The Big and the Small

By John Yager

I have written this little story as a present to all readers in this year when a little cheer, Peace on  Earth and a great deal of love are needed by all. December, 2001.


This is a work of gay erotic fiction dealing with sexual relationships between consenting adults.  If such stories are not to your liking or if you are not of legal age to read such stories in your  jurisdiction, please exit now.

This is a work of fiction and in no ways draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. Any  similarity to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. This work is copyrighted by the  author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the  author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it  may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.

Special thanks to Andrew, who again proofed the text and gave me the benefit of his critical  reading. Andrew, your assistance is much appreciated. Errors remain my own.

If you wish to receive e-mail notification of subsequent posting, please let me know by sending your  your request to the e-mail address below.

They'd agreed, no Christmas presents they had to buy. Make it, that was okay, find it, something you already had, okay, too. But nothing they had to pay money for, and for sure, no credit cards to come back and haunt them later.

Stac had given it a lot of thought. Then about three weeks before Christmas he had gotten up one morning knowing what he wanted to give Buck. It was something he already had, so that was okay, within the rules. It was also something which, as much as any object could, said what he wanted to say to Buck about how he felt about him. He felt good about Buck's present and it just got the day off to a great start.

That was a Wednesday and he was looking forward to the evening when Buck should pull in about six o'clock. Yeah, he thought as he got the cows prodded out of the barn, it was the perfect present. An hour later as he finished his chores and headed back to the house, he realized he was whistling "Jingle Bells." Maybe he was getting a little of the Christmas Spirit after all.

Once back in the house, he mixed the dough for a double recipe of bread. Buck loved his homemade bread and Stac tried to make it whenever he knew Buck was due home. Yeah, that's how he'd come to think about Buck, when he rolled in a couple of nights during the week and then again on Friday evening to spend the weekend, it was like the guy had gotten home. At least that's how Stac thought about it. He'd have to figure a way to ask Buck if he'd begun to think of the little house in the pine woods as his home, too. Maybe Buck's apartment in town had just become a place to sleep when he couldn't make it home some nights.

Two hundred miles to the north, Buck was making good time on a length of the interstate highway west Warren. When he reached Lane he'd leave the divided highway and turn south on Route 120. From that point he had one hundred and sixty-three miles to go. He knew, he'd measured it a dozen times on the odometer, one hundred and sixty-three miles to Stac.

From Lane it usually took him three and a half hours with time out for a stop. These big rigs weren't exactly speedsters, he thought, but they got him there, got him to Stac, and that was all he was asking for.
Today, though, he wouldn't make it in three and a half hours. He had an appointment and he couldn't stop thinking about it. If his plan worked out he was going to give Stac a Christmas present he'd never forget, a Christmas present which was sure to make a very lasting impression. And, he thought with some amusement, it was entirely within the rules he and Stac had agreed on!

It was after nine o'clock that night when Buck and Stac finished the dishes and headed for the shower. It was part of their routine; dinner first, time to talk, time to catch up on what had been going on in Buck's life and what Stac had been able to accomplish with his writing projects since Buck had pulled out Monday morning. The phrase, "pulled out," had taken on special meaning to them over the last few months.

So after their simple meal and time to do the washing up, they were ready to get under the warm shower and revel in the pleasure of touching and being touched. Both men marveled at how much they enjoyed running their soapy hands over their lover's hard, muscular body, and feeling their lover's hands run over theirs.
Buck and Stac had been lovers for ten mouths, ever since that foggy night last February when a fog and a freak ice storm had landed Buck in his bed. In that short time they had fallen deeply and passionately in love.

That evening in December, just a few days short of Christmas, they slowly undressed each other as they stood in the little bathroom, tossing each piece of clothing in the general direction of a large wicker hamper as it was removed. When they were both naked, they embraced, pressing their bodies together, holding one another, reveling in each other's warmth and their own unique smell. They agreed that they liked getting to bed clean, the grease and dirt of the day washed away, but each of them still loved those moments when they held each other and drew in the scent of their lover, claiming what was theirs like two beautiful, sleek animals seeking out their mate in the pack.

