Musketqueers

by Cynus

The Invitation

Everett turned on the camera, smirking at the flashing red light. This would be one of his most interesting videos, and to be somewhat difficult for him as well. But, some unseen force compelled him to talk about it with someone, and at least he didn't know anyone personally on YouTube. His closest friends already knew, but that was part of the problem.

"Hey, everyone, I know it's been a long time since my last video. I wasn't trying to neglect you, I promise." He smiled at the camera and leaned back in the chair, crossing his hands over his lap, index fingers tapping together. He'd rehearsed this several times, but facing the moment now gave him jitters.

"You see, I've been kind of busy. The spring diving season just started a few weeks ago, and before that, well . . . I've been seeing someone. You've heard me mention them before, but . . ." He trailed off with a growl and clicked off his camera, immediately deleting the footage. Why did this have to be so difficult? Couldn't he just commit to this?

He sighed, swiping open his phone to stare at the new background image of five young men in pink swimsuits, including himself and one of his closest friends, known both as Abram and Aramis. How he managed to convince Abram to join their independent diving team had been one mystery but getting him to pose for that picture had been quite another. Either way, Everett was glad he had access to it, and knew Abram had a matching copy on his desk at home. But what did the strange feelings toward the boy holding the stuffed pig mean?

He had to talk this out, and, strange as it seemed to some people, the camera helped. He turned it back on and spoke to his future audience again. "What I need to say takes me back to the time I got suspended recently, so I'm going to start there. Trust me, it's about to get good."


"You don't have the guts to challenge me, Everett," Cassandra said, poking Everett hard in the chest. He took a step back from the force, glancing at Abram making his purchases at the convenience store counter. He'd have no support for a minute at least, as Abram had noticed the chips in front and would take this time to select one.

"Is that a fact?" Everett asked. "You really think you can out swim me and my friends? You know we're on the local aquatics team, right?"

Cassandra scoffed. "Yes, but as I recall, your event is diving, and the rest of your teammates are only on there because they're your friends. Five boys who have never swam professionally in their life . . . Beating you would be a cinch. Your facility is a joke compared to the aquatic center in Bluffdale. I've seen you dive, and it's not even impressive."

"Just because you go to a fancy swimming pool doesn't mean you can swim any better than anyone else, Athos," Everett replied. "Let's make this interesting. Just you and me, head to head, freestyle, 100 meters."

"You're on," Cassandra said.

Abram joined them, carrying a bag of chips and a large piece of beef jerky he'd just bought from the convenience store next to them. He opened the bag and took a chip, oblivious to the tension in the air between Cassandra and Everett until he offered the open bag in their direction. Glancing between them, he sighed and asked, "Okay, what set you off now?"

"D'artagnan seems to think he can beat me in swimming," Cassandra replied, "And now there's a specific challenge. We need to bet something on it. Any ideas, Aramis?"

Abram sighed heavily. "Really, again? Can't you two stop competing? Can't we just enjoy that we're all free from being grounded after the suspension fiasco? It took nearly six weeks for Paul's parents to finally come around and let him out on a Sunday. Come on, have a chip. It's a new flavor, a combination of Salt and Vinegar and pizza."

"That sounds revolting," Everett said. "Have you already had one?"

Abram nodded. "Yep. It's pretty good, you should really try—"

Everett cut him off with a kiss, tasting the flavor on Abram's tongue. He came away scrunching up his nose. "Nope, not even tasting you makes that worthwhile. I might not even be able to kiss you again until you brush your teeth. Did you at least buy any gum?"

Abram shook his head. Everett sighed and said, "I guess I'll go buy some before we leave."

"You two are cute, but this isn't over, you know," Cassandra said. "We're going to find something to bet on this competition."

"What competition?" Paul asked, dismounting his bike as he pulled up next to them. "Don't tell me, Athos and D'artagnan again?" he looked at Abram for confirmation.

"Yep," Abram said. "Some swimming thing."

"I wish they'd let me on the boy's team," Paul said. "Apparently as long as I have breasts, they have issues."

"Maybe someday it will be so bad," Cassandra suggested. "I'm not trying to be insensitive, but would you really want to wear your binder in the water, or not be able to use it?"

Paul nodded. "You have a point, of course, but we all know what I prefer is to not have the breasts at all. While I'm at it, I'd like to get rid of all the excess fat on my body. I feel like such a pig sometimes."

