Jay & Miles

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 29

Answers

POV: Jay, Mikey

I loved Mikey Stevenson so much I couldn't stand it sometimes. In the four months we'd shared Art class, I'd done my best to get him to open up a little—I could see right from the start the beautiful spirit that was just waiting for a chance to reveal itself—and also the fear and uncertainty which imprisoned it. There had been a few other boys I'd looked at since Greg called me first semester of our junior year, but none of them felt right, if you know what I mean…until Mikey walked into Ms. Jones' classroom and sat at the next table. With less than two hundred kids in our class, I must have seen him around, but he was so good at blending in that he hadn't made an impression on me. Now that we shared a class, that all changed. The first time I said 'hello', he just looked at me, surprised that I was speaking to him. The next day, he smiled just a little bit, but it wasn't until the fourth day that he actually said 'hi' in return.

After two weeks, near the end of January, I got him to do more than that with my flow of chatter and compliments to his talent for drawing; his one or two word answers slowly expanded, and I found that he actually had a wide range of interests, and some pretty good ideas about things which hadn't occurred to me to even think about. It was nearly a month before I got him to laugh, and I think that's when I was hooked—I wanted him to laugh more often, and it became my mission to make his day brighter if I could get him to do that. As much talent as he had with a pencil, it came as a surprise that he was all thumbs when it came to things like pottery—even my horrible little ashtray was better than his…and when we tried using acrylic paints, his looked like a badly-done paint-by-numbers kit. I thought he might be limited to one talent, but then I heard that he was the one who painted the dragon on the art room window in the junior high—and it was still there because Ms. Skopik refused to let anyone clean it off. He'd also done part of the mural on the history of rock-and-roll—his part had dealt with a 50's sock-hop.

When I found out we both liked science-fiction and Monty Python, our budding friendship got easier—we'd trade lines back and forth and talk about favorite authors until the bell rang or we were told to shut up by our art teacher Ms. Jones. Before the end of February, it dawned on me that Miles Stevenson was fast becoming my best friend. Maybe it sounds weird that a loner could be my best friend, but it seemed normal to me—I picked my friends for what was inside them, not what they looked like or who their friends were—but of the score or so friends I had, Miles was the one I had the most in common with, and the one who was easiest to talk to. He dressed nicer than most of my other friends, but he didn't put on airs, and more and more I sat with him at lunch rather than the other guys I knew.

To be honest, that was a relief to me, because all they wanted to do lately was talk about cars or their girlfriends…or the girlfriends they were trying to get. I had far's '47 Ford pickup, and that was enough ride for me—and as for girls—yeah, right. I saw enough of them in Linda's crowd of cheerleaders, and they acted like they didn't have a brain between them. I didn't understand how she could put up with it since she was an 'A' student. I was polite to everyone who talked with me, and I guess more than one girl tried to hint at being more than casual friends, but I wasn't interested. For me, it had always been about boys, but even there, I'd notice nice looking ones in school, but thanks to gym class and the locker room, I was used to seeing their bodies and it didn't drive me too crazy. I had some great fantasies in my head, and used them fairly often alone in my bedroom behind the locked door, but no one had piqued my interest beyond that point…until I got to know Miles.

I'd told Greg Newton last fall that I was waiting to meet the right guy before having sex, and I think he was disappointed when I said that, but we began to talk a little after that first call, and I'd see him for a few minutes in passing between our lunches, but this semester was the first one where we had it the same period, and he'd sit with me sometimes to talk. I learned there were other guys like us in school, but he never said who they were, and it didn't really bother me because chances were I'd seen them and they hadn't set off any tingles in me. Before I got Mikey to talk to me, I'd asked Greg about him, but he didn't know anything other than that he kept to himself and talked to almost nobody. I think my curiosity got him thinking, because I saw him looking more often at Mikey than he used to, but he came up no wiser than before so far as I knew. By the beginning of March, I had gotten through Mikey's outer defenses, and sat with him at lunch most days, at least part of the period…and I began to use the standard sex jokes with him; to say he was stunned was an understatement.

