The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between males. If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.


by Eliot Moore

Chapter Five

Table of Contents

Ten Point Two (Seventeen Point Twelve)
Ten Point Three (Eighteen Point One)

Ten Point Two (Seventeen Point Twelve)

Ethan opened his eyes and stretched until his back was arched. The lingering discomfort of distended muscle faded as he quivered briefly like some svelt tabby stretching the kinks out. His throat felt bruised and raw. His nose had run a bit and Ethan absently picked at a slight crust that itched. Awake finally, the ten-year-old rolled in the patch of February sunshine toward where father lay passed out on the couch. A half full glass of scotch sat a finger tip away from Vance's hand. Ethan watched the gentle rise and fall of the man's hairy chest and listened to his low rumble for a bit before he snitched the glass and swallowed a large mouthful of the watered down liquid. The amber fluid and flecks of ice anesthetized Ethan's throat slightly. He took a measured look at the contents and judged Vance would have no memory of his final drink. Ethan drained the glass and savoured the warmth the smokey liquor brought to his throat. Ethan set the glass where he had found it and quietly padded of to his bedroom.

Ethan closed the door to the bathroom before turning on the shower. The hot water soothed his muscles further. He took the showerhead down, squatted on the tile and directed its stinging needles against his tender flesh. Satisfied he had cleaned himself thourouly he redirected the spray to his groin. as he massaged himself to an erection as he lathered his penis and scrotum. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes as he began to tingle. It was not the shattering release that seemed to leave his father drained and groggy, but Ethan had begun to seak the sensation out. Ethan continued for a time, lost in the bliss, until he began to feel the skin burn that generally curbed his enthusiastic excesses. He replaced the shower head and manipulated the sensitive sheath; definitely a little raw. Ethan massaged a red spot experimentally and tugged his willing rod once or twice; not too bad. He resumed washing and soon after stood considering his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He was energized by his brief nap and he had a buzz from the scotch that left him slightly keyed up.

The scattering of video games on the bedroom floor and the repetative stories of vulnerable young boys welcomed into the arms of loving men his father preferred to share bored him. His latest Lego project rested carefully in the middle of the desk. Ethan felt he spent far too much time in his room as it was. He dismissed his toys and wandered back to the sunlit livingroom. His father had apparently slept unisturbed by the noise of his shower. He remained sprawled on the couch. It was a familiar weekend sight and Ethan found it hard to curb his impatience. Both their clothes lay randomly scattered across the floor. His father had promised to take him out. Ethan had been anticipating the opportunity for days. Instead it had been sex on the living room floor. Ethan`s impatience turned to a stubborn anger. It isn't fair. He promised to take me out and buy me lunch. He silently gathered his clothing, checked the hallway and then slipped silently out the front door. Once there, he paused in the hallway to yank his clothes back on. Traveling down the elevator, he felt the same excitement he had walking around the island. What fun it would be if when he had circled the block Peter was waiting for him.

A bored man in a uniform sat at the table in the lobby. He was a guard of some sort and Ethan knew the man had seen him with his father on a few occasions. Ethan smiled shyly at him as he attempted to escape through the front doors and out into the excitement of the street beyond.. The man's voice startled him. "It's still pretty cold out there son. Don't you think you need a coat?"

Ethan paused with his hand on the door. He had not wanted to chance waking Vance by opening the closet door. He was used to cold weather. Living with Father for a year had not changed that. "I'll be okay sir, I won't be out that long."

"What apartment are you in?"

"73" The man wrote something down.

"Mr. Sylkuis; your his uncle right? So how do you like living in Denver?"

"He`s sort of my cousin." His father had drilled him on this story but he rarely had to offer it himself. The contradiction with what Gus had told him confused Ethan. He had asked Vance about this and after a painful moment his father had explained he was actually Ethan`s mother`s cousin. "It's okay I guess. I miss Peter." Ethan wanted to go, but the man in the uniform had not given him permission to leave. He left his hand on the door hoping he would get the hint.

"Well have a good day." The man finally suggested. Relieved, Ethan pushed through the door and headed up the street in the direction of the park where his father had brought him two weeks ago.

The snow was swept into dirty piles along the curb, and the man in the uniform had been right, it was very cold. Ethan wished he had his jacket, but opening the closet might have woken Father. He put his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders against a light wind. The fleece pullover offered a meager protection. Ethan put the cold out of his mind. He could smell food. When he reached the glass wall that separated him from the warmth and food inside the restaurant he stopped and gazed.

