"Jesus, Ty." Nick got up and pulled his pants back up and grabbed the canvass bag and pulled violently at the fence menders. Tearing them from the bag, he walked over and took the wire he brought and twisted it together with the other from the existing fence. He pulled it tight and wrapped it around the fence pole, twisting it around itself to hold it in place. He tugged and pulled at it angrily.

He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. He stopped and turned around and looked at the boy who had tear-filled eyes. "Did I screw up already? I'm sorry. Please don't send me back there. I can do it different. Tell me how to do it and I can. I know lots of ways."

Nick couldn't believe what he was hearing. Tears flowed from his eyes too as he hugged him close to him and listened to his sobs. Nick pulled back from him and lifted his chin. "Look at me. Please? Ty, no one is sending you anywhere. But you have to know that we're not going to do this anymore. Sex isn't a tool or a barter. It's supposed to be a sharing, making love. I can promise you one thing, though. If you try this with anyone else out here dad will have you back in no time. I enjoyed what we did, but I didn't think you owed me or should do it to pay for something. I thought you did it because you liked me. Not because you needed someone to protect you. Ty, I will protect you and so will Dad without any payment. Because we care. Now I feel awful because what we did didn't mean anything."

"Yes it did. No one ever kissed me like that. And nobody ever did to me what you did. For me, sex is love too. If someone protects me, I am grateful. I love them because they care for me."

"Ty, maybe it's me that's screwed up, but for me, sex isn't love. Love is a hurting when the other isn't around. A sadness when they are sick or down. It's a desire to do things to make the other smile without expecting anything back. It is also a desire to hold them next to you, to savor their smell, their taste. Sex is the fulfillment of the last part, but you can have love without sex."

"What makes you think my idea of love is so different? Kenny used to protect me. I would tend to him when they beat him up. He would even get up to protect me when he was hurt. When he was sick I worried about him, it made me sad, it made me afraid. He said when I did him it made his pain go away for a while. I'd do it for him even after he protected me and no one wanted to hurt me for a long time. When they put him in the hole for fighting I would steal his covers so I could have his smell around me. It made me feel safe. Isn't that what you just described?"

"No, he protected you as payment for the sex. Not because he cared for you at all."

"How do you know that?"

"Did he ever tell you `No, you don't have to do that. I'll protect you anyways?'"

"No, why should he? I was happy to do it. I wanted to do it."

"Ah! I don't know. I am so confused. Look, I need to sort this out. Until I do, no sex, okay?"


"You're still always going to be safe here, always protected. And we're not sending you back no matter what. Got it?"

"Does that mean you love me?"

"Yeah. No. I don't know. I just met you."

"But you said that it couldn't have been love between Kenny and me because he would have protected me without sex. Now you're saying you'll protect me without sex but you don't love me. Why is it one way for Kenny and another way for you?"

"Well yeah, then I guess I, we, love you a little bit."

"That's what I thought, more sex, more love. Less sex, less love. Are you sure you got it right and I got it wrong?"

"Look, you're confusing me. But I'm sure I'm right about this."

"Come on, let's walk down by the lake, I'm hot. This whole thing is frying my brain, I think."

Nick grabbed the reins and called Smoky to follow by making a clicking noise with his mouth and draping the reins over his shoulder. Smoky lifted his tail and did what horses do.

"Oh, that's disgusting!" Ty said, stepping off to the side a bit to look over his shoulder. Nick just smiled.

"Yeah, but it makes your roses look nice."


"That's what dad always says. It makes great fertilizer. Horseshit does."

He led the horse down a well trod path into a grove of trees. The shade of the canopy was so thick, it took a few moments for Ty's eyes to adjust to the dark. He didn't like walking into an area he couldn't see plainly, but followed along beside Nick. He could see a clearing up ahead and they headed directly for it. It was hot and muggy out. The saccade began their song as they ventured out into the clearing. Ty froze.

"What's that noise? Is it a snake?" he said, grabbing hold of Nick's arm and pulling him close.

"No, it's eighty-six degrees. The saccade rub their wings together at precisely eighty-six degrees. They won't hurt you."

"Why do they have to sound like a rattlesnake?"

"Well, they don't actually. See, when you hear them, they are all around you and up high in the trees. They're only calling their girlfriends when they do it. With a rattlesnake, it would be louder and the sound is a bit harder. It would only come from one direction and if you can hear it you can usually see it. It is also usually too late to get away from it. Smoky here wouldn't be so calm either."