After several attempts, I finally had to explain how it worked—I'd say a line, and he was supposed to give a smart-ass rejoinder, then we'd both laugh and move on. It was the middle of March before he could give an even partially funny come-back, but he got better at it, though he still blushed every time. Why did I do it, you may be asking yourselves? Our favorite comedy troupe was Monty Python's Flying Circus, and a lot of their stuff had huge sexual overtones, so it was natural to start the high-school banter in addition to that. And, I was beginning to think that Miles Stevenson might become more than just a friend. By early April, with no more information from Greg, and Mikey's seemingly open manner about my jokes, I decided to take the next step—I'd either lose him as a friend, or have a chance to get myself a boyfriend.

I remembered sitting all the previous evening in my room after dinner, scribbling various versions of a note to pass him in class on Tuesday; some of them were bald declarations of my feelings, asking him if he'd be my boyfriend, and others were so rambling and subtle that even I didn't know what I was after. I kept going back and forth until I was ready to scream. If I told him I wanted him to be my boyfriend, he might panic, or even stop talking to me entirely…but if I didn't say something, why would he meet me at all? I had at least figured out that we couldn't talk at school with so many other kids around, and while we were getting to be good friends, neither of us had been to the other's house. After a lot of crumpled-up pages, I just named a place for him to meet me, and a time that wasn't too late for a school night. I had a good idea where he lived, so I decided on a place that was about the same distance for both of us…the cemetery east of town.

Such a romantic setting, right? Actually, it was nice in summer with its huge old rose bushes climbing the wrought iron fence, and it was always well-kept…and the little iron bridge just next to it would give me a place to park off the one-lane road and wait for him. I figured we'd either walk in the cemetery, or sit on the bank of the stream below the bridge…and if things went the way I hoped, I could give him a ride home. If I was really lucky, I might get to hold his hand—if not, I'd be going home alone after he told me to get lost. I hadn't even thought of the possibility that he wouldn't show up at all. That night, and up until lunch the next day, I kept thinking he wasn't interested, or worse, he would tell other guys, and I didn't feel any better until I cornered him in the school parking lot after classes let out—he'd missed his bus, and when I finally got him to talk to me about the meeting, he'd admitted he was too scared to show up, even if his mom had let him out of the house so late on a school night. In a way, Mikey missing that bus was the best thing to happen in both our lives—it allowed us to face each other and talk openly about what we wanted—a chance at love with another boy. I didn't get a kiss when I dropped him at home that afternoon, but I'd gotten quite a few since then.

As I pulled into Mikey's driveway before school this morning, I had to smile at the memory of the fun we'd had after Greg and Denny left last night. It felt great not to have to hide from our closest friends, and I really hoped that they could find their own boyfriends and discover just how wonderful love could be. On the way home after dropping Mikey off, I'd made a detour to the post office and put three letters in the Local Delivery box. Our family followed an old Danish tradition of sending funny verses to friends and family around Easter, sort of like Valentines on fancy-cut paper. Mor helped me make a gækkebrev for Mikey, and then thought it would be fun to make one for him too, and even got far to do it in addition to those he sent to us and mom. A big part of the fun was that rather than signing them, you put dots instead, one for each letter of your name. With mine, I knew if I put three dots for Jay, he would know it was from me, so to make it tougher, I used seven for Jeepers. Was it my fault that that was the same number of letters in mor's name? If Mikey guessed who sent which one, he got a chocolate Easter egg from the sender, but I was going to make sure I followed the older tradition of a kiss with my boyfriend. The easiest part for me was putting the little snowdrop flower in with my letter, since we had a patch of them growing by the side porch. I hoped the letters would get to Mikey by Saturday, since Sunday was Easter, the traditional time to guess who wrote the letters. We always had a big lunch of roast lamb and potatoes on that day, and the house was decorated with pots of daffodils in white and yellow and orange. I was hoping that Mikey would be with me for at least part of the day.