Four winters; four years, no not yet, it had been only three summers. Think, Father's newspaper said it was February 21. My birthday is... Ethan couldn't recall. It had seemed so soon after Christmas when he was little. His dad and he had went outside with his friends to try and make a snow fort the winter before they sent him to the kennel. Am I eleven? It felt like half his young life had been spent at the kennel or with his new father. He had been Sean for so long that there were times he stopped thinking of himself as Ethan Yates. Nobody knew his name. Peter knows; but he had not heard Peter's voice since last winter. Ethan paused and leaned against a brick wall. He began crying. The boy would have been hard-pressed to explain the tears to himself. Adults had left him uncertain. What is the truth? He did not know what to think about parents. Parents always made you do what they said was best for you. Go to school, clean your room, share with your sister, let the men take turns on you. His new father spoke about their special relationship all the time, he swore he loved Ethan, and yet he expected the puppy to play with his drunken friends. Everyone wants to show you how special you are. Its just sex Sean, doesn't it feel good? Don't you feel all sexy? Men and boys do it all the time, but we don't talk about it. That's not polite. Ethan asked his father if it was like ignoring a stinky fart or not picking your nose in public. Exactly, Vance had agreed. Nothing quite made sense in his life, except Peter. Men were something Ethan preferred to avoid now. You could never trust the looks they gave you. Ethan trusted Peter though. Peter had shed tears for him and held him when he hurt, but Peter was lost to him so Ethan cried.

A woman checked her busy progress down the sidewalk and bent down to talk to Ethan. "Are you alright little boy?" Ethan stared at the woman through his tears. He quickly ground the moisture out of his eyes with the heals of his hands. "Are you lost?" Ethan pushed past her and moved away quickly. He wasn't ready to go home yet.

Half a block away he stopped and looked back. The woman had disappeared into the crowd. Her interest made him self conscious. He wiped his nose with the sleave of his fleece before moving on down the street. He did not know why he was headed to the park. He did not really know the neighbourhood around his home. The park was just a destination.When Ethan reached the next intersection he stopped to look around. Ethan scanned the buildings on each side of the street. The park was somewhere two blocks ahead. Two girls his age joined him as he waited for the crossing signal. They chattered like bright birds and he stared at them with fascination. One of them paused, noticing his attention, and then nudged her friend. Both girls turned to freeze him with a look of distain that would easily eviscerate a classmate on the playground and send them crying to their mother. Ethan was immune to their subtleties and completely enthralled by the exotic experience. His heart began to beat faster. The light changed and all he could do was stand there dumbly looking at the pair.

"Yes?" One girl snapped. She threw as much sarcasm into the word as she was able. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Ethan blushed slightly and tried a smile. "Hello," he offered. His reply and the innocence of his smile disarmed the girl and she stared back at him in confusion. He held her eyes for a moment and then she blushed. Ethan cocked his head and his smile brightened.

"Hello" she stammered back. The girl's reaction confused Ethan. She finally stiffened, turned toward her friend and towed her away toward the edge of the sidewalk. Ethan listened to them giggle for together. He assumed the conversation was over and offered a weak farewell before stepping onto the crosswalk.

"Oh my God Jan, he's so cute! Did you see the way he was looking at you?" The words followed Ethan across the street.

There was a fast food resaurant on the other side of the street. Ethan's mouth watered. Cheeseburger and fries; Father rarely let him eat take out, though he brought it home for himself and his friends. Ethan always ate basic foods. Vance said he was allergic to all sorts of foods. His mother had warned him not to drink so much Coke, but Ethan did not recall getting sick. This was yet one more thing to confuse him. The boy stared through the plate glass window unabashidly eying the customers in the same way he had watched the girls at the street corner. He had no money so there was not much point in thinking about. His life was constrained by the ridged code of the kennel. Other boys his age consumed greasy fries and sugar saturated drinks a few feet beyond his nose, but Ethan had come to accept that he was not allowed to share. He was simply a treasured puppy disguised in unaccustomed clothing; a puppy who had slipped his chain. He sometimes wondered how many of the boys he saw were puppies like himself, out sniffing the air, dutifully concealing the special love their father's warned them would not be understood by less caring adults.

The ten-year old continued past the restaurant toward the park where the winter snow and stands of trees smelled of Peter. He past a busy coffee shop where the bustle of people weaving in and out and the rich smells of fresh coffee and baked treats drew him like a magnet through the door. A bank of computers caught his eye. He came to a stop near a young man lost in a computer monitor. Father had a computer and sometimes Ethan sat on his lap while they looked at pictures together. The young man was chatting. Ethan understood chatting because Vance liked to spend his evenings with the TV set to news, and his laptop perched on his knees, talking to the other fathers and bragging about Ethan. It was locked up when Vance went out, but Ethan thought it a simple thing to use. He eyed the bank of computers and fantasized that he might reach out to the kennel through one. Ethan shivered in the warmth of the coffee shop. He tucked his hands under his arms.

"You must be cold."