"How do you know all this stuff?"

"I listen to my dad. He's really smart."

"I wish I had one worth a shit."

"That's alright, you can borrow mine. There's plenty of him to go around. Here we are."

"Ready to cool off?"

"What, in there?" he said, pointing to the lake.

"Yeah, in there," Nick said, dropping the reins and pulling the saddle off of Smoky. He set the saddle down and unrolled the blanket he had behind the saddle. He took Smoky's saddle blanket and draped it over some brush to dry out. Smoky pursed his lips and drank from the lake. "You coming in?" he asked, taking off his boots and peeling his shirt off over his head. Ty just stared at the muscular arms and chest of the golden skinned god in front of him. He went hard again in a second.

"No, uh thanks. I think I'll just wait here for you."

"Why, don't you like to swim?"

"I don't know how. Besides, aren't there things living in the water?"

"Well sure, but nothing that'll hurt ya. And it's not very deep. You can stand almost all the way across. Come on, I'll teach ya." He stood up and undid his pants, letting them fall to the ground. Ty looked around to make sure nobody was around.

"You're going to swim naked? What if somebody comes?"

"So, they come. I'm a boy. I've got boy stuff. Chances are, anybody coming would be a boy too. If they aren't, then some girl will get to see some boy stuff. No big deal."

"What if you bone up?"

"Then I bone up. It isn't like the world would come to an end. At our age, we're boned more than we're not anyways. Now, you coming in or do I have to carry you in?"

"No way dude. Thanks."

"Ok, then. Have it your way," He walked toward the lake and scooped Ty up over his shoulder as he took off running and diving into the water. Ty came up sputtering and flailing his arms in a total panic. Nick swam over to him and grabbed him. He wrapped his arms around Nick in a deathgrip. "I have you, you're ok. Lighten up on the choke hold, will you? Look, you can stand up here. Put your feet down."

"No, I don't want to." He kept his legs firmly wrapped around Nick's waist.

"Come on, trust me a bit here. I wouldn't ever do anything that would hurt you. Come on, it's sandy on the bottom here. It's not even muddy."

"Please take me back."

"If you put your feet down we'll walk back to shore together."

He refused to relent and started shivering. "Why are you shivering, it's not cold."

"I'm freezing," he said. Nick was concerned. He pulled him away and looked at his eyes. They were blown when they should be small from the sunlight.

"You're really scared, aren't ya?"

He nodded and buried his face in his neck.

"Alright, it's ok. I'm taking you back. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, honest. Come on, you're going to be alright." He carried him back on shore. His clothes made him heavy. "We're there, come on stand up. Let's get you out of those wet clothes. The sun will warm you up." Nick peeled his shirt off of him and his arms pulled in close to his chest as he continued to shiver. "Kick your shoes off," Nick commanded, as he started to undo his pants. He dropped them and pulled his boxers down too. "Lay down on the blanket there, the sun will warm you up in no time."

He watched as the boy's malnourished body curled up in a ball and shivered on the blanket. Nick felt horrible. As he took the wet clothes and spread them out on the brush to dry out, he wondered why nothing normal was normal for this kid. He wandered back over to the trembling boy. He was in shock. That's why he was cold. He was so terrified he went into shock. He layed down and spooned him in the sun, trying to calm him. He hugged him tightly and tears welled up in his eyes over what he had done to the boy. He had never dreamt it would terrify him that way. He held him until his trembling stopped and the boy stretched out, still spooned together and they fell asleep in the warm afternoon sun.

Smoky came over and nudged Nick awake. It was late afternoon. They needed to head back. He looked at the young boy fast asleep before him. He ran his hand over his ribcage, across his soft round mound and down his soft leg. He started to wake and rolled on his back, stretching his arms and arching his dick forward. He was rock hard. His head lay across Nick's arm as he looked up into those blue pools that looked back. His arms went around his neck and pulled him to him, kissing him passionately. Nick went hard too and his hand found Ty's balls and cock. He wrung them gently. And Ty responded by moving his hips to the rhythm. Ty broke the kiss and kissed the side of his neck, sucking him gently as he moved gently down to his collarbone. His thumbs found his nipples and he pinched them lightly. Nick rolled onto his back and pulled Ty on top of him as Ty started to rub his raging hard dick next to Nick's. Their breathing became hard and their writhing became harder as Nick pulled his ass into him and pumped back. Ty's lips found his nipple and he nipped at it and licked at it and then Nick cried out as he pushed his hips forward and blasted his come between them. Ty felt the scalding hot jism between them and continued to rub his boyhood against his rigid arched body, as he too released his pent up boy love between them. They collapsed together and returned to this planet as Ty leaned up and kissed Nick, then lay his face against his. They lay there together for a few minutes.

