The standard disclaimers apply. Do not read if you are under 18, if it is illegal for you to, or if you are offended by boys engaging in consentual sex. Otherwise, enjoy.

Journey Of Love

Chapter 16

Jail cells are horrid places. Cold, impersonal, hard, dangerous. The one I ended up in had all smooth surfaces, though. Nothing to hang a sheet from or loop a belt around. Besides, they took my belt and my shoelaces.

It's a long story, but I'll make it short. It started with a couple of guys in the mall. We were there, and they made a comment. I snapped. It was like triggering an epileptic into a seizure. I didn't remember any of it. I just know I beat the snot out of one of them. He was in the hospital. God, I feel so low. I swore I'd never, ever do something like that. Not again. I'm regressing, and I'm afraid my lover will turn his back on me.

I was in jail for a few hours, till arrangements could be made. When we went home, he held me as I cried. Not for me, but for him, having to put up with the humiliation. And for the guy I put in the hospital. I've been there and apologized to him. He's not a bad guy. He was just sorta goofin' on us. Something touched a sore deep inside, and he suffered for it. No one is pressing charges, and we might even end up friends. I dunno.

Now I've got to write.

Danny stood there looking at me. Tears streamed down his cheeks. I thought he was shaking, but I couldn't be sure. I still couldn't see very well. But I could see him. And I wanted him soo badly. I needed to feel him. I needed to touch him. I needed to sleep next to him to make myself whole again. Somehow, I knew that would never be.

He took a step toward me, and stopped again. Then another one, and slowly he came across the room, next to my bed. But he did not reach out to me.

He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again. I just lay there. I didn't know if I had the energy to do this. Becky must have told the guys to go find Danny and bring him here. That's the only thing I could figure. They'd thrown him into the room and beat a quick retreat, forcing us to face each other. The only thing was, I don't think Kyle or Richie knew what the problem was. Neither of them knew Danny was in love with Greg instead of me. Danny knew -- he was the one who had found another. Greg knew, but I figured he wasn't saying. And it wasn't really his fault anyway, although I really wanted it to be. Becky knew because I had told her, but she didn't really believe it. And I knew. I felt it. I saw it in Danny's face, the way he was acting.

See, nobody had known that Danny and I had become lovers, so the five of us still hung out together. It was easy. I loved all those guys, just, a different way from Danny. But there was no reason for anyone to be jealous, because nobody knew, and we didn't treat the other guys any differently than we always had. Greg knew at the end, but there hadn't been time for anything to change before my accident. But now, with Danny and Greg lovers, I knew. I would know. I would just automatically treat them differently. I wouldn't try to intrude. I'd try to leave them alone. Yep. That's what I'd do. Let them have their privacy.

Except I'd probably end up crying non-stop on Kyle and Richie's shoulders. And Becky's, too. It was the end of the gang. We'd been together for 15 years almost. That was a pretty good run. All our parents knew all of us. We'd played, learned and fought together. We'd supported each other in everything. You know, if you think about it, how rare is it to find five people who could stay steady friends for almost 15 years? Goddam, we were lucky to have done it.

This was the end.

It made me tear up. Just a little. Danny saw my watery eyes, and said, "Oh, Justin, I'm soo sorry. You have to believe me. I know that's not enough . . . I . . ."

"Danny, it's okay. You don't need to explain. I don't want to make this hurt."

"You mean, you're not mad?"

"No. I'm not mad, Danny. I can't be mad at you."

His face brightened. "Oh, Justin, I'm soo glad to hear that, cuz..."

"I understand how it happened. I'm sad, but I can't get mad about it."

"Justin, I didn't mean to make you sad. I'm sad about it too."

"But it's all right, Danny. I've thought about it. At first I was mad, but it makes sense. It's okay. You're free. I let you go."

He had a shocked look on his face. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I know it's over between us." I almost lost it on that one. I was determined not to cry. "I know we can't get back together."

"Maybe we could try," he said, pleading.

"No, it wouldn't be fair. We've both got to move on."

"I can't move on," he said, tears forming in his eyes.

"Yes, you can. You have to. You've got to get over me."

"But I want you in my life. I need you in my life."

"No, you don't. You need to move on. And now I have to, too."

"Justin, I don't want to hear you say that."

"I'll still be here. It'll be tough, but we can work though it. I don't hold a grudge. I can't hold a grudge against you, Danny. But I can't be your lover."

"I know you can't, Justin. I'm sooo sorry. It was soo stupid of me and Greg."

"No, it wasn't, Danny. It was natural."

"Then why does it hurt so much?"

"I dunno, Danny. I wish I could answer that."

"Well, maybe we could still, like, spend some time together. Someday."

"No, Danny, we can't. It wouldn't be right."

He was openly sobbing. "But Justin, can't we..."

I cut him off. "Yeah, Danny. We can be friends. We'll always be friends, I hope. But we'll never be lovers again. I know that now."

A cry rose from his chest and I thought he was going to throw up as it rose in intensity.

"Justin, don't. I don't want this." He was out of breath, the sobs wracking him violently.

"Danny, it has to be. Come over here, my bud." I couldn't stand to see him hurting. He walked over and collapsed on top of me. I wrapped my right arm around him. In a moment his tears had soaked through the hospital gown.

When he had calmed a little he said, "Justin, I know it's all over between us. I know what I've done. I'm just so sorry for hurting you. I never meant to. It just happened. But mostly I'm sorry I was such a coward not to tell you to your face."

"Danny, I know. I've thought about it. It's okay." I was stroking his hair. He had worked up a sweat and he wouldn't raise his head off my chest.

"It's not okay. I can't live with myself."

That startled me. I pulled his head up by his hair with my right hand so he'd have to look at me. "Listen to me, Daniel Shaw. Stop that right now. Don't even hint at something like that. You have Greg. Don't for a moment think about ruining that. We are friends, Danny, but not if you're going to think about shit like that."

At Greg's name the tears started again.