Ethan turned and looked quickly at the man who had spoke to him. He was sitting over a cup of coffee and a butter drenched bun glistened on a plate before him. Ethan bit his lip as he considered the enticing swirl of bread. He didn't answer. He was cold. Cold came with winter. You endured the cold and when you were offered a place by the fire you knew there was a cost. Ethan pulled his eyes away from the pastry and met the eyes of the man. He was neat and trim. He could not have been much bigger than the young man absorbed in the computer conversation close at hand. His greying hair was cropped short as if to complement his slender face or perhaps it was to draw attention away from some aggressive balding. The man seemed to be appraising Ethan in his turn, a smile on his lips. He had one hand cupped along his firm jaw line. Ethan thought he had gentle eyes.

"I think you should have worn something a little heavier. The wind is picking up out there." The man apparently caught the paternal tone of his own voice and cut his lecture short with a quick laugh. "Can I buy you something to drink?"

"Yes please." Ethan's shyness around grown men was overwhelmed by his craving. He slid onto the seat opposite the man and pushed his numb fingers into the warmth between his legs nervously.

"What would you like?"

Ethan's eyes locked on a steaming cup of chocolate with a pyramid of dusted whipped cream at the nearby nearby table. "Hot chocolate please"

"Sounds like a good choice." Ethan liked the man. He liked the man's quiet voice. He watched his progress over to the short line at the counter. The man stood patiently with his jacket drawn back so he could push his fingers into faded jean pockets. His middle aged torso seemed as trim as Ethan's own. He looked like the sort of man who might not mind teaching his boy to toss a football in the park. The man caught his curious stare and gave him a warm smile. Ethan shyly smiled back and then turned away. He focussed on the man's laptop, the scattering of papers and siren call of the cinimmon bun across the table.

The man slid the hot saucer in front of Ethan. For a moment the man's hand hovered close to Ethan's shoulder as if he wanted to squeeze it, but he pulled the hand back and sat across from Ethan. "Thank you sir" It had been a long time since he had tasted chocolate.

He was unconscious of the man's occasional glances as he sipped his drink. The man busied himself plying knife and fork. The bun was quickly dissected into managable bites.The man took a small piece and then slid the plate across the table. Ethan accepted the gift with another shy smile. The man returned to his work. He alternated his attention between the laptop and a small notebook beside it. The mug was half empty and the last lingering drip of melted butter had been sopped up from the plate when Ethan sat back in his chair.

Garrett turned away from his work once the boy sat licking his fingers. Cutting up the sticky bun was a habit accuired from years of sitting across the table from children. The Garrett took in the stylish clothes. They seemed new and he judged that they were expensive. They were the kind of clothes his daughter's friends might wear. The boy was strikingly beautiful in a way boys his age were apt to be. His slender face and arms were free of the softness Garrett saw in the junk food faces of other boys; spare, that was the word. Garrett had been struck by the boy's animal grace as he stood checking out the crowded coffee shop. He tried to estimate the boy's age. He seemed to be about his youngest daughter's age, maybe eleven. What had first caught his attention was the unfashionable length of the boy's hair. It was swept back into a long mane that fell across his shoulders. It was a feminine touch in what was a very masculine appearance. It looked like it had not been cut for years. The boy's silence didn't strike him as shyness, nor was this the bratty arrogance of a pampered child exploiting an adult's weakness. It seemed his accustomed habit and Garrett approved. Garrett was used to the endless chatter of his daughters and he wondered suddenly if a son of his would have sat as content with his own thoughts. The boy took another sip of his hot chocolate, a pink tongue darted out to catch some stray chocolate on the lip of the cup. The boy warmed his hands on the black ceramic. Garrett glanced at his lap top to check the time. "Warm?" They both seemed to smile at the same moment.

"Yes sir."

"Do you live around here?" The boy was so serious and Garrett's innocent question unsettled the child in some way. A ghost of a thought surfaced, he is a run-away, Garrett felt immediately protective and then the strong emotion evaporated; he was too well dressed. Somebody had to care for this boy.

"I live with father around the corner." The boy was so formal. "Do you live near here?"

"No, I'm just passing through" Garrett felt a fleeting regret that his connection to handsome boy would be so brief. He was the kind of kid you wanted to get close to. He glanced at his notes and thought of his upcoming meeting. He was on his way home; one last loose end and he could relax for a while with his own family.

"What do you do?" The boy's question echoed the words of his youngest daughter Kim. Where are you when you are not here dad? What are the papers and files I am not supposed to touch? Garrett smiled at the boy. Perhaps he should take Kim along some time.

"I build houses and office buildings."

"My dad drew pictures of houses. He had a computer like yours. He showed me once. He said people made the places he drew." It was an unexpected stream of words and they changed his impression of the boy. He seemed less guarded.

"An architect?" The boy shrugged his shoulders; big words. "I guess I would be the man who built the things your father drew."

"Peter let me help build the new storage shed. I held the boards while he cut. I was too little to use the power saw, but he showed me how to hammer. I can drive a nail into a board with only seven hits." The boy held his hands up and shifted them back and forth until he settled on the right length for the size of nails he used. "Like this," he smiled brightly at Garrett.

