Michael and Andy ran from the glade, eager to get back into the warmth of the house. They ran so fast that they didn't notice Randal tucked away behind the trees. He had heard their love making and went back to see what the screaming was about. What he saw transfixed his gaze. He couldn't stop, he couldn't look away, he couldn't move. He wasn't even sure he was still breathing. He watched until they finished and started their way back home. Slipping behind a tree, Randal hoped they wouldn't see him as they passed nearby. He was breathing hard and that wasn't all that was hard. His dick was harder than he could ever remember. It hurt the skin, it was so stretched.
As soon as they passed, he dropped to his knees there in the glen. His hand quickly dug for and found his steel and pried it out of his jeans. Closing his eyes, Randal envisioned their love making again, trying to remember every detail. There it was, feeling it in his imagination as he was being pulled back onto the fiery staff. As his hand began to work his boyhood up and down, he gripped it tightly, feeling that is how it must have felt to Andy. His breath came in short heavy gasps that matched the pounding his fist made against his fully loaded pubic mound. His speed increased as his hand became a blur. A trembling shiver rolled through the young boy's body as he prepared to deliver. The fire built, he could feel its pressure climbing higher in his staff, fighting to escape. The explosion occurred, a world revelation delivered in fractions. He fell over on his side, gasping for air that he had traded minutes ago for that touch of God. And at that moment, he was a true believer.
He wasn't sure how long his orgasm lasted, but he was sure that if it went any longer he would be unconscious, due to lack of oxygen. Any questions he may have had earlier about the kind of sex he wanted and what he may have been vanished like his watery cum in the damp fall leaves.
He lay there in that cold breeze with his jeans around his knees and sobbed. "Oh God, I don't want to be gay."
"Markie, who is Chandler? You mean Randal, the new kid?"
"You mean hardware boy? No, that's my new friend's name."
"What new friend you talkin' about? I didn't meet no one new."
"That's the name I gave to Mrs. May's goat."
"You named the goat? Markie, that just ain't healthy. It's one thing to hump a little live stock, I mean everybody does it at one time or nuther, but namin' him just ain't quite right."
"He's a kid, ain't he?" Markie said, getting a little angry. "Every kid has a name. What if we just called you kid. How bout that? No, you wouldn't like that, would ya? No siree Bob, you wouldn't settle fer it. So I named him Chandler. Chandler Mays and that's that." Markie said, with all the might he had within him.
"Markie, what are ya going to do when we has ta go back home? We gotta get back to school and I reckon pretty soon. And ya know, sooner or later, Chandler is going to end up on the Mays' dinner table."
Markie froze in his tracks and turned on Toome. "There ain't no way Mrs. Mays is gonna eat Chandler. We is friends now, I'll hide `im if'n I have to. And I ain't going back to school anyways. They cain't learn me nothing I don't ready know. I got numberin' and readin' and writin' even if it ain't that good. We can live in the glade and you can bring us food."
"You are nuts, you know that, right?"
"Ya, I `spect I am. We just become such good friends."
"I can see that. He's getting pretty hard there with you pettin' him like that. Hell, rub me like that and I'LL be yer friend too. Come on, let's go get some lunch. I'm hungry."
"Hey boys, we gotta talk. Now, I know you just got home and you're still getting your footing, but this is Saturday and Monday is right around the corner. We either need to enroll Michael and get you back in there, or we need to get more homework so you don't get further behind. So, you talk it over and let me know what you want to do.
"Sure Mom, we'll talk it over tonight and let you know. Hey, look at this," Andy said, dragging out all the notes and cards and pictures from his shirt.
"Where did all these come from?" she asked, smiling and picking up a couple to begin reading.
"They were left in the glen," he said, quietly looking at the pile in front of her. "I haven't read them all yet. I thought going there was going to be really difficult, but when I got there and saw these, I couldn't be sad. He touched too many lives to be sad."
Becky gave him a puzzling look like she didn't understand but didn't want to ask.
"Momma, look here," he said, picking up a note from the stack and reading it to her.
