The following contains scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your jurisdiction or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please read no further. The characters portrayed in this story may engage in behaviors that would today be considered unwise and unsafe. The author does not encourage such behavior; nor does he condone the violation of any laws. Please respect yourself and your partners. Please do not copy or distribute this story without the knowledge or permission of the author.

If you would like to read other works by me, go to the Nifty Home Page and click on the FreeThinker link under Prolific Authors. All characters in the story are fictional and any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This is fiction and a fantasy. It did not happen.

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Thank you so much for reading my story and for the wonderful support you have given me over the last three years. Special thanks to Bill L for his invaluable help.

This is the final chapter of Courage and Passion. I am so grateful for the many emails I have received and for the support and encouragement you have given me. It is greatly appreciated and I value every email I have received. Thank you so much. And, now, the final chapter of:

Courage and Passion

by FreeThinker

Chapter Fifteen

Dawn After Dark

Robby looked nervously out the window of the Providence Avenue bus as it rumbled north through the neighborhood past Sheffield College. It was approaching the expressway that, like the Berlin Wall, divided the city in half, separating the affluent and mostly white south side from the slums and ghettoes of the north side. Beyond the overpass the bus was approaching, he could see a frightening looking brick building, its windows covered with iron bars. He looked to his left. Sean was watching through the bus's windshield. His face was inscrutable, but Robby knew there were emotions seething inside the boy. Across the aisle of the bus, Matt sat with his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans, watching the scenes outside the windows changing and becoming more dismal and depressing.

They rumbled through the underpass and the motor's echo seemed to vibrate throughout the bus. There were unintelligible graffiti on the walls of the underpass and some ill-dressed people standing about the support columns underneath the expressway, frightening to Robby and eliciting sympathy from Sean. When they emerged from the other side, Robby stood and pulled the cord. A bell rang in the front of the bus and the driver pulled over to the curb. The three boys stood and made their way past the elderly black women riding the bus to their small homes and apartments from their jobs cleaning the homes of the affluent white people around Lake Windermere and the neighboring areas. The bus driver looked curiously at them as they stood at the front awaiting his opening of the door.

"Are you boys sure you want off here?" he asked uncertainly. Matt nodded and pushed Robby and Sean forward. The three climbed down the steps and stood on the filthy sidewalk as the bus rumbled away in a black cloud of diesel fumes. Sean coughed as Robby looked across the street. Every few feet, there were crumbling red brick columns connected with torn and tattered chain link. Beyond were several small wooden and brick buildings in which the windows had been broken out and on which graffiti had been painted. Beyond them rose the taller, more imposing edifice the boys had seen from the other side of the expressway. Sean stood frozen, gazing in horror and revulsion at the buildings.

"Granddad was trapped there for six years."

Matt put a hand on his shoulder as Robby turned and looked at the row houses running along the side of the street on which they stood.

"We need number 24 N. Providence Avenue. I think it's up there," he said pointing further up the street.

"I think we need to hurry," said Sean looking back toward the underpass. Several older men of indeterminate race and decrepit dress were emerging from the shadows. Matt watched them and as they reached the corner, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a switch blade. He held it up and pushed a button. As the blade snapped open, the men froze.

"Move it," he said to Robby and Sean as he stood facing the men, who suddenly put up their hands and backed off. "Now. Get going."

Sean and Robby walked quickly up the street, though Sean looked nervously back at Matt, who had calmly closed his knife and put it back in his pocket. He was following, though looking backward occasionally to let the men know he was still on his guard.

As they walked up the steps to number 24, Sean turned to Matt and demanded, "What are you doing with a switchblade?"

"Protecting your ass. You don't really think I'd let you and Ronald MacDonald wonder around the north side without protection, do you?"

Robby raised a grateful eyebrow as Sean shuddered and looked nervously down the street. The afternoon sun was sinking behind the tall edifice of the abandoned Sheffield State Hospital across the street.

"We need to hurry," he whispered as they awaited an answer to Robby's knock.

"Yeah," Matt agreed. "My knife's not gonna do much after dark."

Robby took a deep breath as the sounds of footsteps emanated from behind the door. A scared face appeared in the small window of the door as bony, gnarled fingers gingerly pulled back a dirty, tattered curtain. Robby could see a nervous eye scrutinizing them.

"What do you want?" a weak and elderly voice demanded. "I'm not buying anything."

"We're not selling anything," Robby said loudly, but politely. "We would like to talk to you, if we can, please."

The eye continued to examine them as they stood uncertainly on the porch. Matt continued to watch the welcoming committee down the street and Sean was nervously clutching his hands.

"What about?"

Robby swallowed.

"Please, may we come in? It's very important. It's about the State Hospital."

The eye continued to watch them. Robby was about to say, "Please," one more time when the curtain moved and the eye disappeared. Helplessly, he looked at Sean and Matt. Then, suddenly, there was a click behind the door, followed by another, and another. They watched expectantly until the door slowly opened.

A withered, frightened face appeared. The man's hair was gray and thin, his eyes weak behind gold wire-rimmed glasses. His plaid shirt was buttoned to the top and he wore a torn and frazzled gray wool sweater.

"You had better come in," the man muttered as he looked the three boys over.

Robby flinched at the smell of scotch on the man's breath, but smiled politely and replied, "Thank you," as he led the others into a hot, stifling living room. The smell of food and the heat of the room were almost nauseating to Robby, but he kept his thoughts to himself as the man pointed to an ancient couch in front of the window. The three boys sat close together on the couch as the man took a chair before the ancient black-and-white television. The afternoon movie was showing, something with Bing Crosby as a priest. On a TV tray beside the man's chair rested a TV Guide, several plastic medicine bottles, and a glass half full of a brown colored liquid.

"What do you boys want to know?"

"Dr. Marsden," Robby began uncertainly, "my name is Robby McDonnell and this is Matt Hunter and Sean Lindquist. Sean's grandfather was a patient in the State Hospital many years ago and we were wondering if you might be able to tell us something about his stay there."

The man looked down at the floor and coughed, a long, phlegmy cough, before recovering enough to speak.

"There were so many people in the hospital and I was there for over forty years. Besides, boys, I can't talk about the patients we took care of. There are rules about privacy."

Robby nodded.

"We understand, sir. But, perhaps there might be something you could tell us. His name is Anders Lindquist and he was at the hospital from 1918 to 1924. He was ordered to the hospital by Judge Thornton Dietrich because..." he looked at Sean who nodded, "because the judge called him a homosexual. Do you remember him?"

Obviously, Dr. Marsden did remember him, for his eyes grew wide and his mouth opened.

"Yes. Yes. Andy Lindquist. Oh, yes, I remember him. Oh, boys, that was such a tragedy, such an injustice. Young man," he said looking at Sean, who squeezed his hands tightly together, "they had no business putting your grandfather in that hell-hole. There was nothing wrong with him when he came in, though God knows there was when he left."

"What do you mean?" Robby asked breathlessly. The man frowned and shook his head.

"I... I can't say anything. I'm sorry. You boys had better go before it gets dark."

"Please!" said Robby insistently. "It's very important. We know Judge Dietrich ordered Mr. Lindquist to the hospital. We think he did it out of spite for his son, at his son's request. His son is now a judge, Judge Gavin Dietrich, and he's still doing the same kinds of things. We have to stop him and if you know anything that can help us, we would be very grateful if you could tell us. Please, sir. Please."

The man shook his head.

"At this point, it would just be my word and that was forty-five years ago. You'd need the records. The records would prove there was nothing wrong with him. But, who knows where they are now, or if they even exist anymore. The record-keeping there was atrocious. And, if the records still exist, you'd need a court order. I remember that bastard Thornton Dietrich and I know Gavin Dietrich. You won't get access to the files if he has anything to do with it."

The man shook his head and muttered "No," several times as he gazed down at the dirty, worn carpet. His trembling hand grasped the glass on the tray beside the chair and he took a big, noisy swallow of the contents.

"Dr. Marsden..." Robby began. But, the man interrupted him, seemingly unaware the boy was speaking.

"There were only a few there who really gave a damn. They never hired anyone who really gave a damn. I tried. I spent my whole life there and all I did was bang my head against the wall. And, all I have to show for it is my state pension and this house. We tried."

"Dr. Marsden, what happened to Mr. Lindquist?"

The man's eyes teared up.

"He was the nicest boy. The nicest. So kind, so gentle. They're the ones who suffer. The orderlies, the staff, the other patients all went after him. He was assaulted, abused. It was awful, and there was nothing I could do. I tried to get him released. I documented everything in his file. Everything. All my letters to the Judge and to the state board and... everyone. I documented the assaults. I called the police. One night, I was beaten and assaulted for calling the police. They didn't care. It was years before things started improving there. I couldn't go anywhere else to practice because they put things in my personnel file to keep me from getting another job. Poor Andy. I remember it well. Poor, sweet Andy."

The man's thoughts seemed to drift off. Sean was sniffing and Matt was holding him. Robby struggled to control his fury.

"Dr. Marsden..."

"You know..." the man began again as he looked off toward a faded landscape on the wall, "they took the records out when they closed the hospital in '62. But, I don't think they took them all. Now that I think about it, I think they may have left the old records in the north room."

Robby looked up. "The records are still there?"