`Damn it!' Nick thought. `I did it again, or he did it again.'

"Come on, we gotta wash this stuff off. You can just sit down in the shallows or wash it off with your hand. I'm going to dive in." They got up and Ty reached down and ran his hands through the boy jam covering his belly and rubbed it in across his cock and balls, then up his belly. Savoring the feel and the astringent effect it had on his skin as it dried in the sun. He went to the water's edge and waded in about to his ankles and knelt down on his knees and washed the cum off him. He glanced up and saw Nick watching him. He sat back with his feet out in front of him and arched his head back, leaving a very provocative view for Nick. And Nick noticed. He smiled, taking it in as he slowly made his way back to the beach.

"Come on or we'll be late. We're going to have to hurry as it is," Nick said, as he walked by him and headed for his clothes. He used his t-shirt to dry off with then put it on. Ty did likewise. His tennis shoes were still mostly wet but that couldn't be helped. Nick saddled Smoky and put the canvas bag with the fence menders back on the horn and tied the rolled blanket back behind the saddle. He climbed on Smoky and turned to Ty. "Remember how we did it before? Put your foot in the stirrup and grab the horn. I'll help pull you up." He did and successfully got on behind Nick.

"Now we're going to go a little faster cause were late. You just hang on around my waist and ride with the horse. You may get a little bounce going on but that's alright. OK?"

"Yeah," Ty said, as he wrapped his arms around Nick and placed his face tightly against his back.

Nick walked Smokey back up the trail through the woods, but upon reaching the pasture he kicked Smoky a little and he broke into a cantor, the wind blowing his mane back and the boys attaining a gentle bounce.

"You alright back there?" he asked, but the firm grip told him he was once again misjudging the boy. He was scared stiff. He clutched Nick to him in a grip that almost took Nick's breath away.

"Easy now, ok Smoky," he said, as he reined him in some and slowed him down. "You're ok too," he said to Ty, looking over his shoulder. "Are you afraid of everything?"

"No, not the things I know. Not the things I know how they hurt. Only new things I don't know how they hurt."

"Not everything hurts you, ya know."

"Most all of life hurts."

"That didn't hurt on the beach this afternoon did it?"

"It's a fine line between pain and pleasure. It can hurt sometimes, if the guy is too big or not patient enough. Sometimes, if he's in too big of a hurry, or if there isn't any lube. Sometimes that hurt can be turned into pleasure, too. Those are things I know. Horses, snakes, alligators. Those things I don't know. I don't want to know them. They scare me. Point a gun at me and I don't care. Hand me the reins to Smoky and I'm a whimpering mess. It's all in what you know. How do you think you would do in the middle of a pack of 8 Mexicans with knives, guns and an attitude against white guys? You alone, without anyone or anything to fight back?"

"Pretty scared I reckon. But I wouldn't let myself be put in that position."

"Yeah, well, lucky you. Not everyone has those choices. My choice here is either face you or spend the next two plus year in a pain I don't want to live through. My choices were thin. If I knew then what I know now, I'm not sure how I would vote. You, you are the difference. I trust that you won't hurt me. I don't know why. Sooner or later they all hurt me."

"I won't. I won't ever intentionally hurt you. Honest. Look, I don't know what you know and I don't know what you don't. But I do know how to live here and not be hurt. How to live with the animals and not be afraid. Let me teach you and then you won't have to be afraid either."

"Hey, you two. I thought I was going to have to send out a search party. Get cleaned up for dinner."

"I wouldn't do that." Ty said.

"What are you talking about?"

"I wouldn't run. Running would get me back in the place. If I wanted back in the place I'd just call Bill. Search parties tend to shoot first."

Oggie walked over and put his hand on Ty's shoulder. "It was just a figure of speech, Ty. I didn't mean to make you think you were in some kind of trouble."

"Oh, yeah, of course. I knew you were kidding."

"Look son, let's sit down and talk after dinner. Maybe we can put your mind to rest on a few things. Now go get cleaned up for dinner."


"More bread, Ty?"

"Yes, please," he mumbled with a mouth full of spaghetti. They watched as he devoured the spaghetti and went back for thirds. Oggie and Nick watched in amazement. Nick thought this was probably the first meal he has had in a long time that he didn't have to give up to someone bigger, stronger, organized. He wolfed four down like it would be taken away if he wasn't fast.