"I know what you mean," Abram said, eyeing the bag of chips in his hand. "I eat all this junk food, and I just can't seem to stop myself."

"That's it!" Cassandra said excitedly.

"What's it?" Everett said, eyes narrowing. "Is the bet going to have something to do with junk food now?"

"No, silly," Cassandra replied, "whoever loses the competition has to spend the whole day dressed as a pig."

Everett rolled his eyes. "Really, that's the best you could come up with?"

Cassandra folded her arms and said, "Fine, suggest something better."

"Come on, Everett, just accept the terms, please?" Abram grasped Everett's arm and stared into his eyes pleadingly. "We all got together today so we could go see a movie, and if you to keep arguing, we're going to miss the previews. You know how much I hate missing previews."

"Yeah, Dart," Paul said. "It's bad enough you two are even fighting."

Everett sighed and extended his hand to Cassandra. "Fine, whoever loses has to spend the entire day dressed as a pig."

Cassandra shook his hand. "Next Saturday, at your swimming pool. I don't need some fancy aquatic center to beat you."

"I guess we'll see, won't we?"


Everett stared at the camera in silence for a moment. He'd have to edit this part out later, the awkward silences never sat well with his audience. As much as he preferred his speech to be more natural, he hated the time he spent in the comment section reading people's complaints about the way he spoke. He was 100% certain what part he should say next, but the picture on his phone gave him an idea.

"So that's what led to the competition," he explained, swiping to the picture of him and his swimming buddies. He held it in front of the camera. "I'll add this to the video later, but just in case I forget, this is the day of the competition. Now, you're probably wondering why we were already dressed as pigs and why my friends decided to join me."

"Well, first you have to understand that it's all Abram's fault," Everett said fondly, pulling the picture back and looking at it again. "Both the good and the bad in this case, and I couldn't ask for a better swimming mate. But, do you know what I just noticed?"

He held the picture up again and pointed at himself in it. "You can't even tell that I'm Asian in this picture, can you?" He laughed and set the picture aside, then stared back at the camera.

"So, that entire week was spent with Cassandra and I always at each other's throats, with Abram and Paul playing peacemakers, of course. But what really mattered was Friday night."


On the Friday before the competition, Everett walked to Abram's house after school. He had stayed an hour later to work on a group project for his science class, but Abram had suggested they could stay in and watch a movie or play video games all night. Abram's parents would be gone for most of the evening. They still didn't know that he and Everett were dating, and before Everett knew it, Abram had invited him for a sleepover.

The prospects of what they might do excited Everett, though he doubted they'd attempt anything their parents would disapprove of. Their relationship was still new, and at thirteen, no matter how horny he was, the thought of anything sexual with Abram made him more nervous than anything.

By the time he made it to Abram's house the dirty thoughts and the warm Spring weather had made him sweat in his thick hoodie. He knocked on the door, urging Abram to hurry so he could shed the extra layer. When Abram arrived, they exchanged pleasantries and a quick peck on the lips before walking upstairs to Abram's room.

"What would you like to do first?" Abram asked after Everett settled onto his bed.

"I feel all sweaty. I need a shower," Everett said. "Could I maybe do that before we play anything?"

"I usually shower in the morning," Abram said.

"I don't. I like to shower before bed," Everett replied. "Or anytime I feel sweaty. I like the water."

"Well, you can use my bathroom, if you want."

Everett nodded in appreciation. "Cool." He wiggled his eyebrows at Abram and stripped out of his shirt, tossing it onto Abram's bed. Since they often swam together, seeing each other shirtless was common enough, but this was different. Everett wanted Abram to see him this way, and that desire transcended the action beyond the mundane. Abram brushed and looked away, then immediately looked back, his eyes lingering on Everett's back as he fished through his backpack for his extra clothes and set them aside. He pulled out a towel next and headed to the bathroom attached to Abram's room.

After hanging the towel from an available hook, Everett slid the shower curtain open and turned on the water. As he reached in to test the water temperature, some of the water rand down his arm and dripped onto the white bathmat beneath his feet. He grinned as the water droplets changed the color of the mat to a bright red.

"Dude!" He shouted.

Abram shuffled up against the door and asked, "Yeah?"

"This mat is so awesome!" Everett said. "It got a little spray on it from the shower, and it looks like it's splattered with blood!"