"Justin, we just couldn't help it," he sobbed.

"I know, bud, I know. Don't cry, Danny. It'll work out like it's supposed to."

"It's not like we loved each other," he said. Odd.

`It's funny who we end up loving. You never know. My mom and dad say they couldn't stand each other when they first met. Now they're married. I'm glad you discovered your love."

He held me tighter.

"Danny, that feels soo good, but we can't do that anymore. Just tell me you'll be here for me. I'm going to need your help as much as ever. But I won't get in your way."

"Anything you want, Justin. Anything."

"I know. I'm glad. You'd better get cleaned up before Greg sees you like that."

"I don't care. Let him. He feels as bad as I do. He's soo broken up over this."

"Well tell him it's okay. It happens. They told me you two spent a lot of time with each other here. I'm not surprised."

"Well, we shouldn't have spent time in my bedroom. But I was soo scared. I needed someone."

"Is that why you always were so good to me when I came to your bed?" I asked.

"Yes, of course. I told you that. I needed you. I always will." He stood up and looked at me.

"You have no idea what you do for me. You complete me. My world is whole when you are with me. Night, day, school, home, dressed, naked, awake, asleep. It doesn't matter. And now I've lost it all."

"You haven't lost me. We're still buds," I said, trying to believe it. "Besides, you have Greg."

"But, Justin, I don't want Greg. It was one time. That's all. I don't want Greg. I want you."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"What I said in the papers I gave you. It was just one time. I didn't mean for it to happen."

"For WHAT to happen?"

"What we did," he said, looking at me. "Didn't you read it?"

"No, I can't see. Doc says I probably will need glasses now. It's all blurry. I started to have Becky read it, but..."

"WHAT?? Oh, shit, you didn't, Justin. Oh, damn. No. Tell me she didn't actually...Oh, my god, no. You...she...I mean, oh, my god."

I started to giggle.

"Um, yeah. I did. She did."

"Oh, my god."

"You said that already," I said, starting to enjoy this.

"But I didn't mean for...oh, my god. How far did...oh, my god."

"Up to the part about my nipples and your toes."

"Oh, SHIT! She...what did...oh, my god."

"And I guess there's something about someone's cock in there, too. We didn't stay long enough to find out whose."

"Oh, fuck, no. Oh, my god. Oh, shit." He'd become incoherent. He started pacing. "This is awful. Oh, shit. I didn't want one but you was supposed to...I mean, I didn't imagine that someone else would...oh, my god."

"Aren't you glad I didn't ask my mom to read it to me?"

He froze in his tracks. I couldn't make out his face, but I imagined. But I could hear him. "Oh, my god. You don't think they might have...oh, fuck."

"No, I don't think they did. They didn't say anything or act weird. But it was just laying out there on the table."

He just stood there. Finally he said softly, "So you haven't read it yet."

"No. I haven't. Danny, come here."

He walked over to the bed and I reached my hand out to him. "What does it say, Danny?"

His shoulders sagged. "I don't think I can tell you."

"Is it in there?" I asked, nodding at the papers.


"Then you've already told me."

"Not if you haven't read it."

"Then tell me now."

"How about if you just read it?" He voice was quiet.

"I can't, Danny, and if I have to wait any more it'll kill me."

He began to breath deeply. "I can't, Justin."

"Danny, it can't be any worse that I already think."

"What do you think?"

"I think you've fallen in love with Greg and you want to leave me. And Danny, I can live with that. It'll be hard, but I love you, and I wouldn't punish you for your feelings. I can understand," I lied. Oh, it was such a lie. Not that I would punish him, but I didn't know if I could live with it. I know now, it's a teenage feeling. When that first love fails you feel as if the whole world has ended.

"Oh, it's worse than that, Justin."


"Because I still love you."

"You love both of us?"

"No, I don't mean that. I mean, what I did was worse cuz I still love you."

"Danny, my head hurts, my body doesn't work right, I can't see very well, and I'm exhausted. If you can't tell me, then just go. I can't play word games any more. I'm just too tired. Come back when you can talk. But I'm not going to read about it, even when I get glasses." I rolled over away from him. He just stood there.

Then I heard him move, and I thought he was going to go out the door. Instead, he moved over to the table beside my bed. I heard him pick up the papers and page through them. He began to read.

"Oh, god, Justin. I'm sooo sorry. Listen. I don't know what to say. Justin, I'm so, so, sorry. I didn't mean it. I don't even know why it happened. I don't even know if I can ask you to forgive me. I understand if you want me to go away. I'd give anything to hear your voice, Justin, but right now I'm glad you can't say anything. Just let me be here a few minutes. I'll stay here till you wake up, okay? I mean, I hope you wake up soon, but while you're in a, sleeping, I can at least look at you. I'll never bother you after that. I mean, I know yesterday I wrote I'd never leave you, but I have to now. You're not going to want me around. Not now. I'm soo sorry Justin. I just want you to know that I love you. I have always loved you, bud, and I always will. I don't care what happens the rest of my life, Justin. You will be my love.

"I guess you deserve to know what happened. Oh, god. Oh jeez. You gotta believe me, Justin. Neither of us wanted to. To hurt you.

"See, Greg and I went home together last night. It was late again. Probably about 1:30 this morning actually. Remember yesterday I wrote that you were moving and how happy we were. Well, you stopped moving. The doc said it would be okay. But, Justin, it really got to me. You laid so still those first four days, and to see you move, even just a foot or a finger, just made me soo happy. Greg and I were able to laugh for the first time. But then you stopped. The doc said not to worry, but I did. And the more I thought about it the worse I got. I haven't been sleeping well and I can't eat. No, I gotta stop this. It sounds like I'm the one who's suffering and you're the one with needles and a breathing tube in you. But it seems like I just break into tears soo easily any more.

"So anyway, mom came and got us, and said Greg could sleep over again. He's been great, Justin. I think if you hadn't come over to my house that first night you'd have gone to his, and he'd have been as good a friend as I've tried to be. Better, now.

