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3,059 You Wish You Were Me


About Dabeagle

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    The Empire State
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    Avid gamer and voracious reader. A VW junkie and sports fan.

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  1. I enjoy fantasy as long as it's well written, that's mostly the bottom line. There are versions of fantasy I don't find interesting, like 'furry' interactions and that sort of thing. Outside of that, I'll read most anything.
  2. Readers, What Do You Skip?

    As a reader I can be finicky and yet, if moved for some dumb reason, quite forgiving. If the first chapter runs to sex, I'll usually bow out. If the opening scene is a sex scene I just move on. Aside from that I fall into some of the more run of the mill reasons that have been listed before - noticeable poor grammar or spelling will pull me from a story like a book being dropped flat on the floor. It always stands out like a sore thumb if I re-read one of my own stories and find a misspelling. Above that, can I get into the story despite its flaws? In some cases, yes. In some cases I will hang in there, waiting for it to get better. Other times, it's a no. Why? Several reasons and perhaps none of them useful to others. For instance, though we aren't to judge a book by its cover, I'll rarely open a story titled 'Name and Name' where the character names are inserted in place of 'name'. I already know the story will revolve around two characters and, more likely than not they will get together. If I spot an interesting title with an unusual name I'll open it, but stories only have so long to pull me in. A novel was recently recommended to me by a friend. 'Relic' by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I tried, I sure did. I didn't like the characters, found them to be unengaging. However if I open a Harry Dresden book by Jim Butcher or his Codex Alera series, I find myself drawn in. I think the characters have to be interesting or fun to keep me, even if the story is silly.
  3. Chapter 8

    Some people probably think your version is closer to the truth!
  4. Chapter 8

    Thank you everyone for commenting and reading. I'll let Cynus address breaking up Travis and Angie as it was his cue. I think, though, it was because Angie tried it and it wasn't for her; or rather the kind of personality Travis has wasn't for her.
  5. Chapter 8