"Pretty good" Garrett grinned.

"Phillip head screws are not very good. It is easier to use the ones with the little square slot in them." The boy's bright eyes danced at some happy memory and his simple joy warmed Garrett.

"He can build or fix anything." The boy added earnestly. Garrett nodded his head in solemn agreement. The light that seemed ever present in the boy's brown eyes sparkled and then seemed to die a little. "He's my best friend." The boy looked down at his hands. Garrett felt compelled to supply a response.

"He sounds like a good man to know." The boy smiled gratefully at Garrett's response. It's hard not to like this kid, Garrett reflected. They fell into an extended conversation about building and tools. The boy showed him a star-shaped burn mark on his forearm. He explained that it came from his first attempt at welding. Garrett recipricated with the ugly scar that slashed across three fingers when he had been careless with a saw in school. His young companion reached out suddenly and pulled his hand closer for a look. One small hand held his palm face up while delicate fingers traced the plum coloured scar.

"Wow that looks bad." Garrett offered a noncommittal response. The blond head nodded approval. Garrett asumed the child was impressed by his old wound. His long hair fell across his eyes when he bent his head to examine the thickness of the scar. He pushed it back and met Garrett's eyes with an intense expression. "It bled a lot I'll bet. It was scary and you didn't know how bad it was did you?" The boy stunned him by kissing the scarred fingers lightly; then his lips crinkled into an impish smile as if he knew how silly his little kiss had been. "It's better now isn't it?"

"Yes" Garrett had forgotten why he had come to the coffee shop in the first place. The boy's attention was caught by something past Garrett's shoulder.

"Thank you for the hot chocolate and the bun sir. I have to go now." The slender boy stood up. He hesitated a bit, clearly reluctant to leave. Curious, Garrett turned in his seat to see what had distracted the boy. A heavy set man, bundled against the cold, stood on the sidewalk staring at the boy through the glass.

"Is that your dad?" The dark haired man seemed an odd fit with the athletic child.

"It's father," The boy responded in an unenthusiastic tone. The boy carefully pushed his chair under the heavy oak table and turned slowly to the door. The reserve had returned and the boy left in silence.

"It was nice to meet you." Garrett called out as he moved away. The small boy turned back and nodded glumly. Garrett realized he didn't know the boy's name. He watched the boy meet his dad on the street. The man put a hand on the boy's shoulder and locked eyes with him. The man appraised Garrett with a worried look before bustling the child down the street. Garrett turned back to the small tasks he had found to occupy his time till his next appointment. It did not surprised him to be branded with the father's suspicion; after all he was just a stranger spending time with a captivatingly beautiful and vulnerable boy he had bribed into sitting at his table. Garrett would have felt the same way if a strange man had approached one of his daughters. He did feel a flash of irritation though, if it had been him, he would have wrapped the boy in his own warm coat rather than let his son brave the cold in an inadequate fleece. Damn, I would have wrapped him in my arms so he would never be cold again!

He decided to wait for his appointment before he freshened his coffee. He used the time left to him to survey the coffee shop with affection. He sensed David Yates' presence before he looked up. "Garrett Wilson?" Garrett stood and shook David's hand.

"Sure; it's good to finally meet you. I hope you didn't mind meeting me here. Can I offer you a coffee?" David Yates shifted the worn leather lap top bag off his shoulder and dropped it onto an empty chair. He looked as tired and worn as his voice had sounded on the phone. David Yates glanced down at the empty cup left by the boy before replying.

"This hot chocolate looks good to me. Let me go get it."

"No, you sit down, let me pick it up." Garrett took the empty cups and went to the counter. Garrett turned back to smile some reassurance at the other man. David was alert in his chair staring at the pedestrians as they made their way along the windows. Garrett was pleased to have found the talented architect free to take the contract. Yates was still staring distractedly at the passing people when Garrett returned. Yates took a sip and cupped his hands around the mug before self consciously sitting back in the chair.

"This is a nice place. The whole feel is warm. It draws a good crowd, but it allows for a range of ambience."

Garrett laughed self consciously and caught David's curiosity. He offered the other architect an explanation. "I'm sorry. I'm just showing off. I don't get to Denver very often. When I do, I try to stop in here. It is looking a little shabby now, but this was my very first project."

"Nice; I grew up in Denver but this is the first time I've been back since I was a teenager. I could have come to Nelson. I am sorry to put you out. Is there a problem with our arrangement I need to know about?" Garrett heard the stress in David's voice and moved quickly to put the man at ease.

"No not at all, I was in L.A. and you said you could connect with me here on your was back from Portland. The timing was just right. I'm pleased to have you join our team." Garrett paused a moment not sure how to proceed. He knew he was intruding. "There is one thing I need to ask about. You're intending to work out of Lincoln instead of relocating to Nelson."