So we went to bed and about two hours afterward I had a nightmare. I saw the whole accident all over again, only this time the paramedics covered your whole body with the blanket -- even your head. You were dead, Justin. And I woke up panicking, panting, gasping for breath, sobbing, and I couldn't stop. I just gasped. I couldn't get any air. Like when they first brought you in. I was hyperventilating. And Greg woke up and held me. There was an old McDonald's bag in my room and he found it and held it over my nose and mouth and tried to calm me down. He just held me, my back against his chest, one arm wrapped around me, the other holding the bag. He was whispering into my ear that I'd be okay. And I was. I slowed down, and I was able to breathe again.

"When he took the bag away, I turned around and put my cheek against his chest to rest a little. It felt so secure. He held me to him, and stroked my hair. And then...oh, god, Justin, I've missed you so much. I need you. The urge is overwhelming sometimes. I think I started to drift back to sleep in his arms. I don't know. I hope that's what it was, because I stuck out my tongue and licked his nipple. Like I used to with you. He said, "What are you doing?" and I just said, "Shhhhhhhh." And I moved my head to take his nipple in my mouth and I just nibbled it and sucked it. And then I looked at him, and our mouths came together and it was like someone lit a torch. We started kissing. And while we did that, without even breaking the kiss, we tore our shorts off and...and we were all over each other. It happened soo fast, Justin. I'm soo sorry. I couldn't help myself. I took his cock in my mouth and sucked him. It didn't take long. He shot really fast. We were on the edge, Justin. We've been together so much over the last few days. We've shared so much emotion. We've been touching each other all the time. Almost constantly. And after he shot, he did the same to me. Except that I imagined it was you. Except it wasn't. He can't do to me what you can....could. Used to do. Never will again. Justin, we held each other again after we came. We could hear each other's heart beat. And as our heartbeats slowed, we looked at each other.

"'What have we done?' Greg asked. He meant to you. He didn't mean what did HE do, like turning gay or anything. I don't think he was all that embarrassed about that. No, he was talking about what have we done to you? But it wasn't him, Justin. He's still your friend. He's a faithful friend. He didn't start it. I started it. I licked his nipple. He didn't make a promise to you. I did. I made that promise, and I broke it. It isn't Greg's fault. He's still your friend. Go to him, Justin. I think he loves you. He'll never do to you what I did. Never. He's been here almost as much as I have. He's been sooo worried about you, bud. Yeah, I think he loves you. All the guys do, Justin.

I hadn't rolled over toward him. I just lay there. Staring at the wall. Thinking. He hadn't fallen in love. He and Greg were still two, not one. He was still my Danny. He still wanted me.

But he had sucked off Greg, and Greg him. He was right, it was worse. Because he had cheated on me while he still loved me. It would have been better if he had fallen out of love with me and into love with Greg, because then he wouldn't owe me anything. But if he loved me and still cheated on me, what would that mean?

What the fuck was I thinking about? He still loved me. I'd heard the words. He and Greg were constantly together, constantly giving each other support. Danny was on edge and had no one to comfort him other than Greg. It just go out of hand. Who knows what teenage hormones are going to do from one moment to the next? They were in bed, the same bed we used to sleep in. Greg had taken my place in Danny's bed. And in Danny's mouth. No, shit. Stop that. It was run away emotions, pure and simple. It didn't matter a nipple...NICKEL...that Greg had cum...come over to Danny's to console him.

He riffled through the pages, and started reading again.

"Oh, Justin. I'm sooo sorry. I know that sounds hollow. I don't know anything else to say. It won't happen again. Except it might. I mean, how could you ever trust me again? I can't trust myself. I promise never, ever to let it happen, as long as we're together, lover. Never. But I know you can't trust me.

"You've been moving again today. Doc says you're breathing more on your own, that the respirator is only helping now. It's soo cool. You're gonna be fine, bud. You're gonna bet out of here and play ball with us and ride bikes with us and camp out with us....well, with the guys. I won't bother you. When you wake up, I'll say good bye. Maybe I'll ask for a kiss. Maybe just a hug. Just don't hit me. That's all I ask. I'm soo sorry, Justin. I'm soo sorry."

What they had done was innocent. Greg was certainly innocent. If his nipples were like mine, once Danny put his tongue on them, he was a goner. What WERE Greg's nipples like? Did his sperm taste like mine? Why did Danny lick that nipple in the first place? Could I trust him?

Why did Danny do that? Why did he seduce Greg? Why did he force himself on Greg? He'd done the same thing to me, you know, sucked me without asking. He seduced me, too. Could I trust this sex fiend? Was he going to have sex with anything not nailed down, and a few things that were?

No. Danny's words were true. He started reading once more.

"Day 10 -- Friday.

"Hi, Justin. It's late. I'm about ready for bed. It'll be the end of the happiest day of my life. The day I heard you say you love me had been the happiest. But this day, when you said my name, surpasses that by a mile. You were asleep when Greg and I got there after school -- we didn't wait a minute after school to get here -- so we just waited. Your mom had said you were having a really good day. We were so excited. Greg grabbed my hand and we just held onto each other, waiting for you.

"I stroked your arm and said your name softly. `Justin,' just softly, repeating it. And then you opened your eyes. And they focused on me. It's the first time in 10 days that you've really looked at me. And then you said, `Hi, Danny. Hi, Greg.' I didn't want you to see me cry. But I couldn't help it. I love you.

"I admire you, Justin Reynolds. I've watched you battle your way through this. You never gave up. You were beautiful. Every single day you made progress. You didn't let this get you down, bud. You fought through the fog, the pain and the drugs. I've heard the kids say what an inspiration it is to watch you. They're still calling, many of them, and those that don't call stop one of us in the halls each day asking how you are.

"Teachers ask, the principal asks, everyone asks. I think they see something in you that makes them proud to know you, Justin. I do. From the confusion on the ball field that first day to your wakefulness today, you've fought And now you've won.