I fended off Mikey's questions about why I was all dressed up, and I could see he was getting frustrated when I said it was a secret, but I think our few minutes of kissing at our secluded parking spot helped his mood. Even hearing that my green underwear didn't match his red ones today couldn't dampen my enthusiasm. The morning flew by in a flash, even gym class with Timmy Zane passed in a fog. I think that was due to the fact that Zane was never left alone anywhere Mikey or me were. I tried not to smile so much when I walked into the cafeteria and saw Mikey sitting at our table, but it was hopeless. He was wearing the khaki-colored Daktari shirt with twin pockets and epaulettes I loaned him Sunday, and the matching pants too. Seeing him alone made me realize I hadn't seen Greg in the lunch line, or Denny in gym class either. When I asked, Mikey said he hadn't seen them either…then Denny dropped into his spot to the side of us.

When I asked Denny about being late, he claimed he overslept, but his face sure looked like he had hardly slept at all, and I was kind enough to point that out to him and ask if he was sick. Right then, Greg came to the table and sat across from Denny—he looked like he hadn't slept either, so I ragged on him by asking if he'd 'overslept' too. Greg blushed so much his freckles were almost invisible, and said he'd had an upset stomach and just got to school. Mikey missed some visual cues people gave off, but I caught them easily, and the ones being put out by our two friends were definitely odd. Greg wasn't one to blush under most circumstances, and the way he avoided looking any of us in the eye said a lot; then I noticed he looked even less at Denny. My attention was concentrated mostly on my boyfriend, so when Greg jumped down his throat after he asked how things went once Denny took him home last night, I was shocked, and gave him a glare, and I swear I almost growled at him.

Greg relaxed a bit after I told him to calm down, we were just worried that his dad laid more restrictions on him for being at my house rather than home as usual. I steered the conversation to movies we'd seen, or wanted to see, and everyone said Logan's Run looked really good, but I didn't tell them Mikey and I had plans to see it with Dave and Trebor when it came out. That reminded me that I needed to call them about going to a movie this weekend, and that we should also tell Greg and Denny about them—but I wanted to talk that over with Mikey first. I didn't want to rub our friends noses in the fact that there was a second gay couple around since it might make them feel lonelier than they already did.

Toward the end of lunch, I told my friends that we'd be starting late for studying—not until 6 p.m., rather than right after school. I told them it was a secret, and glanced up at Mikey, and they grinned and stopped asking for more details. I grinned even wider when my boyfriend called me a dick, and made a great show of eating his soup. The only reason I didn't feel guilty about this whole affair was because I knew he'd love what I was planning, so to help mollify him, I slipped off one of my loafers and ran my foot up inside his pant leg against his calf, and left it there for as long as I dared before drawing back again. I had to admit to myself that I should start wearing them more often, rather than save them for dressy occasions—anything that could please Mikey, and make me instantly hard like what I'd just done, was something I needed to do more often.

We were talking about the summer ahead when Benny came up with my sister, and she smiled at all of us while the big wrestler stood there with his hands in his pockets. I was a little surprised she was spending so much time with him rather than trying to find a new boyfriend, but then I figured it out—a month was a little too fast even for her to score a new prospect. In four months, she'd be holed up in one of OSU's dorms in Columbus, so I could imagine her planning her campaign to rule the campus during her 'time off'. For about the hundredth time I wondered why she and Benny hadn't worked out—he was smart, polite and a total fox—I glanced sheepishly at Mikey when I had that thought, and saw him looking at Benny curiously as well. Aside from the fact that Benny was straight, Mikey was everything I ever wanted in life, and my hand went to the Pegasus at my throat. I saw my elskede smile as he did the same with his oak charm, and I felt his foot rub my own calf this time to reïnforce our bond.

How tempted I was to tell the guys study group was cancelled for tonight—I just wanted to get my Mikey alone for the evening, but then Benny spoke up in his quiet voice, and I almost forgot to breathe, let alone think while I waited for the reaction to his words. With the reaction Greg had given a few minutes ago to a simple question about whether he'd gotten into any more trouble last night, I had no idea what to expect from either of them now. I might have thought something was up before Greg's outburst, but since then I was certain of it. The two were just acting too weird for words today.

"Sorry to break in, dudes, but me and Linda were wondering why Denny's car was parked down the road from your house this morning before school…."

While everyone else's eyes were on Denny, mine were on Greg—he was blushing again and his pale blue eyes were locked on Denny's grey ones, and I could almost feel the pleading from where I was sitting. A quick glimpse at the runner only showed him giving Greg a small smile before he answered Benny's question in a semi-relaxed tone. "I took Greg home from our study group last night, but it was dark and I let him drive, so I wasn't sure of the way. I told him I'd pick him up this morning because we needed to talk about a project in school, and I figured the only way not to get lost was to start from Jay's house."