Buck's own special scent was a strange blend of things, his own maleness, mixed with the smells of the truck and whatever load he'd been carrying, and over it all the smells of oil and diesel fuel. Whatever its components, to Stac it was an aphrodisiac as powerful as any known to man.

To Buck, Stac smelled of the barn and cows and the fragrances of the kitchen, and most of all, of homemade bread. It was now linked in his mind with shelter and warmth and love.

They stood there in the small, warm space, waiting for the water to get just a little warmer, not wanting to break away from one another.

"I love you, Buck," Stac whispered into his lover's shoulder as he ran his hands over his muscular back.

"I love you, too," Buck said, his mind filled with so many images of this man. He remembered them lying naked by a stream last summer, reaching out to touch and then to claim, to make gentle love in the dappled light of the pine forest. Nice memories, he thought, for a cold December night.

"I think the water's hot."


They stepped into the shower and closed the glass panels of the door.

"Our own little world," Stac smiled as he reached for the soap.

"One of our own little worlds," Buck said, "the shower, the bed, the kitchen, this house, the woods."

"Anywhere with you, Babe."

"Yep, anywhere with you."

They swapped the soap back and forth, Stac working up an nice handful of lather which he spread slowly over Buck's chiseled chest while Buck worked up lather to spread over Stac. It took some work, a little team work keeping out of each other's way, but they'd figured out the rules months ago. All the while, as the suds spread over chests and shoulders, over muscular arms and around the backs of slender necks, they smiled the smile of lovers, and looked deeply into each other's eyes.

Buck thought back as his hands glided lower over Stac's rock hard abs, how he had come to love this man. He remembered his apprehensions, his self doubts. At first he couldn't believe he was attracted to another man. His entire sexual history had been with a woman, one woman, and here he was making love to a man. His live-in girl friend had left him for another guy and Buck had thought his life was at an end. Now, less than a year after first meeting Stac, after first climbing into his bed, he could not imagine himself loving anyone but Stac. Ten months, a rather short time, but it had changed his live.

So far as Stac was concerned, there had never been any doubt. He'd had no doubts about himself and it took him no time at all to know Buck was the one man he wanted in his life. Stac had known he was gay, had accepted it by the time he was fifteen. At eighteen he'd had sex with a man, another boy, really, and that clinched it. He'd never been attracted to women and had never had sex with a woman. Buck was the man he'd dreamed of and now here he was, in his house, in his shower, in his life. For Stac it was contentment, a dream come true.

Both men were just entering their mid twenties, old enough to know what they wanted. Both of them were magnificent specimens of male beauty, each just a fraction of an inch under six feet tall, toned, muscular, and strikingly handsome. As a couple they were a real eye full. Buck outweighed Stac by a good fifteen pounds but they both had hard, chiseled bodies that reflected good genes and a lot of hard training. Their almost identical light brown hair, bordering on blond and with a similar heavy texture and just the hint of wave, made them look a lot like brothers.

The way Buck and Stac related in public made it clear to anyone who cared to look that they were in love. Not that there was anything effeminate or overtly gay about their behavior; it was not obvious in that way. It was there in the angle of a smile, as if they were sharing some secret. It was there in the way they touched or even in the way they didn't touch, that their love was evident to others. Straight men rarely caught on, but women seemed to know and often blessed them with a knowing smile. Buck and Stac would just smile back at such female acknowledgment, knowing that their secret was out and not minding at all.

When their bodies were equally covered with rich suds, the soap was returned to the rack and they gently embraced, feeling the smooth slide of skin on skin, the play of hard muscle against equally hard muscle. Stac brought his lips to Buck's and they gently, lightly kissed.

"Got your Christmas shopping done?" Stac teased as he backed a way a little.

"Yep. What about you," Buck answered with a self congratulating grin.

"Well, whatever you got me, I know one thing."

"What's that?"

"When it comes to size, it can't be any smaller than what I'm giving you."

"Well, don't they say the most valuable gifts come in small packages?"

"I hope so," Stac said. "At least I think I finally found the perfect gift for you. It meets our rules and it sure expresses everything I feel for you." With that he leaned in to kiss Buck's soft lips again. As he did so he felt his body respond to his lover's presence, and felt Buck's hardness nudging his own.