"Dear Tad, I hurt because you are gone. I'm not gay, but you taught me that those who are, are seeking the same things as we do. Someone to hold you, that's all. Anyone who could see you with Andy knew that what you two had is what we are all seeking. Of course, for me it would be with a girl, but I hope to find one who loves me as much as you love Andy or he loves you. Before you came out, I thought all gay guys talked all sissy-like. There wasn't anything girl-like about either one of you. I'll miss you man.
"Momma, they saw us as one person. I mean, shit, I'm not explaining this very well, am I? It's hard to put into words."
Michael piped up, "Andy, you mean they saw that you two were so perfect that you acted on everything in concert. So, in a way, they are all saying these things about you too."
"YES! That's it exactly. Don't you see Momma? He can live on through me. I just have to carry on the way I think he would have and he will live on through me."
Becky smiled and pulled him in as they both wept. Becky knew this was a turning point for him. He was adding closure. He wouldn't watch for the shadows to move anymore.
Michael could see if it went on it would turn sad, so he placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "Let's go soak in that hot tub like you said. I'm still freezing." Andy stood up and smiled at Michael.
"You know just when enough is enough, don't you? Come on," he said, taking him by the hand and leading him upstairs. Becky looked at all the cards and pictures as she gathered them all up and placed them in a drawer in the china hutch.
"Oh, that feels so good," Michael said, settling down in the tub.
"Here, just sit down in front of me and lean back. Yeah, just like that." Michael soaped up his hands and ran them caressingly over Andy's chest, just barely touching his nipples and raking gently down over his young, hard abs. Andy's stomach muscles rolled with his touch and he giggled and scrunched his knees up and snuck his hands behind him searching for a hand full of anything he could find.
"Hey! Haha! Hey, watch out now," Michael said, laughing with a big toothy grin. Both boys settled down in the hot tub and relaxed, enjoying the warmth and the cuddling.
"Well, what do you think?" Andy said.
"What do I think about what?"
"School. You ready to try it?"
"I haven't really thought that far ahead. What will we tell them? We met in the nut house and fell in love?"
"How about telling them that you and I have both lost a great part of our lives and are finding strength from each other?"
"Damn, you make it sound so easy."
"Look, there will be some kids that will be friendly and some that won't. But it is easier to be and make friends when you are building it on truth. Tad taught me that you can't change yourself or your way of life just to please one of the idiots. If you do, then you'll never run out of idiots that want you to change for them and their ideas of how it should be. It isn't always easy. In fact, sometimes it is a royal pain in the ass. But it is easier in the long run to just be you. Those that don't agree will at least respect you for sticking to your beliefs, especially if you don't have to put down their way of life to preserve yours."
"Yeah, but what about the dick heads?"
"Tell me how you can live and not have dick heads? Either way, you have them, so you might as well have them with your own life style. Look, you can tell them anything you want and I'll support you, but I prefer to just tell them the truth and live with what we get. But, I'm not the only one that affects, so tell me what you want to do."
Michael thought for a few moments. Andy heard him breathe out like he had held his breath.
"Michael, what's really wrong here?"
Michael didn't answer. "Come on, the waters getting cold. Let's go to bed," Michael said, getting up and out from behind Andy. He dried himself and rushed across the landing and climbing in the bed under the covers. Andy followed closely behind. He climbed in to find Michael curled up in a ball facing away from Andy. Andy snuggled in and spooned him. It was quiet for the next few minutes until their body heat built up and the covers weren't chilled and crisp feeling. Michael stretched out. Andy rolled him back and climbed between his legs resting his mound against Michael's.
Andy supported himself on his elbows and touched his nose to Michael's. Then he kissed him lightly, laying his body fully on top of his and resting his cheek against the smoothness of Michael's soft, warm cheek. He whispered, "Michael, talk to me. I don't understand what is going on."
"Andy, I wasn't out before I met you. I'm scared. I only came out to Terry and you and it killed him. Andy, I have seen the way things are at school when you're out. It scares me. It scares me a lot."
"All I can say is this Michael; it was only hard for us at first. Then, it was only once in a while we ran into some stupid ass hole. But Tad and I always stood together and it was easier. You know we don't have to do it now, we can get homework for a while longer, but it will not get easier. Another option is for me to go back and for Mom to home school you. You don't have to do it now, or ever, if you don't want to."
"You mean that you would go back without me?"