"It's a problem isn't it?"

"Well it is. I would feel better if you could see the neighbourhood in Nelson; see how this project is supposed to fit in."

"The distressed brick facade you want to match"

"Exactly, I wanted you to work closely with us, but I need to understand why this is important to you."

David took a sip of the hot chocolate before responding. "Sarah and I have split since I talked to you. She has taken Dawn and moved in with her parents in Portland. It's been hard on us these past few years."

"I'm sorry David, this is your business, and you don't have to share details with me." The other man seemed not to have heard him.

"Ethan disappeared over four years ago: Taken off the street. Since then it has been a long struggle. His loss, the long search, we've tried, but, well, Sarah is ready to move on and I guess I'm not. I have to stay in Lincoln, do you understand? I think to myself, what if he finds his way back and we're not there? Sarah thinks he is dead. I can't go there, not yet. I need to believe he is out there still."

"Stay where you need to be David. I understand. Besides, what's the point of all this technology if we can't make it work for us?"

"I appreciate it." David sighed deeply and clutched the mug again. Garrett considered David's tired face. The other man noticed and pushed a shock of blond hair off of his forehead before he smiled weakly.

"We can talk about the rest later. It can wait."

"No, let me show you what I have worked out so far." David slipped his lap top out of its worn case and opened it. The men sat companionably in silence as Windows slowly launched. David tapped the mug nervously as he waited for his presentation to open. For a moment Ethan's eight-year old smiling face stared back at him; a reminder not to give up, not to forget. When Ethan's bright face was lost behind the PowerPoint window he spun the lap top around so Garrett could see it.

Garrett stared at the screen overwhelmed by the man's loss and sensitive to his own children's vulnerability. "How old would your son have been now?"

"He was ten years and two months on Thursday."

"How can you be sure he is still alive?" David looked at him with serenity and replied with the conviction of a fanatic at peace with his soul.

"I cannot conceive of a man so evil that he could destroy Ethan. When you meet him, you will understand. He is unforgettable." Not if, but when. Garrett let the matter drop. David Yates clearly needed his dream, and besides, Garrett smiled wistfully at the memory of the beautiful boy, he understood unforgettable.

"It's dangerous for you to go out by yourself." Vance still had not recovered from the fright of waking up to Sean's disappearance. The lack of a coat had confused him for a while, and then Vance had recalled Sean's obvious disappointment that he had cancelled their walk tot he park. Kids! Such energy and all Vance wanted to do was curl up at home on an ugly winter day.

"You're hurting me father." Vance realized he had been holding Sean by the shoulder in a death grip. He eased up slightly. He needed time to think. He tried to take a deep breath. Despite the cold he found he was sweating. Somehow he negotiated the final distance back to the apartment building. His smile probably seemed stretched to the non-entity sitting in the lobby. The tension didn't leave him as they rose in the elevator.

"So why did you go out?" Keep it light Vance, keep it light. "Was there something you wanted to do?"

"I just thought I would go to the park." Sean glanced at him "It got cold so I went into the coffee place."

"So who was the man you were sitting with?"

"He just bought me a hot chocolate." No mention was made of the sugary bun.

"You know that chocolate is bad for you. You need to stay on your diet." Vance was irritated to learn Sean had disobeyed him. Was he going to start eating Vance's supply of junk food around the house too? "Did he, did he want to play with you?" Vance did not know what he was doing. He did not seem to have the confidence that his friends had. They never seemed to be concerned about getting caught. He was living his dream, but too often it felt like a nightmare. The boy was growing and he didn't see how he was going to avoid the world finding out. Vance trembled slightly.

"No, he just bought me something to drink." Sean looked up at Vance. "He was nice."

Vance watched while he took his clothes off and carefully folded them into the drawer. "Have a shower, it will warm you up." Ethan ignored the snick of the lock to his bedroom door.

That week Vance went shopping for excersise equipment. The spare ten-year old privately thought it was better to go outside and run for a bit. Vance had rejected jogging with him. The two enjoyed shopping for it. Father would watch as Ethan tried out each model. They had finally settled on the most expensive one. Ethan watched with interest as his father assembled the treadmill. Ethan liked building things. His first dad would sit with him for hours constructing Lego. Vance did not trust him to help with the assembly.

"I bought this for you Sean. You need a run every day. This way you don't have to go outside." Father stood back to look at it and then picked up the manual. "We'll start you on two half-hour runs each day. One in the morning and another in the evening; that way I can see how you are doing."

Before long a bored Ethan was running two hours a day. Father had programmed the machine to cycle through different paces, ending each session with a walk to cool down. Father found he liked to have sex with Ethan right after his evening run. Father would sniff his odor and cover the palms of his hands with Ethan's sweat.