"I know, right?" Abram chuckled. "Thanks for getting it for me."

"Anything for you," Everett replied, glowing at the response. Whether from the heat of the water or the praise, his body grew between his legs as well. He needed to get in the shower and take care of his erection before it grew too out of control.

He stripped off the rest of his clothes and stepped into the shower, closing the opaque curtain after him. The quickly warming water relaxed most of him immediately, though as soon as the moisture hit him, he reached down to take care of the only tension remaining. The thought of Abram on the other side of the wall made him horny as hell.

Nearly a minute into his stroking, he'd established a good rhythm and was approaching his climax when he heard a knock on the bathroom door. "Hey, I n . . . pee . . . good?" Abram mumbled through the door.

"I can't hear you!" Everett called out, pausing in his ministration. "What's that?"

The door cracked open slightly and Abram shouted over the water. "I said, I need to pee, can I come in?"

"Uh, yeah . . . sure," Everett said, letting go of his shaft.

"Thanks," Abram said, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. "I know I could've just gone down the hall, but . . ."

"Yeah, it's not a problem," Everett replied. He waited until he heard Abram start to urinate and then reached for the soap to clean himself until Abram left. He couldn't jack off while Abram was in the room, although the thought only magnified his desire for stimulation. Once the toilet flushed, Everett listened intently for the sound of Abram leaving, and resumed stroking as soon as a door opened and closed.

He finished sometime later, grunting and panting as a single cry of ecstasy echoed through the bathroom over the running water. He collapsed against the wall, spent, his knees weak. He rinsed off and turned off the water, then opened the curtain to reach for his towel. He immediately noticed Abram's flushed face from his position on the toilet. "Whoa . . ." Everett started, reaching for the shower curtain while still leaning forward for the towel. "what are you . . ." he continued, then lost his balance, his feet sliding out from under him. He tried to get planted but ended up collapsing awkwardly on top of his ankle, pain shooting through his leg as he pulled the shower curtain down on top of him, ripping the adjustable rob from the wall. "Ow!"

"Jesus! Are you okay?" Abram wiped his ass and flushed while Everett sat in a dazed heap at the bottom of the shower.

"I'm not sure . . . I . . . what are you still doing in here?" Everett asked, trying to rearrange his tangled limbs to find a more comfortable position to stand from. His ankle throbbed every second it lay pinned beneath him.

Abram washed his hands, then came over to Everett. He extended a hand to his boyfriend and said, "I ended up needing to do a number two, but then I realized I was out of toilet paper, so I got some from the supply closet, and that took longer so I'm . . ." he paused when Everett took his hand, and the shower curtain fell away between them and he got an eyeful of Everett below the waist. He looked away and ended up dropping Everett in the process.

"Dammit, Abram!" Everett shouted. "Help me up!"

"I'm sorry, I thought you, I didn't want to . . ." Abram stammered. "I mean, I wanted to, but . . ."

"I might have sprained or twisted my ankle or something in the fall. I know it's awkward, but . . . just hand me a towel?" Everett suggested through gritted teeth.

Abram nodded and took Everett's towel from the hook. "Yeah . . . here."

"Thanks." Everett said, drying off his arms for better grip before sliding the towel beneath him and tying it around his waist as well as he could manage in his current position. "Now, give me a hand, please?"

Abram managed to pull Everett up the second time and supported him out of the bathroom until setting him on the bed. As soon as Everett was settled, Abram blushed and said awkwardly, "Were you . . . jacking off in there?"

Everett paled. "You heard that . . .?"

"I . . ." Abram sighed. "God dammit, I don't know what to say."

Everett groaned, but managed to push his embarrassment aside long enough to address the situation rationally. "Well, it's embarrassing, but since we're dating, we should probably have the conversation at some point." He shrugged and continued, "Yeah, I was jacking off in there, and yes, I was thinking about you, and now that I know you heard me, I'm getting another boner. I'm throbbing in two places, and one feels much better than the other."

"How can you talk about that so easily?" Abram asked.

Everett smirked. "Dude . . . I'm on YouTube. Conversations like these are easy to talk about once you've faced the comment section."

"Really?"

"Yeah . . ." Everett said, slowly losing confidence. "Um . . . so, I need to dry off and get my clothes back on. Could I sit on your bed for that?"

"Sure. I, uh . . . I guess so."