"Ty," Oggie said. "You can slow down and enjoy the flavor. There is no one here that will take it from you and there is plenty to eat." Oggie got up and went around the room and opened the cupboards. "Come here son, look." Ty got up still shoving a piece of bread in his mouth. Oggie walked him around the kitchen. "There is all this food and when we need to, we will get more. The refrigerator is full too. If that isn't enough, there is a freezer in the pantry. This is your home. If you are hungry, then eat. There is no limit or set meals. If you get up in the middle of the night and want to eat a sandwich, then make one and eat it. All I ask is that you clean up after yourself. Put the food you don't eat back in the fridge and your dishes in the sink. We work together as a family. We share in the work to keep the house clean and to take care of the animals. Take a few days to relax and get used to the place, the sounds, the smells and the quiet. There is no one here who wants to hurt you. You can come to me or Nick any time you need to and we'll help you. I know this is way different than anything you've ever had to live around, but what you had wasn't working for you. It was letting you down. So try this for a bit, see if you can settle in. Talk to us. We're here to help you succeed. It's just the three of us. No competition for anything. Just plain living, day by day. But it's a good living. Give it a chance."

"And if it doesn't work? Me and this place. What then?"

"You have choices. It's all up to you. If it doesn't work here for you it's because you gave up on us. We won't give up on you. You have my word." Oggie stuck out his hand.

"What, no contracts to sign, no rules list? I can't go here, can't do this or that. Just a hand shake?"

"Yep, just a hand shake. Come and go when and where you want. All I ask is that you let one of us know where you went so that if something happens we know where to go looking for you. Not like you were late, but like you were hurt. We'd want to know where to start looking. Besides that, we just ask that you pull your own weight."

"Ah! Workforce, something I understand. So who's the boss man?"

"Well, I guess in all things important, that would be me. But I would prefer a partnership. We have three horses, some chickens, a few cows and the three of us. That's what we have to keep up with. The animals count on us to feed and care for them. In return, they work for us or feed us. We are the higher life form so it is up to us to care for them. It's not a lot to do when three of us do it. Stick with Nick and he'll show you. He's a good boy and I'm proud of him. Feel free to come to me any time with anything. I'll be here for you. Come on, I'll show you around." He took Ty around the house showing him the different rooms.

"This is my office." Ty looked around. There were pictures of large buildings surrounding the room. A miniature mock up of one took up a portion of the office, about the size of a standard desk top.

"What's all this?"

"This is what I do for a living. I make buildings. Or more precisely, I design them for others to make. That's how we can afford to live out here and keep the lights on. Can you draw?"

"A little."

"I'd like to see it some time. Maybe you can draw something for me."

"Yeah, sure. This stuff is really cool," Ty said as he lifted the large onion skin like paper. "This is too cool. The paper is so thick, you can draw it in layers. You want trees, whamo you have trees. Ooops! Don't want trees you pull the page out."

"You're pretty sharp. That's exactly right."

"They pay you for this?"

"They pay me well for this."

"Wow, how long did you have to go to school to learn to do it?"

"About six years in all. But you don't have to go that long to start making money at it. You can do some of it as you learn. Is it something you think you might like to do?"

"Oh, I could never do anything like that. I mean, come on, I'm not even old enough to drive and I've already wrecked my life. I've spent two years in jail."

"Don't think like that. If you can keep your head on straight, you can get the records sealed when you are eighteen. Nobody has to ever know unless you tell them."

"Really! You mean there is still a chance?"

"More than a chance. A promise. I give you my word that I will help you to be or do anything you want in life. I'll make sure your records get sealed and you get a chance. All I ask is that you work hard at everything you do and remain honest."

"Why? Why would you do this?"

"You want the truth?"

"I thought you didn't lie."

"I don't. If you had said no, I wouldn't have said anything. The truth is, I did some pretty stupid things when I was a boy. I got into some trouble and my parents basically washed their hands of me. Looking back, I don't blame them. I was trouble. Anyways, I got dumped into the system and went from bad to worse. One day, I stumbled into a park and saw this old guy drawing. Man, he was good. I sorta watched over his shoulder when he drew, trying not to look interested. Some punks came by and roughed him up. They took his briefcase. I don't know what made me do it, but I gave chase and got it back. On my way back to him with the briefcase, the cops saw me. They knew I was trouble and saw I had his briefcase. They tackled me to the ground and cuffed me and then took me and the case back to the old man. They told him they got me red handed and he walked up to me and looked closely at me. He turned to the cop and said, `You have the wrong one. He ran to get it back. He's my apprentice, let him go.' They looked at me and looked at him They knew I wasn't his apprentice. The cop looked at the old guy and said, 'Look pops, I know this kid. He's trouble.' I'll never forget what the old man said next. `If I live to be a hundred,' he said, `that was last week. This week, he is an apprentice architect."'