"So I'll stop this journal and bring it in to you tomorrow. You don't have to read it right away. I don't know if I have the nerve to tell you to your face what I did to you. I may be just enough of a coward to let you read it in these pages. In either case, our time together is short, I'm afraid. But, Justin, I want you to know, in print, forever written down on these pages, that you are my love, the love of my entire life, now and forever. You have my heart, and no one will ever replace you. My friend, my bud, my lover."

No one had ever said words like that to me. If that wasn't love, what was? I was devastated. The last thing I wanted was for him to leave me. I needed Danny. He had been here every moment he possibly could have. Except when he was home fucking Greg. Well, they didn't fuck, but, you know. NO! It was a teenage fling, brought on the by love those two shared for me. They were helping me and each other. And that was all. No. There was nothing more to it than that. Danny loved me. He loved me when he had Greg shooting jism down his throat and he loved me now. He was mine when he fired into Greg's mouth and he's mine now. In the moment the tip of Danny's tongue touched the nub of Greg's nipple, Danny was my lover. Greg was a release of the enormous emotion that had built up between them. The uncertainty of whether I would wake up and be myself. Too much for a teenage body and mind to handle. It needed to burst out. And instead of getting drunk or punching a wall or screaming out or breaking windows or beating up Charlie or throwing themselves off a cliff, they had...made love. Love. Their reaction to all the stress was love.

The beating up had come later. Danny had beat himself up. Greg had beat himself up. For showing love. Who was I to beat them up, too?

I took a deep breath. "Danny, please leave," I said. "Just go." Fuck! Why did I say that?

A deep breath, and a strained, "Okay."

Call him back, you idiot. What are you doing? I'm kicking out the guy who said he loved me. And made love to someone else. I was going to forgive him! It was NOT love. It was emotion. Fine. Let them emote with each other some more. No. No, this is wrong. You'll lose him.

Silence as he lay down the papers. His Adidas squeaked quietly across the tile floor. He paused at the door. "I do love you, Justin. I always will."

He opened the door, and the moment it closed I heard him slump against it. There was a commotion outside and I heard someone call for a gurney. The door burst open and Becky and Kyle came in.

"What did you say to him?" she demanded.

"I told him to leave. What happened?" I asked. "DANNY!" I shouted.

She hit me on my left arm and left it tingling. "You bastard. You idiot. He just collapsed. He fainted."

She grabbed my head in her hands.

"What did you do to him?"

"HIM? Why don't you ask what the fuck he did to me? He cheated on me. He made love to someone else. I thought he loved me, but the moment I was down he..." my eyes strayed to Kyle, who was staring at me.

"Oh, shit." Blood pounded in my head and I joined Danny in the darkness.

Mom. I saw mom as the darkness lifted. Mom and Dr. Smith. He was looking at me, and a smile spread across his face as I opened my eyes. Sunlight streamed into the room.

"Hi, Justin. You gave us a scare. A little too much excitement, I guess. I'm sorry. That's my fault. I shouldn't have let you have so many visitors."

I couldn't say anything. Well, I could, but I didn't want to. Mom leaned over and hugged me tight.

"We were so worried about you, Justin. I'm sorry. The doctor's right. We shouldn't have let it go so far. I guess seeing Danny was just too much for you after all those other people."

"What happened?" I finally asked.

"You just blacked out. And you stayed out all night. It's a little bit of a setback, but not much. I think today after you're checked over again we'll take you down to physical therapy and see what you can do. But I think the first thing we'll do is get your eyes evaluated and see if we can get you some glasses."

"It must have been emotional for Danny, too," mom said. "He fainted just outside your door."

"He did? Is he okay?"

"He's fine," the doc said. "We held him a while to make sure, but his mom took him home last night."

"Oh. That's good."

While I was still trying to sort out my mind, Mom chatted about things that we needed to do. Breakfast came, and I was really hungry. But it was still hard to eat with only my right hand. I didn't realize I needed both to shovel in the food.

They never come pick up your stuff when you're done eating. It just sits on that table. The one on wheels that fits over your bed. I mean, they do eventually come get it, but it gets all cold and smells up the room with food smells. Fortunately, a nurse came and got me with a wheelchair before the smells did me in.

Our small-town hospital was only two stories high, and my room was on the second floor. We rode down the elevator and into a room with gadgets in it. Some nurses are real chatty. This one didn't say a word. She nodded at the guy in the room and left.

He came over and said, "I'm Doctor Williams, Justin. I'm an opthamologist."

"Yeah, for my eyes," I said.

"Right. This is going to take a while. We have lots of tests to run."

And it did. We were in there nearly two hours. He had me reading charts, following his finger, closing one eye and damn near standing on my head. He peered at me with that little light they shine in your eyes, the blew puffs of air against my eyeballs, and consulted his books. Then we started in on the vision correction thing, where he had me look through a set of changing lenses, and I had to say if one was better than the other.

Finally, he said, "Justin, I'll have the lab get to work on the lenses you'll need. You should pick out a set of frames."

Ugh. Glasses. "Can't I have contacts?"

"Well, maybe eventually. Right now I think glasses would be best because of the nature of the injury. I've got to make some decisions here. I'm wondering if maybe surgery wouldn't relieve some of the problem. I'll have to do some more tests. But in the meantime, it's glasses."

He opened the door and pushed me (in the wheelchair) into an adjoining room with a small selection of frames. Mom was waiting for me there. I picked out some roundish ones, tortoise shell, that looked okay. Made me look sorta geeky, I thought. But less geeky than some of the other frames.

He said the glasses would be ready in an hour, and that he'd decide which tests to do to see if I could get my eyesight back better. Then the nurse came back and rolled me into physical therapy (PT).