"Now that I think about it, we instituted a new system of record-keeping back in the fifties and the old records were moved out of the way. I know they just closed the doors and locked the place up when they closed it down. Oh, they took out all the typewriters and anything useful, but, I'd bet my pension those old records are still in the north room. They were just papers. No one would have bothered to steal them."

"How do we get them? Who do we ask?" Robby asked eagerly. Dr. Marsden snorted.

"The minute you request those records, someone's going to go in there and destroy everything. There's no way you'll get them. They'll deny they were ever there."

Robby looked at Matt and raised an eyebrow. Matt nodded and set his jaw with determination.


"Testing, testing, one, two, three."

"Roger, willco, copy. CQ. I hear you loud and clear."

Robby raised a weary eyebrow and looked to the side at Ethan, who held the other walkie-talkie and grinned at him. Ethan held his hands up in a gesture of innocence and said, "What?"

From the front seat of the car in which they were riding, Sean looked back nervously.

"Are you sure this is going to be OK?" he asked. Matt, sitting in the middle of the back seat between Robby and Ethan, smiled reassuringly at Sean.

"Trust me, Little Buddy. Everything's gonna be just fine. You just stay here in the car with Thad and be here when we need to go. OK?"

Sean swallowed and smiled uncertainly as he turned around. Thad reached across from behind the wheel of his mother's Chevy and squeezed his arm reassuringly.

"Don't worry, Sean. Robby has everything planned perfectly. He's taking everything into account. And, if there's anyone who can handle himself in a dangerous situation, it's Matt. You know that, so don't worry."

The car was passing through the expressway underpass just south of the Sheffield State Hospital. The usual denizens of the underpass were nowhere to be seen, which Sean noted with relief. However, a police car passed them going the other direction.

"Don't look at him," Thad said in a reassuring voice as Sean started to turn and look in fear. "Just act as if nothing strange is happening and everything is normal."

"It's not normal for five white kids to be driving in this neighborhood in the middle of a school day," Sean replied nervously. Thad was watching through his rearview mirror and didn't seem worried. "Besides," Sean continued, "you don't even have a learner's permit yet."

"I do have a learner's permit," Thad replied, "but if you won't panic, that cop won't even think about us."

Robby took a deep breath as Thad turned left at the hospital. There were two street people loitering in front of the abandoned front gate of the hospital. Thad drove on and then turned at the next corner. Matt was carefully surveying the area as they drove around. Thad looked back in the rearview mirror.

"What do you think, Matt?"

They were stopping at the north corner of the hospital.

"Keep on going around. I think everything'll be OK. The north gate is probably where we'll go, since those hoboes are hanging out at the south gate."

Robby was checking out the scene, as well, but he knew to defer to Matt's judgment. The car continued east until it came to Providence again and then turned south. On one side of the street was the hospital; on the other were the row houses, one of which was the home of poor Dr. Marsden. Robby glanced over at the decrepit home and his heart almost broke as he thought of the decades of service the doctor had put in at the hospital, trying to help people in spite of the roadblocks placed in his path by a government that cared neither for the patients or the law. He set his jaw.

"Focus, Robby," Ethan said, looking at him from across the car. "I know you're mad about it all, but you got to focus."

Robby nodded.

Thad made another circle around the hospital and then stopped at the north gate. Assured that the coast was clear, Robby and Matt jumped out the right-hand door and Ethan jumped out the opposite door. Sean picked up the third of the three toy walkie-talkies Thad and his siblings had gotten from Santa the previous Christmas and pushed the button.

"Eagle, this is Falcon. Can you hear me?"

"Falcon, this is Eagle. Loud and clear."

Robby and Matt walked over to a hole in the rusting chain-link and looked about. Ethan stood nearby and lifted his walkie-talkie as the car drove away.

"Eagle, this is Dirty Bird. Can you hear me?"

Matt was crawling through the hole as Robby looked at Ethan with dismay.

"That's not you're call sign! You're Condor!"

Ethan grinned as Sean radioed back, "What? I thought you were Condor."

"I am Condor. Can you hear me OK?"

Matt was on the other side of the fence and signaling to Robby.

"Come on, damn it. Quit fuckin' with them. Let's go."

Robby crawled through the fence and looked daggers at Ethan.

"This is serious, now. We could get killed or arrested."

Ethan smiled reassuringly.

"Don't worry."

"Condor, this is Eagle. We're approaching Northeast Second and (Proividence.) Everything is go."

Matt rolled his eyes and pulled Robby along. They ran across an area covered in crumbling asphalt until they came to steps leading down the side of a short brick wing of the hospital. Ethan walked across the street and sat on the steps of an abandoned drug store, where he could see the entire north side of the hospital and anyone approaching from either side.

"Falcon, this is Condor. Everything's clear. You're safe to proceed."

Matt had reached the bottom stair and was looking in a basement door window. Robby, a few steps above and behind him, answered, "Roger, Condor. We're at the basement door. Proceeding with the next step."

Matt pulled a pick from this pocket and began working on the Master Lock that was holding the chain through the door handle. He maneuvered it around in the lock as Robby looked on, his breath condensing before him. Seconds later, a satisfying click told him that Matt had unlocked the chain. Matt pulled the chain through the handle and dropped it in the trash that had accumulated at the bottom of the steps. Then he pulled a glass cutter from his coat and cut a circle in the lower left pain of glass in the window. He pushed the piece in and reached through the hole for the door knob on the inside.

"Condor, this is Falcon. We're about to go in. All clear?"

Robby heard Ethan reply, "All clear, Falcon."

Matt rolled his eyes as he opened the door and, in a Scottish accent said, "I suppose you think we're going to find Goldfinger in here."

Robby grinned as he followed him in.

"I suppose you'd rather find Pussy Galore."

Matt flipped him off as he pulled a flashlight from his other pocket and turned it on. The room appeared to be a store room of some kind, lit only by small narrow windows near the ceiling. The windows barely let any light in through the grime. There were rotting cardboard boxes strewn around the room and cobwebs hanging from nearly every surface. The stench in the room was almost unbearable. Matt found a door to their left and immediately walked toward it, stepping over detritus and trash and looking about him in disgust. Robby carefully followed, holding the sleeve of his coat over his nose and mouth.

"Dr. Marsden said the stairs are at the end of the hallway outside this door," he said as Matt stopped before a rotting and termite infested door. Matt turned the knob and then stepped back. He kicked the door and it seemed to shatter and disintegrate in a cloud of dust and dirt. Robby jumped back and coughed.

"Geez! What'd you do that for?"

Matt shrugged. "The whole thing was rotten."

He stepped through the debris and the cloud of dust into a dark hallway. Robby followed as Matt inspected the scene before them with his flashlight. There were doors all along the hallway, each closed and each looking as rotten as the one through which they had just passed. The floor was covered with dust, but not as filthy as the floor of the room they had just left.

"Come on," said Matt as he followed the beam from his flashlight. At the end of the hall was a narrow wooden stairway leading up. Robby's walkie-talkie suddenly crackled. There were garbled sounds and static and then Ethan's voice.

"Roger, Eagle. I copy. Falcon, this is Condor. Can you hear me?"

Matt looked back with irritation.

"Will you turn that damn thing off?"

Robby frowned and replied, "Condor, this is Falcon. What's up?"

"Falcon, Eagle reports bacon at six o'clock. Probably just hassling the hoboes. Falcon can't raise you from Second Street."

Robby looked ahead as Matt started up the steps.

"Sean and Thad can't get us."

"Well, it's because we're in the basement of a century old hospital that's about to fall down on us," Matt replied as Robby slowly followed him up the steps. "What are the pigs doing?"

"Condor, this is Falcon. Can you..."

Matt grabbed the walkie-talkie and barked, "Give me that thing. Hey, Ethan, can you see the pigs where you are?"

"Negative, Falcon. But, Eagle says they are driving north to Fourth Street so they don't get too much attention."

"Good idea. Keep an eye out."

They reached the top of the stairs and found another door. This one was metal and it was locked. As Matt handed the flashlight to Robby and withdrew his pick again, Robby asked, "Is it such a good idea to use real names on the radio, Matt?"

As Matt started work on the lock, he muttered, "If I hear one of you douche-bags say `Roger, copy, willco,' one more time, I'm gonna shove that walkie-talkie up someone's ass. And, since you're the only one here, I guess that means you."

The door popped open just as the radio crackled again, but this time Robby could not make anything out. He turned it down as Matt stepped forward and shined the light around.

They were in a hallway, much wider than the one below and much better lit. Robby could see the main entrance to the hospital down the hall. To their right was another hallway, much darker. He could see nothing but blackness due to the blindness from the sunlight entering the windows of the front doors. Matt stepped into the new hallway and aimed the light around. There was a loud moan and someone mumbled something unintelligible. Matt stumbled.

"Jesus Christ!" he declared as he saw nearly a dozen bodies in various positions sitting and laying on the floor of the hallway. Robby gasped and jumped back. Several people were black, the majority were white. Some had long hair, some looked as if they were from Lake Windermere, with their Ivy League clothes, though they appeared unshaven and filthy, as if they hadn't bathed in several weeks. As his eyes adjusted, he saw syringes on the floor among the trash between the bodies.

"A shootin' gallery," Matt said. "Don't worry."

He withdrew his switchblade from his coat, snapped it open and grabbed Robby's arm.