"I'm just asking, because I'm wet, you know?"

"Yeah, I get it," Abram said, shifting uncomfortably. "Do you want me to bring you your clothes?"

"Sure," Everett replied. "That would be great. Thank you."

Abram fetched the clothes Everett had set aside earlier. "Here. Um . . . I know you said you're comfortable with things, but . . ." He glanced subconsciously down at the tenting beneath the towel.

"Oh." Everett chuckled. "I was actually just about to ask you for privacy. Helping me up was one thing, but I don't think I'm quite ready for . . . well, to give you a private show in your bedroom. We'll restrict it to audio performances only for now." He grinned, hoping the lightness would lessen Abram's embarrassment.

"Yeah, I don't think I'm ready for that, either," Abram replied, laughing. He grew quiet and added, "Even though I would like it. Sometime. You know?"

"I do." Everett nodded. "And I want to . . . sometime. I mean . . . the nudity itself doesn't bother me. We've changed in front of each other loads of times for swimming, but . . . it's the fact that we're in your bedroom."

"Totally get it," Abram said, then clamped his hand over his mouth. His eyes widened as he added, "Shit, the swimming thing!"

"God dammit!" Everett said. "I didn't even think about that! Cass is gonna kick my ass with my ankle in this condition!"

"Maybe we could get her to change the date?" Abram suggested.

"Are you kidding me?" Everett replied. "You realize who you're talking about, right? Bets are an honored tradition for Cassandra."

"You're right. She would just declare herself winner if you didn't race." Abram sighed. "We've lost already."

"Guess I better get used to being a pig on crutches, huh?"

"Get dressed. My grandpa's old cane is here somewhere. I'll go look for that while you're . . ." Abram glanced down at Everett's crotch again. ". . . Up here. Also, I think I have an idea about how to save face."

"Huh?"

"Don't worry about it," Abram replied confidently. "Leave this all up to me."


Everett stared at the camera again and immediately blushed. "Note to self, delete the part about me jacking off . . . that does not belong on YouTube. Probably shouldn't mention the conversation about sex and nudity with Abram, either. While you're at it . . ." he sighed. "Delete everything between the challenge and this. I'll sum it all up."

"Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle the day before the competition. It happened because Abram surprised me, and I slipped. That meant I had no chance of winning the competition, and so Abram told me he had a plan. He was an amazing caretaker all night, getting me ice for my ankle and helping me get to and from places, but he wouldn't tell me what the plan was. He said, 'I want to make sure it works, first'. So, Friday night passed and Saturday morning I went to the doctor with my mother as Abram disappeared."


Everett wanted to pace the floor next to the swimming pool, but the effort of getting up on his crutches dissuaded any chance of that. Instead, he sat on one of the benches along the wall, watching the other swimmers enjoy themselves. The two swimming lanes remained open, and he'd already spoken with the lifeguards about making sure he'd have access soon. The impromptu competition would begin in a half hour. Though Everett had received strict instructions not to participate, without Abram to stop him, he'd have to do something to satisfy Cassandra. She hadn't arrived yet, thankfully, but he hoped Abram would show up first.

And then Abram arrived, two shopping bags in hand, one more heavily laden than the other. He grinned at Everett and asked, "How's your ankle?"

"How's my . . . where the hell have you been, Abram?" Everett asked. "After you dropped me off at my house this morning, you haven't answered any texts."

"I left my phone in the car. I still can't find it," Abram replied, shrugging as if it didn't matter.

Everett sighed. "Okay, I'll answer your question first, but then you have to tell me what's going on."

"I intend to," Abram said. "Why wouldn't I?"

Everett rolled his eyes. "The doctor says it's a sprain, but a mild one. I should feel better pretty soon. Not soon enough, of course."

"Well, I thought we could address that," Abram said. "I'll race for you."

Everett scoffed. "I don't know if Cass will be okay with that."

"She will if we've already admitted we lost," Abram said, handing the larger bag to Everett. "Here."

"What's this?" Everett asked, taking the bag and looking inside. He had to dig around before he realized what he was looking at.

"Are Brad, Keith, and Jason here already?" Abram asked, looking around the pool for their other swimming friends. "I bought one for each of them, too. Had to go all the way to Bluffdale with Mom."

"Pink swimming briefs?" Everett asked, raising an eyebrow. "What is this for?"

"Try the other bag, and you'll understand," Abram said, handing over the second bag.