    The List By Dabeagle I woke to the sun in my face. Blinking my eyes, I sat up and looked around, momentarily confused. It passed quickly, and while I was glad to have made it to another day, I knew I'd have to conserve resources and hope to last until someone found me. I opened the door and stepped out onto damp land, shivering, with the seat cover flapping around me. Apparently the thirsty earth had taken all mother nature could give it to drink. I stretched, enjoying the slight breeze as it traced along my skin but not the cold ground on my feet. I walked a few feet away and relieved myself before getting a sudden urge to crap. I hobbled back to the truck and dug behind the seat, scrambling for the small folding shovel that was stored there and some paper towels. Again I walked away from the truck and found a spot to do my business. It felt downright odd to squat in the dirt and crap while looking around like a wild animal shivering in the cold. Once done I cleaned up and buried it all before limping back to the truck. The temperature was slowly rising and I worked to warm my body by doing push ups and sit ups on the bench seat, warming my muscles and trying to generate some heat in the cab. The sweat felt cool on my skin and I shivered as it dried quickly. I wrapped the seat cover around me and briskly rubbed my feet again before settling in to drink some water and eat a bar or two. Thinking of water, I looked behind me to see only one of my containers had stayed upright the night before. I didn't need it, yet, so I left the water outside. The cab remained cool and I could see tiny wisps of my breath. I hummed to myself as I shifted on the seat and then, when that grew monotonous, I curled into a ball and dozed for a while. The cold made me dopey and I slipped in and out of sleep or consciousness, I wasn't sure which. I took the time to drink small amounts of water and roll over as I shivered under the thin cover. I began to grow despondent. I moved restlessly in the cold, desperate to generate body heat and not lose a toe or finger. I blew on my hands and then rubbed my legs and arms, then exercised again until my body felt like something warmer than a Popsicle. Condensation stuck to the windshield and began to crystallize as the day turned into night and the last of my water ran out. Not long after the sun fell for the day, I climbed out and had to pee again. I didn't understand why my body wasn't getting the message to retain water, but I couldn't hold it anymore. Climbing back in the cab I was glad to be out of the wind and set about warming my extremities again. As the night deepened and the temperature dropped I began to lose energy for rubbing my toes and extremities. At some point I began to hear my father's voice. He kept telling me how people wouldn't want me because I wouldn't reproduce. How I was weak, easy prey. How I should embrace guns, his weapon of choice, and bend others to my will. Fat tears rolled down my face as the abuse was hurled at me. I covered my ears and shook my head, repeatedly saying 'no' as I desperately rejected his painful jibes. Desperate for comfort, I pulled my phone from the glovebox and turned it on as I huddled under the seat cover. The phone tried and failed to send the message I'd composed for Parker, but I didn't have the heart to read it again. For some time, I stared at Parker's picture and tried as hard as I could to find that peace he'd given me. I traced his image, once more, with my fingertips. I felt his loss almost as if he were the one that had died, as I soon would. Maybe even tonight I would fall asleep and just...not wake up. Would my father have told me the truth about that? Would the end be...peaceful? With a sigh, I turned off the phone and clutched it to me as I huddled into a ball and, shivering, drifted off to sleep. An unknown amount of time later, a squeaking hinge and an unknown voice stirred me, but not much. I may have groaned, but I was so cold and stiff, perhaps I just thought I did. The cover was pulled back from my feet and then thrown farther, exposing me to the cold and the eyes of whomever. Funny, I didn't feel much of the cold, now. I wasn't feeling much of anything. I felt pressure on my cold legs as I was hauled across the seat toward the door. Voices, concerned voices, came to my ears but, perhaps my eardrums were too cold to properly vibrate as I couldn't make out what they said. I think they may have asked me to stand, but I couldn't find the energy to uncurl and I dropped toward the ground before my fall was arrested. I heard grunting, I think, and then I was lying on something soft, jostled and then warmth flooded around me. "Wrap him up and lay down with him," said a voice. I was too tired to open my eyes. "Rub his legs, arms, fingers, toes-anything to get his circulation going. If he stirs, try and get him to sip some water." Water. I opened my eyes and rasped, "Water." "Glad you're still in there," the man said and lifting his gaze from somewhere down low to meet my gaze. Older man. A ring of white hair ran around the outside of his head, but the top was bald and shiny with a freckle almost dead center. What a funny thing to notice. I was pulled up into a sitting position, though more like squatting as my legs were locked. A bottle touched my lips and I opened my mouth, nearly choking as the water hit my tongue and I tried to groan all at once. "Easy, friend, easy." "I know him, Grandpa. I know him from school." "Oh? Do you have a phone number we can contact someone?" "No. Once we have service I can-hey, he has a phone in his hand. He probably has a number we can call in there," the voice said. I became aware of pressure on my back, sliding back and forth across my shoulders. A hand, perhaps, moving quickly to warm my skin. Things grew hazy. I think the vehicle was moving and, vaguely, I recall small hands moving over my body, chaffing my skin and trying to warm me. Then the most wonderful thing happened. Parker. His warm skin backed up against me, pulling the blanket over us and pulling my arm around him. He molded himself to me, pressing backward and I sighed deeply. He'd come for me. I slept. ~TL~ I ended up being in the hospital overnight and, amazingly, I was just a little dehydrated but had suffered no serious damage from the cold. I had a small bruise on my hip where I'd fallen in the truck bed, but that was the worst of the physical injuries. When we'd gotten closer to town my rescuers had turned on my cell and found my home number. My mother met us at the hospital, out of her mind with worry. My phone had died shortly thereafter but, once settled, my mom called the Reids and Parker showed up and squeezed me hard enough that I thought he might actually do more damage than my father had. Hatred for my father burned through me as I stared up at the ceiling tiles of my hospital room. In a voice I could hardly credit as my own I whispered, "I did it. I survived, you miserable bastard." I stayed home on Monday and Parker skipped school to stay with me. I felt better but Parker insisted on babying me-and if I'm being honest, I ate it up. He sat with me as I related to my mother what my father had seen and what he'd done about it. I had to repeat the story with to the sheriff and he sent a patrol up to find my dad's body and recover the pickup. Parker and I were nestled on my couch and my mother was in the chair opposite us. We all had a warm drink, but Parker was being a pain and making me hold it in my hand. "Parks! I'm warm, now! Relax!" I chided him. "Shut up before I pour it down your ungrateful gullet," he said and pushed me lightly. My mother sipped her drink, no doubt laced with something alcoholic, and cleared her throat. "So. Your dad saw you in bed and assumed you were having sex? That you were gay?" I sat up straight and looked her in the eye. Moment of truth, but I realized that there was nothing left to be afraid of. Not after your father tried to leave you to die. "I am gay. Parker is straight. He's my best friend and he has this very strange cuddling addiction." She nodded slowly. "It seems like he made a pretty big leap if you boys were just...huddled up under the blanket." I paused and glanced at Parker who merely nodded at me. I looked back toward my mother and said, "Well, to be honest, Parker and I...experimented. When dad came in to wake me or whatever, we didn't...have any clothes on." "Oh," she said and her eyebrows twitched up a bit. "I see. Well, his assumption makes more sense, then." She paused and looked away from us. "I'm sorry if you felt like you couldn't share that with me, Shane. As long as you're safe and happy..." Her gaze turned back to us. "Then I support whomever you love." I felt choked up even though I wasn't sure why. Perhaps if I'd given serious thought to coming out or had had a close enough relationship with my parents for me to have braved their reactions I'd understand being emotional about the situation. "It doesn't, however, make a great deal of sense that you say you were naked and that only one of you is gay." She glanced between us and said, "If you really are boyfriends, I'd like to know. Please." "If I were gay, I'd totally date your son, Mrs. Blankenship." Parker slipped forward on the couch, perched on the edge of the seat. "But I'm straight and we aren't dating. I can promise you, though, nobody loves him more than I do. He's safe with me." She nodded slowly and I looked at Parker, impressed with his words. He glanced at me, bobbed his head and spots of color appeared on his cheeks. My mom looked at me, and I could see the sorrow in her face. When she spoke, I could hear it, too. "Your dad, Shane, he was different when we met. The last few years he'd become increasingly...paranoid. I was almost relieved when the night supervisor position opened up but I guess I never stopped to think how this would affect you. I always assumed your dad loved you and that...that..." She covered her mouth and bit back a sob. I climbed off the couch and went to her, hugging her from the side and wasn't entirely surprised when Parker helped from the opposite side. Parker stayed over that night and we held each other. I know I was reassuring myself that I was whole and still had him in my life. He had put the blanket up again and pushed me over so he could cuddle me from behind. I sighed as his hand settled on my stomach and the heat of his skin soaked into my own. I was drifting off to sleep when he shifted and whispered in my ear. "Shane...I got your message." "Hm? What message?" "Your text. From the day your dad took you." I thought for a moment and then recalled my heartfelt note to him, when I thought I was going to die. "Yeah? What about it?" I whispered. His hand opened wide and he moved his hand to the center of my chest and clutched me to him. "I just wanted you to know I got it. I...well, ditto. Okay, man?" I smiled. "Ditto?" I said, and rolled my head to look back over my shoulder, a futile gesture what with his obsession with the dark. "I pour my heart out to you and all you can say is ditto?" He tilted his head forward, placing his forehead on the back of my neck and inhaled deeply. "You already know what I'd say. You know who and what you are to me. I'm not going to stroke your ego and fill your head with flowery words." "Well, you could stroke something else," I said and snickered. "That only works while we're single, Shane," he chided me. I rolled over on to my back in a flash. "What? You're dating someone? Who?" "Relax!" he said with a chuckle. "I mean you. Travis told me all about your backseat cuddle, pretending you just needed to get warm. I know you, you wanted to get Travis into his underwear and cuddle that little brainiac." "Wait, what? I have no clue what you're talking about." "You want to play it like that, huh?" "Parker, make sense," I told him. "Okay, have it your way," he said with a sigh. "Sunday morning Travis and his grandpa were going fishing and they were the ones that found you, freezing, in your dad's pick-up. This ringing any bells?" I stared off into the darkness and said, slowly, "Things got really hazy. I remember someone cuddled back into me, but I thought that...well, that you'd come for me. I mean, obviously that can't be true, but...that was Travis? And his grandpa? Travis cuddled me?" "He was warming you up by stripping down and sharing body heat under a blanket in the backseat of his grandpa's Jeep. You totally cuddled with your crush. You seriously don't remember?" I frowned. "Are you fucking with me, Parks?" "No way, you can't make this shit up. Now, roll over," he said and pushed on my shoulder, but I resisted. "How do you know this, exactly? When did you see Travis?" "At the hospital," he said. "They were out in the hallway. Travis's gramps waited to talk to your mom and the sheriff so they'd know where they found you and all that. I was all freaked out, but you know acting not so anyone could tell," he said. "They had turned your phone on closer to town and your text came through. I tried to call back and...well, now I know the phone died but...I thought I'd lost you." I closed my eyes and let out a sigh. "I'm sorry you had to go through that." "Me, too. Don't do it again," he said and pushed on my shoulder once more, and I didn't resist, He pushed me onto my side and nestled in behind me. He put his hand on my stomach and I placed a hand over his, slipping my fingers between his. "I don't mind cuddling and the occasional jerk off, Shane," he said with a chuckle, "but holding hands is pretty intimate." "Deal with it," I said as I squeezed his hand. I lay awake as Parker gently breathed behind me. I turned over everything I could remember about that rotten weekend, at least everything after the suicide. I remembered the message to Parker and...I vaguely recall...oh, yeah. I did. I promised myself I'd ask Travis out. Shit. I knew he was dating Angie, and now the little cutie had seen all my parts and pieces and kept me warm so nothing fell off. Either way, Travis was already familiar with me-and I hadn't even said thank you to him. ~TL~ "I don't know, Shane. I think you should stay home and rest," my mother said, biting her lip as she watched me. "I want to go back. Don't worry, Parker will be there with me," I told her. "You witnessed something horrible, though. You should be in counseling." "Yeah, okay," I told her. "But that won't happen today, right? I want to say thank you to my friend that helped me out and-" Parker coughed into his hand. "And ask him out," he said and coughed again. I turned and glared at him and he smiled back toothily. I faced my mom and said calmly, "Mom. I need to do something. Sitting at home all day is going to drive me nuts. The doctor said I was okay." A tear filled her eye and ran down her face. "Okay," she said, her voice a thick whisper. "Parker, you'll watch out for him, right?" "I've always got his back, Mrs. Blankenship," he said and clapped his hand on my shoulder. I hugged her and Parker and I departed for school. My ankle was better, only twinging now and then, and Parker skated around me on the way to school. I felt normal, good even. We approached the school and, as we did, Angie Fjeldsted waved and approached us. As she got close, Parker did his little board flip thing and all felt right with the world. "Morning," I said to Angie. "Hey, guys," she said, and then with concern and some curiosity she asked, "Are you okay to come back so fast? I'm hearing a lot of rumors." "Physically, yeah," I nodded. "I've got Parker, too, so I'm mentally screwed." He shoved me and I snickered at him. Angie looked confused, as if she wanted to do something but couldn't quite do it. Suddenly she blurted, "I feel like I want to hug you. I was a little worried with some of the stuff I heard and, I know we're not really close or anything but...would a hug freak you out?" I opened my eyes wide as she spoke. The idea that she'd grown fond of me or something from our limited discussion surprised me. "Why would a hug freak me out?" I asked, deciding to just accept that, somehow, Angie and I were friends now. She pointed to her chest. "You noticed these, right?" "Yes," Parker replied and we both glared at him. Turning her gaze back to me she said, "I just figure that, you know, being gay you might get weird if I hugged you because that means my tits would be crushed up against yours." "I like hugs. Don't I, Shane?" Parker said and I just shook my head and smiled. "I'd love a hug, Angie," I said and held my arms out. She gave me a short, strong hug and sighed when letting go. She patted my shoulder and gave me a tight smile before stepping back. Then she fixed her gaze on Parker and her expression shifted away from the emotions of dealing with me to...something else. Something decidedly predatory. "So, I have a question, Parker. Are you gay?" I frowned slightly and Parker gave her a very disinterested look. "Well, it depends on who's asking." She put a hand on her hip. "What does that mean? I just want to know if Shane's your boyfriend." "That's not the question you asked, though," Parker said, a smug grin crossing his face and, I swear, I heard Angie growl. "Now, if some ugly cow asks me if I'm gay I know it's because she wants me. So, I tell her I am. If a pretty girl asks me, I'm straight as an arrow because that covers me either way." She crossed her arms. "How does it cover you either way?" "Well, like let's say a pretty girl like you asks me that question. You could be asking for you, and in that case me being straight is the right answer. If you were asking for your gay brother, then being straight is still the right answer." She chuckled and shook her head. "And is there some circumstance where you actually are, in fact, gay?" He scrunched his lips off to one side and nodded. "Yeah. I'm a little gay, honestly, but only in one circumstance." "And that is?" "When my best friend asks." She glanced back and forth between us and then, actually did growl. "Are you two dating or not?" "Why?" Parker asked. She took a step toward him and he barked a laugh and took a step back. "Nah, we're not dating. But, um, he's my best friend so, I'm hanging with him a lot." "He might be busy," Angie said, her evil look completely on display. "I might?" Angie nodded and said, "Someone on your list is single." She turned and fixed her eyes on Parker, "And Parker, here, is single. I like, for now, that he's single. That means he has no excuse when I tell him we're going to the movies Friday." Parker got a pleased expression on his face and then the sly look I loved so well settled on his features. "Well, I have to see if I had plans with my best friend, first." She lowered her chin. "Really?" "Well," he said, "Am I going to get to cop a feel?" "That depends," she said tartly. "Am I?" Parker burst out laughing and I grinned at him. I nodded and he turned to face Angie. "You tell me where to be and I'll see you then," he told her. "Okay," she