By this time, you already know what this story deals with. If you're too young to be reading it, you already know that, too. But it's dedicated to you, anyway, and to all boys your age whether gay or straight. I don't encourage the behavior depicted in this story at your age, but in the right circumstances I could accept it. I hope you will like it.

This is a period piece; i.e. written at a time when HIV and AIDS weren't issues. The characters don't use condoms except to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, in today's times, condoms are an absolute necessity unless you have the will power to be monogamous, which I encourage.

This is a love story. Sure, sexual acts are depicted, because sex is a basic part of being in love and sharing your love with one another. There will be at least 12 chapters. Please send comments to me at Writers thrive on feedback. I hope this story helps someone (actually, a lot of someones).

True Love

By Dan

Chapter Four

Part I - Can we talk?

When supper was ready, Mr. Russell volunteered to tell the boys. Prior to today, he might have sent Nancy. But things were changing, and he wasn't at all sure what would be found behind Sam's bedroom door. The bedrooms all had locks on the doors, but the Russell's had always stressed that they never be used. A door was for privacy, and locks weren't necessary.

The temptation to open the door while he knocked was great indeed, but he forced himself to abide by his own rules. He needn't have worried, though. As the boys had slept, one had evidently gotten cold and pulled the sheet up so that it came to rest just under their arm pits. A couple of knocks were answered by a sleepy "Come in..."

Sam's dad stuck his head in the door and told the boys dinner was ready.

"OK, dad. We'll be right there," Sam answered sleepily.

The guys got up and slipped into their briefs and joined the rest of the family at the table. The Russell's and Whittington's weren't naturists, but the kids of both families had always been allowed to wear nothing more than their underwear. Even Nancy frequently dressed down to bra and panties. At her age, she was just starting to develop, but Mrs. Russell knew it wouldn't be long before she would have to encourage her daughter to start being careful when Dan was around. He was almost family, but not close enough to be ignored.

After dinner, Mr. Russell pulled Sam aside while Dan helped Nancy and her mother clear the table.

"Did you have a chance to speak to Dan about the three of us having a talk?"

"Oh, geez, dad. I forgot. We fell asleep not too long after we went to my room. Let me tell him tonight and we can talk tomorrow after lunch while mom and Nancy are napping."

The Russell's had a fairly consistent practice of coming home from church, eating lunch and then each finding a comfortable chair, couch or bed to take an afternoon nap.

"Ok, Sam. But make sure you don't forget again. This is important, you know."

"Sure, dad, I know. I won't forget. Are we gonna play Monopoly® tonight?"

"I 'spect so. It's Saturday night!"

Another tradition.

By the time Mr. Russell and Nancy had teamed up to bankrupt the other three, it was quite late. Everyone hurried to get their showers and get to bed. Sam and Dan were tired enough they didn't even fool around. Sitting on the bed in their undershorts, Sam told Dan about the talk they needed to have with his dad the next day.

"What's he want to talk about?" Dan asked.

"Well, I 'm not sure. But I suspect it has something to do with how you and I feel about each other. He mentioned it this afternoon right after I told him I loved you."

"Geez! I'm scared, Samuel. What if he tells us we can't see each other any more?"

"Danny! You get that thought right out of your head! If he was gonna do somethin' like that, he'd never have said he and mom were OK with it - my loving you, I mean. Remember he said that?"

Sam had gotten a bit upset at Dan's comment. Partly from his own fear that something like that could still happen. He and Dan had never been separated by anything more than a vacation. They had only expressed their feelings for each other in terms of love a few hours ago, but he knew that's what it was. He knew it was real. And he knew he'd never be able to survive being separated from his boyfriend. God, can I call him that? Boyfriend? I wonder how Danny would feel about it if I called him my boyfriend? Sam thought to himself.

Dan was worried about much the same things Sam was. He wasn't sure he could explain his feelings for Sam to himself, much less to Dad Russell. But explain them or not, he knew his attachment to Samuel had reached new ground in the last two days, and he would fight to prevent anything from keeping them apart.

