The Move

Chapter 15

By Doug Smith

The restaurant was packed by the time we got there. I had to drive around the parking lot three times before I found a space in the back row just as someone pulled out. It looked like a lot of the cars belonged to kids from school I hoped we wouldn't have to wait too long. I wanted to sit down and talk with Josh, not wait around in a crowd of people. We needed to get to know each other better.

"If it's too crowded why don't we just get a pizza to go and eat it somewhere else, maybe at the park."

"That sounds good," he said. "Just to warn you. This place is pretty popular. There are probably a lot of kids from school here."

"So what? You embarrassed to be seen with me?"

"Hardly. I just meant Phil or his friends could be here."

"It'll be fine."

It was mobbed inside. There were people everywhere. Some were waiting for tables while others were in line waiting to order or pick up take-out. I looked at Josh and suggested we go somewhere else but said I needed to take a piss first. He nodded and said he'd wait by the door while I went to the restroom.

Since the restroom was at the back of the restaurant I had to walk through the dining room to get there. It seemed like half the school was there. I nodded at a few people I recognized as I walked by. There were a bunch of guys from the football team who just stared at me. I tried to avoid eye contact and just walked to the men's room.

Inside there were a couple of guys talking about how Phil might not be able to play in the game. One of them said he heard someone from the opposing team jumped him on his way home from school. I tried not to laugh as I stood at the urinal listening to them talk. They asked if I had heard anything but I just shook my head saying I hadn't heard a thing.

Leaving the restroom I walked toward the lobby a different way so I wouldn't have to walk by Phil's friends. Not that they would do anything but I didn't want a confrontation. As I walked through the restaurant I noticed Chris and Ryan sitting in a booth along the side wall.

"Hey guys," I said. "You must have gotten here pretty early to get a seat. It looks like there is a long wait right now."

"Why don't you join us?" Chris asked looking at Ryan who just shrugged. "We haven't ordered yet and we're just talking."

"I don't know. I don't want to intrude but I am pretty hungry," I smiled.

"No problem. We're just killing time before going to the movies. Have a seat."

"Actually I'm with someone. It was so crowded we were going somewhere else but it would be fun to join you. Let me check."

"Sure, go get Becky," laughed Chris. "The waitress won't be back for a few minutes. You have time."

"Thanks, I'll be right back."

I walked outside to find Josh. He was waiting just outside the door.

"Come on," I said. "We've got a couple of seats. Chris and Ryan are here. They said we could join them. Is that okay? We can still go somewhere else if you want."

"No, that's fine. What did they say when you said I was here?"

"I told them I was with someone but didn't say who. They think it's Becky. I thought we'd surprise them," I smiled and grabbed his arm. "Let's go."

My arm was still on his arm when we got back to their table and sat down. I sat next to Chris and Josh sat next to Ryan. Their jaws practically hit the table when we sat down.

"What the fuck?" asked Chris.

"What?" I asked grinning "I said someone was with me."

"I know," said Ryan. "It's just Josh would be the last person we would have expected. It's not that we're complaining or anything but in case you didn't know it, you two don't really get along."

I smiled. "We just got off to a slow start. Josh and I had a long talk. Everything is cool ... at least I hope it is. Is it Josh?"

"We're working on it," he smiled giving me a knowing look.

I laughed. "Doofus! How about you work on it and I'll think about giving you a ride home?"

We both laughed and assured them everything was cool. Chris looked at us and smiled. I told them I finally realized I was being a jerk and figured out Josh is a good guy.

"It's about time," said Ryan. "I have to tell you we've both been uncomfortable around you two lately. We felt like we were in the middle and didn't know what was going on."

"I'm sorry about that. Like I said, I was a jerk."

"Dan, it's okay," said Josh. "It's over."

"Maybe, but I'm still sorry."

The waitress came back and we ordered our pizza, a veggie deluxe and a pepperoni and sausage. We also ordered some bread sticks for appetizers and a couple of pitchers of soda. Unfortunately they didn't have Dr. Pepper so I had to settle for Coke.

"So what happened?" Chris asked. "At lunch today Josh was pissed off about gym class and Tim said Coach Landry was ripping you a new asshole ... you really told him to fuck off?"

"I think I told him 'fuck that' when he told me to do push-ups. He was actually pretty cool about it afterwards. We had a good talk. At least he didn't give me detention. He even asked me to join the wrestling team."