said, straightening up. "That's more like it." As Parker and I watched her walk away I glanced at him. "Parks, why'd you fuck with her? You already liked her and she was asking you out." He smiled and threw an arm around my shoulders. "Shane, she wasn't asking. She was telling. She's a tiger, pal. She doesn't want me to lay down and be meek. She wants a little fight in things and I, well, I just gave her what she wanted." I laughed at him. "And what was that shit about being a little gay just for me?" "I am!" he said, affecting a hurt tone. "I'd prove it, too, but I don't want Travis to see me kissing you. He's not a tiger. I think he's going to want someone to be there for him, a protector," Parker said and pulled his hand back so he could clap me on the shoulder. I smiled wryly. "So you're coming over Friday after your date?" "You know it." "Will you still be single?" I asked slyly. "Maybe you should worry about you being single, Shane," he said with a chuckle. He bumped my fist and we separated for the day. My story had traveled and I was something of a minor celebrity to some, an object of pity for others. It was such a confusing, mixed bag that I started to feel a little overwhelmed. Because of that, I think, I ended up ditching a study hall and hung around outside the cafeteria doors. In nice weather some people would eat lunch outside, but now it was getting too cold. As my nose reddened and my boogers froze I decided that this was no better than listening to idiots and I headed back in. "Why not? It's not like you have a girlfriend anymore to keep you busy. You'll do it." I turned with casual interest in the direction of the voice. It belonged to a big guy, someone named Joey something or other-I never bothered to learn and he wasn't on my list. The guy he was threatening, though? Yeah. On my list. "No. Do your own work," Travis told him, his voice wavering. My chest swelled with pride for the little guy and I headed in his direction to help. Joey leaned in. "How many teeth did you want me to knock out?" "Travis? There you are!" Travis and Joey both turned to look my way. I turned my gaze from Joey, who was asking who the hell I was and I beamed. "Travis! I've been looking all over for you. Mr. Hathaway wants you to take me to the A/V room for some...equipment for that demonstration." "He...oh, right. The equipment." Travis sidled away from Joey who looked very suspicious but probably didn't know why. The bell rang and people surged from the lunch room. It was my lunch period, now, and I usually sat with Parker. I was guessing the previous lunch period was Travis's and that's how Joey got him. I thought we were free and clear, but Joey moved to block our path. "Hang on. Squirt doesn't go anywhere until he understands his job." I sighed. "He's not doing your homework, Joey." "Oh? You going to do something about it?" "Yeah," I said with a smile and a swift nod. "I'm going to tell your teachers you're cheating and watch them make you repeat the grade." "Be hard to do that from the hospital," he said and moved closer. My nerves jumped up a few notches, but I channeled my inner Parker and took a mental deep breath. If I let Joey have the first swing, I was toast and we both knew it. So, instead of backing off, I stepped forward and drove my knee into his groin. He let out an 'oof' and started to bend over. Parker stepped around him and looked from me to him while Joey tottered from side to side. "What happened?" Parker asked. "He was threatening Travis," I told him. "Nice." "Going...to...kill...you." "You ask him yet?" Parker asked, jutting his chin toward Travis. "Uh," I mumbled, glancing back and forth between Parker and Travis. "Not yet." "Ask him. I want to watch." "Parker!" "What? Come on, it's important." "Um, what's important? Ask me what?" Travis asked, pushing his glasses into place and then, when we both looked at him, biting his lip. Yeah, it was the lip bite that did it. "Well," I said, gathering my courage. I was stopped when a large hand landed on my shoulder and turned me. Before Joey could do anything else, Parker kicked him in the groin, as I had, and Joey dropped down to one knee, where Parker kicked him in the back of the head, toppling him to the floor. I glanced around, wondering where a hall monitor or other authority figure was. "Jeez, thanks, Parks," I said. "Get on with it," he said, shooing me toward Travis. He stopped biting his lip so at least I could think about something besides how darned cute he looked doing that. "Um, Travis, I wanted to thank you for what you did for me. I, uh, didn't realize you had helped me. I was a little out of it." "I know," he said with a smile. "You called me Parker." "Did I?" I asked, chuckling nervously as I ran a hand up my neck and through my hair. "It's because I'm the perfect cuddler," Parker told Travis. I rolled my eyes. "Travis, would you...ever...want to, like, go out with me?" I asked, very awkwardly. He frowned slightly and an uncertain look settled on his face. Pink spots highlighted his cheeks and his eyes didn't quite look at me. "You mean to hang out or, like, for a date?" I glanced at Parker who was gleefully watching me squirm. Turning my attention to Travis I said, "Um, date?" "Really?" Travis asked skeptically. "Aren't you dating Parker?" Before Parker could open his mouth, I jumped in. "No, I just cuddle with him and, in all honesty, I'm still going to even if I'm dating someone-is that okay?" My voice had gotten higher and my words had gotten faster as I'd spilled out the nature of my relationship with Parker. "So, you want to date me but cuddle Parker?" Travis asked, his words slow and his tone full of disbelief. I cleared my throat. "If I were dating you, I'd be cuddling you. But, Parker and I are best friends and I know we'll cuddle when we stay over at each other's houses. Or, more honestly, he'll cuddle me and I'll tolerate it. I'm just...I know, you probably want nothing to do with this. I'm dumb." I threw my hands in the air. "I just wanted to be honest." Travis looked back and forth between us, probably wondering if he was the victim of a prank. The bell rang and Travis jumped, but didn't leave. The silence stretched between us and I forced myself not to speak and make it any worse. I thought it was a minor miracle Parker did the same. Travis stood still and his face betrayed nothing; I had no idea what was going on in his head. A doubtful look crossed his face. "Is this...some kind of joke? I don't think it's funny." "No, no joke. I'm seriously asking you to go on a date with me." I kept the additional hopes of holding hands and a goodnight kiss to myself. His eyes fluttered and he glanced away and then back to me. "What kind of date?" "Sorry?" "What kind of date do you want to take me on?" I glanced at Parker, scarcely believing my luck before turning my attention back to Travis and trying to not let my face split in half with my smile. "Uh, I was thinking about pizza, maybe, and a movie? I mean, if that's cool with you?" Travis studied me for a moment and then glanced down where Joey had been. I frowned and wondered where Joey had gone and when. He was hard to miss and he was probably sore and pissed as a bear with a toothache. "Why?" "Um, well, I think food and a movie is kind of the thing-" I was cut off as Parker whacked me in the back of the head. I turned around and swung at him a few times, but he dodged me. "What is your problem?" I demanded. "He means, why are you asking him," Parker said, using a tone of voice that called me an idiot without actually saying it. "Huh?" I turned my attention back to Travis, who was looking at me steadily, though he must have wondered what the hell was up with Parker and me. "Is that what you meant?" I stuttered out to Travis. His gaze flickered between me and the hallway leading away, perhaps thinking of an escape plan. With a glance back, he nodded. "That's easy," I told him with a smile. "I like you. I think you're cute and I'd like to know you better." He stared at me as if he expected something more, but I wasn't sure what. Either more compliments or a punch line. The latter seemed most likely. Well, maybe I could compliment him some more, then and see what happened, I thought. Before I could, though, he curled his lips inward and then out, and he spoke in a very low, timid voice. "There's an old theater downtown. They're showing the Godfather on Friday night. It's 'R' rated, but my Grandpa said he'd get me in." He swallowed. "Maybe we could go together." "What's it-" I was cut off as Parker whacked me in the back of the head, again. I glared at him and then returned my attention to Travis, who was biting his lip again. I sighed inwardly. I hope he never figures out biting his lip will get him whatever he wants from me. I smiled widely and said, "Yeah, that sounds great." His blue eyes popped open and focused on me. "Really? I asked Clint but he was trying to get out of it without saying no." "Really," I said, enjoying his pleased expression. "I can't wait to go to the movies with you." Travis straightened up a bit and actually bounced on his toes once before nodding at me. "Okay, Good. Great. Um, I'm late for class so...I'm going to go. I'll see you later?" "Yes. You will," I said, nodding. Parker dropped his arm on my shoulders as we watched Travis disappear into the crowd. "That was so dorky and awkward. You guys are made for each other." I turned an exasperated look on him. "Are you kidding me? I think my heart almost stopped just asking him. Then, of course, there was you hitting me, dick!" Parker's gaze went faraway and-completely ignoring my statement-he said, "I don't think he saw you coming, Shane." With a shiver he came back to himself and propelled me forward. "I owe you, Shane." "Again? What for now?" "For one, I have been waiting since fifth grade to get even with Joey." "Huh? Oh, yeah, him. Why?" He looked at me with a grim expression. "Remember the guy that was my best friend?" I gaped. "No. Him?" "I know. My friends are so much better quality, now," he said with a snicker. He kept his arm in place and steered me toward the lunch line. "What's two? You said for one was Joey, what's for two?" His lips twitched and he said, "I didn't think you were serious about us, you know, being us even when we dated. I give you a lot of props for being honest with both Travis and me." "I've never lied to you," I said. "Well, exaggerated, maybe," he said slyly. "About what?" "How much you want me." I rolled my eyes. "Shut up, Parker." ~TL~ I skipped out on the library that day. I was in no mood to work on my report and I wanted to get away from people. Parker offered to walk me home but he was glancing at Angie as she walked away from the school and I knew he was dying to see if he could get under her skin, so I told him I was good and to call me later. He had the good grace to ask if I was sure before he dropped his board and headed after Angie. As I started to walk, I wondered about Travis and regretted that I hadn't gotten his number before he'd walked off at lunch today. I was excited about having a real date with someone that actually was willing to date me, unlike Parker who'd remind me he went on a date under protest or because no one else would. I smiled, knowing Parker would probably be my date for prom or whatever if I wanted him to. I shook my head and thought about how much change had come to me so fast and wondered how I could balance it all. My father not being home was an adjustment, even knowing what he'd done. It wasn't so much missing him as I felt like I didn't have a huge connection with either of my folks. It was more that things were still where he'd left them, like he could walk back in at any moment. It was that pregnant feeling that he'd be just outside the door, just around the corner or out in his shed, making bullets. I knew he'd be ash, soon. My mother said that, as soon as the sheriff's office released his body, it would go for cremation. I don't know what she planned to do with his ashes; my vote was to flush them down the toilet. Shaking those thoughts off, I was wondering if I should bring something special for Travis when we went on our date. Guys usually brought girls flowers or something, should I do that? Who do you ask about things like that? Should I plan to walk him home? Did I have any right to plan on kissing him goodnight? I paused, coming to a stop on the sidewalk as I thought about kissing him. I had the idea that I'd thought of it before, of lifting his glasses from his face. Perhaps he'd protest a little when I did that and I'd kiss the bridge of his nose while shushing him and then move down to his soft lips, just under that elfin nose... "Shane? Are you all right?" I turned slowly, thinking I must be hearing things like I had in the cab of my father's truck. The shame of his insults washed through me again and I shivered as I spotted Travis, looking at me with curiosity. "Shane?" he asked again. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay, Travis...well, kinda," I said and blew out a long breath. "I was just...thinking, I guess." "Something bad?" he asked. "Some, yeah." Then, thinking of kissing him I blushed and said, "Not all, though." "Um, want me to walk with you?" I smiled at him and was heartened to see little spots of color appear on his cheeks. "Yeah. That'd be nice." He fell in beside me and I deliberately walked slowly to stretch my time with him. "So, um, you sure surprised me today," he said. His color spots grew larger, enhancing his cute factor. "Well," I said, feeling brave, "When I was up on that trail, freezing to death courtesy of my father, I had time to do some thinking." "Yeah. You know...not to make this about me, but when I heard the rumors about your dad leaving you I couldn't help but think of my mother." "Really? Why?" I asked, thirsty for knowledge of him. He came to a stop and shifted his shoulders, clearly uncomfortable. He cast his gaze about, seeing that no one was close enough to overhear. "Well, she always told me that...that I'm a mistake. Her biggest mistake. So, I kind of know what it feels like when your parent...when they..." "Yeah. You understand, all right," I said softly and put a hand on his shoulder. "You okay?" He blinked a few times and took a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm sorry. I don't like to talk about that." "I can understand why." I hesitated and said, "But thank you for trusting me with that." He nodded. "But we have that in common, I guess. Kind of a shitty bonding experience." "I don't know. I guess I got a cuddle with you out of it, but I wish I could remember it!" I said and snickered. He chuckled, but we both trailed off to an awkward silence. "So, um, you said you had time to think?" "Oh, yeah," I said and blushed. "I was thinking, well, a lot of things but part of the time I was thinking about you." "Me?" he said, puzzled. "What about me?" I smiled and shrugged helplessly. "I promised myself I'd ask you out, even if Angie did kill me in my sleep." "You...are you serious?" I widened my eyes and nodded. "You were slowly freezing to death and, of all things, you decided you'd ask me out if you got through that?" I felt confused as I said, "Yeah. Why?" He shook his head. "Don't you think that's a weird time to think something like that, to begin with? Plus, you're talking about....me. Dating me isn't that big a deal." I smiled at him and turned in place a bit, side to side. "It was a big deal to me. Especially since you were dating Angie." "Uh, we broke up last week." "Oh. Um, sorry?" I said in a voice that was completely unconvincing. "Yeah, I'll bet you are," he said and snickered at me. We started to walk and turned to cut through a vacant lot that had a few large work trucks parked there. I looked at them in passing, thinking they must be there to perform repairs or upgrades to a nearby building, but then dismissed them. "I was kicking myself for not getting your phone number this afternoon," I told him. "Oh, you know, I didn't even think of that," he said while pulling his phone from his pocket. Our conversation came to a halt as a big hand grabbed Travis's phone, but fumbled it to the ground. "I'll take that," Joey said smugly and then seemed to realize he didn't actually have the phone in his hand. "Think Steve will answer that number? I don't like holding this cash, someone's going to miss it, eventually," a large kid said to Joey. "No. I told you, Steve got picked up by the sheriff. He'll call when he gets out. Meantime," he said, eyeing us with a malicious sneer, "I have to teach these two a lesson." I pushed Travis behind me as Joey and the unknown hulk faced us. I was ready to tell Travis to run like the wind when a most unexpected thing happened. "I can't think of anything worth knowing that you could teach anyone, Joey. Not showering, certainly, or any other hygiene. What do you think?" I turned my head slowly toward Parker's voice. My heartbeat increased as I took in Zane Thompson, leaning on his cane and looking at his boyfriend, Clint Fjeldsted. Stepping around them were Parker and Angie, who continued to advance as Clint offered an opinion. "I don't know if you can teach stupid, but these guys would be at the head of the class if you could," Clint said and then screwed up his face. "Or would that be the back of the class?" The four advanced toward us and Joey and the new guy looked a little less comfortable. "Joey, Joey, Joey," Parker said as he sauntered closer. "Don't you know you're supposed to get smarter as you get older? Ever since fifth grade you've been going in reverse!" "Fuck you, Parker," he growled. "I got friends. I have a girlfriend. What do you have?" "Friends and a date," Angie said as she subtly moved toward Joey's side, flanking him. Flashing a feral smile toward Parker she added, "Maybe more if he keeps his shit up." "Isn't it supposed to be if he stops his shit?" I asked, unable to stop myself. "Nope," she said with a grin. "But you better learn to share your toys, Shane. All I keep hearing about is 'Shane this' and 'Shane that'." "He's my cuddle buddy," Parker said, also making a flanking move. We six were arrayed in a semi-circle in front of the two goons and I was sure they'd choose to depart. Instead, Joey reached behind him and pulled out a blade that was at least eight inches long. A collective puckering of butt holes could probably be heard a mile away. Joey glanced at Parker and smiled grimly. "Steve says hi." Before he could move, Angie took one step forward and powerfully kicked him in the back of the knee. The new guy turned to see what had staggered Joey and Parker rushed in, tackling him toward Joey and causing them to stumble into each other. I pushed Travis back and pointed at him. "Stay here, I don't want you hurt." "I'm not defenseless!" he protested with a shaking voice. "But I'll feel better if I know you're safe, okay?" I said and turned from him so I could help Parker. The new guy was gaining