The relief was evident on Greg's face, until Mikey's voice chimed in next. "I thought you were sick, Greg? Didn't you just get here?" After a few moments, Greg gave a weak grin and answered, keeping his eyes downcast. "Yeah…Denny found me at my bus stop since it was on the way to my house. We stopped to talk about the project, but I was so tired from being awake most of the night that I dozed off…and next thing I knew, Denny was shaking me, and saying we were in deep shit because it was after 11:00."

Denny's rueful chuckle brought all eyes back to him. "It was 11:30 by the time we got to the Office—Greg was fine since his brother had told them he'd be late…but I had to talk with the Principal. Since I'm new, and this was my first time being late, he gave me a lecture rather than a detention, but if it happens again, I get two detentions instead of one. At my old school, that would have gotten me a couple hours-worth of cleaning duty and a lengthy writing assignment, so I was really grateful to him."

Benny and my sister wandered off after that, and we chatted for a few more minutes until the bell rang. Mikey told the other guys that he'd let them know what they'd missed in class during our session tonight, and they went off too. I lingered for just a minute to give Mikey a smile and a wave before making my way to Ag class—it would only be another hour before I saw him in Art, but I already missed him as I headed down the main hall to the west side of the building. I tried to keep my mind off that, knowing what I had planned for the two of us after school, but the only other thing that I could think about was what was going on with Greg and Denny. I knew their 'project' had to be the search for a boyfriend for our new friend, but it wasn't until the middle of class that it came together.

"Holy Shit!" came out of my mouth before I could stop it…and Mr. Vincent gave me a warning glare at my interruption of his lecture on crop rotation. I turned red and focused on taking notes again, but the thought was now stuck in my head. All the evidence pointed to it, but it was pretty flimsy…still, it was the only thing that made sense. I decided to run it past Mikey before Art class was over—I wanted nothing to be on our minds later except for the two of us being together.

Greg and Denny were boyfriends...


When Jay walked into Ms. Jones' classroom and took the seat next to me, I noticed his grin was gone, at least until he sat down—it had been a near-permanent fixture all day and was driving me crazy. Every time I asked him about the fancy duds, he'd just grin wider, and I was getting really pissed at him, until the episode with Denny and Greg at lunch distracted me. I often missed facial clues, but body language like what Greg was using in particular, was a sure sign of guilt or embarrassment; all I knew was that last night he had been fine, and this morning, he was a bundle of nerves. With Denny's explanation, I understood it logically, but something still didn't add up…but I set it aside because Jay's 'secret' was making me insane. Then his very first words to me put everything else on the back burner.

"What the fuck do you mean, 'they're boyfriends?' You haven't been smoking any of Trebor's weed have you?" I looked around in a panic since my whisper wasn't as low as I'd meant it to be, but we were doing pottery again, and the noise of the little potter's wheels masked my surprised words. As soon as I said the bit about the weed, I gave my boyfriend another searching glance, because we'd agreed to discuss smoking it before either of us tried it.

One look into Jay's amazing blue eyes told me I had nothing to fear—his promise was still unbroken, and his love for me was more evident than ever. I looked away and felt my face get hot, then hotter still when Jay leaned closer and laid out the reasons why he thought Greg and Denny were now a couple. The evidence he mentioned was certainly circumstantial at best, but if it was real, then I didn't see any other conclusion either—Greg and Denny had taken the easiest route to finding our transplanted New Englander his own special friend. I looked sideways at Jay, and he was so transparent, waiting to hear what I thought of his idea. I was struck by how guileless he was at times like this, and yet, he'd kept his secret from me all day. A feeling of calm swept over me then, about everything—my trust in my boyfriend was absolute, and he would do nothing but what was right for both of us—there was just no other way Jay could be, and still be the boy I loved.