"He wasn't pissed?"

"He just said he couldn't tolerate disrespect in class. I can understand that. I shouldn't have lost my temper. I've been doing that a lot lately but things are cool now. I certainly don't want what happened yesterday at the gym to happen again."

"At least that was just a punching bag," said Chris. "I was scared shitless you were going to punch me. I'm glad you realized it was me. I don't really want to think about my face looking like that partition in the restroom."

"Me too. I couldn't hurt either of you guys ... any of you," I said looking at Josh.

"I guess you really do know karate. How long have you been doing it?"

"Ten years but I guess I need remedial help with the mental discipline part."

"So what happened with you two? It looks like you're best of friends now."

"Not best of friends yet," Josh smiled. "We're working on it though."

I smiled. It felt good to see him happy.

"So what happened?"

"Phil happened," said Josh. "I was standing in front of the school listening to a message when Phil grabbed my phone. When he wouldn't give it back the karate kid here showed up and got in his face. The next thing I knew I had my phone and Phil was laying on the ground holding his jaw."

"We should have known that was you," Chris said. "We heard some bullshit about Phil getting jumped by someone from Auburn because we're playing them tomorrow and they didn't want Phil playing. That didn't make much sense. Why would they do something to Phil? It's only high school football. Besides, our team already sucks. Keeping Phil out of the game would probably help our chances. You shouldn't have stopped with his jaw though. You should have beat on him like you beat on that bag yesterday. He deserves it."

"You don't mean that."

"I know but it is a nice fantasy."

The waitress brought our bread sticks and another pitcher of Coke. She was really kind of pretty. Probably a college student. I laughed to myself thinking the four guys at our table could care less.

"Keep going," Chris said. "What happened next? That doesn't explain why you two are here together."

"I couldn't just leave him there. Ron dragged Phil to his car but they could have come back and I didn't want to see Josh get hurt. Besides, you know I wanted to talk with him. You should have seen his face when I told him to get in my jeep. You'd have thought I told him to sit in a pile of dog crap," I laughed.

"I was just going to take him home but I finally found some balls and we got to talking. Bottom line I realized I was being a jerk and it was hurting him just like Phil does, maybe more. We ended up at my house and talked. Things are better now."

"That's great guys. We could never understand why you two didn't get along. Individually you're both good guys. Together you were like different people. Not that you were together that often. Josh would come, you would go."

"I should apologize to you guys too. I'm sorry I made things so difficult."

"We couldn't figure out what your problem with Josh was. He's a good guy."

"It's a long story. It's kind of why we moved here."

"What are you talking about? Your problem with Josh, someone you didn't know, is the reason you moved here? That doesn't make any sense."

I laughed. "No, we moved here because my parents thought it would get me over my depression. There were too many memories at home, bad memories constantly reminding me of stuff. You should know I've been in counseling for the last year. They thought this would be a fresh start. Of course they'll tell you it was because my father got transferred."

"You want to tell us about it? Why were you depressed?"

"Because my best friend was killed. His name was Aaron. He and I had known each other all our lives. We lived next door to each other and were always together. Our parents were even best friends. When he died it was like part of me died too. My life hasn't been the same since."

"I'm sorry Dan. You could have told us. We would have helped or at least tried. I still don't understand though. What does that have to do with Josh?"

"Dan, they're not going to understand unless you show them. I assume you have a picture."

I nodded and reached into my pocket to get my wallet. I pulled out a couple pictures of Aaron and put them on the table. One was a picture of us in jeans and t-shirts but the other was one of us in board shorts and no shirts. I was standing behind him with my arms around him and my chin on his shoulder. His head was against mine.

Chris and Ryan looked at the pictures and then at me and Josh. "I don't get it. This looks like you and Josh but that's impossible. You just met and I doubt you've had your head on his shoulder."

"Well, that is me but the other guy isn't Josh. It's Aaron. Like I said, he was my best friend growing up ... actually more than a best friend." I said looking at Chris.

"Oh wow! No wonder you couldn't deal with Josh."

"You can't imagine how it feels to have your best friend die in your arms."

"Shit Dan. I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry," said Chris.