his feet and I pushed off on my good ankle and stepped as lightly as I could before ramming him solidly with my shoulder in his kidney. I bounced back a bit and he staggered, groaning like a cow that had been speared. Parker dropped him with a shot to the nuts and I punched him in the nose, hearing the cartilage break and taking great satisfaction in the blood spraying from his nose. "Oww! My nose!" he bleated. Parker turned to me and smiled. "He sounds like Steve after you punched him. Who are you, Iron Fist? Does that make me Power Man?" "Power Man?" I said, my breath coming hard and adrenaline pounding through my system. "That has to be the dumbest superhero name, ever!" Joey roared and was on his feet again, shoving Angie hard. She stumbled back and banged her head against the side of the nearby truck. One might have thought that the tide was turning in Joey's favor as his knife gleamed in the fading light of that autumn afternoon. But, in rapid succession, Clint kicked him in the kneecap, causing Clint to hop back and say something about his foot hurting. Zane, using the long reach of his cane, pivoted on his good leg and hit the same knee, causing Joey to bellow. Before he'd recovered, though, Zane brought the cane back around and it made a sharp cracking noise as the shaft shattered on Joey's forearm, and making him lose his grip on the knife. He reached out and grabbed Zane by the front of his shirt and then the fight descended into ants swarming a larger insect. I attacked the knee both Zane and Clint had already disabled while Parker moved behind Joey and began to pummel his kidneys. Travis picked up a rock and tried to punch him in the crotch, but Joey was turning and flailing. His size was enough of a problem, but when he threw Zane back into Clint he toppled them both over. A mad spin caught Parker in the face with a backhand and he stumbled back, shaken up. I yelled at Travis to back off, and he took a step back, but stood beside me as I stared at Joey. I had to stall for enough time for everyone to recover because Joey was huge, injured, scared and pissed. Not a good combination. His lip curled up in a sneer and he took one step toward me. I tensed, aiming to try and kick him in the nuts again when the most amazingly awesome thing happened. Angie, back on her feet apparently, launched herself with a yell. She planted a foot on Joey's knee and used it to vault herself up into a kick that landed squarely on his nose. The crack of cartilage and bone was loud enough to make me think of the report of a gun. Joey bellowed and brought both hands up to his face. Not wanting to take chances I stepped forward and kicked him in the balls to make sure he stayed down long enough for everyone to get away. No one was more surprised than I, though, when flashing lights bounced off the parked work trucks. I looked around, asking if everyone was okay. Besides some dirty clothes and a few bumps, everyone seemed all right. The side of Parker's face was red where Joey's paw had landed, but he was in fine spirits as he clapped Zane on the shoulder. "We were right!" he said to me as he shook Zane. "He does fight crime. Batman doesn't use a cane-sword, though-but he didn't even need it! Did you see him knock that knife out of his hand?" "I know! He was like one of those guys from that Secret Service comic you like, right? Smooth and debonair with a sword-cane?" "Smooth? That's the second cane he's broken this week," Clint snorted. Parker continued as if Clint hadn't spoken. "That was that crappy movie, Kingsmen. Don't ever mention it in my presence again." I started to chuckle as Parker patted a bewildered Zane on his shoulder and walked to Angie. "You better say something nice," she growled. He paused and place his hands on her hips. "Angie, that was dead sexy. Scary as a hungry rat eyeing my dick as a snack, but dead fucking sexy." She shook her head as she tried to parse his words and then just laughed. "Are you like this all the time?" "Not when he cuddles," I told her. "He can be kind of sweet, then." "Shane," he stage whispered. "Shut the fuck up, man. You're ruining my image." Then the men who were attached to the flashing lights showed up. Statements were taken and it might have been written off as a schoolyard fight except that Travis produced the knife we'd all mentioned and he remembered to tell the cops about Joey and the other fellow talking about Steve and the large amount of cash they had. After getting all our names and addresses the cops turned us loose, promising visits with questions in front of our parents. "How did they know to show up?" I asked aloud. "Um, when you pushed me back, I spotted my phone so I called nine-one-one. You know, to be useful." Travis said. "I told you I wasn't completely defenseless." "You're pretty coolheaded in a fight," Angie said, a grudging admiration evident in her voice. "I need a shower," Zane said, looking down at his dirty, wrinkled clothes. "Um, I'll just come with you," Clint said in an innocent voice that fooled exactly no one. "For public safety," Parker said, "I should see that Angie gets home." "Don't you mean for her safety?" Zane asked, still looking in annoyance at his clothes. "Nope. She might try to take out someone else on her way home." Angie swatted him but seemed pleased when he put his arm around her shoulder. With a glance at me he said, "You okay to get home, Shane?" "He'll be fine," Travis piped up beside me. "I'll walk him home." I grinned widely at him and was rewarded with a blush and lip bite. I grinned even wider at Parker. "He'll walk me home. Call me tonight?" "Sure, but I like Shane better. Tonight is too confusing." I wrapped my arm around Travis's shoulders and shook my head. "Shut up, Parks." ~Epilogue~ The old theater was ornate inside and the crowd was thin enough that Travis and I had our pick of seats. I followed his lead, checking out his butt in his khakis as we waited in the concession line. His grandpa had greeted me warmly and stated he was glad I looked better than he'd last seen me. I thanked him profusely for his help, which he waved away. Travis, besides the khakis, had worn a nice button up shirt, untucked, that set his eyes off and flattered his slender frame. I felt a little giddy that he was actually my date and wondered if we'd see anyone from school so I could brag. Travis looked back at me and a slight blush bloomed on his face. "So, what's this movie about?" I asked as we waited our turn. "Well," he said, turning toward me and growing animated. "You have these five crime families in New York City-the Mafia, you know? This movie is where we meet all the major players in the Corleone family. So here's the background." He enthusiastically told me tons of things about the movie, where it was shot and the book it was based on, the awards it won, famous lines and scenes. I started to shake my head and he paused his story, asking what was wrong. "Trav, you sound like you've seen this before." He tilted his head. "Yeah. I've seen it at home a bunch of times." I shook my head in confusion. "Then why are we here?" His face took on a slightly hurt look. "I like classic movies. It isn't often you get to see one in a theater. Plus, I get to...well, to introduce you to it. I was kind of hoping, maybe you'd like watching old movies with me." Softly he said, "Not many others do." I instantly felt bad. "I was just wondering, Travis," I told him. "I'm sure I'll enjoy it, just because I'm with you." His lips curled into a smile and he looked pleasantly off balance. "This theater shows old movies pretty often. In two weeks they are showing The Wrath of Khan." "I don't know what that is." "It's the second Star Trek movie, widely held to be the best of the original crew movies." "Dammit, Travis, I'm on a date, not in movie class!" I said with a deep tone and he burst out laughing at me. I chuckled, pleased at making him laugh. It was finally our turn and I deferred to Travis, who got up popcorn with extra butter and two large drinks. I carried our popcorn while he had our drinks. Something about Travis was different, tonight. He seemed to be a touch more confident, more sure of himself. It suited him. He decided on seats roughly dead center and we settled in. "So, you want to come see that movie with me? It's PG so my grandpa won't have to drop us at the door." "Wow," I said and gave him a pretty satisfied look. "What?" he asked, his voice laced with suspicion, which only shows how smart he is. We weren't an hour into this date and he was already getting suspicious of me. "The movie hasn't even started and I already have a second date," I said, smugly. He stared at me and then his forehead wrinkled and his eyebrows slowly drew down. "I thought you liked me, Shane." "Duh," I said. "No, really." I spread my hands out in question. "You're going to wait two weeks to go out with me again?" "Oh," I said and smiled widely at him. "I just figured we could cuddle at our houses. I mean," I revised and faux coughed, "watch a movie and share a blanket." "Nice cover," he said with a grin. His eyes twinkled with sudden mischief. "What about Parker?" "What about him?" I asked. "You want him to come cuddle, too?" "No! I was just thinking, well, he's your best friend. Wouldn't you usually watch movies with him?" "Just because I do things with Parker doesn't mean I can't do them with you," I said with a smile. "Besides, Parker already told me he wouldn't put out." I blushed, realizing the implications of my galloping mouth and Travis was equally red, but didn't seem to be offended, thankfully. "You guys are really close. I thought you were dating, for a while," Travis admitted. "Well, Parker was on my list but he's...well, he's my best friend," I said reasonably. "That's why I was up front about who he is and what he means to me." "That's why you can cuddle him?" Travis asked, his tone teasing. "Now you're catching on," I said with a chuckle. "And he cuddles me, so we're clear." Travis fell silent for a minute and then asked, "What list?" My stomach dropped. "What's that?" "You said Parker was on your list. What list?" I groaned. "Travis...do I have to?" "Well, no," he said softly. "I understand if you have things you're not comfortable telling me." I kicked my feet and let out a whine. Embarrassing though it may be, I knew it didn't feel right to keep things from Travis. I wanted him to like me for me and to do that, I guess, I had to tell him things. With a sigh I said, "He was on my list of guys I thought were cute." "Oh. Oh, wow. Um, I guess that was awkward. Um, he knows, right?" "Yeah," I replied with a nod. "He'll never let me forget it, either. Amuses him way too much." I looked at him and, for fuck's sake he was biting his lip. My good sense and control of my tongue melted. "You were on my list." His face flushed red, his lips flickered in and out of a smile and his eyes got larger. "I was? W-who else was on the list?" "Could you...please...stop biting your lip?" I begged. He blinked and let his lip fall back into place. "I'm sorry. I'm nervous, it's a bad habit." I groaned and shook my head. "That's not it, Travis," I told him and then I smiled, completely embarrassed as I said, "It's too fucking cute for words. I can't think when you look at me and bite your lip." He blinked again and smiled tentatively. "Really?" "Really." We looked at each other for a minute, the murmur of the few souls in the audience the only sound as we two nervous guys looked at each other. "So...that list?" Travis said. I pursed my lips. "You won. Isn't that enough?" He bit his lip. The little fucker did it deliberately. "Zane Thompson, Curtis Wainwright, Ty Menendez, Parker Reid, Clint Fjeldsted and you," I said in a rush. He paused. "You picked me over all of them? Over Clint?" His voice was filled with wonder and disbelief. "Well, yeah, in the end." "What do you mean?" I hesitated and he bit his lip. "Travis," I whined and he smiled at me. "Come on," he said. "Tell me." I rolled my eyes. "Well, first I thought you were dating Angie so, not a possibility. And Ty turned out to be snob and Curtis started dating Maria Fernandez-Parker fixed them up, by the way. Zane and Clint were dating and Parker just turned into the best friend I ever had." Travis twisted his hands in his lap. "That's pretty stiff competition. I, uh, can't imagine I was your first choice." "Oh no, no, no," I said with a wave of my hands. "The list was just of guys I thought were cute and I didn't have a ranking or anything. I never thought I had a chance with anyone on my list, you included. In fact, I probably wouldn't have done anything if it weren't for Parker." I explained how Parker and I met and how we'd grown increasingly close. I told Travis how Parker had stood between me and the dog and then how he'd been determined to get me a date. I then, deciding for full disclosure and to put the spotlight on someone else for awhile, told him about Angie knowing he was on my list. He shook his head and smiled. "I can't believe she was setting me up for my next relationship." I smiled and tilted my head. "So, you think this will turn into a relationship?" He smiled shyly, looked away for a moment before bringing his gaze back toward me. His face was redder than red, and it was sexier than it had a right to be, and he said, "I'd like to think so." An uncontrollable smile bloomed on my face. It was hard to believe that, just a few weeks ago, I was holding myself away from people and admiring a few from afar. But now I had the best friend in the history of best friends and I was out on a date with a guy who was, really, at the very top of the list. From the tip of that elfin nose to his strawberry blonde mop; from the way he pushed his glasses back up and bit his lip to the way he was being brave enough to go out with a guy after breaking up with a girl. That gave me pause. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" I asked. "Um, I think it would be unfair of me to say no, considering," he said with a shrug. "I just..." I paused and slicked my lips. "I don't want to seem, you know...I don't know. I just wanted to ask you...see," I said, turning one hand over the other, "I didn't think I would have a chance with you because you were dating Angie. I thought you were straight." Travis sat for a moment and then said, his tone gently inquisitive, "Was there even a question in there?" I looked at him and said, "Do not bite your lip right now, this is hard to ask." He rolled his lips inward, yet managed to smile, too. With a sigh I said, "I guess I'm just wondering how you can go from dating Angie to going on a date with me. Like I said, I thought you were straight." Travis dropped his gaze and, taking a deep breath, said, "Well...that's a long conversation." The lights dimmed over head in warning that the movie would start soon. "I understand," I said, a little disappointed. "Please, Shane, it's nothing bad," he said and reached a hand toward me, before catching himself and pulling back. "It's, well, kind of complicated I guess. For right now, I guess what's important is, well,two things." I waited, watching him as he widened his eyes and let out a breath. "First, there was when we picked you up last Sunday. Even though I knew who you were, before that-I mean, we grew up here, you know?" I nodded. "You were nice, when we formally met. And, I have to admit, I really, really liked the way you and Parker told off Sheila before the GSA meeting that day." "Steam came out her ears," I said. "No joke." He chuckled and then moved his hands together restlessly. "When my grandpa told me to, um, get down to my underwear and warm you under the blanket..." "Look, Trav, it was cold." "Huh?" "Shrinkage, you know? Or, if I was hard, it's probably because my bladder was full but my piss was frozen." He burst out laughing and I grinned at him, enjoying having made him laugh again. "It didn't have anything to do with your dick," he said, still chuckling. "It was more because you needed me. There was something I could do for you that would really matter." I gave him a contemplative look. "You sure getting a frozen stiffie over you wasn't needing you, somehow?" He smiled, an odd smile with his lips pursed together and off to one side of his face. "Anyway, then you stepped up and helped me with Joey." "So, wait. Parker helped, too. You seeing him tomorrow night?" I teased. "No," he said, blushing hard. So fucking cute. "My point is that I feel like I know the kind of person you are." He paused and then said, "Feeling that, well, it's opened up all kinds of possibilities for me." "Oh," I said. I thought for a moment and then asked, "So, do you think you could, um, like me? Someday?" He gave me a tentative smile. "I swear, this is so weird. I can't believe you're asking me if I could like you." I frowned. "I don't know why that's weird. I asked you on a date because I like you." He looked away, his face blotchy. "Like me, how?" I waited for him to slowly bring his gaze up. I waited as he watched my face and then, just as he opened his mouth, I said, "I've liked you for a long time, Travis. You're smart, you're cute and your butt looks great in those khakis. I'm just glad I got to you before someone else scooped you up." "Yeah, right," he said, his voice small. "You're the only one that's ever asked me out." "No way." He shrugged and pursed his lips in response. "I find that hard to believe," I told him, suspicion lacing my voice. "Are you teasing me?" "I'm not," he said with a shake of his head. "I'm scrawny and weak-Clint actually threw a sandwich at me last week and told me to eat something." I smirked and cut him off before he could get into a litany of put-downs on himself. "I don't know how much my opinion means to you, but I always thought you were really cute. Maybe you could have used a few pounds before, but you're filling out your shirt pretty nicely. I like your hair, your eyes, your nose-don't laugh, it's a cute nose." His face continued to be quite red, but a pleased smile crossed his face. His smile melted and then his expression was cautiously hopeful. "I don't think I look like much, but especially not next to Parker." "Parker is Parker," I told him. "I love him, he's my best friend. This isn't a competition. I have room in my life for my best friend and, I hope, my boyfriend. But, in fairness, if you keep dating me...you're going to be subjected to his insanity. "You think you can handle Parker?" I asked. He tilted his head from side to side. "It's kind of weird, I guess. But, I can handle Parker if you can handle Clint." I searched his face. "Handle Clint? What's there to handle?" "Don't worry," Travis said with a grin. "I'll protect you." "Travis?" I said as the lights started to dim. "Travis?" He bit his lip. 'I am so screwed,' I thought happily.
  6. So one last chapter of The List to post. Knee deep into the sequel for Things We Lost and two new projects in the works. Now if I can just finish some of them!