"I need to get back to a normal kind of life. As much as it hurts, I know the sooner I do the better life will get. It will never get easy, but it will get harder the longer I wait. Besides, those letters show me that I have friends on both sides of the aisle."
"Yeah, but everyone knows about you already."
"Michael, they have never met you. This is a totally different school. You could act like everybody knows already. Who would know you were new to it?"
"I don't get it. Where's the benefit to that?"
"Michael, they only give you a hard time if you come out new or act timid. Just act like you've been out for years and everybody knows it. Then they'll leave you alone."
"Will that work?"
"Well probably not, but it sounded great, didn't it?"
"Andy, do you have any idea how fucked up that was?"
"Michael, here is the bottom line. You're gay. What is it that you want? Do you want me to magically `un-gay' you? Look, even if you don't openly admit it, they will probably figure it out when I stop you in the hall and kiss you like this, "kiss" or when I press you against the lockers and rub my cock against yours, like this. And, when you grab my ass like that and start rubbing back, I think they may figure it out, don't you?"
"Must you talk so much?" Michael said, pulling him into a kiss and starting to buck against him almost involuntarily.
Andy kissed him deeply and ground against him as his tongue danced with his too. Their bucking became synchronous and rapid. Their breathing became ragged as their kiss broke. Andy's head went up as he arched upwards extending his arms against the mattress. He ground his rock-hard, boy-rod firmly against his lovers as they both began to scream out a release.
"That was one, right?" Becky asked Gladys.
"I don't think it counts yet, the sun ain't gone down. This is just a lunchtime quickie, isn't it?"
"Hard to tell. Damn teenagers. Was it always like this? I never remember this much activity when I was young."
"I can't remember this much in all my years."
"Where did we go wrong?"
"Well, in my day, a young lady couldn't get laid in a men's prison with a pocket full of pardons. Without a wedding ring, it just wasn't done. That was the rule."
"In my high school years, we did a lot of heavy petting, but never did the "home run" except with the one we figured we would marry. Of course, sometimes we were wrong, but nothing like this. Maybe it's a gay thing. I mean, they don't have to worry about getting pregnant or anything. And they certainly don't get slowed down by that time of the month. Hell, I don't think anything would slow these boys down. Especially that Toome, I've never seen such an appetite in a man." Becky said, grinning.
"What do you think, Shepherds Pie for dinner?" Gladys said, as they slowly walked back to the kitchen.
"I think they'll love it. Toome and Markie should be back soon, too. Hester called and wanted to know if they could stay a bit and go to school here. Seems they broke the principle's spirit and the school board doesn't want Toome OR the principle back. They said replacing him is going to cost a bundle. She's willing to send money to pay their way. I told her it ain't all up to me. It would be putting a bit on you as well. And I don't know how you feel if it will help, or hurt, them boys either."
"Well, it certainly won't get boring for us, with them around. And everybody here already knows them so . . . sure, why not."
"I'll call Hester later then, when the rates go down. We can tell the boys at dinner."
"You find out what's for lunch Markie. I gotta go take a whiz." Toome said, heading for the bathroom downstairs.
"Where's Andy and Michael, Aunt Gladys?"
"I think they are taking a nap, Markie."
"Oh," Markie said, looking around to make sure Toome wasn't standing near. "What's for lunch?"
"How about sandwiches? We are having Shepherds Pie for dinner."
"Great. Um, Toome is washing up. He'll be here in a moment. Just tell him I went to wash up upstairs, would ya? I'll wake the boys up for lunch. No need to tell 'im that part. I'm not needin' any help."
"What do you want on your. . .Why, where'd that little rascal go?" Gladys turned around to see that he vanished.
"They're fast, this bunch," Becky said, smiling. "What do you suppose he's up to?"
"Looks to me like he's trying to get a step up on his brother."
"What d'ya mean, a step up?" Toome asked. "Where's Markie?"
"I think he went up to wash his hands. Come on in and have a seat. What do ya want on your sandwich?" Gladys asked, shoving a glass of milk in from of Toome.
"Where's Andy and Michael?"
"They was takin' a nap. Your brother is wakin' them. Should be down any minute."
Toome instinctively pushed his chair back and turned like he was about to bolt, but paused and turned back to his drink. Becky and Gladys both took notice. Any other time, he would have been up those steps to get his share.