"I just freaked out when I turned and saw Josh sitting beside me in the cafeteria that day. They say everyone has a double. I guess it's true. It was so weird. It was like Aaron was sitting next to me like he always did. The room started to spin and the next thing I knew I was waking up and everyone was looking at me, including Josh. I know it was stupid but I thought if I ignored him I wouldn't have to deal with him. Like I said, it was stupid."

"This is incredible," said Chris. "He looks exactly like Josh." Our eyes met when he looked at me. "Dan, when you said 'more than a best friend' did you mean... ?" stopping before he finished his question. "Sorry," he said.

"It's okay. Josh knows. Yes, he was."

"Mean what?" asked Ryan.

I smiled when Chris looked at me. "It's cool," I said.

"Ryan, look at the picture. Do straight guys stand like that?"

He took the picture and stared at it. Then he looked at me. "You're gay??"

I laughed. "Why don't you say it a little louder? There's probably someone in the lobby who didn't hear you."

"Sorry, I'm just surprised. I thought you're going out with Becky."

"She and I are just friends and before you ask, yes, she knows about me. She caught me looking at some guys at the mall the second day of school. She says I check out guys more than most girls. Yesterday she thought I was looking at Josh when he walked by and went into the restroom. She said I should ask him out."

"She did????" exclaimed Josh. "How does she know I'm gay?"

"Maybe you wear a sign like these two," I laughed. "Actually she doesn't. She was just giving me shit. Don't worry, I told her you hated me."

"What do you mean wear a sign?"

"Oh come on Ryan. You and Chris are kind of obvious. Even my gaydar works that good."

"You know?" asked Ryan.

"He knows," said Chris. I was going to tell you but haven't had a chance. He found out yesterday when I was at his house."

Ryan had a puzzled look on his face. I'm sure he was wondering how that conversation came up. I didn't think it was a good idea to say Chris sprouted wood when I walked around naked in front of him. That would take too much explaining.

"Actually I've known for a while but didn't say anything. One day, a couple weeks after I moved in, I saw you guys walking down the hall holding hands. You should be more careful you know. Phil almost saw you."

"Is that when Phil punched the locker?"

"Yeah, I saw you and then saw him coming the other way. I stopped so he would see me before he saw you. I tried to make a noise or something so you'd realize someone was around but he took care of that. He didn't like me being in his way."

"I remember that. We wondered if you had seen us but since you never said anything we thought our secret was safe. I guess we should thank you."

"Don't worry about it. I was pretty sure you two were together that first day you came over to my house. Even my mother said you're gay. She's a psychiatrist you know. She reads people pretty well. Remember Scott asking you if you're boyfriends? It was tough being mad at the little shit when I nearly fell on the floor laughing. Josh, you should have seen the looks on their faces."

"Scott seems to have a knack for saying what's on his mind."

"Yeah, I've talked to him about thinking before he says something but it doesn't do much good."

"I can't believe you've known all along and never said anything," said Ryan.

"I didn't want to put you on the spot. I figured you'd tell me when the time was right. Besides, it's not like I was completely honest with you either."

"You told us you had friends back home who were gay."

"Yeah, well that was kind of a white lie. Actually, the two guys I told you who got caught making out were Aaron and me. We were in the back of my parent's car and our other friend, Jason, tried to surprise us. He was the one who was surprised."

"And he was cool about it?"

"Yeah, he was pissed we hadn't told him but he understood. He's been a big help since Aaron died."

"And now you're okay with Josh?"

"Yeah, he's actually kind of cute," I smiled just as the waitress put the pizza down. She smiled. Josh blushed when she said I was right and that I'd probably have better luck with him than she would.

We kept talking as we dug into the pizza. I stuck with the veggie pizza and let the others pig out on the pepperoni and sausage. It might not have been that much healthier but the thought of all that grease turned my stomach. The other guys didn't have any problem putting it away however.

"I can't believe what happened to you," Chris said. "If it was me I probably would have hated Josh too."

"I never hated him. It was just hard to deal with him. I'm glad we finally talked. I feel a lot better. Being here with you guys talking like this is better than hours of therapy with the guy my parents send me too. My mother says he's well respected but he hasn't done much for me."

"I'm glad we can help. I'm also glad things are okay between you and Josh."

"Like Josh said, we're working on it, one step at a time."

"We're going to the movies when we're done here. You guys want to come?" asked Chris.

I looked at Josh but he didn't say anything. I knew he'd complain about the money so I thought I'd give him an out.