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      I look forward to that sequel. :2thumbs:

    3. BlindAmbition


      I patiently await that sequel.

    4. Puppilull


      Sounds good!

  7. I've read all of the series and Seregil and Alec are a great duo to read about. The world is rich with it's own mythology, backstory, intrigues and breathes with the best of mythical universes. Completely worth your time to read if you like fantasy with believable gay characters, not just thrust in there to take over the story.
  8. Chapter 7

    I LOVE the speculation and the ideas for Shane to try and recover from the situation. Nothing tells me a reader is engaged more than when their own ideas are being tossed out to help our guy. I guess I should get the next - and last - chapter out soon to put you guys out of your misery, huh?
  9. Chapter 7

    The List By Dabeagle I couldn't really say what small sound woke me. I was disoriented and unsure where I was at first. Then a grunt hit my eardrum, and a the slight sound of lips smacking followed. A shift as Parker nestled against me, his body turned so that his leg was between my own and the top of his thigh was pushing gently against my nuts. His nearly flaccid penis pressed wetly against my hip and a trace of wetness was slowly crossing from my pec to the center of my chest. My bladder was aching. I reached up and touched the damp spot on my chest and realized, with vague amusement, that Parker was drooling on me. Oh, I am so going to bust his balls for that! My bladder was going to force me to move, and soon, but for the nonce I stretched slightly, enjoying my body shifting against Parker's and the absence of blankets; we must have pushed them off us in the night. I moved my arm from his back up to his hair and began to gently stroke the soft strands. The peace that had descended on me the night before was still with me, magnified by the intimacy of this quiet moment with, quite possibly, the greatest boy on the planet; certainly the best friend anyone anywhere had ever had. So deep was my stupor, lying in bed with Parker, that my mind didn't register the sound of my door opening. Perhaps out of reflex my head tilted toward the sound before my mind consciously identified it. Initially I'd say the look on my father's face was comical. His mouth was open slightly as if he were planning to speak and his gears had simply ground to a halt. As his eyes began to bulge, almost in slow motion, I became more awake and more aware of my position, with Parker sleeping on me. "What the fuck..." my father growled, his voice building to a frightening snarl, one that promised danger. "Dad!" I said and sat up, shedding Parker's sleeping, yet now stirring, form. I struggled forward toward the foot of the bed, placing myself between Parker and my father as the former's face filled with violent thunderheads. "What's going on?" Parker muttered behind me as I gained my feet and stood in front of my father, feeling small and vulnerable. His eyes were narrowed and his breathing short. His hands were clenching into tight fists and then unclenching slowly, as if it were a terrifying an exercise to keep them from acting of their own, violent, accord. With great fear building in my chest I looked over my shoulder to see Parker taking in the scene before him, sleepiness having dropped from his face. "Parks, I think you better go home, now," I said in a wavering voice. Parker's mouth tightened as he pressed his lips together. His eyes darted from my father to me and he asked, "Are you sure?" I nodded, intent on getting him safely out of the house while my father was still standing still and not yet exploding. He shifted off the bed and grabbed his jeans and slipped into them and then grabbed his tee shirt. Pushing his feet into his shoes he grabbed his bag and his board and, with a glance at my father, he looked at me. "Call me." Then he was gone. The tense scene with my father held until the sound of the front door hit our ears, then all my father's control snapped. "What the fuck was that?" he screamed. I stayed silent, not sure what would provoke him more: an actual explanation, a fictional explanation or my silence. Apparently none of them was likely a good answer as he began to growl, snarl and yell about broken trust and what a failure and disappointment I was and he wondered aloud how I was to face my mother. His verbal jabs were hitting me in places I didn't know could hurt and my self worth began to spiral down a black, endless drain. It just went on and on. "Get dressed," he finally said. I was unable to move, my eyes heavy with unshed tears and my heart broken as my distant father, whom I thought loved me, stood before me and stripped away my illusions. He ripped away the comfortable idea of his love and shredded my sense of self. My limbs felt heavy and I longed to go to Parker, to feel worth something. "I said cover up, God damn you!" he screamed and then, making my blood run cold, rested his hand on the butt of his ever-present handgun. In a fit of pure, unadulterated fear, I began to cry and my overtaxed bladder unleashed a torrent. My father cursed loudly and struck me across my face, spinning me back toward the bed. "Clean up and be dressed and in the living room in five or so help me..." He let the threat dangle as he stalked from the room, slamming the door behind him. I shook. I couldn't stop. Yet, I knew I couldn't stay as I was. If I didn't clean up, it would only get worse. I pushed myself up on rubbery arms and gingerly stepped around the wet carpeting to my dresser. I pulled out clothes for the day and bundled them so I could take them all with me to the bathroom. Perhaps if I hurried, it would work in my favor. As I turned to leave my eye was drawn to the bed. The covers were pushed, mostly, to one side and as a consequence the end of the bed, to the right, was exposed. Puddled by the leg of the bed frame was a small bit of cloth. Parker's underwear. My chest emptied of air and a great, hollow feeling made me feel as though my chest would implode, breaking my heart and soul with it. I held back a sob, pulled my phone from the top of the dresser and headed to the bathroom. I wet a washcloth in hot water and wiped down quickly. I finished emptying my bladder and brushed my teeth before dressing. I looked into the mirror and couldn't find the boy that had looked back at me in the wee hours of that very morning. Breaking away from my reflection I walked to the living room on unsteady legs. My father sat in a chair, on the edge of the seat, his eyes locked on the doorway I emerged from. With startling speed, he stood and glared at me. "We need a weekend away, I think," he said, his voice slightly unsteady. Shit. My heart sank as I realized he was planning to isolate me with his survivalist buddies. A bright streak of fear lanced through me as I also realized that I might not be coming back. After all, he'd never come close to threatening me with his gun, but when he'd placed his hand on the butt... He did so, now. His hand twitching on the grip. "I said, let's go, Shane." With a feeling of dread, I walked on legs that shook with fear to the front door and out to his truck. There was no wind, no sounds of insects or birds to accompany me on the longest walk of my life. He climbed into the driver's seat and started the long drive out to the compound. He was rigid in his seat and the cab was silent; even the ever present radio was turned off. I looked out of the window and my feeling of dread shifted into one of resigned fate. I wasn't getting out of this, but even if I'd known it would end this way, I'm not at all sure I'd have traded away the feeling of utter peace and belonging Parker had given to me. As the truck bounced through the arid countryside, I searched for that peace and worked to hold it close, to envelop myself in it like a shield. Within a few minutes I felt cocooned, memories of being embraced and valued, loved, defending me from the waters of despair that lapped just outside my defensive bubble. My feeling of dread only increased as my father headed to higher elevation, taking roads I hadn't seen before. This wasn't the way to the compound so where was he taking me? A violent chill rushed through me as the thought occurred: someplace my body wouldn't be found. We drove for more than two hours in complete silence. Every argument I could make died on my lips as I'd turn and see his face set as if in stone. I did screw up the courage once and he told me to shut up. In fear I tried again and he hit me with the back of his hand, so hard and so fast it didn't hurt right away. After that, I stayed silent. I was confused when my father pulled the truck over on the side of the dusty road. There were no buildings, no compounds...and no witnesses. He threw the truck into park and yanked the keys from the ignition. With a scant tip of his head in my direction he ordered me to get out. He turned to climb out of his door and as I opened the door I slipped my cell out. It had no signal, which wasn't a surprise. The slamming of his door made me jerk in surprise and my phone tumbled from my hands and to the floor of the cab. My father yanked me from the doorway and slammed the door shut. So, this was it, then. As my feet hit the dirt I squashed a fat tear that welled up and I forced my mind to think of all the strength Parker had shown me we both possessed in these last several weeks. I was stronger than I'd known I could be and I used that to stiffen my spine and leash my fear. "Let's go," my father said and started walking off into the scrub brush and dusty wasteland of this depressing area. I fell in beside him, refusing to cry, refusing to be cowed. My fear that he was taking me out to kill me grew with each step, and I fought to keep it down, to keep hold of the precious gifts of my best friend while I shivered in the cool air at this altitude. We walked for several minutes before my father came to a stop at the top of a chasm. Below us was a ravine, or a huge ditch - I'm not sure what you'd call it. It was at least fifteen or twenty feet deep and half again as wide. At the bottom was a trickle of water, slowly meandering along the floor. With a sudden lurch my father threw the keys to the truck out into the air, where they sparkled in the cold sunlight before dropping out of sight, deep into the hole in the earth. He unholstered his sidearm and pointed the barrel down. "Shane. Take your clothes off." At this unexpected demand my mind reeled with confusion. I thought he was going to kill me, but what did that have to do with my clothes. He racked the gun and, with trembling fingers, I pulled on the hem of my shirt, pulled it over my head and held it in my hand while the cold wind picked up and stole the heat from my core. I felt a little stupid since I hadn't dressed for coming up here, but then I'd thought I'd go to the compound. "Toss it," he said, pointing the barrel toward the fissure. I licked my lips and tossed the shirt where it floated down and out of sight. "Keep going," he said. I pulled off each garment and, with a point of his barrel, threw them over the side until I was standing in my bare feet without a stitch on me, shivering in the mountain air. He took in a great heaving breath and looked out into the distance. Were I not so cold, so miserable and now losing the fight against my fear then my father might have made for a classic photograph. His hair moving in the wind and staring off at the landscape. As it was I began to hate him as my body temperature began to drop and my toes began to feel less like flesh and more like ice. "I can't blame you for what you are. I kept thinking that the whole way out here. I was trying to think of a way out of all this," he said softly, his words nearly lost in the air. He turned his gaze to me and continued, "There isn't, though. The Collapse is coming; you know this." I resisted the urge to say I knew no such thing and focused on trying to stop my teeth from chattering. "For us to rebuild into a better, freer world we need people to survive. We need to reproduce. In the places that survive after the Collapse, the pockets of humanity that are leftover... they won't have you, Shane. You can't increase their numbers and you hate guns and your survival skills are non-existent. All the things I've tried to teach you... things you'd need you just don't believe in. "It wont' matter when it happens, though. There won't be any place in a rebuilding world for you. So, you'll be easy prey. I have to do something. I have to spare you that future, that emptiness." My lips twitched but I stilled them, words aborted before they could leave my mouth. My mind screamed with all the arguments I'd had with him in my mind, the many challenges I'd made to his assertions. Cynically there are too many people making too much money for things to just collapse, unless it worked to someone's advantage. That leaves out the good people who are actually working for everyone's benefit. Things are far more complex than his one, simple worldview - and it struck me, then, that my father was one of the people Parker would have no use for. A man who had a single-minded ideology that all government was bad and sought to control him. What could I say to his charges? This was his worldview and his questionable facts. I can't argue against blind faith like his anymore than I could that of Ake or any other true believer. He sighed and said, "As much as I know it'd be a mercy, as much as I know it's what I have to do...I can't bring myself to shoot you down, boy." He lifted his gaze to meet mine and said, "Maybe, in the end, that makes me no better. I'm not strong enough to make this end quickly. I can't bear to see you...dead." He paused and my skin crawled with his words lingering, my fear made true that he was going to kill me. He continued in an almost philosophical tone. "Exposure won't take but a few days. It'll be like going to sleep, Shane. Forgive me for not being able to make it quick, but I'm just a man and weaker than I thought." With a lightning quick move, he brought his gun up to his temple, grimaced, and a crack of thunder hit my ears. My senses were assaulted by the sound of the shot, the sight of the gore of his mortal wound, and the scent of his bowels letting go. I couldn't stop the sudden emptying of my own stomach as I turned from the wreckage of my father's body. I stumbled a few feet away and fell to my hands and knees, retching my guts out as the scene played over and over in my head. The sound, the smell, the gore. My stomach clenched again and I spit to get the taste from my mouth, but like the image in my mind, it lingered. I stood, slowly, and though I didn't want to, I looked to his body and shivered from either the cold or the scene before me, I'll never know which. It felt too strange for it to be real. A fine spray of blood was all that remained. I moved toward the edge on unsteady feet and peered over the side. At the bottom I could see small splotches of color that indicated where some of my articles of clothing had landed. Partway down, snagged on a thick, jutting root was one of my socks and the lifeless remains of my father. I covered my mouth in horror and turned my eyes away. I'm not sure how long I stood there, looking away from from the edge. Little things began to seep into my stupor: my ankle aching with my weight, a chill settling deep in my bones, the cold wind chafing my bare skin and the faint smell of shit. I peered back over the side to see if it were possible to get any of my clothes, but could see no passable way down. My father's corpse was unobtainable and thus so were his shit-filled pants and bloodied shirt. I had to move. I had to get out of the cold and wind. Thirst began to bother me and I turned, looking around to see if I could spot the truck. In the distance I saw a reflection, perhaps the windshield or a piece of chrome trim. Slowly I ambled toward the winking light, my pace slowed from my sore ankle and the rocks and other hard, sharp bits in the ground that dug into the soles of my feet without remorse. Rocks became like chunks of ice, numbing my feet and making it hard to walk normally. My pace slowed even more as I looked down to pick my way back to the truck. I licked my lips and heaved a sigh of relief when I reached the truck. I knew my father kept a jug of water and some old granola bars or something in case he got stuck. I squeezed the door handle, but discovered the door was locked. I whimpered and shifted my feet, my toes tingling with a chilled pain and my soles feeling like they were turning into a solid, cold mass. I thought to break a window, but then realized I may need them later to keep out the wind or if animals came close hunting for easy meat. Right now, that was me. I lamented not having my father's gun, but it was as unobtainable as his stained clothing had been. I shifted on my feet, reminded of my dilemma. I examined the door as my body shook and I tried to think. No window breaking, so what else could I do besides lie down in the dirt and die like my father had wanted? My eyes drifted over the truck and I felt a wave of hopelessness. Jesus, what would Parks think of me if I just gave up? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and then another. Slowly I opened them and studied the truck. I had an idea. Casting my gaze about I walked around the truck until I spotted a decent sized rock in the partial shade of the truck. Hefting it I walked to the door and brought the rock down on the door handle. I swung again and again, cracking the pot metal and plastic as I hammered away on the handle. Small bits of it spun off around me, bouncing off my chest or landing on my feet. Still, I hammered at the handle until it broke free with a clatter, still held on by one screw. Tossing the rock aside I examined the door and pushed my fingers in the hole in the sheet metal where the handle had been. Grabbing the rod for the lock with my fingertips was a chore as feeling in my fingers was more like sensing pressure than traditional feeling. I pulled up, but lost my grip. Whimpering in discomfort and frustration, feeling lightheaded from the cold and lack of water - I was so thirsty! When had I last had a drink? - not to mention my father's rotting corpse in the nearby ravine, I tried again. And again. And again. At last, with my patience deserting me, the rod moved and the door lock popped up. My eyes widened in shock and I huffed a dry, joyless cheer. Pushing the tab on the handle mechanism, the door opened and I climbed inside the chilly vehicle. I tilted the seat back forward, finding the water and food stashed where they were always kept. A small, mean voice told me he'd removed them before abandoning me, but he hadn't thought of everything and I gleefully dragged them out and let the seat back crash into place. My glee turned to chagrin as I realized the water jug was only about a quarter full. The top was loose and it must have been evaporating over time was my best guess. I grabbed the jug and drank deeply, then spluttered and threw up the water, splashing across the edge of the seat and splashing on the floor and against the door. I groaned at the loss of water and at the sudden revolt of my stomach, but sipped a little and waited to see if I could keep it down before getting more. It felt like liquid ice on my lips and they began to grow slightly numb. I leaned back on the seat, glad to be off my sore ankle and my abused feet. I closed my eyes and groaned, feeling utterly hopeless despite the small amount of water and food I now had. I sipped more water and capped the jug, knowing I'd have to make it last. I set the jug on the floor, but it landed unevenly. I looked down to see my phone under the jug. Picking it up I woke it, dismayed but not surprised that a signal hadn't magically appeared. I pulled a granola bar out and nibbled at it, hungry since I hadn't eaten before we'd left that morning. I pulled up the picture of Parker on my phone, sitting on my bed as he looked to the side, perhaps just then deciding that my curtains would need to be augmented. I touched my finger to the screen, sliding it past his face and to his shoulder. My heart broke that I'd never see him again. I wanted to tell him about the peace I'd felt, the tranquility he'd given me. I snorted and smiled, thinking how he'd protest the very idea of bringing peace and tranquility to anyone. As I looked at him sitting on my bed, I decided to leave something for him for when the truck was discovered. Someone would plug in my phone and perhaps he'd see. I opened the text box and selected him from my contacts. I closed my eyes and, with a steadying breath, opened them and began to type. Parks, I wanted to tell you in person but it looks like my dad isn't going to let that happen. I wanted to tell you what a great guy you are, how much you and your friendship meant to me and that I wish more than anything I could see you one more time, for you to cuddle me through one more night. What we did, it wasn't a mistake. I'd do it again. My dad is dead. He left me out here to die. I want you to know I was thinking of you and how much I regret not getting to be your best friend for the rest of my life. I hope you find a girl that's worthy of you. I hope you grow up and make a ton of money and have wonderful kids. I hope you find every happiness the world has to offer. Most of all I want you to know how much I love you. I miss you and I wish you were here right now to tell me it would all be okay, because I'd believe it if you said it. I wish I'd met you sooner. I wish I'd been brave enough to approach you. Life is cruel to have given me a taste of how good things could be and then to rip it away. Anyway. I love you. Signed...your best friend. I sighed and hit the send button. Immediately it told me the sending failed, but at least the message wouldn't be lost. I turned the phone off, after indulging in one more long look at his picture, then stowed it safely in the glovebox. The cab was cool, but my body heat was very low and my toes ached with cold. I pulled the cover off the bench seat and wrapped myself in it while rubbing my feet to try and get my circulation going. As I rubbed the small stubs of ice at the end of my feet, my mind drifted. What came to mind, though, wasn't the comfort of Parker or even the flimsy relationship I had with my mother, but of my father and his final moments. It tangled my thoughts that he'd responded so well to me being in a fight and having a friend. That he'd approved of Parker and pushed me to spend time with him was completely at odds with the man that found me this morning, naked and in the arms of my best friend. I wanted to say I didn't know who that person was, this morning, but that would be lying to myself. I hated lying and, even now, I had to admit my father's capacity for violence wasn't exactly an unknown to me. However, I also truthfully had never felt endangered by him. I had been frequently annoyed by his tirades and conspiracy theories, but ever since I'd learned to check out his 'facts' I'd come to realize there was something going on with him I didn't understand. For some reason my mind conjured up the way he looked, the sadness in his face as he told me he didn't have the heart to shoot me to death. I shuddered as I wondered what that sadness had actually meant to him. It seemed that the only thing he was sad about was that he couldn't bring himself to give me a quick death. All because the end of life as we know it was coming and no one would want a guy who loved other guys. I wondered how many days it would take for my body to be found. I wondered if my father was truthful when he said it would be like going to sleep. I hoped Parker would meet more people to support him and that my loss wouldn't hurt him too badly, though I thought it might hurt at least as much as it hurt me thinking of never seeing him again. I liked the idea that he'd mourn me, but abhorred the idea of him in pain. Morbidly I wondered what my funeral would be like. Who would be there besides Parker and my mom? Maybe Parker's folks, I guessed. Outside of that, who'd care? I pictured Parker in a suit, looking handsome and having Bo leashed beside him to guide me to the underworld. Perhaps Ake would show up and tell the crowd how I'd not listened to him and was thus damned. Perhaps Angie would show up with Travis and, in whispers next to my corpse, tell me why she seemed to be pushing Travis toward me. Was she just into cruel jokes? I sipped a little more water and shivered as the cold liquid chilled my core. I wondered about my list, ticking off the names and discarding them until I reached the anomaly of Travis and his odd relationship with his girlfriend. I never would find out what game she was playing, I mused to myself and again thought of her lips moving beside my dead ear in the funeral parlor. I thought of Travis, the little brain as he pushed his glasses up and bit his lip. I wondered if he knew how cute that gesture was? I wondered if it was that look that got Angie's attention, too. Or maybe it was the way his nose turned up a little and was sort of pointed at the end? Was she a nose person? Was there such a thing? He was so little, and I knew people picked on him. I cursed myself for never having stood up for him. Who knows, we could have been friends. I idly wondered if he'd have cuddled like Parker. I decided that, due to his size, it'd have had to have been me cuddling him. I rolled on my side and groaned in the cold, thinking of holding Travis to me for his body heat. Of running my fingers through his messy hair or of taking his glasses off his little face before kissing him. It was a nice fantasy, I decided. "If I ever get home," I said to the empty cab, "I'm going to ask Travis out. Fuck the fact he's dating a girl who might kill me in my sleep." The afternoon passed in a haze and my thoughts were untethered from reality. Images of Parker and his parents flashed by along with my mom, sitting on the couch and coughing as she took a shot of whiskey to help her sleep. Then it was Angie and her sly look and Travis biting his lip. I thought of Bo, barking and wagging and Clint muttering about burning food. The worst, though, was the gunshot. The sound, not of the real thunder of the pistol as it discharged, but the wet splatter that filled my imagination but which I'd not actually heard. The sound of his brains landing out in the cold. I dozed for a time, but was awakened by wind rushing over the cab and rocking the truck ever so slightly on its old springs. I sat up and opened the door and felt a cool breeze, a harbinger of a rainstorm to come. A fat drop splattered on the metal roof and I sat up and began looking around the cab for empty cans or bottles so I could try and take advantage of the free water. Finding two, I climbed out and yelped as my backside made contact with the cold metal of the truck body. I stepped away, shivering, and quickly looked for places to put the few containers I'd found: an insulated coffee cup and an empty soda can. The wind picked up again and dust stung my eyes as an invisible hand scoured the dirt and shabby scrub. Lightning flashed in the distance and a rumble echoed shortly afterward. The wind picked up and drops began to fall, slowly turning into a heavy rain. I stood, feet spread wide for balance and bottles held up to take advantage of the water. I'd let them get no more that half full before draining them and holding them skyward again, but I wasn't sure how long I could manage it as the water and wind were quickly stripping away any heat I'd managed to acquire while wrapped up in the front seat of the truck. I began to shiver as the wind blew and the rain turned colder. I gingerly climbed in the truck bed, feeling exposed with my nudity, and propped the bottles up on the tool chest which provided a long, flat surface. I turned and duckwalked on the smooth metal of the truck bed and was shocked when my feet flew out from under me and I landed hard on my hip. "Augh!" I cried out, but the wind ignored me. The storm increased and lighting cracked overhead and the thunder was close enough for me to feel a vibration in my chest. I scuttled down to the end of the truck bed, my skin sliding on the wet metal, and then fell off the edge and into the mud. Picking myself up I limped back toward the open door of the truck, idly trying to brush the mud off me as I went. A sudden increase in water volume washed me down, stealing both mud and the last of my body heat. I struggled to the open door, teeth chattering, and hauled myself up. I slammed the door shut and pulled the seat cover over my cold, shaking body. Rain pounded the roof in a cacophony and I shivered as lightning lanced across the sky and thunder shook the world. My teeth chattered and I moved my shaky hands up and down my legs and arms, moving rapidly and trying to generate some heat. I realized that, while water was a concern, being wet in this cold might do me in, first. How could I have been so stupid? My mind was sluggish and I supposed that my lack of logical thought would do me in where my father had failed. Stuttering, I began to curse my father for his betrayal, for his ignorance and for failing as a human being, much less a father. I screamed in a shaking voice about how it should have been, how he should have supported me like he did when he first met Parker and not how he'd left me to die when I dared love that very same boy. I pulled the seat cover tightly around me for warmth as mother nature raged outside and I raged within. With shaking hands, I grabbed a granola bar and ate while watching the fury of the storm. Sometime later the rain slacked off and the only other sound was the distant grumble of thunder. Wrapped in the seat cover I lay back down on the bench seat and pretended Parker was going to be joining me any moment. That he'd cuddle me and this nightmare would end. "I'm going to make it," I said to myself. "I'll live where you died, you bastard." Then, exhausted, I slept.
  10. Chapter 6