"So, this is sorta like payback?"

"Kind of. You see, if it wasn't for Mr. Farbersham, I don't know how my life would have turned out. I know I wouldn't have Nick. So I want to try and help some other kid out. I just know I really appreciated it. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be standing where I am, giving this same speech to some frightened kid who is trying to decide whether to trust you or not."

Ty smiled at that thought. "You've given me hope Mr. Oggie. That's something I haven't had much of in a long time." Ty walked out of the office and out the front door. He stared off into nothing. He was someplace far, far away. Nick started to go out but Oggie stopped him.

"Give him a little time. Come on, I'll help you with the dishes."

"Sorry pa, figured you guys needed some time. Spaghetti washes easy if you get it before it dries. I took care of 'em already."

"Thanks. It was a good talk. I think he'll be alright."

"I don't know pa, I've never seen anyone who was so scared. It's like normal ain't normal for him."

"This is a heap different than what he knows. That might be what saves him. Just be patient and show him understanding."

"Sure pa."

"We're supposed to get rain tonight so we should move the horses in the barn `cause it looks like a big one. If it eases up, we can let 'em out in it after we get up. We need to pick up any tools and stuff the rain might get to. You know the drill. I expect we better get to it before it gets dark."

"I'll get on it right away. You think I should take Ty with me?"

"You can ask him. He may or may not want to go. I know he is sorting a lot of things out right now. That reminds me. We gotta get his measurements and order him some clothes. He doesn't have a thing and he's small enough that he'd swim in your stuff."

"He looks like he hasn't eaten in a month of Sundays. His skin barely wraps over his ribs. He's awful small for being my age too."

"Let's not forget that you put on a quick six inches. I thought you did it all in one night almost. I figure he'll do the same soon. We'll have to see if we can't fatten him up a bit too."

"I better get at it pa, I'm losing sunlight."

Oggie went back to his office and began to work on his drawings.


"Hey Ty, we got a storm coming in tonight. I'm going to put the horses in and pick up a few things so the rain don't ruin 'em and so we don't have to chase stuff for six counties to get it all back. They blow pretty good sometimes up here. You want to come along? Don't think you've seen the barn and bunk house yet."

"Sure, I'll come along. What's a bunk house?"

"Just what the name implies, a place with bunks for people to sleep."

"Who sleeps there? I thought it was just the three of us."

"It is right now. Come spring, we may plant some, or maybe get a few more head of cattle. If we do that, then we'll bring in help. Sometimes they just stay for a week or so, sometimes longer. This way, they have their own space in case they want to get rowdy drunk on Friday night or something. Anyways, we keep it aired out so it's ready if we get company, sudden like. I remember a while back, we had forest fires. Happens sometimes from the lightning. We housed and fed two crews of twelve for about eight days. Man, it seemed like we were cooking round the clock. No sooner get one crew fed and the next would come in. They were sleeping anywhere they could roll a bed roll out. Bunk house will sleep ten but we had others who came to help cook and clean and tend to the injuries."


"Yeah, those fires get tricky and they can box you in right fast if you aren't careful. Once it boxes you in, it all burns to the center and you have no way out but through a wall of flames. Pretty scary stuff, but these guys do it all the time. It's not my idea of fun. That's one reason we keep the brush and trees away from the house and barn. No fuel for the fires if it happens. We have a big ol' cistern up behind the barn that catches rainwater and stores it for us and for emergencies. That was my idea. First time I saw a wildfire I remembered how the water used to come down the hill behind the barn and flood everything. I suggested it to pa and he took some measurements when it rained next and bought a huge plastic tank to catch it all in. Now, it doesn't flood as bad and we have extra water. Pa says he uses the idea when he plans buildings now too. Having a large amount of water nearby could save lives and property, he says."

"Your pa is a pretty cool guy."

"He's the best. And he's just what you see. No more, no less."

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, go ahead."

"What did the other six do to get sent back?"