"Josh and I really need to talk about some stuff. It's kind of hard to do that in a movie theater. Unless you really want to go why don't we make it another time? You and I can ride around for a while."

"That sounds good," he smiled. I took the check after the waitress asked if we wanted anything else. Chris tried to protest but I told him it was my treat.

"My parents gave me some money and it's the least I can do for all the shit I've put you guys through. Why don't you take care of the tip? ... Either that or Josh could just leave his phone number. She seemed to like him," I said laughing. Chris and Ryan smiled and looked at Josh who turned red. I smiled in his direction.

I was beginning to feel like my old self. We said good-bye to Chris and Ryan and said we'd see them in school. I also told them to have fun at the movies but not to do anything I wouldn't do.

"That gives you a lot of latitude," I laughed.


Josh and I got in my jeep and I started to drive around. "Thanks," he said.

"For what?"

"For not embarrassing me about not having money in front of Chris and Ryan. I was worried what they'd think when everyone threw in money besides me. You did the same thing with the movies. I know you probably wanted to go but knew I wouldn't want you to pay."

I smiled. "Josh, we're friends. I may give you a hard time like with the waitress and the tip but that's only in fun. I'd never do anything to intentionally hurt you. I hope you feel the same way. Chris and Ryan wouldn't have cared though. And... I really do just want to be with you."

"I can't believe how this day has turned out."

"It's not over yet. How about we go somewhere to talk? I'd really like to get to know you better."

"We could go to the park. Nobody will be there now. Is that okay?"

"Sure, that sounds good."

Josh was right. The park was deserted. The sky had partially cleared and there was a full moon so it was brighter than the night I was looking for Mike. I grabbed my flashlight and a blanket out of the jeep.

"Let's go for a walk," I said.

We walked down towards the pond. Neither of us said anything as we walked but finally the silence was too much. I needed to know what was on his mind.

"Okay, Josh ...what's wrong?"

"What are we doing Dan?"

"You mean besides walking around the pond?"

"You know what I mean."

"What do you mean? I'm trying to get to know you and to be your friend. That's what we've been saying isn't it?"

"Yeah, but things are moving so fast. I don't really know what to do. I'm a little scared."

"Scared? Why are you scared?"

"Because this is all new to me. You don't know me. You look at me and see someone else. I'm not him Dan. I don't know what you want. Do you want friendship or do you want something else? I'm worried once you get to know me you'll get bored and won't want anything to do with me."

"Josh, do you always have these mood swings? I thought I was the one who was fucked up. You're right, I don't know you. I just know what I've seen the last month. I want to fix that," I said. "I'm a little scared too you know."

"You're scared? Why are you scared?"

"Aaron and I had it easy. We grew up together and knew pretty much everything about each other before we told each other how we felt. We never had the getting to know you stage. We never really dated. We were just always together. I'm not sure I know how to do the whole getting to know you dating thing."

"Is that what we're doing? Dating?"

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it. I don't know if we can but that's because of me, not you."

"That scares me too. I'm afraid I'm going to get hurt. I'm worried you'll get tired of me especially if you compare me to him. I doubt I'm anything like him. I'm sure you didn't have to go around protecting him. I'm not very outgoing; I guess I've learned to be by myself."

"Josh, slow down. I know enough to know you're a good guy and I'm not going to hurt you. I won't do that. I promise. And don't worry about that other stuff. Things will be fine. ... I would like to teach you some basic self-defense skills. You might not be able to take Phil on but it can't hurt. Besides, if you're going to get your ass kicked anyway you'll feel better knowing you can get a few good punches in."

"I still think I'll avoid him."

I put my arm on his shoulder and pulled him against me as we walked. "Don't worry, I've got your back," I smiled. "As for as anything else, we just need to give things time. Five hours ago neither of us would have imagined being here right now."

"I know. It's just that I've never been with a guy. I'm not sure I know what to do."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing. "If it comes to that I'm sure you can figure it out, doofus. If not I'll buy you a book."

I could see him blushing in the moonlight. "That's not what I meant. You've just had more experience than me. I haven't had any. I've never even kissed anyone."

I was still laughing. "Are you calling me a slut?" I asked trying not to grin.

Josh gave me a stunned look. "No, of course not. I was just..."