    I'm glad you're enjoying them and took the time to say so. Parker was a great deal of fun to write and Shane is everything I hoped he'd be.
  11. Chapter 6

    Nudging Travis, but yes the girl has plans. Strong personality and focused on a goal.
  12. Chapter 6

    The List By Dabeagle Wednesday I got paired with Ty to rehearse a conversation in Spanish. At first I thought I'd be a boob in front of him, maybe inject a little humor and play up my language deficiency some, but he wasn't all that nice and the experience was disappointing. I'd say something and he'd kind of sneer and say, 'No, say it like this' or something similar. I knew I had no ear for reproducing languages, but he was something of a snob about it. By the end of the session he had kind of moved himself off my hot list. At the end of the day, Parker met me at my locker. Without fanfare he helped me get my bag settled; it could be a challenge with the crutches, but he never said anything like 'Here, let me get that' or similar words along those lines. He just did it, which is one thing I appreciated about his direct nature-as well as his unlimited store of altruism, at least toward me. Another thing I liked was his his not looking for praise. He just did it because it was me and he wanted to help me. Of course, his nature was also mischievous and I never knew exactly what would happen when he said 'come with me, it'll be fun', which is what he said to me that day. Because it was Parker, I didn't really care what it was, I just went with him. That will get me in real trouble someday, I just know it. Of course, that won't stop me. So I followed him as he walked through the halls of the school. It was odd being in school after everyone left. In a sense it was like a home where people have moved out; the strange emptiness and lack of purpose and energy made the space more than the tiniest bit unsettling. "Going to the fag club?" It was amazing that a simple question could evoke so much emotion, and just from the tone if not the words. Smug loathing rolled in great waves from that one sentence and, irritated, I turned to see who was speaking. "My friend doesn't like that word. I don't suppose you could just go somewhere and graze, could you?" Parker asked in a tone that approached kindness but stopped just short. The girl scowled and then I recognized her. The scowl is what did it. Sheila Niven wore a perpetually constipated look and found issue with everyone and everything. Given that, I'd never really had any dealing with her, just seen the wreckage of her work from afar. And, of course, Parker was holding the red flag out for the bull. "I don't care what he likes. Free country, free speech." She turned her malevolent gaze at me and deliberately said, "Fag." "Yep, say what you want, but you aren't free of the consequences. Heifer." Her head jerked back on her neck and she scowled hard at Parker. "What?" "Which part confused you, my husky friend. Is that appropriate?" Parker asked aloud, directing his question to me. "Do girls have a husky section?" "Hussy, maybe," I said. "Shut up!" she said, loudly. "I'm going to guess you don't like gay people," I said, meaning to tell her how little I cared about that but she actually hocked and spat on the floor. I'm not a huge fan of snot and spit to begin with, but that was vile. "She's jealous," Parker said. Putting a hand on my shoulders he said, "Back off, he's mine. Go find your farmer and get milked." I felt warm and slightly embarrassed at his declaration of ownership. "Oh, hah. A cow joke. And pink boy thinks I'm not original," she said and somehow, without taking a step, seemed to loom. "Really? 'Cause see, I'd figure pig jokes would be unoriginal. Elephants are so nice, I didn't want to disparage them," Parker said then paused and said very slowly, "disparage means to say mean things about them." "Come on," I said, "Where are we going anyway?" "Right here," he said, pointing to the open doorway and the host of faces who could hear our exchange and appeared to be raptly at attention. "Where is here, exactly?" "It's fag club!" Sheila sneered. "Yep," Parker said. "And you can't have him, so stop looking at him, Sheila-pottamus." I snickered as Parker turned me toward the door. Sheila, however, just didn't seem to want to stop. "Run along to your fag friends, you fucking queers." Her words were filled with such venom, such anger that they almost demanded the same reaction. Why she wanted to stand and seethe with such deep, unexplained hatred, mystified me. However, Parker had taught me that one doesn't always have to be violent to fight back. "You're right," I said to him, conscious of my audience behind and in front and the pregnant air surrounding us. Reaching over I placed my hand in the back pocket of Parker's jeans and gave a little squeeze. "Sheila? Sorry, not sorry, but this ass is all mine. Not that you aren't the biggest ass I've ever seen, but I prefer this one. Fuck off." Parker had jumped when I squeezed his butt, but snickered and stoically stepped forward and we awkwardly walked out of her sight and into the room with my hand in his back pocket and the crutch dangling between us, held in place by how close we were together. "Okay. You can let go of my butt, now," Parker said. I looked at him and smiled slightly. He lifted an eyebrow. "Really?" "What if she pokes her head in, Parker? We have to keep up the charade, right?" He flashed me a look that said I was full of shit and he knew it. "Please. I bet you didn't even care about her, you just wanted an excuse to squeeze my butt in public." I was about to retort when I realized that the eyes that had taken in our exchange in the hallway were glued to us. Just then Vice-Principal Singh who, with a curt, "Hands to yourselves, gentlemen," made me yank my hand back as if scalded. Embarrassed, I hobbled to a seat and Parker settled in next to me, snickering at my red face. He could care less that a room full of people saw me grabbing his ass, only that I was embarrassed, and that amused him. The meeting began and we became just another couple in the crowd, so to speak. Zane had stood up and was addressing the gathering, but Parker leaned over to whisper in my ear. Zane speaking or Parker whispering? Yeah, no contest which to listen to. "Not all these girls can be lesbians. Women are more supportive of gay rights than males, I think, so you think I can fool one of these girls into thinking I'm sensitive?" "Sure," I whispered back. "Right up until you open your mouth." ~TL~ By contrast Thursday was much nicer. In History, Clint was engaged in a spirited discussion with Mr. Hathaway about his choice of a historical figure. I guess Clint liked to eat and wanted to do a visual demonstration, like cooking in class, versus writing his report on Emeril Lagasse, the chef. Mr. Hathaway told him that cooking in class would be impossible due to potential fire hazard, which Clint hotly debated, claiming he'd never set anything on fire. He then, quietly, admitted it had been only the one time and the microwave was old. I snorted and covered my mouth, but it was impossible to not hear me and a few others near Clint, laughing. He turned and chuckled at us but quickly went back to debating the teacher. I'll give Mr. Hathaway this much, he's into getting us to learn how we learn, not how he thinks we should. I was surprised he told Clint to profile someone older, like Julia Child and the impact she had versus a relative newcomer whose impact had been far, far less. Then, he instructed Clint to make something from one of her recipes to bring to class-something that could be divided up so everyone got a small taste. Clint wasn't entirely happy that he'd still have to write up something to accompany the dish, but it would be a smaller report than he would have had to do, before. I wasn't sure I wanted to taste whatever Clint made, though I thought I'd like to read his report because it was sure to be either awful or entertaining. Then in English, Travis was growling about not being able to find his textbook. We were reading aloud and answering questions about various selections and our teacher was kind of a bitch about docking you points for not being prepared-and your textbook was required in order to be prepared. Inevitably, she called on him-probably because he's a very good student-and before he could tell her he didn't have his book I called out to him, softly. He glanced back, caught between confessing and wondering who was talking to him. I flipped him my book and he, with a profoundly grateful expression, opened it and promptly answered the question. I'm sure the old witch saw what happened, but I'm also equally sure Travis was cut some slack for being the student he normally is. After class he paused in front of me before we left the room, once more pushing his glasses up in an impossibly cute way, and said, "Thanks for helping me. I don't know what happened to my book! I brought it to my last class because Angie and I are in it together and I can walk her to her next class-which is next door. But, somehow, it disappeared." He shook his head in bewilderment and I thought he was just too cute for words. He bit his lip, which caused me heart palpitations and then he said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to just...go on like that." "No problem," I said with a smile. "I was glad to help you. Help out. Yeah, no problem." "See you around," he said and headed out, likely already thinking about where he may have left his book. After school, Parker's dad picked us up and took us out to a former Border's Books, which was rented out once a year to a Halloween costume chain. Parker, as it happens, was intent on getting us skeleton costumes-he'd ordered a Cerberus one online already. I dawdled as we looked, having fun as Parker would talk about one costume versus another. Who knew there were so many skeleton costumes? However, I spotted a the one that I decided right then would be the ones we'd get. The costume was a black bodysuit with the bones done in some sort of glow in the dark paint or something similar. I didn't care about that, I was just thinking of hanging out with Parker with him in a skin tight outfit. "Ha. No," Parker said when I pointed it out. "I know what you're up to. You just want to see my ass in these things. Isn't seeing me in my underwear enough for your horny ass?" He held up the costume and curled his lip. "You can't blame me, your boxers are way too loose." He flashed me an irritated look and I laughed at him, enjoying getting to be the instigator between us for once. "By the way, Parks, I don't think you're supposed to wear underwear under that costume...So...." He lifted an eyebrow at me but couldn't maintain his scowl as I laughed. "Shut up, Shane," he muttered. Then he pulled two of them off the shelf and I gave him the money from my dad toward the costumes. He shook his head and muttered the whole way up to the counter, which was fucking adorable, but he bought them anyway. I called my dad and asked him if Parker could stay over. He agreed, since Friday was an in-service day and the school would be closed. We went back to Parker's place and ate dinner with his parents before gathering his stuff and walking to my house. His dad offered to drive us, but I enjoyed the time walking with Parker as he idly skated along. I told him about Clint's project and he howled with laughter and begged me to record it as people sampled his food. I mentioned Travis losing his book and he got a speculative look on his face. "What?" I asked. "Probably nothing," he said, his voice thoughtful. It's just...I had math with that Angie chick? The one with the nice tits?" "You think that's going to jog my memory? Her tits? Really?" Parker shrugged and grinned at me. "I like to remember her that way." "She's sort of evil, but why did you bring her up? I mean, besides to mention her tits?" "Oh, right," he said, popping the back of his board and catching it deftly in his hand. "I didn't think much of it, you just reminded me. When I saw her in math class she had three books." "It's school," I deadpanned. "They have books there, Parks." "Shut up," he said, giving me a gentle, playful push. "She had her math book and two English books. That's what I thought was weird. We only get one textbook for each class." I thought about that as I turned over her actions on Monday, placing Travis and I together once she found out he was on my list. What was she up to? "I know that look," Parker said, putting his hand on the doorknob, but not opening the door. "What?" I paused and furrowed my brow. "It doesn't really make sense. Remember when you were being a dick in the library the other day?" He didn't even challenge the statement. "So?" "Angie. She put her boyfriend between her and me. Introduced us, even. It was kind of bizarre." His brow furrowed as well. "You think we could try and break them up?" "Parks! No!" I said and frowned at him. "Have a little respect for someone's relationship, huh?" "Well, if he's not taking care of her," he said and opened the door. "That's bullshit," I told him. "That's what cheaters use to justify acting like asses." "What's going on, guys?" my dad asked and we both blundered about, not really sure how to answer him. Parker finally managed to ask if my dad thought it was okay to break a couple up based on the idea that if they weren't putting the appropriate effort in to remain a couple, because if they were then their partner couldn't be lured away. Leaning against the counter, my dad spoke in a low, deadly serious voice. "I think if someone hit on my wife, knowing she were married, I'd gut shoot him and let him die on the sidewalk." We sobered quickly and excused ourselves to my room. Parker looked a little pale and I may have mirrored him. We hung around, debating what was going on with respect to Travis and Angie. "Oh, you know what? Ty is off my list." "Really? Is he dating someone?" I related to him how he'd been a dick to me in class and Parker nodded. "Yeah, screw him. I mean, you know, in terms of your list. No, wait, you haven't screwed him..." "Ha. Ha. Shut up, Parks," I told him. We played around, pushing and wrestling a little, though I was clearly outmatched right then. My ankle was better, but still not very tolerant of weight being put on it. When it was getting close to time for bed we brushed and dressed down in my room. Parker, per usual, was in just his underwear and was sitting in the middle of my bed, which is full-sized compared to his single. Perhaps because I was at home, perhaps because I was so comfortable with Parker. or maybe just because I figured I'd enjoy it, I also dressed down to my underwear. "You look hot, sitting on my bed," I teased him and he struck a pose quickly before laughing. I shuffled over to my dresser to plug in my phone, but was struck by a decidedly wicked idea. I turned around and Parker was fiddling with the sheet and looking over at my curtains. Slowly I lifted the phone and snapped a picture of him. He was alerted, of course, by the sound of the camera feature. "No fair. Don't sell that online or anything," he groused. I chuckled, relieved he wasn't upset by my foolish move, and I plugged my phone in to charge. "Is there a plug behind this nightstand?" he asked, gesturing with his chin at the nightstand nearest him. "No. That lamp works on pixie dust," I said, teasing him. "Fairy dust you mean," he said, snickering. I climbed onto the bed and he climbed out of bed and rooted around in his bag, finally emerging with a power cord. He leaned over as if to plug it in, but pulled back suddenly, rolled next to me on the bed and bumped his shoulder into mine and held the phone out for a selfie. "Smile, Shane," he said and we mugged for his camera. He looked at it and, satisfied, he plugged it in and crossed the room to turn off the light before picking his way back to his side of the bed. Unlike Parker's room, I didn't have blackout curtains so it wasn't nearly as dark. In fact my dad had a motion sensitive light on the back patio and it seemed things like, I don't know, mosquitoes maybe, would turn it on. As a result I frequently had some light filtering around my curtains, plenty enough to see by. "Shit. Got a blanket we can tack up or something? That light is annoying and is going to wake us up really early." I thought for a moment and then said, "On your side of the bed there's a drawer underneath. I think there's a lightweight blanket in there." He scrambled off the bed as I climbed on and got myself settled in. He pulled a thin blanket out and spent a few minutes tucking it around the curtain rod and spreading it out until he was happy with the light level-which is to say near pitch black. The bed squeaked as he climbed back in and slipped under the covers. He scooted toward the center and grunted. "Why are you over on the edge of the bed?" "I usually sleep on one side," I told him. His hands flailed about for a moment and then he found my arm, latched on and pulled me toward the center of the bed. I was caught between laughing and growling at him for yanking me all over. Then he made light touches down my leg so he could find the pillows I'd used to elevate my ankle and he lifted my leg by the calf and got my ankle settled in place, then pulled the blanket around so that I was covered but my ankle wasn't. "You still need to elevate this thing?" he asked as he patted my leg, his job done, and he moved to lie back down. "I don't know. I know it's supposed to help with swelling so I've been keeping it up when I can." Parker slipped back under the cover and placed the side of his knee over mine and rested his head on my shoulder. "Shit," he said as he sat up. "Is my leg putting pressure on your ankle? I'm usually on the other side." "Yeah, a little," I admitted. I shifted a bit and he climbed over me, then cuddled into me from the other side and I enjoyed having his face on my bare skin as much as I thought I would. It caused a near instant woody. I let my hand stroke the skin of his back and he nestled against me with a contented sigh. "Your boyfriend won't like that I do this with you, you know." "He'll have to," I said as I continued my lazy hand motion. "I'm serious," he said, his voice dropping. "What boyfriend is going to put up with some guy cuddling his boyfriend? Especially the way we do?" "Well," I said, drawing the word out. "First I'd have to actually have a guy that wants to date me. Second, Parks, I promise to tell him very simply that my straight best friend and I cuddle when we hang out sometimes and that it's part of the package." His fingertips dragged across my stomach and settled in the soft flesh of my side and he pulled slightly. "I wish I was gay, sometimes." I paused my stroking of his skin. "You do?" "Yeah." He paused and sighed, his warm breath blowing across my chest. "I can be myself with you. I can do this," he squeezed me for emphasis, "and you don't think I'm some straight guy trying to screw with your head. You get me, for some reason." I resumed stroking his skin and waited for him to continue. "If I was gay...well, I guess I hope I can find a girlfriend who's a lot like you, but with bigger tits and no dick." "That...almost made sense!" I chuckled and he did too. "Does the idea of a guy turn you off that much?" "No," he admitted after a brief silence. "I've thought about it a lot since we started hanging out. My big problem is I don't want to fool around, with me knowing that's what it is, and have you feel like it's more. I don't want to skull-fuck you." "Parks?" "Yeah?" "I love you. Seriously love you." His body tightened up but I kept my hand moving slowly on his back. "You're the best friend anyone could ever