"Come on."

Before Robby could ask what a shooting gallery was, Matt was marching up the middle of the hallway, pulling Robby behind him, his knife in full view of the people on the floor.

"Hey, babies," a young black woman said groggily from the floor as she raised a hand toward them. Matt pulled Robby on until they came to a door at the end of the hallway. It was another wooden door and he kicked it in, rotten splinters flying outward into the room beyond. He pulled Robby in and stood guard.

"Is this the room?" he asked quietly but forcefully. Robby looked about at the ancient filing cabinets.

"Yeah. This is where..."

Suddenly, the walkie-talkie crackled and the faint sound of Sean's voice came over the air.

"Bogeys... three cars... we're at the north gate... outside the fence..."

"Oh, give me a fuckin' break," Matt spat as he looked furiously down the hallway. "NOW they're gonna bust the shootin' gallery? Now???"

Robby was about to wet his pants. Matt looked over, his eyes roaming over the half-dozen filing cabinets.

"Get to work, damn it! We don't have all day!"

Robby ran to the cabinets and began to look at the labels. He found the drawer holding the "L's" and pulled.

"It's locked!"

Matt spat.

"Fuck me."

He ran over to the cabinet and began trying to pick the lock. Robby looked back at the hallway with apprehension.

"Hurry," he whispered.

"Shut up," Matt replied as he worked the locked. "Get on that radio and find out what's happenin'."

Suddenly the drawer opened. Robby handed the radio to Matt and began to search for "Lindquist."

"Sean, Thad! What's the scoop?" Matt asked over the walkie-talkie.

"Eagle, you gotta hurry," Thad replied. "There's bacon frying all over the south side of the hospital! They aren't going in yet, but it looks like they're getting ready to."

"I found it!" Robby said as he pulled several manila folders from the drawer.

"Come on," said Matt running toward the door. He scanned the hallway and held his knife out before him again. When he determined a course of action, he pulled Robby along and they ran up the hallway through the bodies strewn along the hall.

Halfway down the hallway, Robby's radio crackled again.

"They're moving in! Mayday! Mayday! They're moving in!" Thad yelled over the radio.

"Fuck," Matt muttered as they stumbled over the addicts. Suddenly Robby yelped.

"Fuzz," one of the bodies muttered as he grabbed Robby's leg. "Fuzz."

Matt kicked him in the face and he immediately released Robby. As they reached the end of the hallway, Matt saw several uniforms running toward the front door. He grabbed Robby and pulled him into the stairwell. As the sounds of a battering ram crashed through the building, the boys ran down the stairs. Just as they were nearing the bottom, however, the front door of the hospital crashed open and Robby tripped. He fell atop the folder, hitting his head on the floor.

"Police! You're under arrest! Nobody move!"

Matt looked up and saw policemen running past the door above them, none, unbelievably, bothering to look down the stairwell. Matt held a hand over Robby's mouth, as Robby struggled through the pain in his mouth and forehead to keep silent. Slowly, Matt pulled him into the hallway and to the side, out of sight of the chaos above. There were shouts and groans from the shooting gallery as Matt pulled Robby beside him and wrapped an arm around him. He examined a cut on Robby's forehead and pulled a Kleenex from his pocket. He wiped the blood away and held it over the cut. Robby clutched the folder, biting his lip.

"Falcon! Falcon!"

"God damn it!" Matt whispered as he flipped the walkie-talkie off. There was too much noise above as the raid moved into full swing, but Matt was taking no chances.

"Can you walk?" he whispered to Robby, who nodded silently.

Matt signaled Robby to follow him up the hallway and back to the first room they had entered. He held a finger to his mouth and stood. Robby followed suit. Matt signaled to hug the wall to avoid being seen from atop the stairs. As they slowly and carefully made their way back, they could hear more policemen entering the building. Robby was so frightened that he could barely move.

When they reached the shattered door, Matt carefully stepped over the debris into the room. He helped Robby in and they quickly made their way to the open door. However, just as they were about to step outside, a shadow fell over the door from above. Matt pulled Robby back just in time as they heard the sound of shoes on the dirty concrete steps descending toward them. Matt looked about the room and saw some crates to their left. He pulled Robby toward them and they crouched down behind them.

Two uniformed policemen entered the door with flashlights and guns at the ready. Robby trembled behind the crates, as (but) Matt held him tightly with his left arm. He thanked God for Matt's strength. The police shined their flashlights about.

"Someone's been in here," one of the policemen said.

"In the last few minutes," replied the other.

He shined his flashlight on the door. "They kicked in that door and ran out the back."

The first one nodded and raised a walkie-talkie. Matt almost laughed out loud.

"Two-Charlie-Seven. We're in the basement. Looks like some got out the north door. Request back-up on the north side."

"Roger, Two-Charlie-Seven."

"This is Two-Baker-Five. We got it."

"Roger, Two-Baker-Five."

Robby closed his eyes in resignation. Matt squeezed him again, but the fear in Robby was almost more than he could stand. Suddenly, he cursed himself. His crotch was becoming warm and wet. Matt leaned his head over against Robby's.

The officers made their way out the door into the hallway as the sounds of chaos from above seemed to abate. Another shadow above caught Robby's attention and he looked up at the narrow window above his head. It was at the top of the steps outside the basement. He clutched the files and closed his eyes.

He thought of his father, crouching with soldiers behind rubble during a firefight outside Saigon. He imagined his father's courage and fear, wondered what must have gone through the man's mind in those final seconds of his life. Robby knew that he had to make his father proud. He set his jaw and quietly took a deep breath.

"Two-Baker-Five, we're clear on the north side. Just a carload of kids watching the excitement on Fourth Street."

Robby heard the words emanate both from the top of the steps and from the radios of the officers walking down the hallway away from them. Robby looked up and saw the shadow retreating and heard footsteps growing fainter. He looked at Matt, who smiled and nodded.

After a moment, Matt slowly stood. His crotch was level with Robby's face and Robby could see that Matt, too, had wet himself. Somehow, that comforted Robby.

Matt pulled him up and slowly they crept toward the open door to the outside. Matt peeked around and then slowly, gingerly, stepped out into the stairwell. Robby followed up the steps until Matt stopped and peeked across the ground .Robby came up beside him.

Across the asphalt to their right, two policemen were slowly walking to the east, but looking toward the building. Robby saw Ethan across the street, clutching his hands and watching. Down at the corner, he saw Thad waiting at the stop sign. He could tell Ethan had seen them and was watching the cops.

Ethan looked around, then suddenly ran across the street and yelled at the two cops, "Over there! There they are!"

He pointed to a broken window on the east side of the building.

"They're trying to get away!"

The cops looked at him and then at the window. Suddenly, they took off running in the opposite direction from where Matt and Robby were crouching.

"Come on!" Matt whispered. He pulled Robby and the two ran across the asphalt to the hole in the fence, Robby praying that Ethan knew those were the only two cops on that side of the hospital. They rolled through the hole.

"Now, stand here like nothing's wrong," said Ethan. He looked down at the dark stains on the front of the boys' pants and then added, "Well, maybe you should turn this way."

He walked slowly across the street as Thad started toward them. Robby could see Sean's eyes as wide as saucers in the front seat, even from a block away. When they reached the opposite side of the street, Thad pulled up beside them and the doors opened. Ethan and Robby fell into the back seat. Sean almost yanked Matt into the front. As Robby fell back and panted, gazing at the roof of the car, and as Sean desperately clutched Matt, Thad slowly drove forward and toward the northwest corner. A police car roared past, the driver ignoring the kids in the car and Thad drove on and away from the hospital and the scene of the bust.

Robby looked to the south and saw ambulances and paddy wagons among the police cars at the south end of the hospital.

"Oh, Matt!" Sean kept repeating over and over as he held the teenager. Matt hugged him and kissed his forehead. Ethan reached over and took Robby's hand.

"What happened in there?" he asked softly.

"Matt says there was a shooting gallery in there."

Ethan nodded with understanding. Sean looked up at his love.

"What's a shooting gallery?"

"It's where heroin addicts go to shoot up. Man, you should have seen it. They were all over the first floor. But, they didn't fuck with us until we got the file and started to leave. But, it was OK. We hid down in the basement. Man, Ethan, you're a fuckin' genius! You saved our asses good."

Robby squeezed Ethan's hand.

"Yeah. You really saved us."

Their eyes met and silent understanding passed between them.

"Thanks for the warning, too, Thad!" said Matt. We just barely got the file. If we had waited ten more seconds, they'd have gotten us, too."

"Man," said Thad with wonder. "What awful luck that they bust the shooting gallery at the same time we pull Operation Freedom."

Suddenly, all the boys froze.

"How the fuck did they know?" Matt asked in shock.

"They knew," Thad replied. "They had to."

"But, they've seen us driving around," Sean said.

Once again, all the boys froze.

"Oh, fuck," said Thad. Robby looked behind them and saw the revolving red light atop a black-and-white as Thad pulled over.

"Robby," said Thad forcefully. "Try not to be obvious, but pull the back seat up and slip the file under the seat. They're probably going to impound the car until Dad can get to the police station. Listen, everyone. We're all out for a joy ride. Got it? We're skipping school and celebrating Christmas break early. Got it?"

Matt sniffed and looked down as a dark stain began to spread across Sean's pants. He rolled his eyes and smiled indulgently at his little buddy.