As they backed off again, Buck sighed. "Wow! Oh, Stac, I love you so much it hurts."

"I know, Babe. I know."

"Well, as long as we're talking about Christmas gifts, I’ll tell you one thing about yours. I don't think there's any chance you could ever come up with a present as big as the one I have for you."

"You're sure making me curious, Buck."

"Good. I guess we'll both have to wait."

"Yeah, I guess so. Yours is here but we agreed we'd wait ‘till Christmas."

"Well, yours will be coming on Christmas Eve and I guess you'll get it then. There's sure no way I can gift wrap that monster."

"So shall we exchange gifts on Christmas Eve?"

"Guess we'd better." Then grinning he added, "Then we can just spend all day Christmas in bed."

"Oh, no we don't. I've got a great meal planned and we are sure gona get out of bed long enough to eat it."

"We could eat it in bed."

"That could be fun."

"Yeah," Buck smiled as he ran his soap slick hands down over Stac's flanks, grasping his firm butt and pulling it to him. "Right now I think bed is the place I want to be."

"Sounds good."

They quickly rinsed and dried each other and headed for the old four-poster. Once in bed, nestled together between the warm sheets, they kissed and snuggled for a very long time. That had been one of the greatest surprises about their relationship for Buck. His girlfriend had never been all that into kissing and now, Buck realized, she hadn't been all that good at it either. Stac, by comparison, was a world class kisser and Buck had come to think of their long periods of kissing and touching and holding and touching as one of the most amazing components of their relationship.

After nearly an hour of Stac's deep, soul-searching kisses, Buck was so aroused that if they didn't have real hard, man to man sex soon, he was going to explode. He rolled onto his back and pulled Stac over on to him. Buck loved having Stac lying on him, feeling the hard, muscular weight of his lover, his man, pressed toe to head against his own body.

"Fuck me, Stac."

"You sure?" It was unusual for Buck to want Stac to top him, although in recent weeks he found he wanted it more and more.

"Absolutely. I want it now, Stac, I want it bad."

Stac rolled over enough to reach into the drawer of the little bedside table. He found the well used tube of lubricant and a strip of condoms in their foil packs.

"Lose the rubbers, Stac. We've talked about it enough. There's no reason why we need to keep using those fuckers."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, sure. We've both been tested two times since we started this and if we were gona show up positive we'd have done it by now. It's just you and me, Stac, and I intend to keep it that way."

"Okay, Buck. It works both ways, though."

"You mean I get to fuck you bareback next time?" Buck grinned.

"Yeah, any time you want. I was intending to suggest we stop using condoms, now that we've agreed to only have sex with each other. Maybe we can consider it an extra Christmas present."

Buck put his hands behind Stac's neck and drew him down for one more long, soul searching kiss.

"I'm sure glad we got that settled," he said as Stac rose up to kneel between Buck's wide spread legs.

Stac squeezed lube onto his fingers and spread it along Buck's crack, found his pulsing ass and pressed in. They'd done it enough to know the routine, enough for Stac to know Buck didn't want much messing around. What Buck did want was his lover's cock as deep in him as it would go, hard, hot, ready to pound into him with as much force as Stac could manage. With his muscled body, that was considerable force.

Tonight, though, Stac had another approach in mind. Once he had the lubricant spread over his own cock and as deep in Buck's ass as his fingers would reach, he lifted Buck's legs, pushing them back until they were pressed against the pectoral mounds of his chest. Then moved in until just the head of his cock was pressing lightly against Buck, against the twitching, pulsing, begging rosebud of his ass, he rested, not moving on in, not letting Buck hump up to impale himself on Stac's considerable manhood.

When Buck began to move, or try to move against Stac, Stac held him in check.

"What you doing to me, man? Please come on in."

"Easy, lover, we'll get there.

They lay frozen in that position and Buck was reaching the point of maximum frustration. He reached up and grasped Stac around his chest and tried to pull him forward. Buck was a little heavier, perhaps a little stronger, but in his encumbered position, he lacked the leverage to pull Stac on in.

"Please, Stac, I'm dying here."

"I want something first."

"Oh, God, anything, just fuck me."

"Tell me how much you love me, Buck, tell me how much you want me."

"Oh, man, you know I love you. I want, I need your fucking cock."

"Not how much you want my tool, Buck, how much you want me."

"I want you, Stac, all of you. You know you're the only one I love."

"You want me in your life, Buck, all of your life?"

"Yeah, man, you know I do."

"How much?"

"All of it, Stac, all of it. I want you in every part of my life, every fucking part."

"Does that include your work, Buck?"

"Sure, Stac. What do you mean, in my work?"

"Well, let's just say I show up at Stevens some day when you're with all the other guys you drive with, all the guys you work with, even Mr. Stevens, even that gal dispatcher you got."

"Yeah, okay."

"So what do you do, Buck? Do you just introduce me as a buddy, as a friend?"

"Gees, Stac!"

"Or maybe you'd say, 'this is Stac, my lover, the guy I sleep with, the guy I love with all my heart.'"

"Oh, man, Stac. Can't we just do it now and talk later?"

"Tell me, Buck, what do you say?"

Buck turned his head to the side and closed his eyes. Both men were very still and Stac could tell Buck was really thinking. After a minute or two, Buck turned back to Stac and opened his eyes. They were brimming to the point of overflowing with tears.

"I'd say, 'this is Stac, the man I love with my whole heart, with my whole being, with my life.'"

"You sure, Buck?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. 'This is my Stac,'  I'd say, 'he is my lover but he's also my buddy and my best friend.'"

"Thank you, Buck," Stac said as his pulsing rod slid slowly into his lover's waiting hole.

"Oh, god, Stac," Buck moaned. "I still can't believe how wonderful it feels!"

"Hang in there, buddy," Stac managed to say as he began to increase the speed and intensity of his thrusts.

Stac had almost waited too long.  They were both very close to climax. A few more deep thrusts and Buck locked his muscular legs around Stac's hips and began to draw him in even deeper.

"Give it to me, Stac, give me all you got."

Stac pounded relentlessly into Buck's willing ass, propelling their bodies together in such violent collisions that their muscles cramped with the exertion.

"Oh, yeah, Stac, yeah."

It was then that something broke in Buck, some last stubborn bit of his will, some part he had not been able to give over, relinquish to Stac before. And when that last fortress of his former life fell his heart nearly burst with the joy of it.

"Oh, Stac, Stac," Buck intoned, his voice nearly cracking with the power, the meaning of it all. "I love you, Stac, I love you with my whole heart. I love you with my life, man, every second, every moment, every atom of my being. I can't say it right. The words aren't strong enough." He fell back exhausted as his entire sensory system went over the edge and he was catapulted into the most powerful sexual climax he'd ever experienced. Tremor after tremor shot through his muscular body as he finally came to terms with the meaning of it all.

Stac erupted, too, sending his unguarded seed, a little part of his own life, deep into Buck's waiting, willing body, making them, in some small sense, one, just one.

And in the end, when they both lay exhausted in each other's arms, Buck said it again, simply, with the only words he knew. "I love you, Stac."

"I know," Stac whispered, "I know."

Buck pulled in just after noon on Christmas eve.

When Stac heard the big rig lumbering toward the little house he went out to see what was going on. It had to be Buck. Nobody else was going to drive along his narrow lane into the deep pine woods. Nobody else would try to pull a huge cross country rig off the highway, but it didn't sound like the truck Buck was usually driving.

As Stac saw the huge rig pull around the last little curve and come into the clearing in front of the house he saw it was Buck behind the wheel, but definitely not his usual truck. Ordinarily he drove a big closed van but this was a flat bed, longer than usual and loaded with a strange object which was covered by several tarpaulins and lashed down with heavy chains. Must be some piece of industrial equipment, Stac thought, something Buck would take on when he left after Christmas.

"Hi, lover," Buck called down from the truck as he pulled to a stop and rolled down the window on the driver's side. Stac quickly swung up onto the running board and gave Buck a quick kiss.

"Quite a load, Buck."

"Yeah," Buck said. He was grinning from ear to ear.

"Some sort of machinery?"


"Well, come on in and clean up. I waited lunch thinking you might get here in time to join me."

"Ain't you gona guess again?"

"What to you mean?"

"What's under the tarpaulins, you don't want to guess again?"

Stac had turned toward the house, but stopped to look again a the big truck and the strange covered object loaded on it. "Well, maybe a race car? It's big enough to be a car, but too low and too long for anything ordinary."


"I guess you're gona leave it on the truck till after Christmas and then take it on to whoever it's being shipped to, right?"



"It's staying right here, Stac."

Finally the reality of it struck Stac and his eyebrows shot up.

"You mean....."

"Yeah," Buck grinned. "I told you the day before yesterday you weren't likely to ever get me as big a Christmas present as I'd got you.

"Good grief, Buck, it's huge."

"It's fucking gigantic," Buck grinned, obviously very pleased with himself.

"Well!" Stac said, almost speechless. Then as he looked again at the size of the mysterious object he finally thought to ask, "just exactly how you gona unload it?"

"A bunch of my buddies from Stevens are coming along any minute now. They're bringing a back hoe on one truck and the other truck has a crane mounted on the back. And they're bringing my pick-up, too.

"Your pick-up?

"Yeah," Buck grinned. They'll take the flatbed back with them so it can be used for a run three days from now."

"Couldn't you have returned it after Christmas?"

"Yeah, I could, if I was going back right after Christmas." Stac raised an eyebrow and Buck went on, "I took the rest of the week off and sort of hoped you'd just let me hang out here."

"I think I could be talked into that," Stac said as he gave Buck another quick kiss. "But, Buck, you remember our rules," he said when they drew apart and looked again at the huge object on the truck, "nothing we had to buy, nothing we had to pay for in any way."

"That's right. It's all legal. I got it free and I got Mr. Stevens to lend me the trucks for free and a bunch of the other drivers offered to come along and help. When I told Stevens what I wanted to do and that it was a Christmas present for the man I love, he agreed to help me out."

"You told him that, Buck?"

"Yep," Buck again grinned. "And the other guys all jumped in to help. Stevens was closing down for Christmas at noon today anyway."

"The other drivers know about me?"

"Oh, yeah, they know. I think they more or less offered to help because they wanted to meet the guy who had won my heart.

"Buck, I'm really speechless."

"I love you, man."

"I love you, too."

And so it was that they were locked in a powerful embrace when the sound to two other trucks broke the stillness of the surrounding forest.

Within another couple of minutes they were joined by four other guys. One was driving each of the two large trucks and two were in Buck's pick-up, which was dwarfed by the huge vehicles around it. They all came over to meet Stac and there was a round of hardy hand shakes accompanied by friendly, but not too subtle comments about the hot Christmas Buck and Stac were in for.

Eventually their reason for being there reoccupied their attention and as two guys began to put a ramp in place and unload the back hoe, the other two began to jockey the crane into position.

"Don't take the tarps off till we have everything else ready," Buck ordered. "I don't want to let Stac see his present till we have to."

"Well, I can make that a little easier for you," Stac said as he excused himself and went back into the house.
Under Buck's direction, the crew moved the back hoe to the edge of the trees just across the clearing for the front door of the house, and began to dig a hole about five feet in diameter and about six feet deep. When they had finished, Buck jumped down into the hole and inspected it.

"Looks good," he said as one of the guys extended his hand and helped Buck back up out of the hole.
"I guess it wouldn't do any good to ask what's going on," Stac said as he rejoined the others.

"Nope, just watch. I guess we're ready to uncover it now," Buck grinned as he leaned in to kiss Stac on the lips. There were several hoots from the other guys, which prompted Buck to go still further, taking Stac into one of his powerful hugs and planting another deep, passionate kiss on his lover's open lips."

"Go, Buck!" one of the guys yelled from the seat of the back hoe. The other three began to applaud.

"I get the feeling," Stac said with a smile, as they ended the embrace, that you are claiming me as your property for the benefit of your buddies."

"Well, I wouldn't want these horny bastards to get any ideas."