"That's one I'm afraid you'll have to ask pa about. It ain't cause I don't want to tell you, it's cause I don't really know. Only one went back `cause he was bad and he was bad clean through. Mean to begin with, wouldn't chip in to do anything and ordered me around like I was his servant. Pa talked to him a couple times and he finally pulled a knife on pa and that was a wrong thing to do. Them other five couldn't cut it and said this place was too dead to live. They wanted the excitement of the city. Even if it cost them their freedom. None of them liked me. They felt like I was going to get special treatment because I was his son. They never gave me a chance. Heck, one got out of Bill's car, stepped in a pile of horse shit and climbed right back in the car. He said something about havin' no bling for the thing. Whatever that means. But you're different."

"What do you mean, different?"

"Even pa said it. He said there's hope for you. He can feel it."

"Yeah, how about you? You think I'll make it?"

Ty cocked his head to the side and cracked a smile, "I'm hoping real hard that you do. I kinda like havin' you around already. What about you? You figure you'll make it?"

"I'm sure gonna try. He said some pretty incredible stuff in there. He gave me hope where I never had any before. This is the first time I can remember not being afraid of the people around me. That alone is something. It's a difference I just can't get my hands around yet. Family, to me, always meant that a group of people would protect each other and in turn not tell on them if things went bad. This is the first time I've had this type of family. If I'm afraid of anything, it's afraid of changing things between you and your pa. I sorta feel like I'm about to piss in the Garden of Eden."

"Well, let me be the first!" Nick said, pulling his semi-hard post out of his fly, leaned back and let it go with no hands. He moved his hips around, spraying an arc 3 feet away. Ty joined him in the fun before they tucked them away and started for the barn.

They laughed and joked as they battened down the hatches and moved the lawn furniture ,inside the mud room. "Come on, one more thing to do. Got to cover the hot tub or the rain will ruin the chemistry."

"You have a hot tub?"

"No silly, WE have a hot tub. It's out back off, of Pa's office. Guess you got too side tracked with all them drawings and missed that part of the tour. I got to tell you, right now it is hot and sticky out, but this fall, you are going to love this thing. An afternoon of picking corn and you ache until you sit down in this baby. You'll enjoy picking corn just so you can get sore and enjoy it more."

"You know, I think you're nuts, right?" Ty said, laughing.

"You're probably right, too. Just wait. You're gonna love it here in no time."

"You've already made it interesting. I just hope I can survive it."

"Ah, nothing to that. Wait and see. You'll take to it. Maybe tomorrow, I'll start teaching you how to ride. Camile is real gentile. I think you'll like her. We can do some stuff, just in the coral there, until you're comfortable. What do ya think?"

"Can you take me out there now and introduce me to her?"

"Sure, let's go. You'll like her a lot, she is as sweet as honey and once she knows she is appreciated she will do almost anything for you. Horses have different personalities, just like people. That's the trick with Camile. Just love her and thank her and she'll do anything for you. Chubacka is pa's and he is proud and high spirited. They have a battle to see who is boss now and then and of course, pa wins. Then he settles down and does what he is told. He's a proud horse and doesn't take to no mollycoddling. He respects the tough. Then, there is Smoky. He's mine and we've come to understand each other. We trust each other and look out for each other. Just like at the lake. He saw it was getting late, so he came over and woke me up."

"No way, a horse that can tell time?"

"Well, I don't know about that, but he knew the sun would be down if we didn't head back and he woke me up. I think he's about the best horse for me that could be found," he said as he scratched his withers. Smoky put his nose in the air and blew his lips. Ty laughed.

"He looks funny when you scratch him there."

"Yeah, for a horse it feels really good and for a few it tickles it feels so good." Ty reached over and scratched Camile and she cocked her head sideways and worked her lips like she was trying to talk. Ty laughed.

"I think she likes ya."

"Yeah, how can you tell?"

"Look, she moved closer to you, her head down a bit. It's a submissive posture. You're above her. She is showing you trust. Scratch her behind her ears a bit. That lets her know you noticed. Now, step over the railing and stand under her head like you were hugging her almost. Stroke her neck while you do it." Camile backed up and took her lips and nibbled on his hair.

"Is she going to bite me?" He asked, too scared to move.

"No, she's just telling you she noticed too. Give her a pat and talk to her. Let her hear your voice."

"What do I say to her? I never talked to a horse before. I mean, I don't think we have much in common."

Nick laughed, "Ask her if she'll give you a ride tomorrow."

"Ok, how about it Camile? Could you give me a ride tomorrow?"