"You did the right thing. It would be a mistake to punish him." Donald tried to reassure Vance. He sat while the older man paced back and forth. The sounds of Ross playing with Sean drifted into the living room from the puppy's kennel. "He's getting older; you have to be smarter than him."

"How do you handle Ross? He must be sixteen now." Vance sat down next to Donald. The older man needed reassuring.

Donald glanced at the treadmill and privately thought Vance needed it more than the lean ten-year old boy. "You can do a few things. Your puppy needs a bigger dog run so to speak. You won't be able to keep him tied up Vance. He needs to get out a bit." He held up a hand to top Vance's protest. "There are different ways to set limits. Give him a chance to run some errands for you. Somewhere close to start with. Send him down to pick up the mail for example. Later, let him pick up a few items at the store."

"He wants to go to the park. I think he is going crazy in this house alone. I thought he was trained to stay contentedly around the house."

"Christ Vance this is not some sort of S and M setup here. You don't live in some brainwashing camp in the middle of God knows where. You live in friggin' Denver for fuck's sake." Donald realized his voice was too loud. He stood up and moved over to sit next to Vance on the couch. When he continued his voice was barely above a wisper. "Their psyched to fuck with us Vance, that's all." The men could hear Sean's soprano voice giggling about some event in the video game. "Don't expect him to live in a cage. He's an eleven-year-old boy."

"Sean is not that old." Vance interjected defensively.

"Whatever, get over it and give him a way to satisfy his curiosity. Sign him up for some sports activities. It will give him a chance to work off some energy without getting into trouble. It will you a chance to check out the other boys."

"What if he slips out again?"

"He will Vance. He will. That is the risk we take." Donald noticed the sweat on Vance's forehead. It was risky, but not as risky as trolling the streets. Along with a good dose of brain washing, the boys came with a reasonable amount of legal documentation. Donald's papers on Ross might not stand up to a careful investigation, but they kept the over-worked local authorities happy. Ross had been with Donald since he was ten. He had been in the kennel two years before he came to Donald. At sixteen he seemed content with the life he had. Donald made sure the boy was happy. Donald wasn't sure if Vance was really having fun with his puppy. "Just relax Vance; the kid needs to think things are normal. If he starts to think he is some kind of prisoner then you will have to worry about him. You are not alone you know."

Vance tried to ease the knot in his shoulders. He thought about calling the puppy in to massage it for a while. He was not experienced with raising children and the puppy did not seem to match his memories of his own miserable childhood. Vance had been content to stay at home with his books and the television. School had been a humiliating nightmare of bullying. He remembered being Sean's age, sitting alone on the playground wishing he could transform himself into one of the beautiful people. David Yates; the boys and girls had swarmed him in grade six. Vance had as big a crush as anyone. David had been one of those golden people. The puppy reminded him of David. Once in tenth grade they had worked together on a project. For a glorious week he had paid attention to Vance. It gave him a taste of what friendship was like. Christ your almost forty and you are afraid a little boy is going to reject you for someone cooler!

"So what do you suggest I do?"

"He needs to get out." Vance mulled it over as he refreshed his drink. Vance considered his friend and concluded glumly that Donald was right, Sean would not be settling for PBS television and a book. The puppy needed to be discouraged somehow. Vance had feared the streets. He had been an easy mark for the bullies in his suburban neighborhood. His friend Dale worked in youth services, for an introduction to the the kennel breeder he might be able to help Vance with his problem.

Ten Point Three (Eighteeen Point One)

Ethan was proud to be out shopping by himself. He remembered his mom had let him go to the corner store for ice cream. Father had warned him to be careful. There were gangs of kids in the neighborhood. Father said they were like packs of wild dogs attacking young and old people. He thought it would be safe during the day as long as Ethan didn't wander too far. Eathan suspected his father worried too much.

He had visited the store with father many times in the last few weeks. Ethan lingered as he looked at the variety of magazines on the racks. Ethan wished father would let him pick something new to read. Ross said he went to the library. The small selection of books also attracted Ethan. The woman at the till let him read the books for a long while.

Ethan turned away reluctantly and went to pick up the bread and eggs father had asked for. As he reached for a loaf of his father's favorite bread a boy about Ross's age bumped against him. Ethan smiled at the boy and received a cold snear. Surprised by the boy's attitude he moved further down the aisle to pick up the eggs. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the boy was join by an older boy near the candy. Ethan realized the pair were watching him. It made his heart beat a little faster.