"You alright?" Becky asked, her brow furrowed a little. "Not like you to be sitting when there's boys to be waken up."
"I expect Markie can do it with out me." Toome said, taking a sip of his milk, but moving his head to try and look up the stairs from his seat. "Been thinkin', maybe I need to slow down a bit, give Markie a chance to catch up, ya know. Besides, too much Toome can spoil a boy. Wouldn't want them two ta go mental, if I decide to pull back a bit."
"You thinkin' of turning over a new leaf, or sumpin'?" Gladys asked, with a raised eyebrow. "Maybe a new girl in town?"
"Hey, you can torture me to hell, but the Toome don't never kiss and tell."
"So you gonna just sit there and let Markie get your share?" Gladys needled a little more.
"What you think, I'm an addict or sumpin'?"
"Toome, the word is "something" not sumpin'. You want a respectable relationship, you're going to have to work on your language a bit." Becky corrected. "We'll have to work on that a bit over the next few weeks. Heck, in no time, we can have you speaking right as rain."
"What do ya mean, over the next few weeks? We'll be headed home tomorrow."
"Nope, seems the school doesn't want you back."
"Bet they didn't ask the principle if he wanted me back."
"That's just it Toome. You have to stop draining the principle."
"Well, how am I supposed to get out of trouble then?"
"Well, why not try behaving and not getting into trouble in the first place."
"Hey, can I help it if I'm a trouble magnet? I can get into a beef without even trying. Just sittin' there. Nex' thing you know, you'll be telling me I have ta leave them teachers alone too."
"Well, of course you do. Toome, it may surprise you, but most kids never see any of there teachers private parts."
"How do you get them to give you passin' grades then?"
"You could try doing the work, you know."
"Na, did that for pert near two weeks. It was right hard to get a handle on it. Be easier if they asked me questions `bout stuff I know."
"But Toome, you wouldn't learn anything then. Ask Andy and Michael, they'll tell you. If you want to impress somebody, boy or girl, you have got to be able to articulate properly and speak with a little class."
"Well if I knew what ticulate meant, I'm sure I could do it, if I put my mind to it. But when it comes to ticulatin' and stuff, that's usually sumpin' Markie does better. Sheeze, he gets top marks and doesn't get his knees dirty at all."
"I can see we have a lot of work to do. Your momma wants you boys to stay for a while and go to school here where they know about you. So, none of your tricks, Ms. Peckum won't take it."
"Dang, Ol pickyass Peckum, forgot `bout her."
"Hey, I'll thank you to watch your mouth, young man. We don't appreciate that kind of talk round here."
"Yes'm. I'm sorry, Aunt Gladys."
"Here comes the boys now, that was quick." Becky whispered to Gladys.
"Come on in and grab a seat. Andy, why don't you get glasses and Michael, you can pour the milk. Markie, you get some paper plates."
"Markie, we spoke to your mama and she thinks you boys need to go to school here for a bit, cause the school don't want your brother back. So Michael, would it be alright if they just stayed in that other room since you don't spend no time there anyways?"
"Yes ma'am. That would be just fine. I don't mind sleeping in with Andy at all."
"Yes, well, imagine our surprise. Just keep in mind, when your social worker shows up that you sleep alone!"
"Oh yes ma'am. No worries there."
"So, what about school? You boys talk about it yet?"
"Well, we've talked about it, but we just haven't come to any decisions yet. I mean, I am ready to go back, but we're not sure if it is the right thing for Michael."
"Something you want to talk about Michael? We're always here for you." Becky sat down at the table, her brow furrowed a little as she sipped her coffee.
"Momma, it's just that . . . well, no one knows about him yet and he's scared. See, the only ones he told were me and the boy who died in front of him. So, he's afraid and I don't know how to help him. Maybe Dr Raburn knows what to say."
"That's a pretty tough one. No one can make that decision but Michael. The world is a scary place. Perhaps Dr. Raburn can help. Do you want me to give him a call, Michael?"
"I'm not scared when I'm with Andy. Do you think we could get us in the same classes? If I could be next to Andy then I'm sure I could do it. I mean, Andy's . . . umm, he's that way too and if he's ok, then I guess I would be too."
Andy turned to Michael, "You can't say it, can you? You said it to Dr. Raburn."