Two of the men climbed up onto the flatbed and began loosening the chains. Once they were off the tarps began to slide away, revealing a huge white marble bolder, about twenty feet long and over five feet in diameter at its largest points.

"Buck, it's huge," Stac whispered. "And it's beautiful."

"Wait till we get it set up,"

The crane was maneuvered into place and cables attached to huge fabric slings which had been fastened around the huge stone. With infinite care, the five men gently hoisted the boulder up off the flat bed truck, raised it into a vertical position, and lowered it into the hole they had already prepared. Once in position, the hoe was brought in again to move dirt back around the base and then to tap it in securely. Within an hour they had finished their task and reloaded the equipment on the trucks. The enormous stone rose above the clearing, its brilliant white surface silhouetted against the dark pines.

As they all stepped back to admire their work, Stac took Buck's hand and, in a very low voice said, "Oh, yes, Buck, now I see!" Viewed from the direction of the house, the stone took on the form of two figures embracing, two muscular male figures, locked together in an eternal embrace.

"When I saw it at the quarry at Lagland, I could only think of you, Stac, you and me together."

"But Buck, it must have cost a fortune. You know our rules."

"Didn't cost a penny, Stac. I told the quarry owner about you, about us, and he just gave it to me. He said he could never have sold it in one piece and he didn't have the heart to cut it up."

They all stood there in silence for several minutes, just gazing at the magnificent form. It was a work of nature, but it looked like the work of some great sculptor, an artist who knew the nature of stone and the nature of the human heart.

"Well, I sure can't do anything to thank all of you the way you deserve, but I put on a fresh pot of coffee and there are all kinds of Christmas cookies, if you guys would like to come in and warm up.

They all began to object, saying they didn't want to intrude, that they were too dirty, that their boots were caked with mud, which was true.

"Well, take off your boots at the door and don't worry about the rest," Stac said and they all gladly agreed.
Buck led the way, pulling off not only his work boots, but also the one piece overalls each of the men were wearing. Under the heavy outer garments they were more comfortably dressed in jeans and T-shirts. Stac couldn't help noticing that, to a man, they were very well built and quite good looking.

"They really wanted to see the house, Stac," Buck grinned as they moved into the living room, where they stood in front of the fireplace and helped themselves to the cookies Stac had put out on the table.

Tim, the youngest of the four, laughed and added, "and the bedroom and the bed, and especially the shower."

"What haven't you told these guys about us?" Stac teased as he welcomed the men with mugs of hot coffee.

"He told us you were the most wonderful person he'd ever met," Bill, who appeared to be the oldest of the group, quickly said.

"And the best lover he'd ever had," Tim grinned.

There was general amusement on everyone's part, both at Bill's attempt at tact and Tim's brazen comment.

"Both are true," Buck smiled. "I also told them that I finally knew what it meant to be totally, completely, passionately in love."

"Well, Stac, all I can say," Tim added as he shoved another cookie into his already stuffed mouth, "is I sure hope you've got a younger brother."

"No brother, Tim," Stac grinned, but I do have a really cute eighteen year old cousin."

"A guy cousin or a girl cousin?"

"Does it matter?" Bill smiled as he gave Tim a swat on the butt.

"Not to me, it don't," Tim agreed.

"Well, actually, he is a guy," Stac said.

There was a moment of silence as the other men considered the implications of Tim's remark. It wasn't an awkward silence, just one which suggested they were all thinking about it. Then it was Bill who brought the group back to the present by saying how nice it had been of Stac to ask them in, but maybe they'd better get going. They had to return the trucks and then get on to their own families for Christmas.

Tim got another chuckle by asking, "Don't we at least get to see the bedroom?"

"Sure," Stac had laughed, "take a look. The bathroom's on the left."

Only Bill held back, talking with Buck and Stac as the three younger men made their way into the bedroom.

"Well, I guess I don't have to tell you boys to have a wonderful Christmas," Bill grinned as they all pulled on their overalls and boots at the door. Buck and Stac gave each of them a hug and thanked them for their help.

"Just glad we could do it," Bill said for them all.