Camile whinnied and shook her head up and down. Ty put his arm around her neck again and spoke to Camile so that Nick couldn't hear him.

"Look, I'm scared to death of you and I don't know what I'm doing, so give me a break if I screw it up, alright?"

Camile pulled him into her with her head over his shoulder and held him there. It was almost as if the horse was hugging him.

"Wow, I don't know what you said to her, but I ain't never seen her do that before. I think you made yourself another friend. Come on, we better head inside. It's getting late and we'll be up with the chickens."

"What do you sleep in?"

"Usually the state makes us wear a t shirt and boxers."

"OK well, this ain't the state. How about if I get one of Dad's long t-shirts and we'll wash your other clothes. Pa said we have to get you some new clothes tomorrow because you don't have enough. Do you know your sizes?"

"Yeah, small and whatever nobody else wants."

"I see. We'll measure that all out tonight after your shower and we'll write it all down so we have it. You want to go first or you want me to?"

"Can't we both go together?"

"I recon we could. I'll get one of Dad's shirts and be right up."

"Pa, you got a long t-shirt Ty can use for a night shirt. I'm going to throw all of his things in the washer tonight before we turn in. We're getting our shower now."

"Sounds like you guys are hitting it off alright."

"Pa, you should have seen Camile with him tonight. She almost hugged him. I've never seen her act like this with anyone else. It was the strangest thing."

"That may be his best endorsement yet. Animals can sense things about a man. That tells me there is a gentleness, a softness about the boy that is there, we just have to dig it out. All we have to do is keep him from bolting until he settles in."

"Pa," Nick said, quietly.

"Yes son." Oggie said waiting, knowing by the tone he was about to say something important.

"Pa, I want to keep this one."

"Me too, son. Me too. But you know it isn't up to us. It's up to him. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

"I know pa. It's just that, well, sometimes he is just so scared."

"He's had a scary life son. Can you imagine being the smallest and being afraid every minute of every day? Sometimes it has to be scary just because it's not."

"I don't get it pa, how can it be scary if it's not?"

Son, think about it. If every minute of every day was scary and then all of a sudden you took all the fear away, wouldn't you be afraid because things weren't normal?"

"Yeah, in a twisted sort of way, I see. Gosh, what a horrible way to live."

"Look, all we can do is be honest and loving and hold him when he needs us. Get close to him. I don't think he's had anyone he could trust close to him. Show him what it means to be family."

"Right pa, I'll do my best."

"I know you will son."


"Here's the shirt. I got a long one too."

"Are you still talking shirts here?" Ty laughed.

"Ok, now is this some hokey kind of trade thing, like protection or something, cause if it is, then I'll just wait till your done. I ain't into doin' things for a debt. I just want to do things because you want to do things. You understand what . . ."

His words never got finished because another set of lips got in the way. Ty hugged his new found friend and their tools mingled amongst themselves. Ty just hugged him though as the hot water cascaded over top of them, warming them to the core.

"Thank you." Ty whispered.

"You're welcome and thank you. It feels good just to feel you against me. I've wanted to feel this for so long. Up here though, I just don't have anybody. You're really a dream come true."

They soaped up and stroked up and made each other quiver and finally shake. They rinsed and being boys, well spent from a day of sex and spaghetti, turned in. For Ty, this was his first night on the ranch.

Rest came fitful as it always did for Ty. He never slept well because he never knew when someone would come in the dark and want what he could give them in the dark. But tonight he was in a new kind of hell. A hell he might like, but a hell unknown to him as of yet. And if that wasn't enough, now he felt he had pissed God off.

The storm rolled in. The wind whipped through the pass and blew against the house. It creaked and strained under the wind. The noise was surrounded by the absolute silence. Then it came, the fire from God that exploded each time it hit the ground. It took Ty's breath away. He had never seen lightning except on TV. It never strikes in southern California. It seldom rains, but when it does, there is no anger in the storm. He cowered in the corner of his bed away from the window just staring, waiting for it to come, waiting for it to come for . . . him.

Oggie came down the hall to check on his boys before turning in. He stopped by Nick's room and peered in, he rested well. He found peace in the rain storm. Oggie smiled, knowing the feeling. He too loved the rain. He walked down the hall and peered in to see the trembling boy huddled in the corner, flinching at every flash. Oggie walked in beside the bed, not wanting to startle him more.