have. I won't let anything change that." I felt him relax into me and resume breathing normally. For a time all there was in the world was the sound of his gentle breathing, the air moving on my skin. The only feeling was his warm body pressed to me and the steady ache of my dick. Outside, a cricket started up its mating chirp and the breeze sighed past the window, stirring a few leaves which rustled against the house. I closed my eyes and spread my hand flat on Parker's back, feeling the heat of his skin. I sighed and my muscles started to relax, slowly readying themselves for sleep. Even my dick started to subside, leaving a wet mark on my underwear as the only evidence of my excitement. Parker shifted, his hand moving slowly from my side and settling on my pec. Almost like a spasm his fingers twitched, lightly squeezing and then his hand shifted slightly, and a finger settled on my nipple. I opened my eyes, unable to see much of anything. My heart rate picked up, though, as his finger began to circle my nipple and my dick began to reinflate. "Parks?" "Hm?" "What are you doing?" He was silent for a moment and then said, "Just...trying something out." I spread my fingers out on his back again as he continued to swirl his finger idly around my nipple and my dick was right back to achingly hard. Parker shifted his head, and in so doing shifted his waist toward me and I was suddenly aware of his erection pressing into my hip. His lips less than an inch from my ear, he whispered, "Can you really promise to be my friend, no matter what? Best friends?" I sighed with relief. "I stood up for you without knowing, at first, that it was you. You stood in front of a dog to protect me, not knowing it was behind an invisible fence and not vicious," I said, ticking off the major points in a whispered voice. "I don't know why you think I'm going to walk away from you. Actually, why do you worry about that so much?" He stayed silent, his gentle breath crossing my ear and his finger continuing its maddening stroke and making my dick feel like it was going to spontaneously explode. I know the front of my underwear felt like a swamp at this point. "I had a best friend in third and fourth grade. I mean, we were tight. We were always together, we played everything-Lego's, built forts, rode bikes and camped in each other's yards...even kissed the same girl." He paused, his finger continuing its trek and he shifted a little, driving his erection harder against my hip. "He was the best. I thought we'd be unbreakable. I mean, I guess everyone does at that point, right? The kind of friend you have before you hit puberty and discover jacking off is way different than the friendships you have when you're still kind of innocent." I nodded, my hair rustling against the fabric of the pillowcase. "Yeah, I know what you mean. It feels like things are simpler, more black and white back then." "Exactly. It's why I don't trust a lot of people who still think things are simple. One philosophy or dogma just doesn't cover everything and really simple folks seem to think it does. If you don't realize the world is more complex than one ideology, one religion or one philosophy...I don't have much use for that kind of person." "What happened to your friend, Parks?" I asked gently. He sniffed. Not like he was going to cry or get emotional, just...preparation, maybe. I don't know. "It was the first week of fifth grade. The Glindmeyer Academy had just shut down, do you remember that?" "Yeah," I said, letting my words drag as I dredged up the memory. "Private school, some kind of scandal, right?" He shrugged against me. "Yeah, something like that. Anyway, my friend meets this new girl who transferred in...Tiffany Fontana. You remember her?" "Vaguely," I replied. As he spoke my body relaxed, though I was still rigid because I could feel his arousal pressed into me; I guess my body realized nothing was imminent at the moment, and was going into 'pause' mode. "She moved away last summer. Anyway," he said, "he fell in love. All of a sudden he didn't have time to climb trees or play video games. He had no time to go to the movies or any of that. It was how I figured out how fragile things like friendships are. I went from being ironclad one day to not having a friend. I told you how a lot of other kids and parents felt about me because of Steve, and it wasn't long before my old friend wised up to that and figured out I was undesirable as far as being cool. So, he dumped me as a friend." I cleared my throat. "That sucks." "It did," he confirmed. "Not that it took him very long to become a total douche and I thought, maybe, I was lucky he'd dumped me. But my point is, things change. You might tell me that you love me no matter what. But if I make out with you, will you think maybe we should date? If I push my hand down a little and jerk you off, will you want to be romantic with me? You might say no, right now, while we're here in the dark. But tomorrow morning are you going to look at me and think there must be a way to make us boyfriends?" I sighed. "That's a fair question," I said, grinding my teeth as I did. "I know you're straight, or I know you tell me that. I'm not sure any straight guy I know would have kissed me or would cuddle me in his underwear or play with my nipple and grind his cock into me while he tells me he's straight, either." I paused and pulled him to me slightly and continued, "But it doesn't really matter if you're straight or not. I love you anyway. And yes, you're right...if we fooled around, I might try to make it more of a...boyfriend thing." "That's what worries me," he said. "Because...I'd do it. Try to be a..boyfriend, I mean." I closed my eyes. "But why would you do it, Parks?" He stayed silent for a moment and I brought my hand up to still his incessant circling of my nipple. For a minute I thought he wouldn't respond, but he moved his hand and pulled me slightly to him, just with his fingertips. "Because I love you, too. I'm not gay, I promise I'm really not. I'm not trying to confuse the situation, not on purpose. But..." he hesitated and sighed deeply. "Part of it would be for the same reason I kissed you. It would be special to you, mean something important." "Yeah, it would," I agreed. "But would it be important to you?" A pause filled the room, the darkness taking on pressure as I waited for him to reply. Finally he said, "Yeah. It would." I sighed and said, "You said part of it would be that. What's the other part?" "Part...because I'm...a little curious," he admitted. "Not curious enough to risk you, but curious." I thought about that for a minute, lying in the dark with a wonderful boy pressed close to me. I wondered about my ability to love him emotionally and physically and if I could handle us not being a couple if such a thing came to pass as an intimate night with him. As I turned that over another thought, the question of how Curtis and Maria came to be a couple, crossed my mind like a shooting star. "Parks?" "Yeah?" "Did you have anything to do with Curtis and Maria getting together?" He swallowed. I knew it because I felt his jaw move on my shoulder. "Yes," he whispered. Softly I asked, "Why?" He hesitated and then explained, "I told myself I was just going to see if he might be open to the idea of dating you. But...if you want me to be honest," he said and let out a sigh, "and to be fair, I don't want to lie to you. Not ever. I was glad when he said he liked Maria. I hinted to her that Curtis was into her and she liked that idea a lot. I was relieved. Curtis wasn't going to take you away from me. "I'm sorry." "Why are you sorry, Parks?" "Because!" he said, flailing a bit. "How are you going to get a boyfriend if I'm trying to keep you to myself? I know what happens when people date. They forget about everyone else-but Shane, you're all I've got." I thought about that for a minute. "What about if you get a girlfriend?" He snorted. "No one wants to date me." I snorted right back. "I mean it. It can happen. Suppose one of the girls on your list wanted to go out. What would you do?" He paused for a long moment. "Well. I guess I'd want to try going on a date," he admitted. "And if you really clicked?" "I'd want to see her more," he said morosely. "I know what you're getting at." "Parks," I said softly. "If I went out on a date Friday night, I'd want to hang out with you Saturday morning or afternoon. I'd want you to know my boyfriend and double date. I'm not letting you go, Parks." He coughed and shifted, pressing to me anew. He wasn't as hard as he had been, and neither was I with him not being able to manipulate my nipple. I then seized on an idea, though. "Hey, all we've been talking about is what if you did something to me, like jerking me off. What about if I grabbed your dick?" I said, challenging him. "Shane," he said, almost a whine in his voice. "What about the rest of what I said? I'm not gay. I might be a little curious and I know part of why I'd do it was just for you. What about that?" I thought about that seriously. "Okay, I'll tell you as honestly as I can, but I'm kind of thinking out loud," I said to him and moved my hand from its perch over his hand and let my fingers trace a path up the skin of his forearm. "I love you, Parks. If I jerk you off, will I love you more? I think I'll just love you a little differently. As far as romance goes...well, I think we have a little bromance going on as it is. Will I get jealous when you date a girl? Because I know you will. I might, but being honest, Parks, I might get jelly if you were dating already. "You get my blood racing, my heart pumping and my dick hard," I told him and he snorted a laugh. I shook him but chuckled in the dark as I continued, "If you give me the choice of fooling around with you, as long as you wouldn't be weird the next day and stop being my friend, I'm going to say yes to that every time." "Shane..." he said softly. "I know. You're straight. Mostly." I sighed, "I've accepted from the start you won't be my boyfriend, Parks. Best friend means a lot, though. I'm not going to try and make you do something you don't want to if that worries you too much. I like this: the cuddling, the soft touches. I'm okay with just that if you are." He sighed. "But if we do more...is that okay, too? I don't want to mess with your feelings." I shrugged. "You mess up my feelings a lot anyway, but in a good way. I feel good whenever I'm with you. You're good for me. I hope I'm good for you, too." He levered himself up and I could just see the dark outline of his head as he hovered over me. His knee pushed up my thigh, bunching the fabric of my underwear under my balls and his hand moved from my chest to the bed, supporting himself as, I imagined, he looked down on me in the dark. Or tried, since it was...dark. His hips pushed forward, and his dick began to grow hard against my hip. I jumped as his lips brushed mine, his breath washing over my face. "This...might not be a one-time thing. As long as we're single." His statement was said in a tone that nearly made it a question, as if I might disagree. His lips crashed into mine and I responded right away, digging my hands into his hair and kissing him back. In mere moments, his tongue probed out and I welcomed it as he shifted his body, his cock grinding onto the front of my hip and his hip putting glorious pressure on my dick. The make out was fierce and all-consuming and I gasped for air in between pushing our faces together again. Eventually he rolled back to his side and placed a restraining hand on my chest, stalling my attempt to follow him. "Don't stop," I whined. He let out an out-of-breath chuckle. "See? You knew I was going to kiss you. I think your tongue tickled my tonsils." I snorted, "Your tongue was as long as a snake." I could almost see him smile in the dark and I pushed up to try and kiss him some more, but his hand was insistent, holding me down. "Parks!" I whined again and he chuckled in the dark. Then, with a final push on my chest, his hand drifted down my chest and across the smooth skin heading toward my belly button, making me shiver as goose bumps broke out all over my stomach. Without a pause he pulled on my waistband and I struggled to lift my butt so that they'd slide down easier. With a grunt he sat up and used both hands, the material pulling my hard dick out straight from my body and, once the waistband was past, slapping back down on my stomach. I wasted no time pushing at his waistband and he laughed lightly, as did I, at my anxious desire to get him as naked as I was. With his underwear pushed down, and kicked off, I ran my hand up his thigh and tentatively cupped his balls. A sharp intake of breath and a small groan greeted my touch, and I reacted much the same way when his warm hand returned the gesture. I turned a little, putting up with the ache in my ankle for doing so, and pulled his face toward mine as I moved my hand up to gently stroke his shaft. If I got another chance at this, I might take my time but right now my mind was dominated by the fact that I'd been hard for about a century and Parker was naked next to me. My best friend. We kissed, but it was hard to do that and stroke with the jerking movements of our bodies. He ran his thumb over my dickhead, slick with pre cum and I shuddered under his touch. Breathing heavily I began to stroke him faster, keeping my grip light and endlessly turned on by the slickness of his own pre cum as it lubricated my movements. He moved closer and began to buck slightly and groaned down at me. Or was that me, groaning up at him? He gasped suddenly and let out a guttural growl as his body tensed and he arched his back which moved him closer to me. His seed spilled across my stomach and I heard it hit the sheet as he covered me with hot spatters. His strokes on my dick had slowed as he came, and I slowly worked his leaking, sensitive shaft. Though he was spent, I enjoyed the feeling of his dick in my hand and so I chose not to relinquish my hold on him. Soon he began stroking me quickly, though, and leaned down to kiss me as he did so. I quickly reached my sticky end, coating my stomach again and dribbling all over his hand. I jerked under him as he slowly stroked me, as I had him, but my dick was so over sensitive I couldn't take it and pushed his hand away with a giggle. "It's sensitive," I told him. He flopped back and heaved a sigh. "Man. That was intense." His movement had caused me to lose my light grip and my hand ended up on the front of his hip and I contented myself with idly stroking his skin with my fingertips. I groaned and said, "Intensely satisfying." We panted in the dark, slowly catching our breath. I felt peaceful as I lay on top of the covers with both our spends cooling on my belly and the feeling of his weight next to me on the bed. Rather than feeling needy and desiring his touch to mollify me, I felt liberated and completely free. A mix of positive emotions flooded through me, not raging like a river breaching its banks but more like a stream that feeds a clear pool, slowly creating a tranquil paradise of cool, inviting, crystal clear water. I wasn't sure I'd ever want to move again. "Shane," Parker whispered. "You have a towel in here or something?" "No," I said and then chuckled. "What's funny?" "Usually," I said, snickering, "I use a Kleenex to wipe up with. But...I think this is more than a Kleenex can handle. I'm, like, flooded!" The bed shook as I laughed with a hand over my mouth and he did something similar in the dark. "Well, what do we do to clean up, then? "he asked, still snickering. "If you go to the bathroom, on the right next to the sink there are washcloths. If you clean up, bring one back to me and I'll clean the worst before I go to the bathroom. Otherwise I'm going to leave a slime trail behind me." I descended into giggles again. I felt a breeze as a pillow was pulled from the bed and Parker buried his face to laugh, clearly a belly laugh. I clamped another hand over my mouth as it made me laugh harder. All my shaking made the mess on my stomach unstable and a cold trail suddenly ran down my side and onto the bed. "Ah, shit," I said, trying to cup the mess and move it back to my stomach. "What?" he asked, still giggling. "The cum," I said. "It's running off my stomach." This set off another round of giggles and I smacked him with the back of my hand. "Next time we're coming all over you," I growled. After laughing hard into his pillow again, and me shaking with laughter, he gathered himself and, with a chortle or two, crept out to the bathroom while I did my best to lie still and not soak the bed in our cum. I heard the water run and he was back a few minutes later with a warm, damp washcloth. I wiped up as best I could and he helped me get out of bed. I kicked off my underwear, gently with the hurt ankle, and limped to the bathroom. My ankle was taking a little pressure, now, and I could shuffle along if I had to. I admit I felt a little weird, hobbling along in the nude in the light coming from the bathroom with smears of cum all over my belly and my junk jiggling with my uneven gait. Once in the bathroom I cleaned up properly. I looked up in the mirror, taking in my midnight black hair that was puffed up, my pale skin that was still a little flushed, and I couldn't help but smile. I'd just had sex with a great guy and I didn't feel conflicted about it nor did I suddenly feel as if I owned him or something. It was exciting and fulfilling and I hoped to do it again at some point. Most important, I felt a sense of wholeness. A completeness that I didn't even bother trying to understand. I did not feel guilty. I did not feel...anything negative. I was, instead, elated. Flipping off the light, and leaving the reflection of my smile in the mirror, I hobbled back to my room. The blanket was down off the windows and Parker was making the bed. "What are you doing?" I asked, which was kind of dumb. "I figured you had fresh sheets where you had that blanket stored," he said. "You spilled a lot of cum on the sheets and, I was tempted to make you sleep in the wet spot, but I thought I'd be nice." "I spilled? I spilled? You came like a fire hose!" I said, and then I looked down for my underwear. Good luck with that. "I can't help it," he snickered. "I was excited." "I can't find my underwear," I said, sitting on the bed and pushing my foot around, hoping to stumble on them. "Me either," he said as he started putting up the blanket again. "I blame you." I sighed and shook my head as he finished blocking the light as best he could. I heard him feeling his way around until his hand touched me. "Get in bed," he said. "I have to be on this side because of your ankle." "But I can't find my underwear," I protested even as I moved to comply. "They're probably wherever you hid mine," he said and I swatted at him. He snickered again, fixed the pillows under my ankle even though I could have done that, then pulled the sheet and blanket over us before cuddling in on my side. His thigh draped over mine and his dick and balls pressed against the side of my hip. I dropped my hand on his back and hugged him tight. "You okay?" I asked. "You know what? I am. I feel pretty good. You?" "I agree," I said, chuckling. "You feel pretty good to me, too." "Asshole. I'm serious." "I know. I feel great. Totally happy right now." "Seriously? You don't feel weird at all?" "Not even a little," I said with a yawn. My dick twitched, knowing he was pressed against me, but even it was satisfied. In a conversational tone, though pitching my voice low, I said, "I still love you though, Parks. You're my best friend." "I love you back," he said and snuggled close. "Goodnight." "Goodnight."
  13. Chapter 5

    The List By Dabeagle Monday morning my dad re-wrapped my ace bandage after I took my shower. He offered to drop me off at school, but I declined since I knew Parker would be waiting for me. With that in mind I shouldered my bag and settled my crutches under me and, after double checking that my key was hanging around my neck, set off for school. I wasn't surprised to find Parker out in front of my house, skating in lazy circles. I made my way to the sidewalk and Parker skated over beside me, keeping pace. The sight of him waiting for me as I expected filled me with pleasure. With the awkwardness of my parents and their relationship, not to mention my dad's theories, I learned early on not to bring people home. Instead I spent a lot of time in my head and I guess most people don't care for that. Now, there's Parker. After 16 years, there was Parker. It was so cool to have someone waiting just for you. I had to greet him, to express that joy for the one person that made me feel that way. Something that told him how pleased he made me. "Hey, Nerd," I said. "Morning," he said with a yawn. "Have you picked your historical figure for the project yet?" He frowned. "No. Can I pick anyone?" "I guess, if they have some historical significance. Why?" "I was thinking of a real legend," he said. "Traci Lords." I frowned. "Who?" "She was one of the only porn actresses-" I burst out laughing. "Seriously? A porn actress?" "Hey!" he exclaimed. "She made the jump from porn to mainstream acting!" "Oh my God," I said, laughing. I was still chuckling as we approached the school and I was more than a little surprised when Ake broke from a group of friends he was standing with and approached me. "Shane," he said, nodding to me. I stopped in front of him and Parker did that neat trick where he stepped on the back of the board and flipped it neatly into his hand. "Ake," I said with a nod. "I'd like to apologize," he said. I glanced at Parker who rolled his eyes and said, "Later, Shane." He reached out to bump my fist and departed. I turned my attention back to Ake. "I'd rather we just dropped it, Ake." "Please, hear me out," he said while holding his hands up before him. Fuck. It wasn't like I could outrun him, although I suppose I could try to club him with my crutches. Since I didn't move, he decided that was permission to continue. "I spoke to my pastor about our conversation. We talked for a long, long time about the different paths people take to come to religion-and some that never find the true path." I opened my mouth but he cut me off. "I want you to know that I accept I was wrong for expecting you to agree with me, to see the world the way I do. I have had the light of Jesus Christ to open my eyes and I only wanted to open yours." By the time he was done, looking beatific and smug at the same time, I was nearly ready to explode. Instead of doing so I smiled at the poor son of a bitch and decided to engage him, like he wanted. "The light, huh? You mean like truth?" "Yes!" he said, nodding, and the light of fervor ignited in his eyes. "The truth of His love, His expectations and life everlasting!" I sighed. "Okay, well, life after death is a pretty old idea. In fact, your religion didn't even have it first. They stole it." A look of mild confusion settled on his features. "I'm not sure what you're saying." "When I was in the fifth grade I got sick and my parents gave me books to read while I was stuck in bed," I explained. "In those books I learned that there were many civilizations that predate your religion that also believed in life after death, in resurrection." "What people?" he asked, tilting his head in curiosity. "The ancient Egyptians." "You mean the ones who worshiped cats?" he asked with a dismissive laugh. I frowned at him. "Ancient Egyptians invented a calendar. They used advanced mathematics and engineering to build the pyramids. They learned to make one of the earliest forms of paper using papyrus. Their religion had a very complex polytheistic pantheon of gods. Horus, who has a story remarkably similar to the one made up for Jesus much later, being just one of them." I paused and added, "And have you seen how people treat cats? Still worshiped." Ake held a hand up, "Even if I were to accept that the story has similarities-the ancients worshiped false idols! They had many gods while we have the one true God!" I sighed. "Ake, how do you explain the saints?" He frowned. "What do you mean? Explain them how?" "Tefnut was the Egyptian Goddess of water and fertility. People prayed to her with respect to those things. Today? Saint Nicholas and Saint Erasmus fill those spots. You might think you have one God, but you pray to many depending on what you want." "That is true!" he said, seizing on my statement and then pausing as if in confusion. It was short-lived as he resumed, "I pray to my God, not to saints or any other!" I shifted on my crutches, the bag growing heavy on my back and putting pressure on my armpits where the crutches dug into me. "You're missing the point. There are tons of religious pantheons that predate your religion and they use the same basics. There is nothing new." He shook his head. "How can you compare those...myths to the truth of the Church?" "That's kind of the point, Ake," I said as I gathered my crutches to move around him. "People that worshiped Osiris or Ra...they said the same things. Today's religion is tomorrow's myth." I planted my crutches and went around him and he watched me go, his face pulled into a deep scowl. I sailed through my day, after that early bump, and took enjoyment from looking at the guys on my so-called list. Travis looked a little down, and that was disappointing to see. I wouldn't say he was normally a visibly happy guy, but seeing him looking down inspired a feeling in me of wanting to gather him close and soothe him. I wanted to go ask him if he was okay, but we didn't know each other so I wasn't sure how he'd take that. At the end of the day I laboriously made my way up to the library so I could start typing up my report. I figured if I could get a few pages down and save it I'd be that much closer to being done. Besides, once you have written something it's a good idea to let it sit for a bit before you read it over. I found I've said some really dumb things-and caught them-when I did things that way. "Hi, Shane." I turned to see Angie Fjeldsted dropping into the seat next to me. "How's my fellow non-believer today? Whoa, crutches?" "Yeah," I said, nodding to them. "I tried to ride a skateboard and a dog tried to take a chunk out of my ass." "Wait, what?" she asked with a snort of laughter. So I explained how Parker was trying to teach me to ride his board and our encounter with Bo, guardian of the gateway to hell. She covered her mouth to hide a few laughs but was appropriately impressed when I told her how Parker had stepped between Bo and me, protecting me. "That's pretty remarkable," she said seriously. "Parker rocks," I said with a nod. As if speaking his name had summoned him he dropped into the seat on the other side of me. Without preamble he said, "Curtis Wainwright is so stupid he could fall in a barrel of nipples and come up sucking his thumb." Angie burst out laughing and I chuckled before asking Parker what he was talking about. "Well, since you're too chicken, I decided to do some research on your list," he said. "What list?" Angie asked. "Guys he'd like to bang," Parker stated. "There is no list," I protested and turned to Angie. "We were just talking about people we-" "Would bang," Parker interjected. "We find attractive," I said with a glare. Angie was snorting, covering her mouth in a feeble attempt to hide her laughter. "Anyway, he started dating Maria Fernandez instead of waiting for you. Sorry, man." Parker shrugged and I sighed at him, knowing he wasn't going to stop. "I told you, Parker, you should just go on a date with me. It'd resolve your promise to find me someone on that so called list," I said, teasing him and quite forgetting about Angie. She reminded me soon enough. "So, Parker...you're on his list but not dating him?" "Our love is forbidden," Parker nodded. Angie looked at him uncertainly and I wondered exactly what he meant, too. Angie recovered and asked, "Wait, so who's on this list? Maybe I can help?" I was in the middle of opening my mouth to tell her that wasn't necessary before Parker cut me off. "Your brother and his boyfriend, but he won't try to break someone up," Parker told her. "Yeah. They are in that hazy, just-started-dating phase. That's hard to break," she said with a sage nod. "Who else?" "Curtis, you heard," Parker said. Then, pointing behind us, he said, "Oh, and isn't he on your list?" Angie and I both looked toward the librarian's desk. There were a few people there, probably looking for reference materials for projects, and Travis was among. Damn it. "Wow, look at the time. You okay to walk home, Shane?" Parker asked as he stood. "Perfectly," I growled at him. The bastard winked and said he'd come over after dinner before departing. "Well, he was entertaining," Angie said. "That's one word for him," I muttered. Angie leaned on her hand and idly tapped her finger against her chin. "You know, he looks familiar. I saw you guys walk to school this morning-arriving, you know? Ake try to convert you again, by the way?" "No," I said, leaning back in my chair. "It was supposedly an apology on his failure to show me the light of truth." "Yeah, okay. I'm sure that went well." I snorted. "But your buddy, Parker. He was over talking to Maria Fernandez this morning. I remember because she had this outfit that I was dying to ask where she'd gotten it from, you know?" She held her hand out in question. I rolled my eyes and she reached out and tapped me on the back of the head. "Hey! What was that for?" I groused. "For being a typical guy," she said with a satisfied look. "I didn't want to go get something like she wore-I wanted to never, ever shop where she bought it. Don't be stereotypical, Shane." I chuckled. "Okay, I was thinking stereotypical thoughts. You got me. Just be careful when Parker's around - he's pretty protective of me." "Yeah, I think I see that. I remember him, though, because last Friday he got told to be quiet or get detention in my social studies class, kind of made me remember because he never gets in trouble." "Parker got threatened with detention?" "Yeah," she said in a faraway voice. "Funny thing was he was talking to Curt Wainwright. And this morning he was talking to Maria. Now they are dating. Kind of a weird coincidence, huh?" I paused and thought about her implication. Would he intentionally drive people off my so-called list to keep me for himself? I was flattered, but I should have been incensed, and I realized I wasn't. After all, I didn't mind spending my free time with Parker and the likelihood of anyone on my list being gay seemed reasonably remote. "Well, I'm not sure about his motivation, but he proved the guy is straight. I guess it saves me the trouble," I told her. She leaned back in her chair and began fiddling with a pen. "My brother is gay-oh, Parker said he was on your list." I groaned and put my head down on the desk. "Hey, I don't see Clint that way myself. Kind of eww, you know?" She paused. "Besides, he likes to walk around the house in his underwear. Freak would go naked if we didn't stop him." I rolled my face back and forth on the desk, waiting to die. "Oh," she said in a sly, evil tone. "I think one of the guys on your list is coming over." I couldn't resist looking up and the realization of her words hit me a few different ways. First, the fact that she called it correctly so completely slapped me in the face; Travis was indeed walking toward us. His strawberry-blonde mop of hair, large glasses and bright eyes were pretty adorable as he navigated over with a large reference book in his hand. I glanced at Angie, who had a wicked grin on her face as she stood and waved Travis to the seat next to me. "Sorry it took so long, she had to hunt for it," Travis said to her as he dropped the book in front of the computer and slung his backpack off his shoulders and hung it from the back of the chair. "No problem," she said sweetly. "I was just talking to my new friend, Shane. Travis, have you met Shane?" Travis turned to me and used his pointer finger to push his glasses up his nose. I guessed I had it bad, because that was cuter than it had any right to be. "Shane Blankenship? I don't think we've ever been, you know, introduced," he said to Angie while looking at me. He held his hand out and I took it, marveling at his soft skin and how small his hand was in mine. "Nice to meet you, formally." "Y-you too, Travis." "Oh, you guys are going to get along, I can tell," Angie said, her sweet tone coming across as kind of sneaky to my ear. But why would she do that, considering they were dating? Travis looked slightly confused, and I took the opportunity to say that I should really start on my project and opened my book, trying to focus on doing just that. But, with the exception of Parker, I'd never been that close to someone on my list for any length of time. Travis was now speaking to Angie, and it was clear that he was taking everything she said seriously from his tone, level of quick agreement, and his body language. Which I should not be noticing because I was working on my own project. With a sigh I realized I probably wouldn't do any better with Parker next to me and decided to pack it in for the day. I packed up and spared a glance at the couple next to me, and Angie gave me a knowing look. I was reminded of how she said evil was kind of her thing and lost my grip on my bag, dropping it to the floor. "Oh, let me grab that," Travis said, leaning down and pulling my bag up. "You okay to get down the stairs?" "Yeah, thanks, Travis," I said, taking the bag and slinging it across my shoulders. "Travis, that was sweet of you to ask," Angie said and Travis smiled at her. What was her game? I nodded at them and said, "See you," before heading out of the library and making my way home. As I settled into a steady rhythm of step and clank, between my sneaker and crutches, I let my thoughts wander to Parker putting Maria and Curtis together if, in fact, he did that. If he did, was he simply trying to help me get a date, even though I'd told him not to, or was he actually trying to make it so that it would just be him and me, though he wasn't gay and wouldn't date me? Then there was Angie and Travis. It was clear Travis liked Angie a lot, but Angie didn't seem as invested. Had she been sitting Travis next to me just to mess with me or was she messing with him as well? If so, how? Why? Once home I thumped around and did my chores because being sick or hurt wasn't any excuse in my father's book. He'd said time and again that things have to get done and the world keeps going no matter how I feel. Thankfully we were having leftovers, so I hadn't had to worry about defrosting anything. I went to my room and worked on my homework until my dad got home, pausing only as he poked his head in to see where I was. It was kind of weird, my relationship with my dad. He was demanding and frequently indifferent, yet he cared enough to make sure I was home and doing what I was supposed to be doing. I shook my head of the thought and finished up my homework before heading out to get some dinner. I wasn't quite done when Parker got there, and he hung around the table while I ate. He made the meal last longer than it should just because he was making me laugh. Finally we headed to my room. "So, Angie says she saw you talking to Curtis and Maria. Then all of a sudden they start to date. Weird, huh?" I asked him, my tone neutral. "Yeah, totally," Parker said with curiosity. "Think Angie likes me?" "Wait, what? How did you get that from what I said?" "Simple. You said she was watching me," he replied with a shrug and an insolent grin. "I wonder if she rubs one out thinking about me as much as you do." I narrowed my eyes and said, "You're lucky I can't run. Otherwise I'd kick your ass." "Maybe," he conceded with a wide grin. "But you didn't deny it." I fumed to his amusement. We hung out in my room afterward, talking and picking on each other until it was time for him to go. Tuesday after school he talked me into going over to see Bo. Reluctantly, and only because he was with me, I went. He brought up the idea, again, of going out on Halloween and walking Bo in a Cerberus costume. He was talking, also again, about us wearing skeleton costumes and wanting to go look at costumes after school Thursday; I nodded absently. It was kind of weird to think about going out on Halloween as I hadn't ever really done it. My dad said everyone would try to poison me. It was fun to think about having someone to do stuff like that with. As we approached the house I could hear Bo baying to the other guardians of the underworld that someone was approaching the door. He was pounding and scratching on the door and, dimly, I could hear his 'mother' telling him to calm down and sit. I glanced at Parker once, nervously, then latched my sight on the door as it started to open. "Ho, Bo!" Parker said, dropping to one knee and holding his hand out to the behemoth. Bo started to dance and whine, licking Parker and pushing into him hard enough to make him totter and nearly fall. He threw a hand out to keep himself upright while laughing at Bo. An involuntary smile crept across my face. "Bo, this is my best friend, Shane," Parker said, taking his collar and edging him toward me. "Shane, put you hand down for him to sniff." I glanced at Parker and, nervously put my hand down toward Bo, who surged forward - which made me jump -and sniffed and licked my hand like mad. A smile tugged at my lips and it was only then that it dawned on me that the lady was speaking. "-so sorry that he scared you. He's only six months old and when my son asked me to take care of his puppy for a spell, I never thought he'd grow to be like this monster!" I glanced up in to her kindly face and smiled. "I hope he's housebroken." "Oh, he is," she said with a nod. "Thank goodness. He pisses a lake every time he has to go." Parker was speaking animatedly to Bo, rubbing his ears and scratching his butt all at once. Bo was wiggling in happiness, whining and yipping and clicking his nails on the floor as he turned. "You just need exercise, don't you Bo? Yes you do, yes you do," Parker cooed at the big dog. "He sure does!" she said enthusiastically. Parker looked up and said, "I could walk him, if you like." She looked down a little doubtfully. "Do you think you can handle him?" she looked askance at Parker, her voice laced with worry. "Sure. Bo and I are going to be good friends. How about we walk right here on the block so you can see us?" She thought for a moment and then nodded. "Let me just grab his leash." She walked deeper into the house and Bo was kept fully entertained by Parker and his wiggling fingers. In minutes she was back and Bo started to jump in excitement when he saw the leash. Parker, though, had a hand on his collar and told him firmly to sit while pushing down on his butt. Bo sat, his tail wagging furiously. He tried to stand a few times but each time Parker took the leash away and told Bo to sit. It took several times, but eventually Bo stayed seated long enough to allow Parker to attach the leash and then lunged for the door, sending one of my crutches clattering. He jumped back, startled by the crutch falling, but recovered and pulled for the door again. "Bo, sit!" Parker said firmly. Bo ignored him and started to drag Parker out the door. Parker planted his feet and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small treat. "Bo. Sit!" he said, waving his closed hand with the treat near Bo's nose. The response was immediate. Bo turned and hopped up, reaching for the treat. It took a few moments before he got the idea and sat to get his treat. Parker shortened up the leash by wrapping it around his wrist and took Bo out the door, restraining him a tad as Bo struggled to surge forward. Three times between the front door and the gate he told Bo to sit and by the third time, Bo understood sit was code for treat. "That's one smart boy!" she said, shaking her head and watching as Parker started walking Bo down the street. "You have no idea," I told her, frankly impressed. "He your best friend? Looks that way," she said as she turned. "You want a can-drink? I'll get you both one." I spared a second wondering what a can-drink was and then dismissed it, telling her I would and thank you. I retrieved my fallen crutch and made my way out to the fence. Parker was on his way back and Bo was still pulling, but Parker looked to be more in charge, for the moment. "Shane! Hand me my board?" he called out as he approached. I cast about and hobbled over to pick his board up from the grass and met him at the gate. "Thanks. I want to try something. Come on, Bo!" He stepped out into the street and hopped up on his board and said, "Let's go, Bo!" "What in the world?" said the lady as she appeared by my side with cans of Coke. We both watched as Bo happily trotted down the block, pulling Parker in his wake. We laughed as he struggled to get Bo turned around and laughed harder as he went by us faster than he might have intended as Bo quite suddenly streaked toward something I couldn't see. I accepted the drink and we watched Bo and Parker as they cruised up and down the street. After about thirty minutes Parker rolled up and stepped onto the curb, a panting but happily tail-wagging Bo trotting back to sit next to him like he'd been doing that forever. Then he flopped over and started licking his groin. Once inside the gate Parker told him to sit. Bo complied and Parker removed the leash. Like a shot, Bo bounded inside, no doubt to drain his water bowl. "That was very impressive," the old lady said as she handed the Coke to Parker, who accepted with a grin. "That was fun. I can do that for him if you want." "I'm not sure which one of you had more fun!" she said and laughed as Bo came back out and flopped onto the grass. "I've never seen that dog worn out, but that was good for him." We left soon after, splitting up to go our separate ways. I mentioned going to look at costumes on Thursday to my dad, since Parker would likely talk that lady into taking Bo out on Halloween. He said I could go and get one and gave me money right then so he wouldn't forget, which surprised me. In bed later, I replayed the fun Parker was having, riding up and down the block being pulled by Bo.
  14. Chapter 4

    It's funny, sometimes, how some kids just click and fall together tightly in a very small amount of time.
  15. Chapter 4

    Steve is a bit of an enigma. I think Parker is still growing and has already been at the bottom of the barrel so he's not afraid of much, socially.

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