"Yeah, but nowhere else."
"Try it now. Say it."
"I'm . . . I'm. . . I can't."
"Sure you can, just say, `I'm gay.'" Andy said, looking sternly at him.
"WHAT!" Toome said. "I've been draining him all this time and he's a queer!"
Everyone froze and looked at Toome with their mouths gapping open.
"Man, wish someone woulda told me. Heck, I could mighta catched sumpin. How's a guy supposed to tell? He don't sound sissified at all. That's just wrong."
Everyone just stared.
Michael's eyes were huge, the silence was deafening. Then, Michael burst into laughter, which in turn triggered an avalanche of laughter. Everyone was laughing, except Toome, of course. Toome just looked at everyone. Then he looked at Markie who leaned forward and whispered into his cupped hands at Toome's ear. Toome's eyes grew large.
"I AM?" he said, looking at Markie. "I'm not going to go limp wristed or anything, am I? Shit, why didn't someone tell me?"
At this point, people were in tears, laughing so hard.
"Dang! What's everybody laughin' for? I think I need a little recipe. Hey, this ain't funny! Imagine wakin' up and findin' out YOU were gay!"
The laughter became almost unbearable.
"Michael! That's the problem." Andy said, grabbing his arm. "You're just a queer. Instead, you should try being gay, like him!" And the laughter broke out again.
"Hello Michael, have a seat. I'm Jane Wisecup and I'm going to be your counselor. We have your transcripts, so let's see what we can do here. I see you are staying with Andy Harter."
"Yes ma'am, we met in the hospital and Ms. Harter here was kind enough to take me in. I would like the same classes as Andy please. I'm still pretty frightened at times and, well, if I am with him, I'm sure everything will be fine."
"What have you to be frightened of Michael?"
Michael's eyes started to pond up, "I watched my . . . my friend, get murdered because he was gay."
"Oh dear, I'm so sorry." Ms. Wisecup said, placing her hand on top of his. He pulled it out from under hers almost instantly. "Were you very close?"
Michael took a breath in and looked at Becky, then back at Ms. Wisecup. Then, as he looked at the floor, he whispered, "Yes, he was my boyfriend." The words fell off his lips and he realized how empty they were. He missed Terry and being back at school reminded him that he was absent from his life once again. His face scrunched up, his lips pressed hard together and he began sobbing. Becky leaned forward and placed her hand on his shoulder and he launched himself off his chair and into her arms.
Ms. Wisecup paused for a moment and looked at him, sobbing in the firm embrace of Becky Harter. She smiled and said, "It's alright Michael, lots of kids are gay. And we have a zero tolerance for harassment. You will find that you are safe here. If you have any problems I want you to come to me or the principal right away. Now, let's see what schedule Andy has."
"Look Andy, I did it! And, we have all the same classes except, well, auto mechanics and woodworking. I hate to get my hands greasy and I couldn't work a hammer and saw to save my soul, so I took something cleaner."
"What did you take?"
"I took, umm, Home Economics and Sewing."
"Oh, well, that is pretty macho. They'll never figure out your secret there. And hey, you're going to make someone a fine wife someday."
Michael punched him in the arm. "You fuck, don't start in on me."
"Hey, loosen up there, baby, your too tiiiiiight!" Andy said, lowering his voice, trying to sound like James Brown as he gave Michael a pat on his ass.
Michael's eyes got huge and they both burst into laughter.
Andy took his hand, "God, how I love to see you smile." He kissed him long, slow and deep right there in the middle of the cafeteria. Michael couldn't help himself. He was helpless and kissed him back.
Whoops rang out as everyone started to take notice, and the noise grew as it spread across the room. The boys broke apart. Michael's eyes met Andy's.
"Shit." Michael said. "Why'd you do that?"
"Remind me later tonight to tell you how I came out. You'll understand then."
"Great for later, but what do I do now?"
"Just a guess, but I'd say get a tray and let's have some lunch. If you thought coming out was tough, wait until you taste the food."
The boys got their trays and headed for a table.
"Didn't take you long to get over Tad, did it?" One boy said as he went by.
"Shit," Andy said. "Better clear this up quick. Sorry Michael, but I think some kind of announcement needs to be made."