"Son, you alright?" he asked in his softest gentlest tone. The boy never looked away from the window until Oggie spoke and he could not move fast enough to get into his lap. He buried his face in his neck and whimpered as he shivered. Oggie grabbed the blanket off the bed and wrapped it around the trembling boy.

"Son, it's alright. You've got nothing to be afraid of here. The storm brings water to make things grow. We need it." The lightning flashed and the boy jumped and pulled in tighter.

"Ty, you're safe in here. The lightning can't hurt you. Haven't you ever seen lightning before?"

Ty shook his head no.

"My daddy used to tell me that it was God bowling in heaven. You wait and see, morning will come and you'll be alright. You want to climb in bed with Nick? I bet he won't mind the company." Oggie carried Ty into Nick's room and sat down on the edge.

"Hey Nick. Wake up a minute there bud."

"Yeah pa, what's wrong?"

"Nothing really. It's just that Ty here hasn't ever seen lightning and well, he's a little nervous. Would you mind some company tonight?"

"Sure, that'll be alright." He scooted against the wall and lifted the cover up. Oggie noticed Nick was naked as he lifted the blanket for Ty to scurry in. Nick draped his arm over Ty and spooned him close as he drifted back to sleep. Oggie watched for a time and noticed that Ty's eyes were closing. Storm or no storm, he felt safe in Nick's arms. Ty was just a T-shirt away from being naked too. Oggie smiled, remembering his days as a boy and some of the things boys did back then.

Oggie woke the next morning and slipped on his slippers. The storm had passed, leaving them with a constant light rain. He stuck his head in to check on the boys and noticed the t-shirt on the floor. Ty was nestled in with his nose in Nick's neck and he could see the way the covers lay that Ty's leg was draped over Nick's. As he watched, Nick yawned and stretched. His movement jarred Ty, who pushed his hips against Nick's leg and he kissed his neck. Nick smiled and pulled him in to lay on top of him, Ty's legs now in between Nick's, both still asleep.

Oggie quietly backed out of the doorway and went down to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee, quietly thinking about what he had seen. His only conclusion was that he needed to watch more closely. After all, they were asleep. He also figured he better look up some stuff on what he suspected. Had he made him that way? After all, he brought him way up here. No girls for miles. No one really, but when there was, it was boys. It troubled Oggie. He hadn't planned on this. He didn't see this one coming. But whatever it was, he was determined to be supportive. But he had promised Ty he would help him. What if Ty was the cause? Had he brought the cause into his home? A million thoughts raced through his head, always ending up with more questions than answers. He was getting worked up over it.

"Breakfast!" he said out loud. "Start breakfast," he continued. But the silence as he started the eggs and bacon soon gave way for his mind to further meander. His quest for knowledge begged satisfaction, so instead of calling upstairs for them to come down to breakfast he walked quietly up the stairs and looked into the room. He had no more questions. Ty was on his back with his arms around his son's back and his son was grinding away as he kissed the boy beneath him. He watched for a moment as he saw Nick shudder and yelp, as did Ty, moments later. Nick collapsed on top of Ty breathing heavy.

"I expect you'll want a shower before you come down for breakfast. I'll try and keep it warm for yeah." He backed out the door as the look of shock and horror appeared on Nick and Ty's faces. "Before you panic, it's alright. But we'll need to talk about all this. So get cleaned up and be quick before the eggs get too cold. We'll talk after breakfast."

Oggie had no idea what he was going to say. Just that they needed to talk and needed to figure out where they were and where they were heading.


Welcome. The start of a new story. How exciting! At least for me. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

It you could take a moment and let me know what you think I would be flat stoked. I have a list that sends out new writing and new chapter notices. It is never shared and it is never used for anything else. No pass alongs, charm mails or even patriotic stuff. That is not the purpose of it. To join just email me and I'll add you. Getting off is just as easy. Shoot me an email and as soon as I stop crying I'll push the delete button. My email is: mytrickybits@gmail.com

I would like to thank Mark, my editor. He is super and I am truly blessed that he takes the time to do this. He is the best. He makes it look like I have a clue. Thanks to his significant other for letting me borrow him. (Not that way, I mean it's long but he's in a different state!) Anyways, if you would like to tell him how great he is, mark@mandmsplace.com

I have other stories and they may be found on www.Nifty.org , www.IOMFATS.org  and www.Sscreeve.org . Thanks to these wonderful sites for hosting work for us to read and write to. Greatest of all, Thanks to you, the reader without you, we're only writing for ourselves. Your email is our paycheck. Thanks in advance. Even if you tell me it's complete crap.

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