I wasn't using one of the little electric wheels—that had been a total disaster the first day of this lesson, and Jay helped me clean the bits of clay from the table, the floor, and even the nearby chalkboard. The large vinyl apron caught most of the mess, but I had to throw out the yellow tee-shirt I liked so much—dried clay left stains even after washing. Jay was better with this lesson than I was; he was making a small vase for his mom this time around, while I was trying to mold a little dragon by hand like I'd painted last year. I didn't have great hopes for it, so I was glad of the distraction thinking about Greg and Denny gave me. "What if they are, Jay? Isn't that what we wanted, for them to be happy?" I made sure my voice didn't carry any farther than Jay's cute ear this time. When he nodded, I added, "Well then…we can find out tonight, and if it's true, we'll do something with them to celebrate."

Jay looked at what I was doing, and shook his head. "I just don't get it…you draw so well; are you picturing it in your head as you go? Maybe if you thought of it like a picture, doing one bit at a time?" I sighed as I looked back at the mass of grey clay, not knowing how I got my drawings to work, but I tried doing what he said. I really wanted to do a good job on this because I was going to give it to him if it turned out…but so far, I hadn't thought it would even be worth firing. I remember reading once that some guy said sculpture was just letting what was in the stone come out, so I tried to 'see' what was inside. By the time the bell rang and I'd covered my piece with some plastic, I had to admit that at least now it looked like an animal and not just a misshapen blob.

Jay and I washed our hands and headed off to our lockers, he was clapping guys on the back and trading farewells with them, and I gave small waves to the ones who spoke to me—I didn't know if it was still due to the fight, or the fact that Jay was walking with me, but more than a few called me by name. I wasn't used to it yet, but it was getting a little easier for me, and I put it all down to Jay's influence. Armed with the books we'd need for tonight's homework, we headed out to the parking lot, where I finally hoped to learn the secret Jay had been hiding all day. Denny's car was parked a few spaces away, so there was no way we could have missed it this morning...but we now knew why they had been late. I think we were waiting for them just because Jay wanted to remind them of our late start tonight, but as we leaned against the truck, I let my hand brush his and gripped it for as long as I dared. He looked up into my eyes for a second, and grinned. "Do not ask—you'll find out soon enough." Yep, Jay knew me pretty well, dammit.

I was working my way into a pout when he squeezed my hand in return and I felt his socked foot rub my calf, then move down to rub my ankle. He slipped his foot back into his shoe when we saw Greg and Denny approach from the school's north exit by the cafeteria. They veered in our direction once they saw us, and Jay and I exchanged looks. Greg usually took the bus home, so we both thought that this development might mean something new was in the works. From all appearances, they were just joking and laughing like friends, same as they'd done yesterday…I was content to let them tell us if there was any news, but I wasn't sure if Jay could be so patient. "Miss your bus, Greg? Want us to give you a ride home?"

Greg let out with his familiar snicker, and laughed at Jay's idea. "Right, man! We all know ya got plans…me and Denny were talkin', and it saves gas if he just crashes at my pad until it's time to study…and I have to let my parents know about it bein' later anyhow. So y'all go on and do your thing, and we'll be over at 6 p.m."

"Pretty serious isn't it, taking him home to meet the parents?" Jay ribbed them with an evil smirk. Denny punched Jay on the arm and laughed at him when he winced in mock pain. "For your information, smart-ass, I met them last night when I went in to apologize for getting him into trouble. See, they have manners, like your parents—something which seems to have passed you by."

Greg grinned at us from under his auburn hair. "Sic'em, Yank! See y'all later." He walked off toward Denny's car, and our sandy-haired friend followed him with his own smiling face beaming. We watched them pile into Denny's Corvair and back out of their spot. As they passed us, they waved and Greg honked the horn, giving us the finger out the driver's window since he was driving. I opened the passenger door of the truck and was about to climb in when Jay waved at Benny and Linda just coming out of the school. I thought he'd wait for his sister to talk to her, but she just waved back and headed to Benny's purple Barracuda. The interior of the truck wasn't hot since the windows had been half-way down all day, so I dropped my books on the floor between my legs and gave Jay a grin when he got in on his side. "I told you—got any doubts about them now, elskede?" I shook my head and waited for him to start the motor before I ran my hand down his thigh to rest on the gear-shift. "Only thing I know is that this surprise better be good…if you made me crazy all day for nothing, you're in trouble."