"Here, Sean. Take this tray out to the buffet and make sure everything is in order out there before your friends arrive."

Sean took the tray from his grandfather and smiled at him before leaving the kitchen. Anders Lindquist stood before the stove stirring a huge pot of chili as Matt stood beside him, cutting different types of cheese into little pieces and arranging them on a silver platter. When Sean was out of earshot, Matt leaned over and said softly, "You know, I never thought doing something like this, you know, helping out in the kitchen and stuff, would be fun. I never thought I'd like doing shit, I mean, stuff like this. But, you know, I really like it."

Anders wrapped an arm around Matt and hugged him.

"Son, you have made Sean very happy and you have made me very happy. I have a new grandson. I could have killed you for what you boys did, but, I love you for it, too. And, I am more grateful than words can say."

Matt opened a box of Ritz crackers.

"I just wish Sean hadn't had to go to the police station. Man, he looked so scared and ashamed. And, when Mr. Huber suspended him, I thought he was going to cry."

Anders smiled.

"I'll let you in on a little secret. He was more afraid for you than himself. He was so afraid that you would be sent to juvenile hall. That night, he came to my room and cried while we said our prayers and he thanked God for bringing you into his life."

He placed a hand on Matt's head and added, "And, I did, too."

Matt blushed, not accustomed to hearing such words from adults. He remained silent, looking down at the tray as his hands simply held the box of crackers. After a moment, he looked up and said, "I've never been happier than I am now. And, I gotta tell ya something. I ain't never prayed in my whole life, but the night the new judge gave me to you, I thanked God."

Anders turned from the stove and put his arms around the boy and Matt allowed himself to be held by a man for love and not for sex. He hugged him back.

"Hey, he's my boyfriend," Sean said admonishingly as he entered the kitchen. Anders looked at him with a smile and said, "Come here, Brat."

Sean grinned and the three of them hugged, holding each other for quite some time until the doorbell rang.

"Scoot," Anders said, giving Sean a playful swat on the butt. "Answer the door."

Matt went back to setting up the tray as Anders added more cumin to the chili.

Sean could hear Robby and Zhenya outside on the porch. They seemed to be arguing about something and as he reached for the doorknob, he heard Robby say, "Well, this is America and here we give presents on Christmas."

He opened the door and found Robby and Zhenya holding several large boxes wrapped in gay paper.

"Happy New Year!" Robby declared.

"S novuiim godom!" Zhenya echoed.

"Come on in, guys," said Sean, looking in wonder at the boxes. What's going on?"

The two newcomers entered the house and carried their presents over to the Christmas tree in front of the window. As Zhenya placed him under the tree, he explained.

"In Russia, we celebrate Dyen Novovo Goda instead of Rozhdyestvo!" So..." he stood before the presents with his arms out wide and a huge grin on his face, "S novuiim godom!"

Sean raised an eyebrow and looked at Robby.

"Do you have any idea what this crazy Russki is saying?"

Robby grinned.

"Since the Soviet Union is officially an atheist country, they don't get to celebrate Christmas there. So they celebrate New Year's instead. So, Zhenky's bringing us New Year's presents."

"S kyur vitsuiin," said Zhenya looking at Robby with his hands on his hips. Robby grinned.

"I love it when he talks dirty to me."

Sean giggled as the slender blond declared, "Do not call me `Zhenky.' The loving way to say it is `Zhenyechka' or `Zhenka!"

Robby winked at Sean as he replied, "Well, `Zhenky' sure sounds better than `Malignantkov' or whatever it is you call me."

"Malinovka!" Zhenya replied with frustration. Turning to Sean, he explained, "It means "robin red-breast" in Russian."

"Well, thank you Zhenya. That was sweet of you, whatever you're called. Come on! Granddad's making his world-famous chili!"

"Wait," said Robby with a conspiratorial grin. "Zhenya's got something else hidden in his coat."

Sean turned and saw Zhenya grin and unbutton his coat. He slipped a small bottle of Stolychnaya vodka from within. Sean's eyes grew wide.


"Shhhhh!" said Robby. "Your granddad."

"Is Russian tradition. Even children toast new year with vodka."

Sean grinned nastily and announced, "Granddad, Zhenya's brought vodka for the party!"

"Did he?" said Anders looking around the corner. "Well, good for him. It's a grand Russian tradition!"

Zhenya smiled as Sean rolled his eyes. Matt almost ran around the corner.

"Where is it?" he asked excitedly.

"Get back in here, scamp," Anders declared as he grabbed Matt by the back of his collar. "You aren't finished yet."

As the boys laughed, the doorbell rang again. As Sean opened the door, Thad and Ethan entered. Sean waved to Thad's father, who was waiting in the car to make certain the boys made it inside safely.

"Your Dad seems to be over his fit now," he remarked to Thad as he removed his coat.

"Aw, he wasn't upset, once I told him what we were doing."

As he hung his coat in the front closet, he looked at Ethan and said, "Hey, show them tonight's paper!"

Ethan grinned as the other boys gathered round him.

"Come on! Come on!" Sean demanded.

"Come on, Ethan," Robby admonished with an eager grin. "Quit teasing us."

Ethan gave a taunting smile.

"What's the one thing you'd like to read in the paper?" he asked.

"That's easy," said Robby. "That the whole Dietrich family is going to jail!"

"Well, OK. How about the next best thing?"

The boys were silent and Sean's eyes grew wide.

"Granddad! Matt! Come here!"

Anders and Matt stepped through the doorway into the dining room as Ethan unfolded the Sheffield Evening Tribune and revealed the headline, Dietrich Steps Down. In smaller letters underneath were the words, "Judge Facing Censure and Indictments As More Allegations Surface." Thad stepped up with a huge grin on his freckled, goofy face.

"They're coming out of the woodwork now! No one's afraid of the Dietrichs anymore and everyone they've fucked over for the last century is going to the DA! Isn't it great?"

Everyone cheered and clapped, except for Sean's grandfather, who stood in the dining room, biting his lower lip, his eyes misty. Sean saw and walked over to him.

"Granddad," he whispered as he wrapped his arms around his grandfather's waste. "It's over."

The man nodded.

"Thank you, boys. You were so courageous. Stupid and irresponsible, but courageous, and I don't know how to thank you. You've given me back my dignity."

They all smiled and blushed until Thad added, "And, guess what else, Robby! Mom found out today that Judge Dietrich was forced off the board of the Youth Symphony! You should have no trouble at all getting in at the next auditions!"

Robby grinned and Ethan leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

"Oh, and Zhenya. The police are probably going to come by to see you tomorrow."

Zhenya's eyes grew frightened.

"Why? What did I do?"

"Nothing, little guy," Thad said as he stepped over to the anxious boy. "But, now that old Judge Dietrich isn't in there to protect Ian, Dad says that several other boys have called the police about Ian. It looks like you're not the first boy he's attacked. Dad says they picked Ian up this afternoon. It doesn't look like he'll be at Gavin's New Year's Party tonight, afterall!"

At this news, all the boys hooted and hollered, slapping each other on their backs and laughing. Like Sean's grandfather, however, Zhenya merely stood and closed his eyes. Robby saw and understood. He wrapped his arms around his new boyfriend and held him. Zhenya's eyes watered, but he held himself together as the others gathered round Robby and Zhenya, joining in the hug.

"OK, boys," Anders announced. "Enough of the serious, now. We must all be happy and celebrate. Come to the kitchen and we will all fill our bowls with my famous Swedish Chili!"

"Swedish?" Thad asked as they made their way to the kitchen. "You didn't make it with herring, did you?"

Sean giggled. "No, silly. It's regular chili. He just adds a lot of pizzazz to it."

Ethan chuckled. "I've never really thought of the words `Swedish' and `pizzazz' in the same sentence before!"

After dinner, as the boys gathered before the fire, Anders and Matt moved the chairs so that they could include the festive Christmas tree in their gathering. A huge grin on his face, Zhenya stood proudly before the tree and waited for everyone to sit down. Sean finished setting the radio on the hi-fi to Sheffield's Top Forty FM station and then sat on the couch, sandwiched in between Matt on the left and his beloved Granddad on the right. Thad was in one of the stuffed chairs with Ethan on the floor between his legs while Robby sat in the other chair, watching Zhenya with amusement.

"Like I said before, it is tradition in Russia to give presents today. Well, really tomorrow, but I give them to you tonight! So, s novuiim godom!"

As he picked up the first present, the others all shouted, "S novuiim godom!"

Zhenya handed the first present, a thick, flat, perfect square, to Matt, who grinned as he took it.

"Hmmm. A toaster?"

The boys laughed, but Zhenya, not understanding the traditional American joke about opening presents at Christmas, said, "No, silly! Open it!"

Matt ripped off the red and gold wrapping and whooped.

"Jimi! Yes!"

He held up a record album with a red and yellow picture of Jimi Hendrix. Matt fell to his knees in front of the couch.

"I don't believe this! I don't fucking believe this!"

Anders raised an eyebrow, but simply shook his head and smiled.

"Electric Ladyland! Zhenya! This is the greatest record every recorded! How did you know?"

As the radio played Neil Diamond singing, "Sweet Caroline," Thad and Ethan both smiled at Zhenya, who whispered, "Thank you!"