Everett reached into the bag and pulled out a pig-snout mask. Everything clicked together as he grinned at Abram. "Oh . . . man, you are crazy. But . . . I guess it's only fair, huh?"

"The other options are to argue with Cass to try and get her to change the date, or to simply not race, which she'd take as chickening out," Abram said. "We both know that's not an option.

"You're right," Everett said. "So, why'd you buy some for all of us?"

"I figured . . ." Abram shifted uncomfortably. "I didn't think you'd want to do it by yourself. I was going to see if I could convince the rest of the team, too."

Everett set the bags aside and opened his arms, inviting Abram into a hug. He kissed his boyfriend on the cheek and said, "You're amazing. Thank you."

Abram returned the affection in kind and then gathered up Everett's crutches. "Come on. Let's go get changed."

They found their teammates on the way to the locker room. It didn't take long to convince them to join in on the fun. All three were good guys who enjoyed a laugh, and since they would do it as a team, no one minded. Within a few minutes, all five of them were dressed in pink swimming briefs and pig snouts and wore them proudly.

When they came out of the locker room, Cassandra and Paul were standing just outside, looking for them. Cassandra was already dressed in her simple blue racing suit, and Paul was still dressed for winter. Everett and Abram approached, with the former lagging behind on his crutches as Cassandra addressed Abram. "Why are you guys dressed like that?"

"Everett injured himself yesterday, and won't be able to race," Abram said. "I'll be taking his place. Since that violates the original terms, we thought we'd just admit defeat now."

"I would've let you reschedule," Cassandra said. "Why didn't you say something?"

"You?" Abram asked.

Cassandra snorted, looking at Everett. "Yes. I'm not heartless, you know."

"You literally signed everyone's yearbooks with 'heartless bitch' last year," Paul said.

"You have a point, I guess," Cassandra sighed. "Well, I still want to race you, D'artagnan. The whole point was for us to compete."

"Can it just be a friendly competition next time?" Abram suggested, looking to Paul for support.

Cassandra and Everett shared a look. "Sure," she said.

"Promise us," Paul said.

"I promise," Cassandra sighed, then tweaked Everett's snout. "But, you look good in pink. You both do."

"Thanks. Shall we?" Abram asked, gesturing toward the open lanes.

"Let's do it, Aramis," Cassandra said. "I look forward to beating you, too."

Abram sighed and removed the pig snout. "Paul, hold my nose?"

Paul nodded and took it from him. "You got it, dude."

Cassandra and Abram lined up on the blocks to begin the race, and Paul stood ready with a stop watch. The race would end where it began, with both swimmers crossing the pool and returning to the blocks twice. Everett moved into the nearby bleachers to get a good view of the race, while his swimming buddies waited near the block.

Paul started the race with a loud shout and the competitors dove into the water. They surfaced some distance out, and to everyone's surprise, Abram took an early lead. He swam his hardest with Cassandra trailing behind, getting farther back by the second. Everett had seen her swim before. There should've been no contest between her and Abram; she should've beaten him easily.

But Abram's lead only widened, and he touched the block while Cassandra was still halfway back across the pool. Abram climbed out of the pool to the stunned yet excited shouting of their teammates, with Everett shouting loudest, hoping to be heard from across the pool.

Cassandra climbed out of the pool, limping. She said something to Paul, who supported her over to a bench before opening a backpack there and handing something to her. The limp slowly fading, Cassandra made her way into the stands, a stuffed pig carried under her arm.

"D'artagnan," she said when she arrived, wincing from some unidentified pain. "Everett . . . I'm sorry to hear about your ankle. I hope we'll get a chance to race for real, soon. Aramis did you proud, though. He's not so bad, really."

"I know you let him win," Everett said, his eyes narrowing. "Why would you do that?"

"Actually, I got a leg cramp as soon as I hit the water," Cassandra said, chuckling. "First time it has ever happened to me, but I had to race anyway. Don't tell him, okay?"

"Sure," Everett replied, grinning. "While I do hope you're okay, does that mean you're going to have to dress up like a pig now?"

"Fuck no. My bet was with you," Cassandra replied. "But, I did want to make sure Abram had the grand prize." She handed the pig to Everett.

"He's going to love this!" Everett said, taking the pig and looking it over.

"Yeah . . . he deserves it too," Cassandra said. "You guys really are good together, you know?"