Physical therapists are the children of the devil. I can barely lift my leg, and he's trying to hold it down. He has me try to contort my arm into all sorts of unusable positions, then tells me to push against him. Every time I move it sends tingles, and he tells me to ignore them. Then he stands me up between parallel bars and asks if I can hold myself up. Barely, just because I don't want to fall in front of this guy who I thought was going to be a good guy. We did that for 90 minutes and I'll tell you I was ready for bed. Fuck this.

Mom was great, though. She was encouraging throughout the whole thing. She even told me I look good in glasses.

I finally made it back to my room. Lunch was there, and I was starving, even for this stuff. My glasses were there too. I put them on. Mom told me they made me look smart. Great.

Mom said she was gonna get something to eat then run some errands. She told me to get some rest too. I didn't feel like sleeping, so I turned on the TV, and was immediately out. I guess I slept until about 2:30. Then the nurse came and got me, and it was back to PT.

That lasted another hour, only it wasn't as grueling as the first time. This time he went over the stuff we'd be doing every day for the next X years of my life. Or at least weeks, until I regained use of my left side again. He had me do some light exercises, then took me back to my room himself, and helped me into bed. It was quiet in the room. But about five minutes later the door opened, and Kyle came in. I had put the bed into a position where I could sit up.

"Hey, bud," he said. You scared us yesterday. You blacked out again."

I could only stare at him.

"Danny fainted, too, right after he left your room. I guess everyone's pretty worked up. He's okay, though. They kept him for a while here, but his mom came and got him. They said it was stress. He was in school today."

He was mostly babbling, and I couldn't tell how he felt about what I"d said yesterday. I'd told him I was gay. Not in those words, but Kyle's a smart guy. He can figure it out.

"Danny was just telling me what happened and I guess it got to be too much," I said. Boy, that was NOT a lie.

"Yeah, I know, bud." Kyle pulled a chair up to my bedside. "Nice glasses. They sorta make you look smarter." Great. "You wanna talk a little bit?"

I didn't know what to say.

"I don't know what to say," I said.

"It's okay. We don't have to talk."

"No, I think I want to. I've ruined everything."

"I doubt it."

"You don't know." But he probably did know. After what I'd said, I'm sure Becky filled him in. I wouldn't blame her. Kyle probably wanted to know, and I pretty much spilled the beans anyway. If she told him, it wasn't her fault. I'd opened the door for it. "How much did Becky tell you?"

"About what? Those things you said? She didn't tell me anything. I asked her what you were talking about, but she wouldn't tell me. She said it was something personal. That's cool. I know you two talk a lot to each other." He paused, with a slight sad look on his face. "We used to, too, Justin."

Oh, damn. He was right, we did.

"Kyle, I don't know how to tell you."

"Danny made love to someone else. That's what you said right before you blacked out. You said you thought he loved you."

"Oh, shit." I was shaking.

"Justin, does it mean what I think it means?"

"I don't know. What do you think it means?"

"I think it means that you and Danny have had sex."

I searched his face for a clue to his reaction. I couldn't see any.

"It means we're in love. We're gay."

Kyle just looked at me. He didn't say anything, just looked.

"You're 15," he said finally. "How do you know?"

"I don't know. How do you know you're in love with Becky?"

"I don't know. I mean, I think I know, but I don't know."

"Yeah. Well, I think I know too. Kyle, Danny and I are lovers. WERE lovers. I ruined it yesterday."

"Justin, I don't even know what that means. Gay. Homosexual. I know what the words mean, but I'm not at all sure about this love stuff. I mean, I've heard homosexuals are queer -- they're not normal. I don't know."

I sighed. "Kyle, I'm not sure I do either. But I do know there's something there between me and Danny. I do love him."

"Have you had sex?"


"Okay. You don't have to answer. So what's going on then? Why did you pass out yesterday? And why did he? And why did Becky hit you?"

"Because he cheated on me..."

"With Greg?"



"Because he cheated on me and I got mad and I shouldn't have. And I love him and I told him to leave. I kicked hi;m out. And now I don't know what I'm going to do. It's the second time I've done that to him, and, Kyle, I want him back so bad. And now I've not only ruined it between him and me, but now that you know, I suppose..." Damn. Here come the tears again.

"Why did you kick him out?"

"I don't know. Because he cheated on me. Except he didn't really. I mean, he did, but he didn't mean to, and . . . oh, hell. I was wrong. I want him back."

Kyle took my hand.

"We're buds, Justin. We've always been buds. I'm your friend still, and I always will be. I don't know about gays, and I don't think I'm gay, but it doesn't matter to me. Have you told all this to Becky?"

"Yeah, she knows just about everything. She's soo cool. You're a lucky guy, Kyle. She's the neatest. She's already helped me through a lot of this."

"I'll help you, too. Do you want me to get Danny for you?"

"Do you think he'd come? I told him to get out."

"Well, Um, I wasn't supposed to tell you this, but Becky is with him right now."

"She's soo cool."

"Yeah, I know. Um, anyway, I thought maybe..."

Just at that moment, the door opened. Becky came in.

"Hi, Kyle. Hi, Justin," she said. At least she had her priorities straight, saying hi to Kyle first. "Nice glasses." Great.

Kyle gave her a little kiss. Then she squeezed my hand. "How do you feel today?"

"Like a dope."

"Good. You are. You feel like apologizing?"

"Becky, I'd do anything to take back what I said to Danny yesterday. Kyle said you were with him. Do you think he'd come to see me again?"

"I think he would if I asked him."

"Why you? He doesn't even know you that well."

"I have a certain charm."

That made me giggle. "Yes, I have to admit that. You do."

She walked over to the door and opened it. Danny walked in. And he was beautiful. And I fell in love all over again.

He walked over to the bed.

"Hi, bud. How ya been?"

I looked into those blue eyes and I could see sadness and hope. His eyes were magical.


"But you've had all these visitors."

"Yeah," I said, "but I chased away the one I really wanted. Danny, please forgive me."

"I don't need to forgive you. But I do have to ask you to forgive me."

"Let's just forgive each other and get on with things. Danny, I love you." I looked to see whether that shocked Kyle, but he and Becky had quietly left.