"Gramps! I gotta play it. Please. I can't listen to Neil Diamond when I'm holding the greatest record ever. Please?"

Anders rolled his eyes and said, "You may. But, not too loud. I think we've all had quite enough to do with the police, lately."

Sean and Robby grinned as Ethan and Thad went with Matt to the turntable. In only seconds the hi-fi was blaring "And the Gods Made Love." Matt was sitting on the floor before the hi-fi, his eyes closed, his hair flying around his head as he accompanied Jimi with his air guitar.

As the other boys reclaimed their seats, Zhenya handed a smaller package to Sean, who opened it to reveal a book of Russian short stories by Chekhov. Sean grinned.

"Thank you, Zhenya. I love it! You know how much I love to read! Thanks!"

Thad smirked.

"I didn't know Mr. Chekhov had time to write stories. I figured he was too busy piloting the Starship Enterprise!"

Robby and Ethan groaned as Zhenya declared, "Chekhov was not cosmonaut. He was famous Russian writer."

"He knows, Zhenya," said Ethan as he flipped Thad in the crotch, eliciting a yelp from the teenager. "Thad, they don't show Star Trek in the Soviet Union."

Zhenya picked up another present, this one flat and wide, but thicker than Matt's. He handed it to Sean's grandfather, who opened his eyes wide in surprise.

"For me?" he asked with delight. "Zhenya! You are too sweet."

Zhenya smiled broadly as Anders carefully opened the green and gold wrapping paper.

"Oh, Granddad!" Sean expostulated. " You don't have to save the wrapping paper. Just rip it open!"

His grandfather smiled indulgently.

"I wish to enjoy the moment," he replied with dignity. Sean rolled his eyes as the other boys grinned.

Anders pulled the paper back and revealed the contents, a framed etching of a maiden sitting on the banks of a woodland stream. Anders Lindquist's eyes grew wide and his mouth opened in surprise.

"Carl Larsson. Carl Larsson! How did you find this, Zhenya!"

The boys looked at the engraving and Sean smiled at his grandfather's delight.

"Who's Carl Larsson? Ethan asked.

Anders shook his head as he gazed at the print.

"He was a great Swedish artist when I was a boy. This was an illustration for a book. It's famous. It's called Singoalla at the Creek. Oh, Zhenya. Come here, son."

Zhenya smiled again as he walked over. Anders hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"This is so wonderful and you are so sweet. Thank you."

"Hey!" said Ethan. "Enough schmaltz. Where's mine?"

Zhenya playfully kicked him as he walked back to the Christmas tree. Matt crawled across the floor and rejoined the group, sitting on the floor in front of Anders and Sean. However, he continued to play his air guitar and left his hair falling over his face. Zhenya handed Ethan a package similar to Sean's.

"Oh, cool! A coffee pot!"

Zhenya looked at Ethan as if he had lost his mind and Robby winked at him.

"Don't pay any attention to him. The police hit him in the head when they arrested him in Chicago last year."

This comment did nothing to relieve Zhenya of his confusion, but he was accustomed to it. So he shrugged and watched as Ethan ripped the paper off, revealing The Alexei Koronov Anthology. His eyes grew wide.

"Zhenya. This is... this is... this is..."

Robby giggled as Zhenya grinned.

"It's a collection of Papa's plays and poetry. It also has some of his secret samizdat written before we left Moskva."

"What's samizdat?" Robby asked.

"Those are underground pamphlets that dissidents write to protest the government or to write about ideology or whatever," Ethan replied. "Your dad's samizdat?" Ethan said. He looked at the book the same way he would have looked at pot a couple of months before. "Wow."

"I think he likes it," Robby said with a grin. Zhenya sighed with contentment.

"OK, it's Thad's turn," said Robby. Zhenya picked up another flat square, similar to Matt's and handed it to Thad.

"A bag of black-eyes peas!" he declared. Anticipating Zhenya's confusion again, Robby explained, "It's an American tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck."

However, before Zhenya could respond, Thad was ripping off the paper and squealing like a girl. Ethan chuckled as Thad kissed the picture of Jim Morrison on the cover of The Doors album.

"The only guy he dreams about more than me when he spanks the monkey is Jim Morrison."

The boys all laughed, though Ethan shot a rare look of embarrassment at Sean's grandfather, who covered a smile with his hand and winked.

"You think your dad is a great poet?" Thad said to Zhenya. "Jim Morrison is a god. Zhenya, you're an angel."

Finally, it was Robby's turn. Zhenya hesitated for a moment as everyone watched. He blushed deeply and Robby started to say that he could wait if he wanted to. However, Zhenya took a deep breath and picked up a thin, rectangular package in gold and silver paper. As he handed it to Robby, their eyes met, as did their fingers as Zhenya passed the gift to his love. Robby smiled as he took it. Slowly, he carefully untapped the paper.

"Oh, come on," said Matt impatiently. "Open the darn thing!"

"I'm going to save the paper," Robby said softly. Sean and Ethan smiled with understanding as Thad nodded with encouragement and Anders blinked quickly to clear his eyes.

As Robby carefully pulled the paper away, all could see it was a framed photograph, brown with age in a gold-colored frame. Only Robby could see it was of an older man in nineteenth-century clothes, beside a teenage boy wrapped in a coat. The boy looked blond and had a confident smile on his face. The man had a kind smile beneath a small gray mustache and the two were standing beside the ornate stone railing of a bridge with an elaborate street lantern beside them. It appeared there were buildings in the background with spires, though the focus was blurry behind the man and boy.

Robby looked up at Zhenya with shock and understanding.

"Is this..."

Zhenya nodded with a slight, loving smile, his eyes glowing. Robby gazed at the photograph and could find no words to say. Everyone else in the room was silent, knowing this must be a profoundly moving moment for the two boys, waiting.

Robby sniffed and crawled down from the chair. He wrapped his arms around Zhenya and kissed him on the lips. Only after a long moment did he pull away and, kneeling beside Zhenya, hold the picture up for all to see. Zhenya beamed at his friends.

"This is a picture of Dmitri Koronov and my grandfather, Alexander Koronov. It was taken when my grandfather was thirteen. They were on the Nevski Prospect in St. Petersburg, well, Leningrad now. That's the Winter Palace behind them, where the Tsar lived. Dmitri loved Sasha, but after Sasha grew up, he betrayed Dmitri to the authorities after the October Revolution. But, this was when they were happy and when Dmitri was writing his greatest music."

"Where did you get this?" Robby asked with wonder. "I thought you and your father barely escaped from Czechoslovakia."

"Papa had some family photographs in his suitcase and I had Dmitri's Book. This is one of the photographs."

"And, you're giving this to me?"

Zhenya smiled.

"You love The Ice Prince. Well, there's Dmitri Koronov and the real Ice Prince."

No one said anything as Robby hugged Zhenya beneath the Christmas tree, their eyes closed, their heads resting on each other's shoulders.

"Well," said Ethan, wiping his eyes as he turned away and watched the others who all seemed obviously moved, "enough of this gooey stuff. It's New Year's Eve! Let's party! In three hours, it's going to be 1970!"

"Woo hoo!" Thad yelled.

"Where's that vodka?" Matt asked.

Sean jumped up from the couch and walked over to the hi-fi, where he removed Matt's album and switched back to the radio, which was now playing party and dance music. In no time, all the boys had shed their shoes and were dancing to Red Rubber Ball. Anders smiled indulgently and went to the kitchen. As the song was ending, replaced by a Pepsi commercial, he emerged from the kitchen with a wooden tray on which were seven Dixie cups partially full of a clear liquid.

"Now you're talkin'!" Matt enthused as Anders approached. The boys grinned and gathered round, each taking a cup. When all had their cups, Anders set the tray on a side table and smiled.

"Now, you must be careful, boys. This will be very strong and will probably burn. You must swallow it all very quickly."

Zhenya smiled confidently. Robby looked a bit skeptically at everyone. Matt was impatient. Sean spoke.

"I want to propose a toast. To all my wonderful friends. Everyone here has been really super and you have all made me really happy and really grateful for everything you've done for Granddad and Matt and me."

"And," Matt said before anyone could raise their cups, "I want to say thanks, too. I mean it. Y'all have made me feel like... I don't know. I just feel like a real person now. I have a real family now with Gramps here and Sean and..."

Matt blushed and looked down.

"Y'all are like brothers to me. Thanks."

"Yes," said Anders. "All of you boys are my grandsons. You are all part of our family."

Zhenya paused a moment and then said, softly, "S novuiim godom, my friends."

Everyone lifted their cups and swallowed the half shots of vodka. All, that is, except Zhenya, who choked on his, sending the other boys into paroxysms of laughter.

For the next few hours, the boys danced and played games, enjoying themselves and making Anders' eyes grow watery with joy. As midnight approached, Sean turned the television on to The Tonight Show as the boys danced to Sugar Sugar by The Archies. Johnny Carson was preparing to celebrate midnight and the program kept switching to an old man named Ben Grauer, who had reported from Times Square for decades. As the song ended, the boys all gathered round the television as the giant ball began to descend. Anders had brought out cups of champagne and all the boys were now holding their champagne and counting down the seconds until 1969 ended and 1970 began.