The boys stripped off their shorts and slid under the covers. Sam snuggled up against Dan's back, his penis resting against his friend's butt and his hand lightly holding onto Dan's penis. Lost in their own thoughts, neither of them even got hard.

After lunch the next day, Mom Russell and Nancy curled up in their favorite chairs in the TV room and quickly fell asleep. Dan and Sam wandered back to Sam's bedroom and were soon joined by Mr. Russell.

"Hey, guys."

"Hey, dad."

"We need to talk."


The boys had been sitting somewhat apprehensively on the bed. Mr. Russell shut the door quietly behind him and turned to face them.

"Do you mind if we just lay down like we used to when I'd tell you stories?" he asked.

The boys scooted apart and laid down, leaving a spot in the middle of the bed for Sam's dad. Mr. Russell climbed up from the foot of the bed, turned and laid down on his back, forcing one arm under each of the boys and drawing them close to his sides.

"First of all, let me tell you that Sam's mom and I are OK with your relationship. And, Dan, we've talked with your mom and dad, and they agreed with this little talk we're about to have. So we adults are all on the same wave length and I'm speaking for them as well. OK?"

He could feel Sam and Dan both relax against him as they released a collective sigh of relief. In unison, almost as if they could communicate with each other telepathically, they turned to snuggle up against Sam's dad, laying one arm across his chest and touching each other.

"OK, cool," Sam said.

"So what's to talk about?" asked Dan.

"Well, we just need to see if you guys are sure of yourselves. You know, understand your feelings and what they might mean to you and to the rest of us. Maybe a little of the ol' birds and bees stuff."

"Oh, dad, not that!" both boys moaned. They weren't too sure where that last subject might take them.

"Well, let's talk about your relationship first. That ought to be easy enough, it's been building long enough. How do you really feel about each other? Sam told me he loves you, Dan. I presume you feel the same way about Sam. Right?"

"Yep, that's right."

"So. What is love, anyway? Describe this love you feel for each other."

"Well...uhm... well........"

"That's a deep subject," dad Russell said jokingly, trying to ease the tension a bit.

"From such a shallow mind," Sam added quickly, and they all laughed.

Dan tried again.

"Well, it's not like we're really experienced at this stuff, ya know? I mean I don't love Sam like I do mom and dad and Bob and you and mom Russell. I love him like I always thought I'd love a girl."

"But try to describe that, Dan. What did you think loving a girl would be like?"

"Well, I always figured I'd just know it when it happened. You know, like a lightening bolt or something."

"Yeah? So?"

"Well, with Samuel it wasn't quite I like that. It wasn't like a lightening bolt kind of thing. But Samuel's all I ever think about any more. I mean, I like the way he smells, even when he hasn't had a bath. I like the way he looks at me when he thinks I don't know he's looking. I like the way he smiles when he sees me in class or in the hall or coming across the alley. And I especially like the way he looks at me when we first wake up in the morning. I like the way he touches me. Sometimes he's not even aware of it, he just reaches out and touches my arm sometimes, and I get these goosebumps all over. And when he thinks I'm asleep and rubs my face or runs his fingers through my hair."

For once, Dan wasn't crying. But his comments had brought a tear to dad Russell's eye and to Sam's, too. After a brief pause, Dan went on.

"It's different, loving Sam. It's not anything like loving Bob or mom and dad. It's like ... well, if love were a hug, Sam's arms would cover me all over like a blanket while mom's and dad's just go around my upper body, ya know? And... uh...uhm... well, I love him because I can tell he loves me. I don't know! I never felt like this before. I don't know the right words to use. I mean all the words are in my head, and all the love's in my heart, and I can't put 'em together!"

By this time, all three of them were weeping quietly. Sam from love, Dan from frustration, dad Russell from the happiness he felt that his son had someone, anyone, who loved him at this tender age the way Dan was trying to describe.

"Sam?" he said when he had regained control of his emotions.

"Well, geez, dad. What can I say? Ditto?"

"No, you have to do better than that. You owe it to Dan and to me. More importantly, you owe it to yourself to try and express your feelings. Don't compare what you're going to say to what Dan just said. Just speak for yourself."

They were silent for several minutes as Sam tried to collect his thoughts. He loved Danny so much, right now. He hadn't thought about having to explain his feelings for Danny, and his boyfriend's words had really touched his heart.

"Well... it's like this.... Danny and I have always avoided using the word love until just recently. I don't know about him, but I was always afraid of it. I think I've loved him for a long time and didn't realize it. I mean, you said it dad, we're only 13. What do we know about love? I just know that he's always been my best friend. We hardly ever fight, and when we do we make up with hugs. We've been hugging each other and holding hands and sleeping together for so long, I'm not even sure when all that became love."

Sam paused for a minute, and the others waited for him to continue.

"I just know that when I saw his head hit that step and heard the sound it made, I thought I'd lost him. I mean, it sounded just like the time he and I climbed up on the roof and dropped that watermelon onto the driveway. After I stomped on that bully and realized where I was, I just collapsed. I felt like there was this big sink hole being ripped into my heart and everything worth anything was being sucked away. Then when I realized he was breathing after all, there was just this overwhelming feeling that I'd gotten him back. That's when I realized that I loved him... more than anything else in the world."

At that point, Sam raised up a little and reached over to stroke his boyfriend's face and whisper "I love you, Danny."

Mr. Russell used this opportunity to use the hand that had been resting on Sam's shoulder to wipe the moisture that had been collecting in his eyes. God, what I would have given to experience love at their age, he thought to himself. How could I deny them this?

"I love you, too, Samuel," Danny answered, reaching out his hand to cup his boyfriend's face.

Sam's dad was almost overcome again as he watched what was going on just below his chin. The fact that the boys could express their love for each other without fear, shame or embarrassment would be forever in his memory. But he knew he couldn't leave things as they were. There was ground still to be covered.

"Ahem, guys..."

"Yeah, dad?" they both responded.

"I hate to interrupt, but we need to deal with some difficult issues, here."

The boys looked at each other with worried expressions.


"Well, they aren't difficult - serious; they're difficult - embarrassing."

As the boys gave each other questioning looks, raised-eyebrow kind of looks, Mr. Russell stumbled on.

"I... uh... well, Sam and I never... uh.... really talked about sex yet. So this is a bit difficult for me."

"Aw dad. We're not gonna talk about that now are we?" Sam interrupted.

"Yes, boys, we are. It's important because sex almost always ends up being part of any truly loving relationship, AND because I promised the Whittington's. Dan's dad was even more nervous about this than I am."

This entire conversation had produced another of Dan's most common characteristics, blushing. He blushed as easily as he cried, but at least he was able to laugh about turning red at the drop of a hat. The kids at school were always looking for fun ways to embarrass him because he was just so cute when he blushed. His ears would turn the reddest, even redder than his cheeks. Today was no exception. By this time, his whole head was red as a beet and he was trying to hide his face in dad Russell's armpit.

"Come on guys, you gotta work with me on this. It isn't easy for me either, ya know. Now we know you guys have been fooling around with each other for years, playing doctor, and all that."

The boys both gasped and stared at each other with mouths gaping.

Looking down on them, Mr. Russell continued.

"Come on guys, you haven't really been all that careful you know. Did you think Mrs. Russell and I couldn't hear you and figure out what you were doing here in Sam's room or down in the basement? I mean, take yesterday afternoon, for instance. I don't know exactly what you were doing, but I could hear you all the way down the hall. Fortunately Nancy wasn't home and Sam's mother was in the kitchen."

He paused to let that sink in and thought he could see the boys smiling at each other. Then he saw Dan lift his hand to cover his face and knew he had hit the nail on the head.

"So, I know you know what a climax, or orgasm, is, and I know you know the slang word for it, 'cause I heard you both using it. My question is this. Uh... Uhm... Well, uh... Oh shoot! Have you guys started ejaculating yet?"

"Oh, geez, dad. Isn't that a little personal?" yelped Sam.

"Gee, whillakers, dad. You wanta give me a heart attack?" Dan added.

"Now guys, I'm serious. I know that doesn't happen right at first, but it's important we talk about this stuff. There's a lot at stake here."

Dan was really embarrassed because he hadn't produced even a wet spot. At least Samuel had produced that little bit of slick at the slit just before he came yesterday. Sam, on the other hand, was embarrassed because he had produced that stuff.

Sam spoke for the two of them.

"No, dad. Neither of us does that yet."

"Well, it probably won't be long before you do, and let me tell you, it can get pretty messy if you aren't careful. Now listen to me. It's one thing for your mothers to know you might be messing around, but they shouldn't have to put up with the physical evidence of it. So in the future, I want you guys always to have an old towel handy when you're going to masturbate - alone or together."

"Oh, geez, dad!"

"Guys, get serious about this. We can't talk about this stuff without using certain words. Now I need to know, just how far have you gone and where do you think you're going as far as sex is concerned. This is important!"

Dan had really been suffering as this conversation developed. Suddenly he threw himself into the discussion.

"We play with each other, dad Russell, OK? Usually we masturbate til we orgasm, but sometimes we don't go all the way. Sometimes it's just enough to be able to play with each other's equipment till we fall asleep. You remember a minute ago when I was trying to explain how I love Sam. Well, I can look at other guys in the showers after phys ed and I like to see what they look like down there. But it's just curiosity. With Samuel, it's different. I get this warm, gushy feeling when I touch his pe... uh, you know."

"Uhm, me too." Sam added, temporarily lost for words.

"So, is that what you were doing yesterday?"

At the startled expression on the boys' faces and the way their arms naturally tightened on his chest, Mr. Russell hurried to continue.

"Boys, please, don't think I'm going to pry into your privacy every time we get together. This is just for today, but bear with me on this. It's important."

"No, dad," Sam spoke up.

"We were kissing and things started heating up and then Dan was laying on top of me and we were rubbing our, uh... well, you know... our, uh.... well, we were rubbing against each other, you know, stomachs, chests and stuff, and all of a sudden we came."

Now it was Sam's turn to blush - from his neck to his hairline.

"So, that's as far as you've gone?"

"Yeah. What else is there?"

Oops! Mr. Russell thought to himself. I wasn't expecting that. Here I was trying to find out if they were into oral or anal sex yet, and they don't even know about it. Now what?

After a pause of several minutes, Mr. Russell reached a decision.

"Well, boys, you're bound to find out sooner or later, and I'd rather it be later. But since I already brought it up and I don't want you doing certain things with each other, I guess now's the time. Without going into graphic details, let me just say that oral sex is usually the next step - whether it's between a guy and a girl or two guys."

"You mean..." Dan started, then stopped, unable to say it out loud.

"You mean putting a guy's uh... di... I mean, peck... er, uh... you mean kissing a guy's uh... penis?" Sam finally managed to say.

By now, Mr. Russell was about as red as the boys. Three cherry tomatoes lying there on the bed.

"Well, yeah. Kissing, sucking, that kind of thing."

Dan surprised himself and everyone else with his next comment.

"Wow! What else! Tell us more!"

"Now wait a minute, Dan. I'm not here to encourage you guys to try anything more than what you're already doing. After all, you're just barely 13, you haven't even started to produce semen when you climax. You don't need to rush into anything else. Now listen to what I'm about to say. This is really important, boys."

He paused for a minute to make sure the boys were listening closely. When he didn't speak, they each turned their heads to look at him.

"Look. Your hormones are just starting to kick in. That's part of where your feelings of love for one another come from. >From what little reading I've done on the subject, it's kind of a circular affect. Your hormones heighten your feelings for one another, and your feelings also drive your hormones. Sexual activity just adds to that. So far, it sounds like everything is happening the way it should. You realized you love each other before you've gotten very heavily into sexual relations. But as you move further into this thing called puberty, your bodies are going to start producing hair under your arms and around your sexual equipment. Your equipment's going to start getting bigger, and your desire to try new things is going to get stronger."

He paused for a moment and noticed that they boys continued to stare at him.

"Making each other cum by hand is one thing. But doing it orally or in other ways is something else entirely."

Suddenly Dan was reminded of the one thing he felt most uncomfortable about.

"But isn't that what queers do? If we do those things does that mean we're really queer. I don't want to be queer! I thought we could love each other and not be queer."

As Dan started crying, Sam teared up as well and reached out his hand to comfort him.

"That's where my concern is, Dan," Mr. Russell answered. "I'm not sure you boys really understand your feelings for each other."

That got a rise out of both boys.

"But you said you were OK with how we felt about each other, about the fact that we loved each other. What're you saying now? That we're too young to know what love is?"

"No, boys, that's NOT what I'm saying. Now listen! A lot of people would say that at 13 you're too young to understand what love is and therefore you can't be in love. But your parents all agree that you are in fact in love, that you love each other very deeply. We're not denying that, and we trust you to know what your feelings are. But the love you feel for each other still isn't the same mature love that you will feel when you're older, when you've come out on the other side of this stage of your lives that's called puberty. Right now, and for the next few years, you're going to be very susceptible to all sorts of influences. And some of those influences can be misleading."

"I don't understand," Dan said.

"Geez, how do I explain this," Mr. Russell said, pausing to think.

"Here, let me tell you a story. Now you have to promise me you'll both keep this to yourselves. Sam's mother doesn't know about this and doesn't need to. Back when Mrs. Russell and I were engaged to be married, I had a short affair with a lady friend of ours. I guess we got together for sex maybe six or seven times. I enjoyed sex with her - in some ways even more than with Sam's mother at the time. It got to the point that I thought I was in love with her and wanted to marry her instead. But she broke off our relationship. Before too long I realized what a disaster it would have been had I broken off the engagement with Sam's mom and married this other lady. The act of intercourse had so stirred up my hormones that I couldn't really think about things clearly. The mere act of making love had a powerful influence on my emotions - the ones I thought were love. Turned out they were just lust, physical but not true; temporary, not permanent."

Again, he paused to let the boys think about what he had said.

"Right now you love each other. I accept that. Does it mean you're homosexuals? I don't really know. I don't know what causes homosexuality. I've never read anything that explained it. If it were hereditary, I'd have to say neither of you could be. There's no history of it in either family. If it were purely environmental, I'd have to say you couldn't be. You've never been exposed to it at home or anywhere else that I know of. So are you queer? Homosexual? I don't know. Are you curious about your bodies and the feelings you can give yourselves and each other? Definitely. Are your parents going to love you regardless? Absolutely!! Just take things slowly and see what develops. You have plenty of time to find out what your life-long sexual orientation is going to be."

He could feel the boys begin to relax against him. Their arms loosened their grips on is chest and he could feel their hearts beating against his sides. He could even hear their breathing now that they weren't holding their breath.

"Look, boys, you want your parents to be open minded about your sexuality and your relationship. All I'm saying is, you should be too. Take things easy. Don't rush into new sexual experiences just to see what they're like. They might mislead you just as mine did me, with almost devastating results. As you continue to grow and mature, emotionally and sexually, you'll either confirm that you are, in fact homosexual, or you'll find that you aren't and this is just a part of your growing up. But let me tell you this. Sex between two boys your age isn't any different than between a boy and a girl your age. Your parents do not condone sexual activity at this age."

"But why not, dad," Sam exclaimed. "I mean, it's not like one of us is going to get pregnant or something."

Sam hadn't seen the look his father now gave him in a long, long time. Fortunately Mr. Russell hesitated long enough to control his anger.

"Now look here, Sam. Since when has getting pregnant been the reason not to have sex at your age. You think we're going to go out and by an assortment of rubbers on your sister's 13th birthday just so she can start screwing around and not get pregnant?"

"No, dad, of course not. But Danny and I aren't screwing around with everybody or anybody for that matter."

"And I'm not saying Nancy would either, Sam. But let's say she falls in love with some guy at 13 just as you two have. Do you think your mother and I are going to tell her it's OK to have sex with him as long as she doesn't get pregnant? Is that what we've taught you about the relationship between a man and a woman?"

"No, but that's different."

"Oh? How so?"

"Well, sex between a man and a woman isn't right until after their married."

"Right on. So, how is that any different from sex between you and Dan? Haven't we always taught you guys, and this includes you and your parents, Dan, that sex is an important part of a loving relationship and there's a right time and place for it? The same applies to your relationship or to one Nancy might have with a boy" or a girl, heaven forbid he thought to himself. He wasn't sure he could take both of his younger children turning out to prefer same sex partners.

The boys were silent for a long time. Finally dad Russell decided it was time to put closure to this conversation.

"Look, guys, I realize that you are going to want to try things. And your parents aren't going to be able to stop you if you're really serious about it. We can't put you in chains. Just be careful, and for God's sake be discreet. We feel OK with your relationship right now, but that doesn't mean we want to see you kissing in public or fondling each other. And we don't want to hear what goes on behind closed doors. But we are going to ask for one promise, and I've talked about this with the Whittington's and Sam's mom."

He paused until the boys looked at him, serious expressions on their faces, their free hands clasped to each other, fingers interlaced.

"We want your promise that you won't try anal intercourse. That can be dangerous, physically and emotionally. You have to promise that you won't even think about it until after high school. If you're still convinced that you love each other when you get to that age, we'll talk about it again. But this is the same promise we would ask of Nancy. No intercourse until after high school! If you can't make that promise, all bets are off. You want our acceptance and support? You have it. But we want something from you, too."

Sam and Dan just looked at each other. They were each thinking the same thing, Anal intercourse? Yuck! That one's easy. I wonder, though, his penis isn't any bigger than a turd. And why would dad ask us not to do it if it weren't something people do? But if it means staying together, I can promise.

It was another of those moments when the boys seemed to communicate telepathically. As they reached out to each other, each rubbing the other's cheek softly, they responded in unison.

"We promise, dad."

Then, Sam first, followed by Dan, they raised up on their hands and kissed Mr. Russell's cheeks.

Again in unison, the boys added in whispers, "Thanks dad, I love you."

After giving them each a hug, Mr. Russell worked his way off the bed.

"I'm going to join Sam's mom for a brief nap."

At the door, he turned to make one last comment.

"And boys, let's not bring Nancy or Dan's brother into this situation just yet. Like I said, be discreet for the time being, and we'll talk about what and when to tell the others in a week or so, OK?"

"OK, dad," the boys responded, still looking each other in the eye, soaking up what they saw there, one's love for the other.

Part II - A surprising turn of events

Life just seemed to get better following that weekend. Dan and Sam were careful to keep their feelings for each other bottled up when they were in public. After all, in the fifties the closets didn't even have doors. For the most part, they were even successful in keeping their love for each other a secret from Bob and Nancy. But when their siblings were out with friends, the parents were surprisingly tolerant, allowing the boys to let their guard down and display modest signs of their mutual affection. Ever mindful of their talk with Mr. Russell, they didn't kiss each other in front of their parents, nor did they grope each other when others were present. That didn't mean they didn't take a few chances, such as when parents were temporarily out of the room.

But at least at home they could hold each other, share hugs, hold hands, rub arms and faces affectionately. And their parents continued to allow them to sleep over at each other's house and to share the same bed. Interestingly enough, their sharing of hand jobs didn't really increase from what it had been before. Frequently they would fall asleep together on a couch and be too groggy to play around when they went to bed.

Life at school got even better than it had been before. Their run-in with the bully, Randy, and the involvement of Big Bad John and the football team spread around the school like wildfire. The bullies stayed pretty much to themselves and Dan and Sam always had more friends to eat lunch with than they had time to share.

About a month after the incident with the bully at school, there was another incident that amazed just about everyone, including teachers and other staff.

At the beginning of the year, Dan had signed up for the Junior Life Saving class offered by the YMCA at his school's indoor pool three days a week. For such a little guy, he was actually quite nimble and wiry with a kind of strength that didn't often show itself. Many thought of him as a coward because he always ran from fights or talked his way out of them. But those views changed one afternoon just before Christmas.

The pool had been opened for free swim following classes one Friday. Life saving classes had ended a month before. Dan and Sam and many of their friends were there for the swim since it was one of the few times they could get the pool at a decent hour. Usually the swim team had it in the afternoons and other kids and the public only had access to it early in the mornings before school started. Not too many kids could get there early enough to use it.

As a result, there were a lot of other kids there that day, including Randy and his two cronies. For all his boasting, bullying and brash talk, Randy couldn't swim a lick. In fact, he was afraid of water over his head. He spent all his time in water not above his chest, splashing and rough housing with his friends. On this day, however, as he was running around the deep end, preparing to cannonball some girls on the other side of the pool, he slipped and fell into the water.

Immediately, his cries for help could be heard throughout the pool area. As luck would have it, this was the very moment when the lifeguard had slipped out to take a leak and check the chlorine content. As all the other kids stood in shock and fear, including many of the football team, Dan climbed out of the shallow end, ran to the deep end and executed a letter-perfect life saver's dive.

He swam up to Randy and was trying to turn him so he could grab him in a life saver's hold when Randy did just what Dan had been taught many drowning victims do. He lunged forward and grabbed Dan around the head and shoulders, trying desperately to use the smaller boy as a means of keeping his head above water. Of course, all this did was push them both under. By this time, teachers had started to respond to the cries of the other kids. But being fully dressed and not knowing the true situation, no one jumped to assist Dan. They all stood at the side of the pool wondering when the boys were going to surface, wondering how little Dan was going to be able to help this bigger, heavier kid.

But they needn't have worried. Dan wasn't. He let himself sink, taking Randy down with him. As Randy started to suffer from the lack of oxygen, his frightened grip loosened. When Dan felt this, he stuck his thumbs into Randy's midriff, just below his lowest ribs and shoved with all his might. This forced Randy to release his grip and allowed Dan to swim around behind him. The boys surface with Randy floating on his back, Dan's arm over his chest in the standard life saver's carry. Dan swam quickly to the side closest to him, his surprisingly strong legs making short work of the trip.

As Dan got Randy to the side, Sam was there to help pull the bigger boy out onto the pool deck. In an instant, Sam had Randy rolled over onto his stomach and was applying artificial respiration, pushing down rhythmically on Randy's back, then lifting him slightly off of the floor. By the time Dan had climbed from the pool, Randy was coughing up water and breathing on his own. As a couple of teachers sat with Randy to make sure he was alright, Sam went over to where Dan was sitting quietly by himself at the edge of the pool, catching his breath.

"Are you OK, Danny?"

"Yeah, just a little shaky and out of breath. I thought I was a goner there for a minute. Then I remembered what they taught me in life saving class. Is Randy OK?"

"Yeah, bud, he's OK. I don't believe you did that, though, after the way he's treated you and almost gave you a concussion."

"Well what about you? I saw you giving him artificial respiration. He's been just as mean to you."

The boys had been staring into the pool water as they spoke softly to each other. Glancing around quickly to make sure no one was looking, Sam reached over and placed his fingertips on Dan's cheek and turned his head towards him. Then, in a whisper Dan barely heard, Sam said, "I love you, Danny, and I'm proud of you."

At that moment, the two boys sensed movement around them. They turned around and looked up to see Randy towering over them, surrounded by kids and teachers.

"Danny, I want to thank you for saving my life. And you, too, Sam. The way I've always treated you guys, I wouldn't have blamed you if you'd left me in there."

"That's OK, Randy. We couldn't ignore the trouble you were in. But if you call me Danny one more time, I'm gonna have to hurt ya. Only Samuel can call me that."

Hearing that, the entire room, including Randy and his cronies burst out laughing.

To be continued...