Tim, who was the last to leave, leaned toward Stac just as he was going out the door and, in a low voice said, "I was serious, Stac. I'd really like to meet your cousin."

"I'll see if I can set it up," Stac said with a grin.

The four men all called back, "Merry Christmas," as they climbed back into the trucks and drove off, leaving Stac and Buck at last alone.

They went back into the house and Stac locked the door behind them.

"Think the boys might come back or something?" Buck grinned as they again kicked off their boots.

"No, just want to be sure we're really alone."

"I agree with that."

"Do you want anything more to eat?"

"Not right now. I have a feeling you've made so much stuff we'll gain ten pounds over the next few days."

Stac grinned and said, "No, not in my plan. We'll eat all we want but what we do between meals will give us plenty of exercise to keep the holiday bulges away."

"Excellent plan, sir," Buck smiled as he looked lovingly at at Stac.

Stac pointed to the fireplace. "Your gift is gona seem really puny after all that, Buck, but it's there on the mantel if you want to open it."

"Do you mind if I wait?"

"No, but why? You gave me mine."

"Can we just get in bed, Stac? I think more than anything I just want to hold you a while."

"No sex?"

"Well, maybe later," Buck grinned, "but right now I just want to hold you. I just want to tell you how much I love you, man."

"Come on," Stac said, taking the little box with him to the bedroom. "You can open this in bed."

"Now that's a great idea."

Within seconds they were naked, under the covers and in each other's arms.

It was so good, Buck thought, so good. How could he ever really tell Stac how much he loved him, how much their love had changed his life?

"Open this now, Buck." Stac said, handing his lover the little box.

"It's so beautiful I hate to unwrap it."

"Got to unwrap it, Buck, that's life."

"Yeah," Buck said as he gently shook Stac's gift. "Real light and it doesn't rattle." He turned it over a couple of times. "We gave up condoms, so I know you wouldn't give me those."

Stac gave him a loving jab in the side and then laid back, letting Buck do all the guessing he wanted.

"I know," Buck grinned, "matching wedding rings."

"No, but not a bad idea. Would you wear one if I got them for both of us?"

"Yes." Buck said with no hesitation. "I actually thought of that, but it would have broken our rules to buy them."

"Maybe we can go shopping together after Christmas."

"Okay. I'll buy yours and you can buy mine."

"Too bad we can't really get married."

"We can, Stac. I marry you and you marry me, it's as simple as that."

"Well, maybe you'd better open the box. I guess in a way it sort of means the same thing as a ring. I'd just not thought of it that way before."

With no further hesitation, Buck tore open the wrapping and lifted the lid from the little box. Inside was a little bundle of tissue paper, which he unrolled to reveal a simple brass key. He looked at it and turned it over in the palm of his hand.

"It's to the front door, Buck," Stac said. "I mean it's sort of a way of saying I want this to be our home. I want you to be able to come and go, Buck, not just come when I'm here to let you in." He drew a breath and went on, "It was my dad's key so I didn't break our rules to pay to have a copy made. I wanted to buy a key ring to go with it but that wouldn't have been legal, right? I mean, I'd have had to buy a key ring, maybe not pay much, just a little, not an expensive one, but it would still have broken our rules. I mean..."

At that point Stac was silenced by a kiss.

"Shut up, Stac," Buck said as they drew back a little. "It's the best present I ever got."

From that point on there wasn't much talking but a lot of communication did go on. They communicated in ways no words can equal, of their love, of the peace they had together. They agreed that in some way they had really given each other very similar gifts, one big, one small. The gigantic stone was a monument to their love. The little key was also a token of their shared life.

It snowed that night and on Christmas morning they woke to a world of almost blinding brilliance. Roads were closed and they were alone, shut away in the little house with a warm fire and good food and each other.

They put the key on a simple leather thong and Buck wore it next to his chest, near his heart, like a holy metal, like a badge of office, like a precious jewel.

In the snow the white marble figures embraced outside their front door and the whiteness which surrounded them seemed like an extension of their love, moving out to encompass the whole world.


PS: In the new year, when the spring had just begun, Stac introduced Tim and his cousin. But that's another story.