"Four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!" they all shouted as the big sign in Times Square lit up saying "1970." Balloons fell on the set of the show as Doc Severinson and the NBC Orchestra played Auld Lange Syne. Robby and Zhenya kissed on the lips after sipping their champagne, as did Ethan and Thad, and Sean and Matt, who also kissed and hugged Anders, as well. Then, all the boys were kissing and hugging and laughing and yelling "Happy New Year!"

The sound of firecrackers could be heard from outside in the snow as Robby and Zhenya walked over the Christmas tree and looked out the window at the falling snow. They held each other as the others continued to celebrate.

It was not long after, as the boys continued to celebrate with a second cup of champagne and strong warnings from Anders that they should have no more, that Sea's grandfather finished cleaning up much of the mess of the party and announced from the hallway, "Well, it is past my bed time, so I will retire now and let you boys continue your celebrations. Just don't stay up too late. I have all the sheets and blankets for your pallets here in the hallway. Happy New Year and I love all of you. Good night!"

The radio was back on and the boys resumed their dancing until after one, when Robby began to yawn. Matt and Sean were slow dancing near the fireplace, Sean leaning against Matt and reveling in the strength of his boyfriend. Ethan and Thad were sitting on the sofa engaged in some serious making out. Robby and Zhenya were once again standing near the Christmas tree and hugging.

"I think we need to start getting everything ready for bed," Robby said softly. Zhenya nodded as he leaned down and unplugged the Christmas lights. Robby picked up some of the sheets and blankets and brought them into the living room. Matt watched and grinned nastily.

"Watch it, horny dude," Robby said with a grin as he set it load on the floor in front of the fireplace. "Your boyfriend's right there."

"I know. And, so are four other guys!"

Ethan and Thad seemed oblivious to the goings on around them as the teenager held the younger boy and kissed him. Robby grinned.

"I know how Ethan loves to French kiss. His tongue is probably half-way down Thad's throat," he said as Matt chuckled.

"Mmm, hmmm," Thad replied, not breaking contact with Ethan, who giggled through his kiss. As Robby walked past to retrieve the rest of the blankets and pillows from the hallway, he glanced down at Ethan and saw a familiar rise in the boy's slacks. He grinned, but then gasped as he glanced at Thad's pants. His hard-on was huge. Well, he thought, he is fifteen and six feet tall. Still, it seemed enormously long to the boy, pointing down the leg of his slacks. Matt saw where Robby was looking and whistled.

"Man, Thad, you have some serious dick there!"

Thad finally broke his kiss and looked behind him at Matt and grinned.

"You ain't kiddin'," said Ethan, comically rubbing his butt as the others chuckled.

"Has he fucked you with that?" Matt asked as a rise began in his own pants.

Ethan nodded proudly. Robby felt a twinge of jealousy seeing the nod as he returned from the hallway.

He and Sean began to spread out the blankets and form three sets of pallets, one for each couple, with pillows at the head of each. Sean walked over to the hi-fi and turned it off as Matt switched off the lamps before disappearing to the kitchen. When he returned Thad and Ethan were standing next to the couch in the firelight pulling their shirts and sweaters off, revealing their bare torsos. Matt was carrying the vodka bottle again.

"I don't know if I need anymore," Robby said. "And, I'm sure our little Russian here has had all he can hold."

Zhenya stuck out his tongue at Robby and playfully stamped on his foot.

"Aw, you pussies," Matt said softly. "You only had half a shot and two cups of champagne."

He stood before the fire, facing the other boys, a lump in his crotch clearly visible to everyone.

"We're all alone, it's late, we got a fire. Let's have another toast."

Thad and Ethan were down to their underwear and sat together at the end of the center pallet facing the fireplace. They grinned at each other. Sean stood beside the couch; he looked warily at Matt.

"I don't know, Matt. I don't think Granddad would like it."

Matt frowned and then replied, "OK. Just one. And, then I'll put it away. OK?"

Thad and Ethan grinned and nodded. Robby shrugged reluctantly and said, "OK."

Zhenya looked up at Robby and took his lead from his boyfriend. "OK."

Sean glanced nervously over at the stairs and then looked back at Matt.

"Alright," he said reluctantly. Matt smiled with understanding and held out the arm holding the bottle, inviting Sean to come over. He did and Matt put the arm around him, hugging him and whispering something in his ear. Sean shrugged and blushed and softly replied, "Yeah, I guess so."

None of the others could hear what Matt whispered, but Robby and Zhenya sat down on their pallet to Thad and Ethan's left and began to pull their sweaters over their heads. The unbuttoned their shirts and pulled them off and soon were sitting in their underwear, as well. Robby couldn't help getting hard, being so nearly undressed in front of the others. Zhenya snuggled closely to Robby, who wrapped his left arm around him and pulled a blanket around them as they faced the fireplace and the others.

As Sean removed his shirt and pants, Matt placed the bottle and the Dixie cups on the floor before the boys and the fireplace and stripped down, himself, to his underwear. Thad had never seen Matt's boner before and he muttered, "Wow," to Matt's delight. He stood before them, proudly showing it off as it pushed out the tight fabric of his white briefs.

"Pretty impressive, huh?" he bragged.

"Oh, quit showing off," Sean said with mock irritation as he slipped his own pants to the floor. He bent over to pick them up and fold them before laying them on the couch. Matt grinned and felt Sean's butt when the younger boy leaned over. Sean blushed and smiled as he looked back.

Son, all the boys were sitting in a semi-circle on their pallets before the fire, couples holding each other, as Matt poured vodka into each of the cups.

"Hey, I got an idea to make it easier for us," he said as he jumped up, his boner bouncing inside his underwear. In seconds, he returned from the kitchen holding a bottle of Tropicana orange juice. He added some to each of the cups. Soon, each boys was holding a full cup of vodka and orange juice.

"To my friends," Matt declared. "You're my brothers."

After the first gulp, Thad held his out.

"To cute boys!"

"Hear, hear!" Ethan declared, and the others concurred.

"Nostrovia!" Robby intoned.

"That's Polish," said Zhenya.

"Well, OK. I still mean it, so there."

"Hear, hear!" Sean concurred, apparently losing some of his reluctance. The boys drank.

"To America!" Zhenya announced with great formality, as well as a bit of unsteadyness. "Home of the brave and land of the free."

The others chuckled, but repeated, "To America!"

With the cups empty, Matt announced, "Well, we have to have some more. Ethan and Sean haven't toasted, yet."

"Yes, more, drinks, bartender!" demanded Thad.

When each of the cups had been refilled with vodka and orange juice, Ethan stood unsteadily facing everyone, his boner poking out the right leg of his briefs, and held his cup up in imitation of the Statue of Liberty.

"Gaudeamus igitur! Iuvenes dum summus!"

"What the fuck did you just say?" Matt asked. Robby grinned.

"It's Latin."

"No shit," said Thad, "but what does it mean?"

Ethan looked very self-important, despite his boner sticking out his underwear.

"It's a European college drinking song. It's about we're still young and not in the ground so let's enjoy ourselves!"

"Well," said Sean as Matt's left hand began to caress the inside of his right thigh, "I want to go to college in Europe!"

"OK, Sean," said Robby. "It's your turn."

Robby saw the effect Matt's hand was having on Sean, however, and added, "Umm, if you're having trouble thinking right now, um, maybe one of us can toast for you."

The others chuckled, but Matt's hand moved and cupped over Sean's briefs, tight with his erection. Sean was breathing hard and the effect of the earlier champagne and now the two cups of vodka was making him confused and horny. He looked up at Matt, his mouth open and a worshipful expression on his face. Ethan was grinning.

"I think Sean's toast is, `To Matt.'"

The others chuckled and announced together, "To Matt!"

They all drank the rest of their drinks and Thad collected the Dixie cups. As Matt began to kiss Sean gently on the mouth while massaging his erection through the briefs, Thad took the vodka, juice, and cups to the kitchen. When he returned, Ethan was massaging his own erection as he watched Matt and Sean kiss. Robby and Zhenya were cuddling and looking lovingly into each other's eyes as Robby whispered quietly to the smaller boy.

Thad stood behind Ethan and slipped his briefs off, freeing his long, thin fifteen year-old's erection. Ethan looked up and grinned when he saw what was sticking out just inches from his face. He turned around and got up on his knees before Thad, the teenager's boner bobbing stiffly before his face, already oozing precum as Ethan licked his lips. Ethan looked upward and saw Thad's face suddenly change from a nasty, horny expression, to one of wonder and love. Gently Thad brought his left hand to the side of Ethan's face and gently caressed it, running his fingers along Ethan's eyebrows, tracing circles around his smooth cheeks, brushing over the dark blond hair pulled back into his usual ponytail. After a moment, he held the back of Ethan's head while his right hand held his rigid erection and guiding it into Ethan's mouth.

As Ethan made oral love to Thad's penis, Robby was holding little Zhenya in his arms. Robby's legs were crossed and Zhenya was sitting in the middle, having removed his briefs, his legs splayed around Robby's hips. Both boys' eyes were glued to the scene beside them, even as Robby's left arm was wrapped around Zhenya and the fingers of his right hand gently rubbed Zhenya's rigid little penis. Zhenya leaned his head forward against Robby's chest as they watched Ethan's ponytail sway back and forth while his mouth moved up and down on Thad's long boner. His hands were caressing Thad around his penis; he was running his fingers through Thad's strawberry blond pubic hair and across his fat, churning balls. Thad had a look of half-conscious bliss on his face as he gazed at the boy he loved.