Everett raised an eyebrow. "We're thirteen. You're talking like we're some old couple."

"Nah . . . but who knows? You might get there someday," Cassandra said, shrugging. "I'm optimistic."

"You're never optimistic."

"So, you should listen and make sure you don't fuck this up," Cassandra said punching him lightly on the shoulder. "Thirteen isn't too young to know how you feel, but teenagers make a lot of mistakes, or so they tell me."

"Who's they?"

"Everyone. When I'm making mistakes." They shared a laugh, and Cassandra turned to leave.

"Cass?" Everett said, stopping her.

"Yeah?"

"I like competing with you, but I don't ever want you to think I'm angry at your or anything when we do," Everett said.

Cassandra smiled, nodding. "Likewise, D'artagnan."

She passed Abram on his way into the stands, giving him a quick hug and a whisper of congratulations before letting him go. He thanked her and then proceeded to join Everett. "Hey, the guys want to take a picture," he said. "Come join us!"

"Of course," Everett said, handing the pig to Abram before rising onto his crutches. "This is for you."

"This is so cute!" Abram said. "I love it."

"I knew you would," Everett said. "Let's go. But then you'll support me in the picture, so I don't have to have my crutches, right?"

"You go it," Abram replied.

They met their teammates halfway, and Paul handed Abram the pig snout. Abram slipped it on and said, "Do you want to be in the picture with us, Paul?"

"No, but I'll take it for you," he said. "Whose phone am I using?"

"Thanks, Paul," Everett said. "We can grab mine when I'm setting my crutches down on the bench."

The team situated themselves at the edge of the pool. The other boys all wanted the picture on their phones, too, so several of the nearby swimmers volunteered to help. As they prepared for the first round of pictures, Everett leaned into Abram and said, "Abram?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you," Everett whispered as the order to smile rose up from the amateur photographers.

"What?" Abram asked.


Everett grinned at the camera, his cheeks coloring as he remembered the moment. "So . . . maybe I don't know anything at thirteen? I like to think my friends and I are a bit more mature than others our age. Maybe not in all ways, considering the pranks and other things we do . . . but . . . I do think I know what love is, and this is it. At least a form of it."

"Maybe you're wondering if he said it back?" he asked. "Well, I'm not even sure he heard me, to tell you the truth. But that doesn't matter right now. It'll take me awhile to work up the courage to say it again unless he surprises me with it. Whether he answers or not doesn't change what I'm feeling."

"And that's why I'm making this video," Everett continued, "because I'm sick of denying things to myself. I'm bisexual, in love with Abram, and I don't know squat about the way the world works. This is my coming out video, official and uncontestable. I just want you to know, if you're struggling with identity, or sexuality, you've got a friend in me, and I'll always listen if you need."

"Peace, friends. Catch you next time," he reached up to click off the camera. As the red light faded, his phone vibrated loudly on his desk.

After reading the caller ID he answered it in surprise. "Abram? It's nearly midnight, what are you—"

"I love you too," Abram said in a rush.

Everett grinned, soaking in urgency of those words. "You heard me."

"Yeah . . . I'm sorry I didn't say anything right away," Abram said.

"It's okay," Everett replied softly, then continued more seriously. "Um . . . listen, I want to be open about our relationship. Do you think we could tell our parents?" All he heard was Abram's breathing for several seconds on the other end. "Abram?"

"Sorry, I . . ." Abram took a deep breath, "that's scary, but something I want, too. We haven't really done any sneaking around or anything, but . . . I would prefer to kiss you without having to hide. Let's do it."

Everett blushed and replied, "Maybe it's corny to say it again, but I love you."

"And I love you."

"Oh my god, we're so sappy!" Everett said, burying his face in his hands.

"Don't rub it in . . ." Abram said. "Although, someday, I wouldn't mind if you rubbed it in."

Everett's erection immediately sprang to life. "If you keep talking, we're going to have a repeat of the shower incident."

Abram hesitated for just a moment before saying, " . . . I'm game if you are."

"Is that a challenge?" Everett asked in surprise.

"No, it's an invitation," Abram said sweetly.

"I accept."

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This story is part of the 2018 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Fine Young Animals". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 19 April to 10 May 2018 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2018 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - Fine Young Animals

Musketqueers - The Invitation The Best and Worst Day of my Life

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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead