What's The Difference Between Me and You?

By Nick

Chapter Twenty Six

The cold morning air was biting at Nick's bare feet as he sleepily made his way from the bathroom to his room, where his warm, inviting bed was waiting for him. But as Nick got closer to the stairway, he heard sounds that instantly grabbed his attention. He could hear his dad snoring from the hallway, so he knew that only one other person could be downstairs. Quickly, Nick went to his room and slid his slippers on to cover his cold feet, then he very quietly inched down the stairs.

He had been suspicious of his cousins activities for a while now. James had been getting up extra early every morning since Christmas vacation had started and going downstairs. It was what James was doing while he was down there all alone that had Nick suspicious. James was especially secretive whenever Nick would make his way down to the family room, and he would usually stand up right away and reach for the remote control, trying to appear casual and calm. But Nick knew something was amiss.

This morning, as luck would have it, James was very absorbed in his secret activity. Nick knew he had caught him red handed, and that he would most likely try to explain himself in a desperate attempt to keep Nick quiet. Nick rubbed his hands together and smiled as he stealthily made his way into the family room. James was totally oblivious to Nick's presence. His eyes were glazed over and transfixed, as if he had tunnel vision.

"Ah ha!" Nick said, obviously startling his cousin, who quickly jumped out of the recliner and froze dead in his tracks. "I knew it. You've been watching Bear in the Big Blue House!"

"No I haven't," James protested weakly. "I was just surfing through the channels."

"You're such a liar," Nick said with a triumphant grin as he snatched the remote from his startled cousin. "I totally caught you."

James plopped back down in the recliner with a dejected look on his face as Nick grinned on. Nick crawled up onto the armrest of the recliner and James moved over to give him room to sit with him. Nick curled his legs up with his cousins for warmth and handed him the remote control.

"You don't have to change it," Nick said with a smile. "Roly Poly Oly's on next."

James gave Nick a shy smile as he set the remote down on the end table and relaxed. The lights on the tree were lighting the otherwise still dark family room and as Nick was watching the lights flash over and over, he noticed that there were now several presents under the tree. As strong as his curiosity was about who they were for, his need for warmth outweighed it. James' legs were keeping his legs warm, and he had no intention of moving unless he absolutely had too.

When Roly Poly Oly was over, they surfed Nickelodeon and The Cartoon Network. Every time a commercial would come on with girls in it, Nick noticed that James looked uninterested unless there was a boy in it too. Every time a commercial came on with a cute boy in it, James seemed to focus on it and smile broadly. During one commercial that was filled with cute boys, James said out loud,

"They're so cute." Nick thought he was right, too, because looking at them all practically took his breath away. As he sat in the recliner, he couldn't seem to get his mind off of boys and more importantly, Taylor. The commercial came on several more times that morning while they were watching TV, and finally, Nick had to excuse himself.

"I have to go to the bathroom," he said as he untangled his legs from James' and got out of the recliner. While he was in the bathroom, Nick made sure he washed his hands and face extra good, then for good measure, he brushed his teeth twice and rinsed with mouthwash. When he came out of the bathroom Jim was just opening his door.

"Morning buddy," Jim said sleepily when he spotted Nick.

"Morning Dad," Nick said sweetly as he wrapped his arms around his dad for a hug.

"You're up early," Jim said.

"I got up to go to the bathroom and I heard the TV downstairs," Nick said. "So I went down there and I caught James watching Bear in the Big Blue House."

"Oh boy," Jim said with a chuckle.

As always, Nick noticed that his dad was already shaven and that he had washed his face and brushed his teeth. It was like a morning ritual for Jim. Before he did anything, he would brush his teeth, shave and wash his face. Then he slid his robe on and went downstairs to read the newspaper.

Nick clung to his dad the whole way down the stairs, holding his hand and preparing himself for the blast of cold air that he knew he was getting ready to feel when Jim opened the front door to get the newspaper off of the porch.

When Jim closed the door with his newspaper in hand, Nick dutifully took his free hand and walked with him to the family room, where Jim took a seat in the middle of the couch. Nick quickly snuggled up to his dad on one side and watched jealously as James jumped out of the recliner to sit next to Jim on the other side.

Without ever taking the paper out of it's plastic sleeve, Jim set it down and wrapped an arm around both of them, giving them each a kiss.

"Aren't you boys cold," he asked as he used his arms to pull them closer.

"I'm not," James said as he grinned up at Jim.

"What about you, son?" Jim asked as he looked down at Nick affectionately.

"Yes sir," Nick answered shyly.

"Why aren't you wearing your pajama bottoms?" Jim asked.

"I got hot," he said.

"Go get them and bring them to me," Jim said in a suspicious tone.

"Yes sir," Nick said before he jumped up and dashed up the stairs, eager to get his pajama bottoms and bring them back so his dad could dress him in them. He snatched them off of his bed and in a flash, he was back in the family room, holding them out for his dad. Jim held them up and inspected them closely before he held them open for Nick to step into. Once Nick had them on, he turned around and held his arms up so Jim could lift him up onto his lap. As Nick snuggled and got comfortable, he looked down at James, who looked jealous. Nick looked up and smiled when he felt his dad kiss him on top of his head.

"Do you think that if I take you boys out for breakfast you can behave?" Jim asked, but Nick knew that he wasn't talking to James.

"Yes dad," James said, looking at Nick as if he had somehow gotten him in trouble.

"What about you, little boy?" Jim said as he reached down and dug his fingertips into Nicks belly, tickling him and making him giggle. Nick smiled and nodded at his dad.

While James was in the shower, Nick took the opportunity to hog up as much of his dads affection as he could. Before Jim woke up, Nick wasn't feeling jealous at all, but all of the sudden, he wanted all of Jim's attention.

Nick knew his dad must have sensed that he was feeling jealous because without a word, he hoisted Nick up and carried him upstairs so they could shower together. When they were done they got dressed and the three of them got in the car. After they ate, Jim said that they were all going to get haircuts, but instead of driving them to Supercuts, he took them out to the country and pulled over.

He motioned with his finger for Nick to come up-front, and he had James get in the back seat. Nick got settled into his dads lap and as Jim pulled off, Nick grinned and gripped the steering wheel. They drove for a long time, and just when they were about to reach the North Carolina state line, Jim pulled over again and had James and Nick switch places.

Nick felt as nervous as James looked, but Jim's soft voice seemed to be calming him down, because James took control of the car and Nick watched intently as his cousin steered, keeping them on the road and staying in his lane. They finally wound up back where Jim had originally pulled off, and James took his seat again on the passenger side as Jim pulled off.

When they got home, Jim gathered firewood while James and Nick took Skalaki outside to go to the bathroom. When they got back inside, the fire was crackling and Jim was standing right in front of it, rubbing his hands together. He moved over when James and Nick stood near him, allowing them to stand in front of the fireplace and enjoy some of the heat it was throwing out. Nick noticed that James was watching Jim's every move and seemed to be copying him, right down to the way he rubbed his hands together and blew into them.

"Do you guys want something hot to drink?" Jim asked.

"Yes please," Nick said immediately as James smiled shyly and nodded.

When Jim went into the kitchen James followed him, but Nick stayed behind. As he watched the fire rage in the fireplace, his mind raced back to what he did earlier that morning. There was no doubt to Nick that he was definitely feeling gay, and he wished to himself that Taylor was there so that he could kiss him again. As his thoughts turned to how good it felt to have Taylor's tongue against his tongue while they kissed, his body started to tingle.

The sound of the kettle whistling snapped him out of the daydream he was having and he made his way to the kitchen, where Jim was pouring the steamy water into three mugs that already had hot coco mix in them. He pulled down a bag of large marshmallow's and dropped one into each mug. Nick climbed up onto a stool at the breakfast nook and blew on his hot chocolate as his dad and James talked about something he wasn't paying any attention to. Nick gazed out the window toward his grandparents house. He could see his old room from where he was sitting, and he thought about the first time Taylor spent the night with him. Sleeping in the tent with him was fun, and he wondered if Jim would even consider letting them do something like that in his brand new house. He knew that eating pizza in the living room would be out of the question, and most likely, so would pitching a tent on the new carpet.

"What's on your mind, son?" Jim said, startling Nick out of his thoughts.

"I was just looking at my old room," Nick answered quietly. He looked up at his dad, who was studying him with a concerned look, and looked back down.

"What's wrong, babe?" Jim asked.

"I was just thinking about the first time Taylor spent the night," Nick answered honestly. "We had fun that night."

"You don't have fun here?" Jim asked with a hint of concern in his voice.

"We do," Nick answered quickly. "It's just that, well, it was cool to get to pitch a tent and stuff. We got to eat pizza in it and have an ice chest and soda's."

"Well, I don't know about the eating pizza part," Jim said. "But if you guys want, I don't mind pitching a tent for you."

"Really?" Nick asked hopefully.

"Really buddy," Jim said with a smile.

"But we don't have a tent," Nick said sadly.

"Well they sell them at the store, don't they?" Jim said sarcastically. Nick smiled and nodded at his dad, wondering if Jim would buy a tent that day or if he would wait.

"What are we going to do today?" Nick asked curiously.

"Well, it's too cold for you guys to go outside for too long," Jim said. "I guess we'll just stay inside and be lazy today. Why? Was there something you wanted to do?"

"Can we go get ice cream later?" Nick asked.

"Ice Cream?" Jim exclaimed. "It's cold outside, son."

Nick just sighed and looked down, feeling silly about his craving for ice cream. But Jim spoke up again.

"Where do you want to go get ice cream at?" he asked.

"Can we go to Friendly's," Nick asked hopefully.

Jim cocked his head and cut his eyes at Nick for a moment, then he sighed and said, "If that's what you want. Carvel's closer, you know."

Carvel was an ice cream parlor that was about half the distance of Friendly's, but Nick could taste the difference, and there were no cute waiters at Carvel. At Friendly's, Nick reasoned, there must have been a gay manager or a girl manager who knew how to find cute guys, because every guy there made Nick feel sexy. He knew James felt the same way, too.

"I don't like going to Carvel, dad," Nick whined. "It's not as good."

"Alright," Jim said, sounding resigned to his fate of making the trip to Norfolk. "We'll go later, okay?"

"Thank you daddy," Nick said with a smile.

"You're welcome sweetheart," Jim said as he sipped his hot chocolate. When they finished their drinks, they went back into the family room where Jim finally got to open his paper and read it while Nick and James watched TV and took turns playing on the floor with Skalaki, who was getting bigger by the day, it seemed. By the time Nick was done trying to wear him down, Nick was worn down as well, and as he lay still in front of the fireplace with Skalaki curled up at his side, he dozed off.

When Nick opened his eyes he was laying on the couch at one end and James was fast asleep at the other end. Nick stretched out and carefully got up so that he wouldn't wake James, who looked peaceful but hot as his chest moved up and down slowly. Nick made his way down the hallway towards the front door to use the bathroom, and as he was about to go inside, he heard Jim coughing loudly out in the garage.

When he was done, Nick walked into the laundry room just as Jim was opening the door and coming inside. He looked startled to see Nick, who just smiled up at his dad and grabbed his hand to lead him to the family room, where they sat together on the love seat.

"Are you hungry for lunch?" Jim asked.

"Not really," Nick answered.

"Well, I was thinking we could eat lunch at Friendly's," Jim said. "Maybe we can go when James wakes up. You two were wiped out."

"We got up early," Nick said. "It was before 6 in the morning."

"What in the world possessed you to get up so early?" Jim asked with a chuckle.

"I had to pee," Nick said. "James was already up, so we watched TV and talked."

"Son, I want you to know how proud I am of you two for getting along," Jim said. "You're both being really good to each other. I hope you guys can keep it up. Listen, son, later on I want to talk to you about something, okay?"

"What about?" Nick asked.

"We'll talk about it in private, okay?" Jim said. "You haven't done anything wrong. I just want to have a private talk with you."

"Yes sir," Nick said, feeling a little nervous about what his dad wanted to talk to him about. He knew it couldn't be good if he didn't want to talk about it in front of James. After wondering for a while what it could be about, he decided to forget about it until later.

"I'm getting hungry," Nick finally announced as his stomach startled to grumble, telling him it was time for lunch.

Jim got up from the love seat and sat on the edge of the couch, gently shaking James awake while Nick watched from the love seat.

"Hey buddy," Jim said in a soft voice as he ran his hand over James' face gently. "Are you ready to get up?"

James looked up and stretched out with a smile on his face before he sat up. Nick looked on as his dad wrapped an arm around James and gave him a hug.

"Did you have a good nap?" he asked. James didn't answer. Instead, he simply nodded as he rested his head on Jim's shoulder. Finally he turned and gave Jim a kiss on the cheek and looked around.

"We're going to go eat lunch at Friendly's, son," Jim said. "Get up and go to the bathroom and we'll go."

"Can I spike my hair before we go, dad" James asked.

Jim smiled at him and nodded. "Bring me your hair glue and I'll do it for you."

When James came back downstairs he had a different shirt on and he had already put a hooded sweatshirt on. He handed Jim the hair glue and sat between Jim's legs but on the floor so Jim could twist the spikes into his hair.

Jim was meticulous about doing hair. He wanted it to be perfect or he would start all over again. James' hair had actually already been spiked by the lady at Supercuts, but James brushed it out when they got home because she had done a sloppy job. This time, though, the spikes were perfectly uniform and in perfect rows. There was no loose hair sticking out and it was all pulled tight.

James got up to take the hair glue back up to his room, and as he was walking toward the stairs, he stopped at the mirror and beamed. His earring looked good with the way Jim had styled his hair.

"Can I get an earring too, daddy?" Nick asked while James was upstairs.

"Well, we'll see bud," Jim said. "I think you're a little young for an earring right now, but we'll see, okay?"

"Yes sir," Nick answered quietly, feeling an intense surge of jealousy run through him for a brief moment. "How come James get's to have one."

"Nick, let's not argue about this right now," Jim said as James was making his way back down the stairs. Nick just stayed silent and stewed to himself. He didn't think it was very fair for James to have an earring if he couldn't have one, and in his mind, he thought to himself that if his dad wouldn't let him have one, the least he could do was talk Jim into making James get rid of his.

As Nick waited patiently for his food with his dad and James, he couldn't take his eyes off of the servers. While his dad and James carried on about what kind of sundaes they were going to order, Nick was starting to feel really sexy. At one point a server walked by and gave Nick a huge smile, making him blush and causing his bottom to tingle again.

When their own server brought them their food, Nick thought he was going to faint. He hadn't really stopped to get a good look at him when he was deciding what he was hungry for, but now that he was getting a second look, Nick realized he was totally hot. His curly, light brown hair and his green eyes took Nick's breath away, and when he smiled, it made Nick's body temperature go up and his heart race. Nick ate as much of his lunch as he could, making sure that he saved room for his sundae.

When the server came back to take their dessert orders, Nick found out that his name was Cory. When he sat down in a seat at the table and looked over Nick's menu with him to help him decide how he wanted to build his sundae, Nick's heart was beating as fast as it ever had. He was wearing a sexy cologne that made Nick want to be closer to him, and every time he made a suggestion, he would smile hopefully. Finally he got up and walked away as Nick watched his butt with a smile.

Nick watched from the table as Cory leaned over the counter and attached the ticket to a large metal carousel that was in a window, then he saw him make his way toward the bathroom.

"I have to go to the bathroom," Nick suddenly fibbed.

"Okay, bud," Jim said. "Do you want me to go with you?"

"I'll be okay," Nick said as he got up and walked away without another word. When he walked into the men's room, Cory was washing his hands at the sink, so Nick went to the sink right next to the one he was standing at and did the same thing.

"Hey dude," Cory said with a smile.

"Hi," Nick said sweetly, suddenly finding himself at a loss for words. They both finished washing their hands at the same time, and as Cory was getting himself a paper towel to dry off with, Nick thought of something to say to break the ice. Unfortunately, as soon as he said it, he wished he could take it back or disappear.

"I'm getting ready to turn nine in February," Nick blurted out, but he instantly felt silly when he realized what he said.

Cory simply smiled at him and said, "That's cool."

Nick knew he didn't mean it though. Nick quickly dried his hands off and left the restroom to return to his table, where his dad and James were waiting for him.

"What did you touch,'' Jim asked.

"I washed my hands," Nick said. Jim looked at him and sighed.

"Come on, son," he said as he got up. "I want to see you wash your hands. That bathroom's probably nasty."

"It's not, dad," Nick said, trying to protest, but Jim wasn't having it.

`Let's go," he said with a tone of finality. "I don't want you having yucky hands."

Just as Jim was saying that, Cory walked past them and Nick wanted to die. He was beyond embarrassed that his dad was taking him back to the bathroom to make him wash his hands in front of Cory. When they got to the bathroom Jim made sure that the water got hot, then he made Nick lather up his hands really good and rinse them in water that was almost too hot. He grabbed Nicks hands and dried them off before he used the same paper towel to turn off the faucet and touch the door handle.

When they got back to the table Nick wanted to hide his face from Cory, who arrived shortly thereafter with their sundaes.

"Here you go dude," he said as he slid Nick's sundae in front of him.

"Thank you," Nick said shyly, knowing that he would never be able to get Cory to like him now. Not only did he mess up in the bathroom, but his dad made things worse by embarrassing him. Nick sighed and accepted his situation as he dug into his sundae, making sure to save the cherry for last.

When Cory brought the check to the table, he smiled again at Nick and said, "Hey, dude. Since your birthday's going to be in February, make sure you come back and I'll make sure we hook you up with a free sundae."

Nick looked up and grinned at him before he said, "Okay."

After being humiliated twice in front of him, Nick was just grateful that Cory even acknowledged him anymore. He wasn't expecting him to ask him to come back.

When they left Nick was on a cloud and as they drove back to Virginia Beach, he asked his dad if they could come back so he could get a free sundae. Jim reminded him that his birthday was two months away still, but promised him they would.

When they got home, James took Skalaki out to go to the bathroom while Jim took Nick upstairs with him. Jim led him into his room and closed the door behind him. Nick crawled up onto his dad's bed and waited for his dad to join him. Jim kicked his shoes off and pulled Nick's shoes off as well, then he laid down on top of the bedspread and motioned for Nick to lay next to him. Nick did as his dad said, snuggling up to his dad and wrapping his arms around his chest. Jim wrapped an arm around Nicks shoulders and held him tightly as he smiled down at him.

"Son, I wanted to talk to you about our family," Jim started. "It's grown quite a bit, and I know it's been a little hard for you. But I want you to know that I'm really proud of you."

Nick looked up at is dad who was still smiling down at him and smiled back, but he wondered where this was going.

"You know James is here to stay, right?" Jim continued. Nick nodded. "Good, because he needs us to be here for him. Our family wouldn't be complete if we didn't have him here anymore."

Nick thought he could hear his dads voice crack as he spoke, but he didn't interrupt him.

"Nick, we're not going to talk about this in front of James," Jim went on. "These are the holiday's. and this is supposed to be a happy time for everyone. Before I go on, I want you to know that everything's going to be okay."

Nick could see a look of doubt on his dads face and it made him feel uneasy. He had a bad feeling that Jim didn't believe what he was saying, but still, he stayed quiet and attentive as his dad went on.

"I might have to go to court, and James might have to go too," Jim said with a hint of anguish in his voice. "His mom and dad are splitting up, and his dad want's him back. But we're not going to let that happen. Your grandma and grandpa and I are going to make sure that he never has to go back again. But just in case..."

Jim's voice cracked again and Nick watched sadly as his dad stopped to compose himself. They had been having such a good day, and James and Jim gave Nick no clue about what had been going on. The thought that James would have to move back to Tennessee was too much for Nick to even begin to ponder. James was finally starting to find happiness in his life, and Nick knew that if James had to go back to his father, all of that would end.

"Why do they want to take him away?" he asked, feeling a little scared for his cousin.

"Because his father's sick," Jim said with disgust. "I'm not going to let him get his hands on him. I promise that, Nick."

This time, Jim's voice had the confidence in it that Nick was used to hearing. He knew how protective his dad was over James, and he knew that if Jim had to, he would go to the ends of the earth to make sure that James never had to go back.

"Dad?" Nick started. "Is James going to be okay?"

Nick felt his dads arm tighten around his shoulder as Jim took a long breath and released it.

"He's going to be fine, son," Jim said quietly. "I'm not going to let anything happen to him."

Nick simply laid still in the crook of his dads arm as he let the moment sink in. He knew that his dad was scared, and he knew that James was definitely in danger again. But he also knew that if Jim said everything was going to be okay, it was going to be okay.

Nick reached up for a moment and put his hands on his dads biceps and gave them a small squeeze. These were the arms that kept him safe and gave him security, and his faith in his dad grew stronger because he knew that Jim was truly a fearless person when it came to confrontation. If James' dad dared to show up at their door, Nick knew his dad would take him to task. The thought of his dad fist fighting to protect James made Nick's head swell with pride. Nick finally let his hands drop back down to his dads chest, where he clung tightly and relaxed, knowing that Jim would do whatever he had to do to keep his family together.

When they went back downstairs, Jim took a seat on the couch next to James while Nick sat down on the recliner and watched as James almost instinctively snuggled up to his dad. Jim wrapped both of his arms around him and smiled down at him. The closeness they shared was something Nick knew about, but now that there was a chance that James would have to go away, it seemed more vivid. Nick watched as his dad rubbed his nose up against James' nose affectionately as James soaked it all up with a warm smile. When James puckered his lips and held them out, Jim leaned down and gave him a kiss and told him he loved him.

"I love you too, dad," James said affectionately as he laid his head down in Jim's lap and curled his legs up against the end of the couch, making himself comfortable while he turned his attention back to the TV. Nick knew that Jim would be devastated if James' dad took him away, so he quietly and privately closed his eyes and said a prayer to God for him to stay. When Nick opened his eyes, Jim was smiling at him peacefully as he ran his fingers gently over the spikes he had twisted into James' hair.

Lori showed up later that day, still in her uniform. Nick saw his dad walk with her into the family room where she said hi to Nick and James, then the two of them disappeared. Nick knew they had gone upstairs to his dad's room, and he knew for sure what they were up too. While they were upstairs, Nick called Taylor's house. Charles picked up the phone and Nick politely greeted him and asked to speak to his friend.

"Hello?" Taylor said, and the sound of his voice made Nick perk up.

"Hi Taylor," Nick said happily. "How are you?"

"I'm bored," Taylor said. "I don't have anything to do."

"Can you come over and spend the night tonight?" Nick asked hopefully.

"Let me ask my dad," Taylor said. Nick heard him set the phone down and as he waited, he could hear Taylor asking Charles if it was okay. What he heard next shocked him.

"I didn't do it because I didn't feel like it," he heard Taylor snap. Nick wasn't sure if he heard him right, but the next thing he heard confirmed what he thought he heard the first time.

"I don't have to!" Taylor yelled. "I hate your guts! Just leave me alone!"

The next thing Nick heard was Charles' voice, telling Taylor he was going to be grounded if he didn't change his tone. Taylor's rebuttal made Nick's mouth drop.

"No I won't," Taylor snapped. "You're stupid and I don't have to listen to you."

With that, Nick heard Taylor pick the phone back up and say sweetly, "I can spend the night."

"No you can't," Nick heard Charles say in the background, but Taylor went on.

"My dad's going to drop me off," he said.

"Um, okay," Nick said, not sure if he should expect Taylor or not.

"I'll see you in a little bit," Taylor said.

"Okay, I'll see you when you get here," Nick said.

About 20 minutes later, Jim and Lori re-appeared in the family room, and Nick could tell that they had both been in the shower. Lori had on a different set of clothes and so did Jim. It was already known to Nick that she had some clothes in Jim's closet, and he wondered to himself if she would ever move in one day or if she'd always live across the street. Nick filled them in on his whole conversation with Taylor, and Jim looked a little troubled, but he said it was fine if Taylor spent the night.

A few moments later, the doorbell rang and Nick hopped up and ran to the door. When he opened it, Taylor was standing on the other side with Charles, just like he said he would be. Taylor smiled and walked in as his dad followed, and Nick and Taylor ran as fast as they could up the stairs to take Taylor's backpack to Nicks room.

"Are you and your dad fighting?" Nick asked.

"Not anymore," Taylor answered casually.

"What was wrong?" Nick asked.

"He wanted me to put my bike in the shed and I told him no," Taylor said.

"I'd get whipped if I did that," Nick said almost bitterly.

"My dad doesn't whip me, " Taylor almost bragged, but Nick knew that already. "He grounds me sometimes though."

"I thought you were going to be grounded for sure," Nick said.

"I was," Taylor said sadly. "I was grounded in my room for half an hour."

"A half hour?" Nick said in disbelief. "I get grounded for a month."

Just then Jim called them both downstairs.

"I want you two to get your coats on and be ready in ten minutes," Jim said. "We're going to get pizza tonight."

"You be good sport," Charles said to Taylor in a serious tone as he pulled two five-dollar bills out of his wallet and handed them to him. "I mean it."

"I will," Taylor answered as he gave his dad a small hug. When Charles left, Nick and Taylor did as they were told.

When they got to Pizza Hut, there was hardly a crowd. Jim handed Nick and James five dollars each and shooed the three of them off to the change machine and the video games. While they were taking their turns at the change machines, Nick was eying the Madden 99 video game. He had never seen that game at an Arcade before and was fascinated about how similar it would be to his Play Station version.

When he was bored with that game, he moved on to Tekken2, where he and James took turns playing the computer. Nick was sure the machine was cheating because it seemed like his joystick wasn't working all the time. James swore the same thing was true, but Taylor didn't seem to have any problems advancing. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of playing, Jim walked over and told them that the pizza was ready.

While they sat and ate their pizza, Nick noticed that his dad had ordered a large pitcher of beer and was throwing back mug after mug. Meanwhile, Lori was sipping on a soda and hanging on to his arm. When they were done eating, the boys got up and used the rest of their quarters at the video game section, then Lori drove them home.

When they got there, Jim sent all three of them upstairs to get ready for bed. James had to take a shower so he could wash the hair glue out or else his spikes would be tangles in the morning, so while he was in the shower, Jim got Nick's pajama's out of his dresser and laid them out along with some clean underwear. Taylor got his tee shirt and underwear out and laid them next to Nick's pajama's, and as soon as James got out of the shower, Jim filled the tub for them with bubbles and hot water.

Nick stripped down and hopped on the toilet while his dad was running the bath water, and as he sat still, he waited with anticipation for Taylor to undress. When Jim turned the water off and left the bathroom, Taylor shut the door and stripped. Nick smiled as he watched his friend stand naked in front of him, waiting for his turn on the toilet.

Nick hopped off and Taylor hopped on while Nick stood in front of him and studied his pecker. Nick had been feeling sexy since he'd woke up, and seeing Taylor naked was making those feelings stronger than they had been all day. When Taylor was done, Nick watched him climb into the tub first, then he got in and sat in front of him, facing away.

Without a word, Taylor grabbed the large plastic cup that was sitting on the side of the tub against the wall and used it to pour warm water over Nick's head, causing him to look back and smile. As Taylor rubbed shampoo in his hair, he leaned back against him and sighed contentedly.

"Close your eyes," Taylor said softly, and as soon as Nick did, he felt a gush of warm water run over his head. He kept his eyes closed until he felt a second gush of water running down his head, washing away the remaining suds.

When Nick turned around and took the cup from Taylor, he did the same thing. As he ran his fingers through Taylor's soft hair, his bottom started to tingle. As he lathered Taylor's hair, he pulled him back into his chest and put his cheek up to Taylor's cheek, feeling the soft skin of their faces as they made light contact.

"Close your eyes," Nick said as he dipped the cup into the water and prepared to rinse the shampoo away. When Taylor's head was rinsed, Nick took the soap and used it to lather up Taylor's back, chest and arms, then he turned around and let Taylor do the same for him. When Taylor had him all soaped up, Nick slid all the way down under the water and let the suds rise up off of him, then he turned around and slid his bottom all the way to the front of the tub so that Taylor would have the room to do the same thing.

Next they both stood up and took turns with the soap, making sure they cleaned their legs and their privates really good, then Nick drained the tub and turned on the shower. Taylor got out first, using his towel to dry off with, then he unfolded Nick's towel for him with a smile and Nick stepped out of the tub and into it. Nick stood still while Taylor dried him off, and enjoyed the quiet closeness they were experiencing. Nick sighed and stared dreamily at Taylor as he felt the towel move all over his body, not missing any spots. When Taylor moved the towel up and down Nick's legs and to his crotch, Nick's mind raced in anticipation.

By the time they made it down the hallway and back to Nick's room, there was no doubt in his mind that he was feeling extra sexy. He made no move to get dressed right away. Instead, he laid flat on his back on his bed and opened his legs to let the cool air hit his crotch while Taylor put his underwear and tee shirt on. As Nick lay still and watched his friend get dressed, he spoke.

"I don't want to put my jammies on," Nick said in a quiet tone. "I feel good right now."

Taylor grinned naughtily at him and moved to lay next to him on the bed. Nick moved over a little to give him some room.

"Are you gay today?" Taylor asked, and Nick smiled at him and nodded. Taylor smiled back at him and said, "I am too."

"I wanted to kiss you today at Pizza Hut," Nick confessed. Taylor blushed and smiled shyly.

"You can kiss me now if you want to," he said. Nick looked at his friend, who had another naughty smile on his face. Nick leaned over and pressed his lips to Taylor's lips, then he pushed his tongue into Taylor's mouth. He felt Taylor wrap his arm around his shoulder, so he rolled over to get closer to him as his mind raced. He let go of his own hard on so he could wrap Taylor in his own loving embrace, and as soon as he did, he felt his head spin.

The sound of coughing in the backyard snapped Nick out of his spell, though, and he got up to look out his window to see what was happening.

Lori and Jim were standing by a tree in the back yard with Skalaki, and Nick could see smoke pouring from Jim's nostrils. Nick simply shrugged and moved back to the bed, where Taylor was laying still with a smile and a glazed over look. Nick crawled back into the bed and snuggled up to Taylor before he planted his lips for another kiss. While they kissed, Nick could feel Taylor's hand moving all over his back, running along his shoulder and brushing lightly against the base of his neck, sending shivers through Nick's body that he swore were like nothing he had ever experienced.

Nick looked into Taylor's eyes and grinned. Taylor was smiling back at him, and as Nick leaned forward, he laid his head on Taylor's shoulder and closed his eyes for a moment.

"I want to kiss you again," Nick said, still feeling passionate about what had just happened. Without waiting for Taylor's answer, he pressed his tingling lips to Taylor's and closed his eyes once more, taking in the ambiance of the moment he was enjoying.

This time, when they broke their kiss, they stood up. He put his undies on, then he put his pajama's on and went to the bathroom with Taylor to wash up really good. When they were done brushing their teeth, Nick playfully stood in front of the door and wouldn't let Taylor go through.

"Not without a kiss," he said, still feeling sexy. Taylor grinned naughtily at him and gave in. Nick wanted the kiss to last forever, but he knew it couldn't. Still, when they broke the kiss, he reached down and gave Taylor's butt a playful squeeze before he opened the door.

That night the only thing Nick wanted to do was go to bed. Unfortunately, Jim had lit another fire in the fireplace and had made pokers for everyone to roast marshmallows. As they sat in front of the fireplace, everyone took turns talking about different things and Nick was slowly going crazy as it got later and later. Nick knew his dad was high, though, and he knew it wouldn't be too hard to get away.

Jim put in a movie and Nick made an announcement.

"Me and Taylor want to watch cartoons upstairs," he fibbed. Taylor gave him a puzzled look, but Jim didn't notice.

"If that's what you guys want," he shrugged. "You'll probably fall asleep before it's over anyway."

Nick and Taylor got up and Jim followed them up the stairs. He waited in the room for them while they went pee, then he tucked them in and turned the TV on low volume for them.

"I love you boys," he said. "See you in the morning."

With that the door was closed and Nick rolled over on top of Taylor, who was smiling up at him and as he hooked his forearms under Taylor's shoulders and moved in for a long, passionate kiss. He broke the kiss for a moment, but in an instant, he planted another kiss on his boyfriend's lips. Instead of moving in with his tongue, though, Nick moved down, kissing Taylor's chest and then his stomach. Finally, he moved back up to Taylor's face, gazing at him with stars in his eyes .

"I love you," Nick said softly as he planted a kiss on Taylor's lips.

"I love you too, Nick," Taylor almost whispered as he wrapped an arm around Nick's shoulder and lay still.

"I want to be gay every time I see you," Nick confessed. Taylor smiled naughtily at him and sighed.

"Okay," he said sleepily.

"I really like being gay Taylor," Nick admitted. "I want to be gay all the time now."

"You do?" Taylor asked softly.

"Yes," Nick answered. "It makes me feel good when I'm gay."

"I feel good when I'm gay too," Taylor confessed. "But I'm scared to be gay every day. I don't want my mom and dad to know."

"I know," Nick said as he yawned.

"Are you going to tell anyone?" Taylor asked.

"I kind of want to tell my dad," Nick said. "But I won't if you don't want me to."

"You can," Taylor said sweetly. "Just don't tell him that I'm gay too."

"I won't," Nick said. "Can we be boyfriends every day?"

Taylor smiled and nodded, then Nick leaned in to give him another kiss before they snuggled up to each other and finally turned their attention to the TV.

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