Zhenya looked at Robby and smiled as he quietly whispered, "You love Ethan."

Robby turned to Zhenya, the tips of their noses resting against each other's.

"I love you."

Zhenya smiled.

"I know you do, but you love Ethan, too. I know. I understand."

Robby sighed and nodded.

"Is OK," Zhenya said. "We have al night to love each other. If you want to make Ethan feel good, go ahead. It will be beautiful."

Robby looked at Zhenya with amazement and love. After a glance at Ethan and his boner bobbing between his legs as he knelt before Thad, Robby turned back to Zhenya and gave him a long, loving kiss. When he pulled away, Zhenya smiled and crawled out from within Robby's legs. He sat cross-legged beside Robby and wrapped the blanket around his naked body. Robby crawled over to Ethan and, getting on his knees behind Ethan, slipped his boner between Ethan's thighs. He wrapped his left arm around Ethan's torso and slipped his right hand around to grasp Ethan's erection. His ex-boyfriend moaned as Robby began to fondle Ethan's boner. Robby breathed in Ethan's right ear and he moaned and shivered.

"I still love you, Ethan. I always will," he whispered. Ethan softly moaned. Thad did as well as the Ethan moan reverberated in his mouth around Thad's cock. Robby continued to fondle Ethan's erection and run his hand all over Ethan's torso as he thrust his own boner back and forth against butt. The top and front of Robby's cock was rubbing against Ethan's scrotum and balls, causing the boy to writhe and wriggle against Robby and Thad's hands continued to make love to Ethan's face.

From the threesome's left came several intense moans as Matt and Sean had fallen to the floor. Matt lay atop Sean, kissing him deeply and running his hands possessively over the boy's side and hip. Matt slid to the side, freeing Sean's erection, which popped rigidly upward. The little tuft of blond hair at the base had grown in the last few weeks and Sean groaned as Matt ran his fingers through the hair and across the throbbing boner.

"You're getting' bigger," Matt whispered in Sean's ear, sending shivers through the boy. "I'll bet you're more than five inches long now."

Sean simply moaned as Matt's fingers explored his penis and balls, exciting him and sending waves of lust through him. Matt licked Sean's ear and then whispered nastily, "Fuck me."

Sean's looked at Matt in surprise, his eyes wide.

"Me? You don't want to fuck me? You want me to fuck you?"

Matt smiled.

"You're not my slave, Sean. I love you."

"I know, but I like that you're stronger than me. I love to feel you take charge."

Matt grinned and kissed Sean again.

"I know, but I want you to know what it's like to be in charge. I want you to know how hot it is to do the fucking."

Matt grinned when he saw a look of interest in Sean's eyes. He could see his boyfriend definitely was interested.

"Fuck me, Sean. I want you to fuck me."

With hands trembling from horniness, Sean crawled out from under Matt and sat beside him, his boner sticking up and throbbing in the cool air. Matt's face glowed in the firelight, as did his longish, deep auburn brown hair. The freckles across his nose and cheeks seemed more prominent in the firelight and made his look younger than is thirteen years. As Sean gazed at him, he knew he wanted to fuck Matt more than anything he'd ever wanted to do.

Matt reached over to his pants and pulled out a small tube of K-Y and handed it the Sean. However, Sean set it aside.

"Lay down," he commanded. Matt looked a bit surprised to hear Sean speak to him so forcefully. He smiled and complied. Sean's cock throbbed as he saw how quickly Matt obeyed him.

Robby stopped licking and kissing Ethan's neck when he heard Sean order Matt on his back. He looked over in surprise as he saw Matt lift his legs and point his butt at Sean. He was even more surprised when he saw Sean lean down and begin to lick around it. Suddenly, Matt's eyes grew wide and he whispered, "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, Sean. Oh, yeah, I love you."

Robby couldn't believe the sight before him, the school hard-ass about to get fucked by the withdrawing, almost chubby flute player. But, the look of excitement, of unbridled lust in Sean's face spoke volumes about the strange dynamics of the most unlikely relationship at Waldo.

Thad had begun to moan as he held Ethan's head. Robby looked back at the action before him, watching lustfully as Thad's cock slid in and out of Ethan's mouth. He could see Ethan's saliva dripping from his lips as Thad began to hold his head and more forcefully move his hips make and forth.

"Oh, Ethan," he moaned. "You have the sweetest mouth. Oh, God, you feel so good. So good. I'm gonna cum in a minute. Oh, man, I'm gonna cum."

Ethan moaned his desire to Thad. Robby began to make love to Ethan's neck again as Thad grasped Ethan's head and forced his cock deep inside. He groaned and his entire body stiffened. Suddenly a cry exploded from his mouth as he suddenly began to fuck Ethan's face hard and fast. Ethan was moaning around Thad's cock and Robby could feel Ethan's throat contracting as he struggled to swallow Thad's ejaculation. Some of it seeped around Ethan's lips and Robby released Ethan's throbbing boner to run his fingers around Ethan's lips, catching Thad's cum in his hand.

Thad finally let out a long low moan and pulled out of his boyfriend's mouth. He sat back on his heels, his erection stiffly bobbing toward the ceiling and smiled breathlessly at the twelve year-old before him. Ethan was still on his knees before him, his hard-on sticking up at a forty-five degree angle from its nest of soft, silky, light brown hair, bobbing in the cool air. Robby remained holding him from behind, still making love to his throat.

Zhenya was slowly fondling himself as he watched Thad take a deep, satisfied breath. Ethan, however, looked almost demented as he suddenly spun around and pushed Robby down on the carpet. Robby lay with his feet toward the fireplace, shock on his face as Ethan looked down up him, his erection bobbing over Robby. With a crazed growl, Ethan lay down beside Robby, the two in a sixty-nine position, and began to lick all over and around Robby's erection. Robby cried out in shock at the sensation of Ethan's hot, wet tongue working over his boner. He thrust his hips forward as Ethan licked through the red hair just growing at the base of Robby's penis and as Ethan sucked one of Robby's smooth balls into his mouth, Robby released a breathy groan and attacked Ethan's cock in the same fashion. Within seconds, the two writhing, bucking boys had developed a rhythm of thrusting their hips and going down on the other's cock. Their moans seemed to alternate back and forth, as well.

Laying on his back as Sean continued to lick his butt, Matt watched as Ethan and Robby went at it. He grinned up at Thad, who was watching in amazement.

"Damn Ethan," Matt muttered as he remembered his own experiences with the boy's lust. "Don't hold back there, dude."

Ethan simply moaned crazily as he licked Robby's balls and then took Robby's cock into his mouth and down his throat. Robby just groaned as if he had been hit in the stomach and took Ethan in his mouth, well.

Sean sat up at that moment. The feeling of licking his Matt's butt combined with the erotic sounds from his right were too much for him. He grabbed the K-Y and squirted some on his dick. He spread it around on his cock and, before he realized it, was pumping and beating his boner as he stood on his knees over Matt's butt.

"Hey," Matt barked. "Quit beatin'-off before you cum and fuck me!"

Sean looked down with a look almost as crazed as Ethan's earlier.

"Oh, Matt, I love you," he muttered.

"I love you, too. Now, fuck me."

And, he did. Sean lined the tip of his penis up with Matt's anus and pushed. The first few times, it slid away and across his butt. However, as Matt reached back and helped guide it, Sean entered him. He paused for a moment, stunned at the warm, tight feeling around the head of his cock. He looked in amazement at the sight of his penis entering Matt.

"Feels good, don't it?" Matt said softly. "You're in me, Little Buddy."

Sean was gasping as his eyes roamed between Matt's face and his butt. He grinned at Matt, who whispered to him, "I love you, Sean. Go ahead. Fuck me. I can take it. Do it."

Sean exhaled and looked down as he began to push forward. Matt groaned and worked his hips around as Sean pushed on, slowly entering. The sensation of Matt's warm tight butt enveloping his cock was almost too good for him to take. He fought the urge to just ram it all the way in. He took his time, fearing he might hurt Matt, remembering the first time Matt had fucked him. Matt, however, wanted it.

"Fuck me, Sean. Come on. Do it."

Sean was gasping harder, now. When his own hips were touching Matt's butt, he almost fainted from the feeling. He was completely inside Matt. He looked down at Matt's face in wonder.

"You're in me all the way, Sean. You're in all the way."

Sean merely moaned and suddenly, with a pop, pulled out. He hadn't meant to pull it out al the way, and with a groan of frustration, tried to push it back in. However, he kept missing.

"Slow down, baby. Here, let me help," said Matt calmly. He guided Sean in again and once the head of his penis had penetrated, Sean lost control and rammed it in.

"Uaaaaaa!" Matt moaned. "Yeah, fuck me," he whispered. Sean went crazy, working himself in and out as Matt worked his butt around, enjoying the fuck and loving the fact that Sean, his sweet Sean, the boy who had rescued him and worshiped him, was getting off on it so hard.

As Sean's head lolled around while he fucked Matt with wild abandon, and as Ethan and Robby wildly writhed around on the carpet beside them, insanely sucking and kissing and licking each other's cock and balls, Zhenya watched the bacchanalia before him in embarrassment and desire. He felt so alone as his love seemed so lost in his thrashing about with Ethan. He watched Sean entering Matt and felt an emptiness inside that needed to be filled. Looking to the right, he saw Thad, the older teenager, leaning against the chair behind him, tall, lanky, with such a kind and understanding expression on his face, looking back at him. Thad raised his hand and wiggled his finger to signal to Zhenya to come over. With infinite gratitude on his face, Zhenya quickly crawled off his pallet and over to Thad, who enveloped the boy in his arms, pulling a blanket around them both.

"Zhenya," he whispered into the boy's ear. Zhenya felt so wonderful. Ever since he had first read of Dmitri Koronov's first love-making with Prince Anatoly, he had dreamt of an older boy holding him and loving him. His beloved Stefan had loved him, held him, kissed him; but, it had never progressed beyond that. Ian had used him, abused him, raped him. Only Robby, who wasn't really older and only slightly bigger, has loved him, held him, made love to him. Now, Thad was holding him and he felt magical.

Thad gently caressed him, kissing his cheek, hugging him as Zhenya snuggled into his hold. He could hear the sounds of love-making coming from the two couples behind him and it was beautiful. However, Thad holding him was what he needed and wanted.

Thad's right hand moved down his body as his left arm held him tightly to his body. He whispered into Zhenya's ear, "Sweet Zhenya. Sweet, pretty Zhenya." For months, as Ian's friend, he had admired the boy silently, never saying anything to him. Now, he was able to love him and express his feelings for him. Whispering in the boy's ear as Zhenya cooed, his open right hand cupped the boy's little penis and testicles as his middle finger reached past Zhenya's scrotum and touched the tiny anus. Zhenya moaned and squirmed.

"Sweet, Zhenya. Has Robby fucked you, yet?"

Zhenya, his eyes closed as he lay his head against Thad's chest, whispered, "No."

"I think he will tonight. Perhaps, I should help you get ready for him."

Zhenya just moaned as he wriggled against the fifteen year-old. Thad's hand began to slide up and down against Zhenya's groin, sliding against his rigid little penis and tight little balls, the tip of his middle finger caressing the little pucker of Zhenya's anus. The boy cooed even louder and writhed against Thad as the feelings grew within him.

"Oh, my God," Sean moaned to their side as he continued to wildly fuck Matt. He had glanced over at Ethan and Robby as they writhed together on the floor beside him and Matt. As his hips pounded Matt's butt, his boyfriend kept a running monologue of encouragement.

"Yeah, sweetheart. You're doing so good. Yeah, so good. I love you Sean. I love you."

Ethan had begun to whimper as he and Robby furiously sucked each other. Robby knew from experience that was a sign that Ethan was getting close to cuming. His whimpers rose in pitch as his body began to stiffen and he began to fuck his hips toward Robby's face. Robby was caressing Ethan's balls as he sucked him and that pushed the boy over the top. With almost a squeak, Ethan's body froze and then his penis began to pump his bittersweet cum into Robby's mouth. It had been two months since Robby had taken Ethan's ejaculation and with Ethan's puberty in full swing, he was shooting far more than before. It was a surprise to Robby, who struggled to swallow it all. Robby could feel himself approaching his own orgasm as Ethan's mouth hungrily sucked him; but, just as Ethan collapsed and Robby released his erection from his mouth, Robby pulled out of Ethan's mouth. Ethan looked at him with surprise, but Robby simply smiled.

His penis throbbing with unsatisfied lust, Robby crawled over Ethan, gave him a cummy kiss on the lips, and got up on his knees behind Zhenya as Thad smiled at him. Thad opened the blanket draped over the two of them enough for Robby to see what was happening. Robby leaned against Zhenya and the boy's cooing grew louder. Thad's finger was working Zhenya's pucker without pause and the boy was in heaven. As Robby wrapped his arms around Zhenya, he leaned over and whispered, "I love you, Zhenya," against the boy's throat. The warm breath sent chills threw Zhenya, who moaned, "R-r-robby! Oh, R-r-robby," still trilling the "r" in a way that made Robby's heart swell.

Robby licked and kissed Zhenya's neck, whispering, "Zhenyechka, I love, Zhenyechka." His fingers found Zhenya's little pin-prick nipples and rubbed them, eliciting even more cries from the boy as Thad's palm continued to loved Zhenya's penis. His finger was now penetrating the pucker of Zhenya's anus and his whimpering was now constant.

"Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah," Matt was moaning to their side. As Sean had begun to moan more loudly and insistently, it was obvious he was close to cuming inside Matt. Matt grabbed his boner and began to pump it.

"Yeah, Sweetheart. That's it. Fuck me. Fuck me, Sean. Do it. Do it."

Sean's hips were pistoning in and out like crazy as his head rolled around and he moaned continuously. Suddenly, Sean cried out and fucked against Matt as hard as he could. Matt groaned as Sean made several vicious thrusts and then sighed with exhaustion. Matt continued to pump on his boner until he threw his head back and shot volleys of thick cream across his chest and face. He dropped his legs as Sean pulled out and collapsed atop Matt. The two struggled for breath as Sean, tears in his eyes, whispered, "I love you, Matt. I love you."

Matt wrapped his cummy arms around Sean and looked deeply into his eyes.

"I love you, Sean. I always will. I will always be there for you. You'll never be alone again. Never."

With that, he pulled Sean's face to his and the two boys kissed, at first gently and lovingly, then with increasing fervor until Sean pulled away and slid Matt's body enough to rest his head on Matt's chest.

With his arm around Zhenya, Thad lifted the boy so that he could straddle Thad with his legs. Robby looked over at Sean and Matt and whispered, "Hey, where's that stuff?"

Matt grinned and tossed the tube from his side over to Robby, who caught it and smiled. He squirted some onto his right hand and rubbed it all over his rigid penis. Thad held his right hand out from underneath Zhenya and between his legs, pointing his middle finger toward Robby.

"Put a little on my finger," he told Robby, who complied. Thad then rubbed it against Zhenya's anus and pushed his finger into the boy. Zhenya moaned and pushed downward, desperately trying to force the finger deeper inside.

Thad kissed Zhenya on the other side of his neck from where Robby was loving him. Zhenya's eyes rolled upward and he moaned as Thad whispered, "Robby's going to love you so good."

Robby positioned the tip of his penis at Zhenya's pucker and whispered, "I love you, Zhenya. I love you."

He pushed gently, but nothing happened. He pushed a little harder. Zhenya moaned. Robby's fingers worked the boy's nipples with greater urgency and he cried out. Robby pushed again; this time, the head of his penis entered Zhenya and the ring around it closed and held it. Robby moaned, barely able to contain himself.

Ethan looked up from his fog on the floor and saw Thad, Zhenya, and Robby in their threesome. He smiled languidly and crawled up, putting one arm around his boyfriend and one around his ex-boyfriend. He gently kissed Zhenya on the cheek. Zhenya, however, was in no condition to notice. Thad held him with his left arm and continued to gently and slowly fondle his rigid little penis with his right hand as Robby made love to his neck and nipples while slowly, lovingly pushing into him from below. Matt was watching from the side and tapped Sean on the shoulder. He nodded toward the others and when Sean saw what was happening, he opened his eyes wider in amazement. He scrambled off Matt and the two crawled over to the writhing, undulating mass of boys. Sean sat up beside Robby and wrapped his arms around him as he pushed deeper and deeper into Zhenya. He kissed Robby's neck as Matt hugged Thad and kissed him on the mouth, their tongues wrestling. As Robby's penis pushed completely inside Zhenya, the smaller boy nearly swooned.

"R-r-robby! R-r-robby!" he cried as, suddenly, his entire body was wracked with the most intense spasms of his life. Robby cried out as Zhenya's anus contracted repeatedly against his penis. He came inside Zhenya as Sean and Ethan kissed and caressed him. Zhenya's penis throbbed in Thad's hand and the teenager, surrounded by all the others, nearly came himself.

As Zhenya collapsed against him and Robby leaned against Zhenya and Thad, resting his head on Zhenya's shoulder, Ethan, Sean, and Matt rested their heads against the mass of boys within. All were silent, simply holding each other, reveling in the peace and serenity and warmth of each other.

"I love you guys," Matt whispered. "I really love you all."

"Me, too," whispered Sean.

"Yeah," said Ethan. "This is just too beautiful."

Thad nodded. Robby simply replied, in a delirious whisper, "Oh, wow."

Zhenya merely mumbled something in Russian and squirmed down lower onto Robby's still erect penis, still buried deep within him.

It was quite sometime before the boys slowly broke apart and each couple fell to their own pallet, Sean and Matt first to the left, Robby and Zhenya to the right, and Thad and Ethan in the center. Each crawled into the arms of their lover and for the rest of the night, the only sounds that could be heard in the living room, lit only by the soft glow of the dying embers in the fireplace, were the soft cooing and mewling sounds of boys quietly and joyously making quiet, passionate love.

They were six friends brought together in a dangerous time by their courage and their passion. And, in this new century, so many decades later, they remain so.

And, so, ends Courage and Passion. I hope you have enjoyed this story. I am very grateful for all the support and encouragement you have offered. If you would like to comment, please write to me at fthinker @ Also, please visit my resurrected blog:

Thank you! You will never know how much I appreciate your reading my story and encouraging me. Thank you!.