"Announcement? Like what?"
"You know, about you and me."
"What about you and me?"
"Michael, these people all knew Tad. He was special. Right now, I expect a lot of them think I am betraying his love. I need to say something."
"Like the truth."
"Andy, you go ahead, but I don't think I can."
"Will you be alright through this? Can I tell them about your loss?"
"Andy, this is so fucked up."
"Yeah, I know and it's my fault. I didn't think about this. I'm sorry. But, now we are here."
"Ok, as long as I'm with you, I'm OK."
Andy smiled and kissed him on the cheek as he stood up on his seat and looked around.
"Can I have everyone's attention, please?" He paused for a minute. He figured he would have to repeat it but to his surprise the room went silent. All eyes were upon him.
"Thanks. Look, I know a lot of you knew Tad. Some of you liked him and some didn't, but everyone knew that he loved me and I loved him." He paused for a moment, expecting to hear a snide remark from someone, but none came forth.
"No one took it harder than me. It was a freak accident that I thought ruined my life. He died in my arms. I never thought the pain would go away. It hurt so bad. . . " He paused and drew a breath as his eyes welled up. Two huge tears fell down his face. "I hurt so bad, I didn't want to live anymore. I was blinded by my grief and did something really stupid and almost succeeded. I died four times that night. The first was when Tad died in my arms, something inside me died too. The next one was when I plunged into the icy pool that I was sure would steal my breath, and it did. The next two occurred as I fought to join him by not wanting to live as they worked to resuscitate me. When I came to, I was in a hospital and really pissed." The bell rang, nobody moved. Not the teachers, not the students. Nobody.
"They pumped me full of drugs to make me no longer care about anything, but they still needed to give me a reason to live. I still had none. I was alone inside my head and nothing mattered except that I was looking at another seventy or eighty years of feeling this way. One day, the doctor who was trying to help me sort it all out, brought a boy into the room and announced that I had a room mate. It was the last thing I needed. All he would tell me was that this boy had lost more than I did. A lot more. I couldn't see how that was possible. Then, night time came. I heard the boy next to me relive his horror. You see, this boy lost everything he loved, in one afternoon. Not just his lover. He lost his lover, his older and only brother and what was left of his family, his Dad. His lover and his brother were murdered as he looked on. Murdered by two boys who hated anything different than what they saw as normal. And he was helpless to do anything about it. And, what was worse, feeling all the time that it was his fault for loving them both. His father blamed him for the death of his brother and turned his back on him forever. This boy was more alone and in more pain than I could ever dream of. When I heard his screams in the night, I went to his side and held him. And when he heard my sobs, when the sadness overtook me, he put aside his pain to hold me. We still find strength in each other. We love each other, but not the way that I loved Tad, or Tad loved me. Not the way that Michael loved Terry, or the way Terry loved him. We are more like brothers in our pain. So, our love for each other gets us through each day. One day at a time." Andy looked down at Michael and extended his hand to him. Michael reluctantly reached for it and stood.
"This is Michael and I do love him deeply. He is afraid right now. The last time he loved anyone publicly tragedy entered his life and turned his world into a daily hell. Please, even if you hate gays, please . . . don't pick on him. This one has more pain than any person on Earth should ever have to endure in an entire lifetime. Right now, all he wants is to go to school, learn something and maybe allow a little of life to occupy a bit of his misery. Maybe even find a friend or two. He simply wants to live and not be afraid. I kinda want that too. One more thing you should know. Tad came to me in a dream and placed my hand in Michael's and smiled before disappearing. I'm not replacing Tad. I'm trying to survive without him. Thanks."
Before stepping down, he looked up and around the room. Most of the eyes were wet or red and even the group he expected to give him grief had been touched. Buster got up to leave, his eyes met Andy's. He just nodded to Andy and left, his group following behind him.
Teachers began to chivvy students to their classes as Andy stepped down off the seat he had been using as his soap box.
Michael hugged him, weeping softly. "How is it that you are so strong?"
"I'm only strong because I needed to be, for you. I'm so sorry I put you into this position." Michael wiped the tears from his eyes and looked up into Andy's. He leaned forward and kissed him deeply.
"Andrew Harter, you and your friend in my office, please." It was Ms. Peckum, the principle.
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