"We're alone, Danny. Would you..."

He leaned over and kissed me.

I don't believe in faith healing, but it almost seemed in that kiss that I was healed. The hole in my soul that this whole incident had created was mended in a kiss. I felt my left side get lighter. Don't worry, I wasn't cured. A miracle did not happened in that hospital room that day. But it seemed like it did.

The kiss was long and lingering. It was gentle, full of love and warmth and affection. Love and affection are two different things. Love is almost possessive. Not in a bad way, but it can be in a bad way. Love can be obsessive, even violent. But love with affection is always gentle, always fulfilling. That's what Danny was, gentle and fulfilling. His tongue slipped into my mouth and found my tongue. We let them play, two lost lovers themselves, separated these many days by stupidity. Stupidity for not wearing a helmet. Stupidity for not watching what I was doing. Stupidity for not knowing what I was doing.

Danny moaned into my mouth as he sealed his lips tighter around mine. He tasted like a peanut butter sandwich. His tongue worked around and around in my mouth, seeking every bit of me. He sucked gently, breathing through his nose, which reminded me that I hadn't been breathing. I sucked in air through my nose, too, which tickled, and I knew I was going to sneeze. What a fucking way to break a romantic mood. I pulled back and turned my head, and let go with a huge sneeze. He was on me again, kissing, nearly climbing into bed with me. He worked his arms around me, caressing the back of my head. He kissed my cheek, and worked his way lower onto my jaw and the soft part of my neck, then back to my mouth.

We moaned again as we tried to get more of each other. With my right arm I held him tight, rubbing his back. As he came farther into my bed, I could feel his hardness, and knew he could feel mine. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing, we could do about that right now.

It was probably only five minutes or so, but we hard a noise in the room. When we looked, Becky had pushed the door open slightly and was looking in, smiling. Kyle was beside her, with a slightly surprised expression on his face.

Danny gasped and said, "Oh, shit."

"It's okay, Danny. He knows," I said. Danny's head snapped to look at me.

"How? Did you -- did you tell him?

"Yes. I told him just before you came in. Danny, he had mostly figured it out."

Becky and Kyle came into the room.

"Ummm, well, I guess it's true," Kyle said, trying to break the silence.

"Yeah, it's true. We're in love," I said simply.

"You, um, probably have a lot of questions," Danny said. There was a tremor in his voice. His hand was lightly stroking my chest through the pajamas they were now letting me wear.

"Uh, yeah, I guess I do. Um, can we talk about it?"

Danny and I looked at each other. I didn't have the strength just then. Two sessions with Satan's offspring in the therapy room and the reconciliation with Danny left me tired.

"Kyle," Danny said. "I'll answer any question you have, but only with Justin beside me, and I think he's pretty tired by now. Why don't we wait till tomorrow, and let's have Richie here, too."

"How about Greg?" Becky asked. Oh, damn. Danny and I knew he already knew about us, but they didn't know that. Almost blew that one.

"Yeah, Greg, too. That way we can answer everything at once. Umm, Kyle, can I ask a question?"


"Do you hate us?"

That was a bomb. There was silence in the room. The afternoon sun made the room bright, but it felt dark, heavy. Danny was standing by my bed, his hand in mine now. Becky was to Danny's right, facing me. Kyle was facing Danny. He closed his eyes, as if he were trying to form his answer. Or was he controlling his anger?

"Kyle?" Danny said.

Don't force it, Danny, I wanted to say.

Kyle took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and looked directly at Danny.

"I don't even understand it, Danny. But we're buds, and we've been buds since we were babies. I can't forget all the things you've done for me. Both of you. All of you. I watched you two kiss today, and I could see the love. How can I hate you for that? You're Danny and you're Justin. The same two people I grew up with. Nothing has changed, except that you've fallen in love. It could have been with girls. You wouldn't be asking me this if it had been girls. But you happen to have fallen in love with each other. That's weird, but not hatable."

It wasn't a very well thought-out answer, but how could it be? He'd just been hit with everything a few moments ago.

He looked at us again.

"No, I don't hate you."

"Will you help us with Greg and Richie?" Danny asked.

"I'll do what I can. But I don't think you'll have any problem."

Danny breathed a sigh of relief, and I realized I'd been holding my breath again.

They brought in my dinner, and all three got up to leave.

"I gotta get home," Danny said, sadly. "Mom says I hafta eat at home tonight. I haven't been eating very well."

"Why? Keep missing your mouth?" I said.

"Ha ha. I wanna stay here with you," he said. He was pouting.

How much love is that? He'd been here throughout my struggled to wake up, he came back after I'd pushed him away, and he wanted to stay with me through the rest. I mean, I fell in love even deeper. I gazed at him, trying to tell him with my eyes. My hand was in his, and he wouldn't let go. He stared back at me, and I read everything in those amazing eyes. I could see the seeks of hurt. No, not hurt. Something like hurt. Not an external pain. Internal. Deeply internal.


I saw terror. It was in his eyes. What he had endured over the past two weeks had scarred his soul, and I could see it in his eyes. He couldn't hide it. Not this.

But I think I also saw relief. And I saw love. Passion. Need. Ache. Hunger. Oh, hell, who knows if I saw all those things. I think I did. What I do know is that I glanced down, and I could tell he was hard. Damn. His sweats could hide that. I had pjs and a sheet. Not much to hide my hardening boyhood. And I couldn't raise my left leg to hide it from everyone, either.

Danny broke our gaze and brought the food tray over to my bed and placed it over me to hide my cock from Becky and Kyle. He glanced at them, then leaned over and gave me a kiss. As he reached the door, he said to Becky and Kyle, "You guys coming?"

"I am," Becky replied, and she leaned over to kiss my cheek. She started toward the door, but stopped when Kyle didn't follow her.

"You coming?" she asked.

"In a minute. I want to talk to Justin a moment. You guys go ahead. I'll catch up."