I was stunned when Jay leaned over and gave me a deep kiss before moving my hand into first gear. "It'll be worth it, trust me." With a growl, we were off, and he took the road to the right out of the parking lot, rather than left toward either of our houses. I watched and shifted as he paused before turning east on Route 40, heading toward Kirkersville and Hebron…and Buckeye Lake a bit further on. The only thing I knew about those towns was that Kirkersville was part of our school district, and had an ice cream parlor on its main street. As for Hebron, I'd never been there, though Jay was kind enough to inform me that it was the home of Lakewood, one of our school's rivals. I had vague memories of Buckeye Lake only because my dad helped some friends build a vacation home there once, and I fell off the back stoop since it wasn't finished yet. We'd also gone boating on the lake when I was younger, before dad sold our boat to my sister in Georgia.

Jay was just a fountain of trivia. I think because he was trying to distract me from what he was planning, so I learned that Buckeye Lake was once a swamp, and that in the 1820s it had been transformed into a lake by damming the South Fork of the Licking River, all so the Ohio-Erie Canal had a source of water. He didn't have anything to add about Hebron other than that Jerry had taken him to a football game once…they beat us. This part of Route 40 cut through farmland, rolling hills and stands of forest, and not much else except for a lot of streams, which for some reason the early settlers had called rivers. After about fifteen minutes, more houses appeared, and he told me to look for Route 79, headed north. If I hadn't paid attention, I would have missed Hebron entirely—the only reason it wasn't just a few houses around an intersection was that it had more streets. I called out as we approached the little post office, and he said that was the old one—he wanted the one further east. I wasn't much wiser when he turned left from Rte. 40 to go north on 79; the sign said Heath-Newark 9 miles, but I had never been to either town before, even though Newark was our county seat.

I was getting a little excited when I saw a sign for Great Circle Earthworks and an arrow pointing the way we were going. With all my travels with the Martin's, I'd never been to this closest historical site—Indian mounds dotted Ohio, and this was one of the largest, not just in our area, but in the whole country, so I wondered if Jay was taking me there…but if that was our destination, then why did he dress up? His usual outfit of jeans and a tee-shirt would have been better, not to mention sneakers would be more comfortable. The area around us grew more and more built-up with homes and shops, on the left as we went north was a sign for the Heath City Water Park, and he told me that further on there was a bowling alley near the Southgate Shopping Center. I wasn't surprised when he passed the Water Park, since it was probably closed in mid-April, then he told me to close my eyes.

I had to give a little laugh because he was playing the 'surprise game' for all it was worth, but I wasn't about to spoil it for him, so I did as he asked. A few minutes later, I felt him make a right turn, then go on a bit more before he turned off the motor and pulled the emergency brake. There was some rustling, and I felt him shift in the seat a little, then he took my hands in his. He raised them to his lips, then placed a small package in them. "Happy One Week Anniversary, elskede."

I just sat there. I was too surprised to even think. My fingers rubbed the paper wrapping the package in my hands, making sure I wasn't dreaming…I mean, how do you prepare for something like this? Birthdays, you knew when they were coming, and it was pretty easy to guess if there was going to be a party or not, same with Christmas, but…this? My parents were supposed to celebrate their 19th this November—who celebrates a week? When the answer came to me, I started to cry, there was just no way to avoid it. Who celebrates a week—Jay does, the boy who has looked into my soul, and loves me because of what he sees there. I felt Jay's fingers brush my cheek, and his other hand rested on mine, which held the package. "Don't you want to open your eyes, kæreste? You haven't even looked at the surprise yet…"

"I don't want to, in case I'm dreaming…" I said in a whisper. How could a guy get so lucky…then my eyes shot open when I felt Jay's fingers rub my package. He dangled a handkerchief in front of me when I turned my head to face him, and he smirked. "Knew that would work…I love you, Mikey." When I'd dried my tears and cleaned my glasses, he turned my head to look out the windshield…we were sitting in a nearly empty parking lot at Pizza Hut. I was confused for just a second before I remembered he'd promised to take me out for pizza on our first date…rather than the local joint I had been expecting, he took me to a real restaurant. I started to sniffle again, and he said, "I keep my promises, Mikey, even if it's a bit late. Gonna open the present, or you want to wait 'til later?"