"I'm joking with you. And I promise, if we date I'll only be slutty with you," I laughed and playfully poked him in the stomach. "Let's sit here."

We spread out the blanket and sat down. It was cool but it wasn't cold. There was a slight breeze and we could hear the water in the pond splashing against the shore. We just talked but I also kept thinking about how I felt about him. I do know I felt good. I felt more relaxed than I had been in a long time, maybe too relaxed because I can't really explain what happened next.

"Come here," I said reaching out to pull him towards me.

"What are you doing?"

"Fixing one of your problems. You said you've never been kissed." I said as I pressed my lips against his. He jumped when he felt my lips. He was too shocked to kiss me back.

I don't know why I felt the urge to kiss him. We had just been sitting on the blanket talking and it felt like I was being pushed towards him. I don't know if it was because I wanted him to see what it's like to kiss someone or if I wanted to see what it's like to kiss someone other than Aaron. That couldn't be it, could it? I mean I could have done that any time. I could have easily found someone to kiss. I know Colt would have done pretty much anything I wanted, not because it was me but because Colt would do pretty much anything with anyone. The problem was I didn't feel anything for Colt. Did I feel something for Josh? Did I just want to kiss him?

Josh was obviously nervous. He was trembling. He didn't pull away but he was definitely unsure of what was going on. This was obviously a new experience for him. Given what he's told me about his father I doubt anyone has hugged or kissed him in a long time. Maybe his aunt but that's not the same. I'm definitely not his aunt and I doubt she ever kissed him on the lips.

Seeing the look on his face I realized I might have been presumptuous. I had just assumed he wouldn't mind me kissing him. I didn't know whether he really wanted me to kiss him. Usually you only want people you care about to kiss you, especially on the lips, and I really didn't know how he felt about me or about kissing in general. I know he said he wants to be friends. He also said he is gay. Those two things together don't necessarily mean he thinks of me as that type of friend however. How could he after how I've treated him? Even if he did we had only started talking less than six hours ago. Kissing him so soon was probably rushing things.

I looked into his eyes trying to imagine the thoughts going through his head. He really doesn't know me. I'm just this guy who up until today wouldn't talk to him and now he's sitting in a park alone with me and I just kissed him. He knew that if I wanted I could force myself on him and do anything I wanted and he wouldn't have much choice. Of course I would never do that but he didn't know that. To further complicate things he knows he looks like my dead boyfriend. I'm sure he was wondering who I thought I had just kissed. Fortunately, the answer to that was clear in my mind but I'm sure he was wondering.

I didn't know how I felt either. Given the circumstance could he and I be more than friends at some point? Did I want that? He is so much like Aaron on both the inside and the outside. He not only looks like him but he also has the same qualities that make you say 'he's a good kid'.

There are differences too. I can see them more clearly now. He certainly doesn't have Aaron's confidence or his outgoing personality. That's understandable given his life the last eight years. It's amazing he is like he is. I'm not sure how I'd be if I didn't have my parentsí support.

His lack of confidence is actually kind of cute. I certainly don't see it as a weakness. I think it's cute that he doesn't see all good things. If anything I admire the type of person he is given how his life has been. I have my parentsí full support and I'm fucked up. He has no support and he's a great guy. Besides, his lack of confidence is nothing that can't be helped.

The one thing I did realize is that it's finally easy to see him as himself. I'm sure there will be times when I look at him and see Aaron but right now all I see is Josh. I wish I could have seen that sooner.

Maybe I shouldn't have kissed him but something made me want to give it one more try.

"You need practice," I smiled kissing him again. This time he wasn't as surprised and he returned my kiss albeit tentatively. I moved my arm further onto his back and pulled him against me. I knew things were probably moving too fast but I couldn't help it. I needed to hold him. He was still trembling.

"Josh, it's okay. I just want to hold you. I won't hurt you or push you into anything."

We lay back on the blanket with me holding him and gently kissing his soft lips. He started to relax and put his hand on my side. He was definitely nervous. It was like he thought I'd be upset if he did the wrong thing. Holding him felt good though. I hadn't held anyone like that since before Aaron died. I didn't want to let go.

Lying there like that reminded me of something else I had forgotten, something about me that not many people knew or consciously considered. Aaron knew. I'm sure my mother knew too. She's a shrink after all. She never talked about it though.