Danny gave Kyle a lingering look, then he and Becky left. Kyle stood there.

I didn't know what to expect. Maybe he had just been putting on an act before. Maybe he really did have a problem with us. But that couldn't be it. He'd already guessed most of it when he and Becky set up with this scheme to get Danny back for me. He just stood, looking at me. And I looked at him back. I wasn't going to start this. If he was gonna hit me or yell at me, he'd have to start it.

Kyle reached out to me. He took my left hand and darts shot up my arm. I winced.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Justin, I forgot." But he didn't let go of my hand.

"I don't know how to say this," he said.

"Just say it. What is it, Kyle?"

A tear formed in his eye. He gasped in, then let out a lungful of air. He started to talk, but his voice failed. Then he tried again.

"Oh, god, Justin. I was afraid we lost you. When I heard about the accident, I almost collapsed. I would have if it had been any of you guys. But you, Justin. You don't deserve this. I couldn't believe it. When I saw you, it was like my worst nightmare. Hoses and breathing tubes and bandages. Oh, god. It was almost too much."

Tears were raining down on the sheet.

"I wanted to be here every day, but I couldn't bring myself to it. Becky was with me when she wasn't here. Richie came by and we just sat thinking about you. I prayed, Justin. I prayed that you'd be okay. That you would come out of it and be the old Justin. That you'd hop out of bed and pick up a baseball glove and start tossing the ball."

He sobbed, then got control again.

"I guess I didn't pray hard enough. Justin Reynolds, I know I said it before, but I will be here by your side whenever you need me, whatever you need me to do, so you get better. No matter what. You and Danny -- well, I'm a little surprised. A lot. A lot surprised. But it doesn't mean a thing. What means something is that you are better and you and Danny and Richie and Greg and I get through this year, and the rest of high school, and our lives in one piece. Friends till the day we die, which will be long in the future."

He'd stopped crying, but still held my hand.

"You're my bud, and I love you as a brother. Thank god you're okay."

He leaned over the bed, took me in his arms, and hugged me tight. I was stunned. He'd never spoken like that before. I had no idea. With tears in my eyes, I lifted my right arm and put it around him.

"Thanks, bud." How lame. Sheesh. "Thanks, Kyle. I didn't...Thank you so much."

And what he did next almost made me shout. He raised my hand, stingers buzzing in my arm, and kissed my hand.

He grabbed a Kleenex off my stand, blew his nose, and with another one wiped his tears away.

"Sorry. I got a little carried away. But I do love you as a brother. And I'm really happy you're okay."

He moved toward the door.

"Tomorrow, bro. I'll see you tomorrow.

And he was gone. Wow. I lay there stunned, my pork roast getting cold, gravy congealing on the lumpy mashed potatoes. I was still like that 15 minutes later when mom and dad came by. Mom was all worried that I hadn't eaten anything, and dad was interested in my therapy sessions.

While they were there I got out of bed, with their help, of course, and sat in a chair. I was beginning to hate being in bed. I wanted to be able to move. And I couldn't. It was pretty awkward getting me to the chair, what with the tingles clanging along my whole left side. Once I was settled and stopped moving, the buzzing stopped. We had a nice chat. In the middle of it, I had to go to the bathroom, so dad helped me in. It actually felt good to sit for a while in the small, clean, white tile bathroom. Alone for a few moments.

I managed to clean myself and get by pj bottoms back up before I called dad to get me. After another half hour in the chair, the nurse came in to take my vitals. Mom and dad stood to leave after helping me back into bed, pulling the covers up and tucking me in. They kissed me, and then left.

To tell you the truth, I was tired. The therapist from hell had given me a workout, and then that whole thing with Danny, and then Kyle. I took off my glasses and set them on the night stand. I don't remember anything till breakfast the next morning. Not even the midnight reading of my body by the ghoulish nurses who came around in the dark.

As it turned out, we didn't all get together the next day. I had more therapy, they wanted another CT scan, I had to undergo some other diagnostics, Richie had to work and Becky had to go directly home from school to help get ready for harvest. But Danny was there. His mom must have broken land speed records to get him to the hospital after school. She came in, too, and gave me a hug.

"You're sure looking better," she said.

"Better than what?"

"Than the last time I saw you. You were still in . . . you were still asleep. Honey, I was so worried about you. We all were. Charlie took one look at you and ran out of the room crying. He refused to come back. He was soo frightened. Don't tell him I told you. He wants to come see you, but not while you're in the hospital. Once you get home, though, watch out. You might have a constant visitor."

I laughed a little. "I didn't know you'd come to see me."

"Didn't Danny write that in the diary he kept for you?"

"No. He mentioned a lot of other people, but not you."

Danny, standing behind his mother, gave me a murderous look.

"He didn't? Hmm. I wonder what else he left out. I think I'd like to read it sometime."

"NO!" we both said, a little too forcefully. She looked surprised for a moment, then started to laugh.

"Must be a guy thing," she said. "You're right. I probably DON'T want to see some of the things in there."

"Oh, well," I said, trying to be cool, "I don't think there's anything that would shock you." I enjoyed watching the contortions Danny's face was going through as he reacted on many emotional levels to that. "It's just sorta private." Danny was nearly choking, and I tried to stifle a laugh.

I think Mrs. Shaw knew what was going on, cuz she tried to keep from grinning, too. I wanted Danny so badly. I wanted to feel his lips on mine, his tongue on it's routine adventure around my mouth and as far down my throat as my gag reflex would allow.

"Actually, I haven't had time to read all of it. I've read parts of it. Some are still too painful to read."

"I understand, Justin," she said. "Danny has told me that you need therapy."

I explained about my left side, and how they were going to try to strengthen it. Kent, the therapist who was kind on the outside and the Marquis de Sade on the inside, told me that as my brain healed I'd get more motion back. But I wouldn't regain full motion without the therapy.

"Have they told you when you can come over?"