I looked at my lap, and saw he'd wrapped it in green tissue paper, and there was a big yellow bow stuck to the top, like those you use on Christmas presents. There was no name-tag, just a little 'M' next to the bow. My fingers shook a little as I tore through the thin paper, and I sucked in my breath at the colorful cardboard gift box revealed—my boyfriend had given me British Sterling—one bottle was cologne, and the other was after-shave. "I knew you liked them at my house, so I had far pick them up for me—let me put a little on you—turn your head." He unscrewed the metal cap from the cologne, then upended the bottle with his finger on the top, and I tilted my head so he could place a dab behind each of my ears, then he did the same at the base of my throat. I felt his finger stroke my neck for just a second before he drew it back. With the box placed behind the seat, he inhaled and whispered, "Nice," before climbing out of the truck.

I followed him inside the restaurant after we rolled the windows up and locked the doors. We waited by the sign near the register, and a young man about our age came out and Jay asked to be seated at a booth rather than one of the centrally-located tables. Jay settled on one in a corner which gave us a little more room, and we sat on the curved vinyl bench about 90° apart. When the dark-haired guy asked, Jay ordered root beer, and I ordered Pepsi. To me, this was pretty fancy with its wood décor and indirect lighting, and we even had menus to order from. Since it was only just 3 p.m., the place was almost empty. I guessed most kids were on their way home on a weeknight, and it was too early for families to start showing up for dinner.

Jay looked at me and raised an eyebrow. "What?" I asked him quietly, even though we were alone, I felt like I should keep my voice down to fit the mood. He pointed to the menu and asked what I wanted. There were a lot of choices for the pizza, starting with the crust being either 'thin and crispy' or 'thick and chewy'. Even the toppings were pretty extensive, though I normally only had pepperoni at home when it was delivered. I also didn't know if this was going to be our dinner, or just something until his mom had things ready. When I asked about that, he smiled. "This is our date, Mikey, so count it as dinner…I'll provide the dessert later." I really hoped our waiter didn't see my blush when he came back to take our order.

When Chris pulled out his order pad, I let Jay tell him what he wanted, since I'd never been here before, so he asked for a 'thick crust' pizza with pepperoni, extra cheese, and Italian sausage. It all sounded good to me, though the sausage was something new for me, then Jay ordered garlic toast with cheese for an appetizer. Chris told us the pizza would be about twenty minutes, so the bread would be sent out first, then he came back with two plates, silverware and napkins. I was impressed and grinned shyly at Jay and squeezed his hand under the table. After a few minutes of talking quietly, he got up and headed over to the jukebox, then came back and slid in next to me about the same distance away as he'd been before. Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky started playing a few seconds later. As we sipped our sodas and waited for our appetizer, Jay talked about school being out and what we'd do for the summer, and how he wanted me to come over as often as I could to help work on the truck and help with the farm. Three songs played in succession as we talked, George Harrison's Crackerbox Palace, David Essex' Rock On and Harper's Bizarre's Come To The Sunshine.

Our garlic bread with cheese arrived, and Chris said it would be just a few more minutes for the pizza, and refilled our drinks. When he finished and left us alone, Jay's final selection started, Elton John's Your Song. The gooey cheese stretched from my lips to the slice of bread as I stopped chewing. Jay gave me a little smile, and whispered, "I love you," before he nudged my arm to start me eating again. I felt a gentle pressure on my foot, Jay's right foot came to rest against our bench behind my left one, and I was surprised when he left it there as we continued to chat and eat. Chris cleared away the basket and plates of our appetizer, then returned a minute later with a large metal pan, which he sat on the table. He served up a slice of thick and cheesy pizza for each of us, then said he'd be back later with more soda. All this time, Jay's toes were rubbing my ankle and lower calf, not in a teasing way, but one which showed his love for me, and a need to stay in contact with me whenever he could. I worried for a second when I felt him pry off my left shoe to bring our feet into direct contact, but then I realized the base of the table hid what he was doing from the other tables in the dining room. I sighed to myself and gave him a shy smile as I rubbed his foot in return.

