to his knees, taking Andy with him. "Hey, go easy there, Michael. I almost popped out." Andy decided to take him to town and he jacked him as he punched him, and as they went on, he felt Michael's girth increase in his hand, so he stopped and kissed his neck.
"You stopped, why did you stop?" Michael asked.
"So it felt better when I did this," and he moved his hips ever so slowly. Wave after wave hit him as Andy focused the head of his dick across his prostate gland.
"Oh, God." he moaned, "I never knew it could be like this." Andy decided it was time and he flipped on the switch under the sign that said rabbit fuck. Michael went into scream overload as his dick spurt load after load and the contractions on his ass muscles set off a major orgasm in Andy. He thrust forward, driving home with everything he had, again and again. And the door opened . . .
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