"Well, today Kent-the-demon said I might go home the day after tomorrow. I hope so. I think it's just a matter of how well I can get around. I probably won't be able to walk by then, but I may be able to use crutches or a wheelchair."

She looked at me, and I looked in her eyes. I'd never done that before. Danny got his eyes from her. They were full of sorrow right now, and I saw them glisten over with tears.

"I hope you come home soon. I miss you. You're like another son to me, Justin." she said simply.

Wow. That got to me.

"Thanks, Mrs. Shaw," I whispered.

She dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex from the box on my stand. "Well," she said, changing the subject, "Danny has something for you."

I knew he did, but I didn't think I'd get it in front of his mom!

He stepped up and slung the backpack off his shoulders.

"Homework," he said.

"No. You didn't. How could you bring me homework? I thought you were a friend."

"Hey, it was forced on me. You've missed more than two weeks of school, bud. Time to catch up so we can all graduate together in two years." We all laughed. He stared to unpack the load and dumped it all on the dinner tray.

"Two weeks is a lot," I noted. "Man, I'll never get through this."

"Oh, yes you will," he said. "We're not letting you flunk 10th grade."


"Us guys. And Becky. We've worked out a rotation to help you get done."

"You mean YOU worked it out."

"Actually, Greg did."

I winced at the sound of his name.

Danny stayed as late as he could that night and went home with my parents. The next day was routine, with Kent-the-demon urging me on and trying to thwart every move I made with my arm and leg, and me going through another battery of tests. During my afternoon therapy I was able to walk about three steps along the parallel bars. My leg wasn't coming along as well as my arm. In a wheelchair, I could get myself around pretty well. If bumping into furniture counts as pretty well.

Late in the day I was sitting up in bed. Danny, Kyle and Richie were all there. So were mom and dad. Dr. Smith came in and looked at my clipboard. He wrote some things on it, then came over and lifted the covers off me. He had me wiggle my toes, raise my leg (about half an inch is all I could do) and move my arm, which I did pretty well. The tingles were getting better. Still annoying, and if I tried to do too much, actually painful. He read my chart over again, then said, "Danny, would you like to go home tomorrow?"

Oh man. Home. My own bed. Real food. Visitors that don't have to sit in uncomfortable hospital chairs. I think they try to drum up more business by having people sit in those chairs and put their back out. Everyone in the room whooped, and mom hugged me, followed by Danny and then Kyle.

"Guys. I'm comin' home tomorrow!" I said. "Let's celebrate."

"It's a school night," mom reminded us.

"Aw, mom. It's been more than two weeks since I've been home. Can't they come over for a while?"

"Remember, you still have physical therapy," the doc said. "Kent noted that he wants to see you at 10:00 in the morning, and then you'll have exercises to do at home as well."

"No doubt. Geez."

"Justin," he said. "You have to do this. I know how painful and unpleasant it is. But if you want to walk, and throw a ball, you must do your therapy."

"I know. I'll do it."

"Damn right he will," Richie said. "We'll make him do them. If he thinks Kent was bad, wait till he sees us." He and Kyle were laughing evilly, and Danny joined them.

Richie stayed with me through dinner, then Danny came back. I wanted him sooo badly. I wanted to tear the clothes off him and force myself on him. I wanted our cocks to grind together, heating up through the friction. I wanted to suck his nipples into rock-hard pebbles of sensuous pleasure. I wanted to suck on his neck till a love bite pulsed bright red. I wanted us buck naked on this hospital bed, where I've lain by myself for so many weeks, unable to touch the lover who found me, innocent and unknowing, and brought me into his arms and fulfilled my senses. I wanted to show Danny what his love meant to me, by coaxing him to a higher plane than he'd ever reached. I wanted to tease him to the pinnacle, slow down, then boost him over the top, till every muscle in his body contracted, each one contributing to the orgasm that would wrack his body. I wanted him spent, weakened, still shaking from the thunder that rocked him, his cum mixed with mine, lubricating our chests and stomachs as he lay on top of me, unable for the moment to move, panting, kissing me lightly between breaths, and falling into a light slumber.

Instead, I got geometry. Three hours of it. And, while my mom was in the bathroom, a kiss and a little tongue.

Sleep. The midnight routine of vital signs so I wouldn't be too well rested for the journey home tomorrow.

Kent-the-demontrainer put me through a grueling, painful, relentless session the next morning. On the parallel bars, my arms were stronger, and I could walk a little bit. More steps than the day before. The tingling in my left arm was nearly gone. But my leg wasn't coming along as fast.

When I got back to my room, I got cleaned up with the help of a middle-aged nurse. My mom had packed up everything. We waited for the doc, who came just before noon.

He checked me over, looked at my chart, and said, "Okay, Justin. You can go."

I whooped. I wish the guys had been there.

"But take it easy. Not on your exercises. I want you to push those as hard as you can. But don't try to do too much. Don't go back to school till next week at least. You'll probably have some trouble with the wheelchair at first. Don't become dependent on it. I want you to walk very soon, at least with crutches. And I want to see you next week."

I didn't quite know what to say.

"Um, thanks, Dr. Smith. For everything."

"Hey, it's what they pay me for."

My dad came and helped me into the wheelchair that they had rented, and would be my transportation for a while. Nurses stood outside the door, and said good-bye and good luck as I was pushed past. I thanked them all for the great care.

The ride home. Lifting me up the three steps to the front door. Letting me sit in an easy chair and watch TV. I was home. Lucky me. I remembered to say a thank you prayer. Now I had to wait for school to get out and the guys to come over.

Kyle, Richie, Greg, Danny and Justin. Together again in the neighborhood. Laughing, joking, goofing around. Being buds.

But this time, Danny and I had something to tell them.

You know it's true love when, no matter what, he -- or she -- sticks with you through your stupid behavior, through your needs, and through your pain. It's what I've found here. I keep trying to find ways to fuck that up. And every time I do, the love is returned a hundred fold. I'm going to go to bed and envelope myself in that love.

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