It had to do with my self-confidence or at least my need to feel safe for lack of a better word. I was confident or at least able to put up a confident front in most cases. Maybe everyone does it but I was careful only to show people what I wanted them to see. That wasn't the case with Aaron. I didn't have to put up a front with him. He understood me and could tell if I wasn't telling him everything. Of course that went both ways. With him I felt I could expose any weakness and knew he'd be there for me, no matter what. I wanted that again. I needed that again.

"This isn't so bad is it? I kind of like it. A little more practice and you'll be a pro."

I was half lying on top of him and could feel his hard cock in his jeans.

I didn't want to go too far but I was enjoying the feelings I was having. I put my lips on his and we kissed again. This time he tentatively put his arms around me as well.

"I won't break," I moaned as we continued to kiss. The breeze felt good. I pulled him tighter to feel his body heat. There were no sounds other than the pond, the occasional sound of a car in the distance and us. We just held each other and gently kissed. I could feel him getting excited. He was moving back and forth under my leg. I knew we should stop but Josh seemed to be in a world of his own and it felt, well... it felt amazing.

Now I was really confused. I knew what he was doing. I don't know if he was consciously doing it or whether he was just lost in the moment but he was rubbing himself against my leg. He was also getting bolder. He held me tighter, kissed me harder and moved back and forth against my leg faster. I don't think he even knew what he was doing. It definitely wasn't the Josh who trembled when I kissed him a few minutes ago. I didn't know if it was me or if he was just really horny and lost in the moment. I did know we should stop and was about to but after realizing that and before moving his body began to shake. That brought him out of his trance and he pushed me off him.

"Get off!" He cried.

"What's wrong?" I asked even though I knew what was happening. There was enough moonlight to make it obvious. The front of his pants had a big moist spot.

He looked at the spot on his pants. "I'm sorry. I'm so embarrassed. I wasn't thinking. It felt so good and I was so excited."

"Don't be embarrassed. At least it works. Stay here. I'll be right back," I said getting up and running to the jeep. It worried me what happened. I hadn't meant for it to go that far. I felt bad. Did I use him? Did he use me? I grabbed a towel from my gym bag and ran back tossing it to him.

"Here," I said.

He didn't say anything while he loosened his pants and wiped himself off. He also turned away each time I looked at him. Neither of us said anything.

I didn't know how I was feeling. I had enjoyed what we had done. Holding him felt great. I hadn't felt that surge of adrenalin flowing through me for over a year. I was also concerned that things seemed to get carried away.

It bothered me because I didn't know how I felt about him. I had only meant to kiss him, not to make him cum in his pants although that was a lot his own doing. I didn't want to give him the wrong idea. I'm sure he thought I felt something for him the way we had been making out and it's not that I didn't, it's that I didn't know what I felt. Why did I feel the need to kiss him at all? I could kick myself. I felt I had really screwed up.

The good thing was I knew I was thinking about him and not about Aaron at the time. That was good. I'd feel really bad if I was kissing Josh and thinking about Aaron. Given my recent mental state that wasn't out of the realm of possibility. Fortunately that wasn't the case. I could never knowingly do that.

I was confused. I know what I felt when I was holding him. It had felt really good. I could have kissed him all night if he hadn't pushed me off. I found myself looking at him. He seemed lost in thought too. There were also tears running down his cheeks.

"Josh ...about what happened? I'm sorry."

"It's okay Dan. I let it happen. Can you just take me home?"

"Sure, if that's what you want but shouldn't we talk about it? I really didn't mean for it to happen."

"Dan, it's okay. I let you. I knew you weren't thinking about me. I said I didn't want to be a surrogate but I let you do it. I've just had such a crush on you, I wasn't thinking. I lost control and let what I was feeling override my judgment. I didn't care if you were using me. Don't worry, I used you just as much. I can't believe I used your leg like that. You can't imagine how I'm feeling right now. I can't imagine what you're thinking of me. I feel so cheap. Please, just take me home."

Oh man, I thought I was fucked up. I felt like I wanted to hurl. Not because I felt used but because of how he was feeling and it was my fault. I couldn't believe he thought I used him like that. I guess it's understandable since he really only knew me from how I acted the last month. He didn't know I could never do that. I couldn't imagine how he was feeling. Letting someone kiss you thinking they're thinking they're kissing someone else. is really fucked up.

I moved my hand to wipe away his tears but he backed away.

"Don't touch me. Just take me home. Please?"

"No, not until we talk."

"There's nothing to talk about. It's my fault. I let you do it. I just want to go home."

"Then I'll talk and you listen. We've had enough lack of communication. ...do you really think I could do that? I swear I wasn't thinking about anyone but you. I was scared to kiss you and I probably shouldn't have but I felt this overwhelming urge to do it. I'm sorry I didn't ask first but please, I wasn't thinking about Aaron, I couldn't use you like that. I wouldn't. You have to believe me. I wanted to kiss you. I don't know why, I just did. It felt so good holding you. I didn't mean for things to go that far. I'm sorry.

"It scares me too. I enjoyed it but I don't know how I feel. How can I think about you like that? I mean, you're a good guy and I want you as a friend. I could see us being much more than friends if things were different but given how things are, how could we? Take tonight. You thought I thought I was kissing Aaron. Will you always have doubts? I know I saw you as Josh but what about that one time you do something that reminds me of him and I moan 'Oh Aaron' rather than 'Oh Josh'? Then you'll never believe me again. The problem is what just happened felt fantastic. I don't know what to do. I need to think. I don't want to rush into anything, for your sake and mine. But please don't think I was using you as a surrogate."

He looked at me for a few seconds and used the towel to wipe the tears from his face.

"I'm such a fuck up. I didn't know why you kissed me. I thought for sure. I'm sorry."

"It's my fault. I shouldn't have kissed you. I don't know what came over me. You said you had never been kissed and I was feeling comfortable. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. You surprised me but I obviously enjoyed it, despite what I was thinking. I can't believe I humped your leg though," he said trying to laugh. "I'm really sorry. Can I just blame it on not jerking off in a couple of days?"

"Don't worry about it. You got horny and let what you were feeling take over. I should be apologizing to you. I know it's all new to you. At first I just wanted you to see what it was like but I realized how much I missed the closeness once I had my arms around you."

"At least you had some self-control."

"It isn't always like that. I've had my moments. ... Maybe I'll call you Thumper. That was Aaron's dog's name. He used to hump my leg too," I smiled. "Aaron laughed his balls off when he did that. I'd be sitting on their couch and the dog would come over and start riding my leg. He didn't do it to anyone else. Once Aaron pushed him off me and straddled my leg telling the dog it was his toy. He looked pretty ridiculous on his knees sliding his crotch up and down my shin. He moved pretty quick when he heard his parents come in the back door. I don't think they saw him but I'm not sure. I'm sure they knew something was up by the way I was laughing."

"Great! I can hear Chris and Ryan now."

"Would you prefer 'Humper'? ...don't worry," I said when he frowned. "I told you. I may tease you but I won't intentionally do anything to hurt or embarrass you. Just do me a favor. Okay?"

"What?"

"Don't count this as your first time with a guy. Your first time needs to be special. It can't be cheap and something you regret. Just look at this as jerking off with a friend. Even straight guys do that."

"I've never done that either and I think we did a little more than jerk off."

I smiled. "Details. I realized what you were doing but it was too late. Please don't let it ruin the progress we made today."

"I won't. I'm just upset I lost control. Knowing you weren't thinking of him makes me feel better. You promise you weren't?"

"Josh, ...I'm not a scumball. I really couldn't do that. I wouldn't want to do it even if you were okay with it. It would cheapen how I felt about Aaron. I couldn't do that."

"I didn't think of it like that."

"Are we okay?"

"Yeah, I feel better. We're certainly better than this morning," he smiled.

"You really had a crush on me?"

"Forget I said that."

I smiled. "It's okay but it's all the more reason to go slow. You need to be sure it's me and not just my hot bod that you want."

"Fuck you," he smiled. "Your body isn't that hot."

I smiled. "I guess you're feeling better. Are your pants dry yet?"

"Cold cum sucks."

I leaned down and took a deep breath. "It smells good though," I said looking at his crotch.

"You're a perve," he laughed.

"See, you are like Aaron. He used to call me that too. You going to be okay? "

"Yeah, but you better not tell Chris and Ryan about this."

"Don't worry, I don't kiss and tell ...or let people hump my leg and tell either," I smiled.

"I still can't believe I did that. It did feel good though. At least it did until I realized what I did."

"Come here," I said as I put my arm on his shoulders and pulled him against me. "The next time it has to feel good after the fact too. And one more thing... About that experience you accused me of having? ... Just so you know I've only been with Aaron. Well, one girl but that's another story. You're only the second boy I've ever kissed. Aaron and I did just about anything you can imagine but there were some things we wanted to wait on. At the time we didn't think we were ready. We thought we had plenty of time. We wanted to make it special. Guess that didn't work out so good but I still think it's important to wait before doing certain things. There truly is only one first time and it should be special."

"I'm sorry Dan. You know I wasn't calling you a slut. I just meant any experience would be more than me."

"I know," I smiled. "Friends?"

"Friends," he said laying his head on my shoulder.

"So are you going to tell me what Scott said?"

"He asked if I was going to make you happy again."

I smiled. "He really is a good kid. He looks at things so simply. It makes me feel good."

We sat and talked a while longer while looking at the pond. The rest of the clouds had cleared and the moonlight reflected on the water. Since it was early October it was a little cool but I felt warm sitting close to Josh. Unfortunately it was getting late.

"Josh ... I'm sorry but we really should get going. I told my parents I wouldn't be late. I'm sure they're going to want to talk about things when I get home. I'm just glad we've finally straightened things out. I don't know what you want but I'm not ruling out us being more than friends, it's just going to take time. One step at a time. Can you live with that?" He laughed. "If each step is as big as the last eight hours we'll probably be married by the end of the weekend."

"There could be worse things," I smiled leaning in to give him another kiss. "Relax," I laughed seeing the shocked look on his face. "It was a joke. ...you ready? It's getting late and I need to teach karate in the morning."

"Okay, I should get home too even though I don't want to. I hate it there."

I pulled him closer. "You shouldn't have to put up with that. There must be something we can do."

"I don't think there is anything anyone can do. I'll be alright. At least one problem in my life is solved."

"I'm sorry," I said looking down.

"Let's just put it behind us," he said putting his hand over mine.

A couple minutes later we got up and walked back to the jeep. We walked close to each other but we didn't hold hands. I thought about it but realized it was best to go slow.

When we got to my jeep I hesitated but put my arms around him. "I want to do this here since I can't do it when I drop you off," I said leaning in to kiss him. "Thank you," I said.

"For what?"

"For giving me a chance. Tonight has been the best time I've had in over a year. I can't believe how stupid I've been but that's over now. All because of you. I won't forget Aaron. I can't do that but I think I'm ready to move on. I feel happy again. I'll tell him when I talk to him tonight."

"What?"

I laughed. "I've talked to him every night since, well, since the accident. I can almost feel his presence. At least I think I can. I even hear him. You probably think I'm crazy."

"No... I know how it is to lose someone you love. Your loss is different but the hurt is the same. I kind of lost two people that day. Before my mom died my father and I got along. We were never that close but it wasn't bad. Now I can't stand him."

"Aaron came to me the day I fainted you know. He just appeared. He said he was sad I couldn't be happy and he wanted me to be happy. I was so fucked up. He also said you were kind of cute and to be good to you. I wish Iíd listened. I should have but it was so difficult looking at you. Even he wasn't enough for me to give you a chance."

"Let's just pretend we met today."

I smiled. "That sounds good. ... You ready?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "I'd better get home too. My father will probably be passed out but if he isn't then I'll hear it. I have to face him sooner or later."

On the way to his house I told him Becky and I were going to the movies Saturday night but that I would be by in the morning to pick him up. I wanted to give him some self-defense lessons. I tried convincing him he could come with us but he refused saying it would be too awkward. I tried to talk him into it but he wouldn't budge.

"Okay, but we're doing something on Sunday."

The lights were still on when we got to his house. "You going to be okay? Do you want me to come in?"

"No," he sighed. "I'm used to it. It doesn't get any easier but this is my life such as it is."

I took his hand before he got out of the jeep. "Don't," he said. "He might be looking out the window."

"Don't worry," I smiled. "I just want you to know I'm here for you. You don't have to go through this alone any more."

He looked at me for a few seconds before opening the door. "Thanks, I hope you mean that," he said as he got out of the jeep.

"I'll be by at 11:00 to get your sorry ass. Be ready," I laughed.

He waved but didn't look back as he entered the house. I waited until he shut the door and disappeared before I drove away. 'Wow,' I thought to myself as I drove home.

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