They followed him out the store and he noticed the pair trailing behind him. The best thing to do was ignore them and continue on to the safety of his apartment building. When he reached the alley between his apartment and a neighboring building, three new boys appeared on the sidewalk in front of him. He tried to step around them, but he was pushed back into the two boys behind him. Someone ripped the shopping bag out of his hand and Ethan turned to snatch it back. He did not see the fist that punched him in the side of his head. Ethan's head exploded and his feet buckled. He staggered into the wall of the building and then with some unexpected reserve of rage Ethan shifted to avoid a second blow and lashed out blindly at a blurred figure. A breath later there was an unexpected jar to his closed fist as it connected with someone's mouth. Ethan's vision cleared as another boy pushed him from behind. The push made him stumble forward into the alley. A reflex made him duck his head and he escaped with a hard knock to his forehead. He heard a yelp of pain as he tried to butt his head into the soft belly of a boy blocking his way. The boy went sprawling into a pile of empty boxes and Ethan spun free of the circle. Panting heavily he turned to look back at the boys. One of the boys stepped forward and Ethan slipped on some filth as he tried to back peddle. Except for the heavy breathing everything had been silent.

"Your one tough little faggot; I'll give you that."

"Let's forget this. It's not worth the money."

"Fuck that noise, he just busted my lip." Ethan looked at the older boy. Blood covered his chin. The boy pointed at the heavy set comrad struggling to get out of the pile of boxes. "Look what the kid did to Kent." Ethan started crawling away as the boys moved in.

"Didn't you boys understand the instructions? It looks like you killed him." Dale shook his head at the boy lying face down up against a wall. Dale reached down and pulled the boy over by taking a handful of his ragged shirt. When he had him turned over he sighed with disgust, "you were specifically told not to touch his face." He surveyed the boys as they stood ranged against him. Fucking wannabe gangbangers!

"He's a tough little SOB. He wouldn't stay down. What's his name? We could use a scrappy kid like him."

"Well that's not going to happen. You guys were supposed to convince this kid to stay off the streets." Dale looked the boy over quickly. He realized the boy wasn't actually unconscious. Still, he didn't think the kid knew what was happening so he turned back to the group of boys. "Clear off."

"Where's our shit?"

Dale pulled a out a large packet of dope from his coat pocket and tossed it toward the oldest boy. "Next time I keep the shit and bust you for real. Don't let me catch you peddling that shit around the school again or I'll have your ass."

The oldest one snorted at Dale and jogged the one named Kent in the side, "You fucking pervert, you're always after our asses."

"Hey" Dale growled back "show some fucking respect or shove this stick right up your ass." That produced a few mutters and an anonymous comment about the firmness of Dale's dick, but the boys shuffled back warrily. The solid cop was not someone to tangle with.

"We deserve more. Look what the kid did to Wayne's ear." Dale was not sympathetic.

"There are five of you and he's what, eleven?" Dale pulled his wallet out and tossed a small wad of bills on the ground. "Take off boys." The eldest boy snatched the money and the others clustered around him as he counted. "Wayne, get over here. Let me check out that ear." A scruffy twelve-year-old with Ethan's wool cap jammed down over a shaved head glanced between his friends and the police officer. After a brief hesitation he shuffled over to Dale. The man checked the boy's mangled ear and then gave him a friendly punch. "Ahh, that'll be fine. Your tough right?" The boy took a quick look at Dale's face and gave a sniff in response. Dale brushed his fingers along Wayne's cold cheek. "Gonna have some stuff happening Saturday night. What do you say to coming over?" Wayne sniffed again, shrugged once and gave Dale a quick nod. Dale reached back into his pocket and pealled off about twenty dollars in promise money and shoved it into the boy's pants pocket. "Don't let your dad know you have it." Wayne gave a little nod and turned back to his friends.

Dale turned his attention to Ethan lying in the dirty snow. The nose looked bent and his eyes and mouth were badly bruised. Dale unzipped Ethan's blood-stained winter coat, lifted his shirt and took in the heavy bruising along the boy's ribs. The gang had moved off down the alley so it looked like it was safe to bring the boy around. "Son?" he pushed the Ethan's long hair out of his face. Ethan's eyes fluttered a little. Dale tried a gentle slap on the cheek. "Are you okay? I need to get you home son." He was struck by the Ethan's eyes when they focused on him. "I'm a police officer son. What is your name?" Dale helped the boy sit up.


"Can you stand up Sean?" The boy nodded his head and then let Dale help him to his feet. Ethan was taller than he had expected. Dale looked at the boy's nose and before the boy could react he pressed the cartilage back in place. The puppy shivered silently. "That's a bit better. Let me take you home. Where do you live?" Ethan waved a hand in the direction of the apartment building. When Dale put his hand on his shoulder Ethan flinched. They started off in the direction of the street. Ethan found that he could walk without too much difficulty. His chest hurt badly, but when he drew in a deep breath he felt no pain. He thought that must be a good sign. One of his eyes was hard to see through. He touched it briefly and realized it must be swollen shut. His nose throbbed.

Ethan was glad the policeman had found him. His mom had always told him he could trust a policeman. He tried not to show it, but he was upset. Being free on the street had felt so good. Why did the boys attack him? He had not done anything to them. "Why did they attack me?" He stopped and turned to the policeman.

"There are gangs around here Sean. They are like a pack of wild dogs. They just like to hurt puppies like you. It's not really a good idea to walk the streets alone you know."

"I should join a gang; then I would have some friends who would help me. It would have been different if I had had friends."

"Would your mother and father like that? Don't you think it would be better to avoid trouble? We don't want you to become another mad dog on the streets."

"My mom and dad are dead."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"I have a new father now."

"Well I'm sure he loves you very much."

"Yes, I guess so." Ethan didn't think so. Maybe it was because father was so much older. He was like Gus. He liked sex-play with Ethan but he seemed to ignore him the rest of the time. Father never relaxed. He wished he could talk to Peter. Peter had made him feel good. He had hugged him and listened to him. Peter had understood how sad he was that his mom and dad were gone. For the first time since the fight had started Ethan started crying. Peter would have stood beside me and we would beat the wild dogs.

Father was very upset when he saw Ethan. Ethan endured his fussing and raging. Father was oddly angry with the police officer. He was startled back into action when father pointed out that he had forgotten to take his clothes off. He glanced at the police officer and then pulled the ripped shirt off. This prompted a fresh stream of abuse divided almost equally between Ethan and the increasingly frustrated officer. Ethan was not sure who father was angry at. "God damn it this was not supposed to happen. Look at you Sean, what were you doing? Why did you fight back?"

"They took the eggs."

"You are more important than eggs." Father turned on the policeman. "And where were you when those punks were wrecking his face?" The officer seemed particularly put out by this.

"I got there as soon as possible sir. It's not like I knew what was going to happen is it?" There was an edge to the policeman's voice that even Ethan picked up. Father stopped talking abruptly and the two men stared at each other over Ethan's head. Father suddenly seemed to notice Ethan again.

"You are still wearing your pants Sean."

The men watched as Ethan pulled his shoes and pants off. Father took the damaged clothing and left Ethan with the police officer. When he returned he invited the officer to sit down with him in the living room. He called Ethan over and pulled the boy onto his lap. Ethan had wondered how the police officer would react to his nakedness. Most times father expected him to wear clothes when people came to visit. He only showed his love for Ethan when Ross's father came over. Vance fondled Ethan's groin. The officer seemed uninterested in him. The two men were talking together. Ethan hurt and he didn't feel like he could play. Vance's arm across his chest sent waves of pain along his body. He wanted to lie down and did his best to sit still. Despite the pain, he began to feel the tingle of pleasure.

Mother of God, Vance had it made. Dale stopped pretending to be interested in Vance's conversation and stared at the young boy. Even with the bruises on his chest and ribs Dale could see Vance's live-in boy was outstanding. His hair covered the side of his face in a golden wave and the one visible eye was closed. He no longer seemed to be aware of the two men watching his performance. Donald had promised him that he would connect him with the breeder. Dale had to have his own puppy. It was just too cool. He needed to jack off somewhere. The puppy shuddered a little as if he was having an orgasm. Dale wished Vance would invite him to try the boy.

"He's a beautiful puppy isn't he?"

"Yes" Dale couldn't take his eyes off of the boy.

"Sean" the boy opened his eyes. "I think you should show the officer that you appreciate him bringing you home safely." Ethan's eyes shifted to Dale for a minute.

"Are you sure?" Dale needed the blow job desperately.

"Call him to you."

Dale thought for a moment and remembered what he had seen Donald and Vance do at the parties. "Here boy" he patted his leg and the beautiful boy crawled over to him. Dale knew he was hooked. He would have to find the money for a puppy.

After Vance let the police officer out the door he turned to Ethan. Ethan knew the look. Father wanted him. "Do you want me Sean? Shall I make you feel better now?" Sean tried to keep his breaths shallow so the pain in his chest wouldn't make him cry. All he needed was to someone to hold him close. "Do you love me Sean?" Ethan hesitated. It would be so easy to believe nobody cared, but Ethan was a stubborn boy. He remembered the nice man in the coffee shop and Peter's arms around him. He looked at Vance. The man sat on the ottoman and watched him expectantly. Ethan could count on Vance. His father had rescued him from Gus and Mel. Vance did not know he had ripped Ethan away from Peter. He was just offering a home to a boy who had lost his mom and dad in a terrible accident. Ethan had nothing. Vance gave him everything. If Ethan did not have Vance what would he do, where would he go? The thought of abandonment frightened him. "Tell me how much you love me."

Ethan began to voice the words his father sometimes loved to hear. He let Vance smother him with kisses as he fumbled with his father's pants. Father let him continue to sing out the words that made the man hard. Ethan rubbed his cock and balls against Vance to keep himself hard while he pulled at Vance's clothes. Ethan repeated a few more phrases as his loving father pulled him over the ottoman. Father was in a hurry.