The pizza was better than any I'd ever had, what with the extra cheese, and I found out that I liked the extra spiciness of the Italian sausage; I'd never have ordered it on my own, since my likes and dislikes in food were something I hardly ever tampered with, so I had one more thing to thank my boyfriend for. Before we finished, I was grateful that Jay had ordered the medium-sized pizza—we'd have had to take some home with us if he had gone for the large size. Chris came up to our table with a small vinyl booklet, and set it on the table, then asked if we needed anything else. I shook my head, thanked him for his service, and said that everything was great, and Jay opened the book to examine the check. He put a $20 bill inside and handed it back to our friendly waiter; we were finishing our sodas when he returned with the change, and Jay handed him the $5 and thanked him too. Just before sliding out of our booth, we slipped our shoes back on and headed for the exit.

I looked at my watch as we stood up, and it was a quarter past 4:00, and stopped when Jay veered toward the Men's room. "You better go too, Mikey…there's one more stop before we head home." I shrugged my shoulders and followed him inside, not really needing to use the facilities, but you never knew. I entered the stall while Jay used the urinal, then joined him at the sink to wash my hands. I leaned over, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and whispered my 'thank you' into his ear. The blow dryer drowned out anything he might have said, then we went out to the truck. Back at the entrance to the parking lot, he turned right rather than going left the way we'd come, and he just grinned and kept going a couple miles up the road. He turned into the small lot for the Indian mound park. There was only one other car in the lot, so he kissed me full on the lips this time before we climbed out.

We looked at the display sign, which said this was a site built by the Hopewell Culture for astronomical purposes relating to the moon's movements, but it also said that was just conjecture since there were no records of that era, and different tribes of Indians lived here when the first white settlers arrived around 1800. What was left was a huge circular embankment with a now-empty moat inside it, and trees now dotted its banks and the central area which had once been cleared land. Shallow steps were cut into one side so you could walk the entire circuit of the mound, and we did that, mostly in silence, holding hands while we walked close together. The afternoon sun was bright, but it wasn't too warm even with the exercise, so neither of us was in a hurry to finish our tour. I had more fun exploring this site than I had any of my other trips with the Martins—but that might have been because Jay would stop at a convenient sheltering tree and kiss me. Only once did we hear voices, and that was of a pair of students from some university speculating on how long it took to build the site.

I was quiet when we got into his truck for the drive to his house; I loved every second of my surprise, and there was no way I could express my thanks to him in words, so I held his hand even when we weren't shifting gears, and I kept staring at him as he guided us through the traffic in Hebron as we got back onto Route 40 headed home. When he could, Jay would glance quickly at me, and he'd be smiling happily. I teared up a couple times when he did that—I had the world's best boyfriend—then I realized I had forgotten it was any sort of anniversary for us. Like he could read my mind, Jay raised my hand to his lips and kissed it before he spoke.

"Elskede, don't. You gave me the most wonderful present already—your love. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have anything to celebrate." He pressed my hand to his chest over his heart, then brought it up to the Pegasus on the chain around his neck. "You give my life meaning, Mikey…if you're happy, then I'm happy. I don't ever need another present." For the rest of the ride to his house, except when we had to shift gears, I held his hand in both mine, rubbing it gently with my fingers and kissing it when the mood struck.

Pulling into his driveway, the only car present was his mom's…his dad's newer truck was usually inside the barn or the small bay next to it. I grabbed my books and climbed out, and Jay came around to take me in his arms for a long hug and a soft kiss. When we finally got to the back porch and slipped off our shoes, his mom waved to us from the kitchen, and asked how it went. I think she could tell from my blushing that it went just as Jay had planned, because she came over and gave each of us a kiss on the cheek before going back to making dinner. I was almost sad that I'd be missing one of her meals, they were always a treat with the little extra touches she threw in.

"Dessert will be ready when you want it, boys…no hurry." As we turned to head up the back stairs, she called after us, "Oh—Greg called and said that they wouldn't be over tonight—they'll catch up with you in school tomorrow!"

That was a little annoying since we'd have to wait to find out if they were a couple or not, but when Jay's impish grin and glittering blue eyes turned on me, all I could think of was what great friends we had.

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