The Move

Chapter 17

By Doug Smith

I led Josh into the study and sat down. "I don't know about this Dan. Maybe I should just apologize to my father."

"Josh, let's just hear what my father has to say."

"I'm scared. I know how it sounds but he's all I have. What's going to happen?"

My dad walked in and sat down. He stared at Josh for a few seconds and shook his head before speaking.

"What's up guys? What's going on?"

When Josh didn't say anything I nodded at him but he just looked at me.

"Okay, what's this all about? Dan? Josh? It's obvious something is wrong."

I looked at Josh. "Dad, Josh needs some advice about his father. He may need legal advice."

"Just tell me what's going on. I can't really give him legal advice unless I'm his lawyer but I'll do what I can."

"Josh .... tell him. It'll be okay."

"I don't know sir. I need some advice but why would you want to help me? You don't even know me."

"Advice is cheap. Besides, you're a friend of Dan's. Why don't you tell me what's going on and we can go from there."

My father listened patiently while Josh explained what happened when I picked him. He also described his life since his mother died. My father already knew there was some issue with Josh's father but until that moment neither he, nor I, understood just how bad things were. I was really lucky compared to him. My parents loved me and would do anything for me but Josh's father only seemed to care about himself and his self-pity. It just reminded me again of how selfish I had been the last year.

Josh hesitated when my father asked if he thought his father would really assault him.

"I don't know," he said. "Before today I would have said no but now I'm not so sure. He's been drinking more lately. Ever since he lost his job it seems like that's all he does. That was about three months ago. He said he was laid off but I think he got fired. I know he got in trouble for drinking. I heard a message on the answering machine. He gets mean when he's drunk and they said he needed to go to counseling."

"He's never hit you?"

"He treats me like crap but he's never hit me, at least not until today. I told Dan how I woke up one day and he was in bed with me but he hadn't done anything. It bothered me though. I get sick just thinking about it."

"I'll kill him if he touches you," I said without thinking.

"Dan, that attitude doesn't help. You need to keep your temper in check if you're going to help Josh."

"I'm sorry," I said looking over at Josh. "I just don't want to see him hurt."

"We'll talk about that later. In the meantime we need to do something about Josh's situation. This isn't really my specialty but there are people at the office who can help. Let me make a few calls and see what they have to say. The guy I'm thinking of will probably want to meet your father. He's passionate about cases like this."

"What's going to happen?"

"Don't worry Josh. Your father needs help and you shouldn't have to live like you've described. He can't really kick you out since even at sixteen he's still responsible for you. However, you do need to think whether you feel safe living with him. If your father is like you say then something needs to be done. If he won't get help then for your own safety you should probably live somewhere else. Nobody wants to see you hurt," he said looking at me. "That needs to be done legally however. You're a minor, he's legally responsible for you. You can't just decide where you live. There are options but it's very difficult for someone your age to be 'emancipated' meaning you can be legally responsible for yourself. What usually happens is the courts and protective services get involved and place kids who can't live at home somewhere else. Usually that's with another relative but if that's not possible then they look for other options.

"I don't know. Maybe I should just go and apologize. I don't want to end up in a foster home. I've heard terrible things about those."

"Josh, that's all premature. I know you're worried but you also need help. I'd like to help you. What I suggest is this... before anything happens I'd like to talk to Jon Kinkaid. He's another lawyer in my office and he specializes in cases like this. I'm hoping we can talk to your father and calm things down but I need to make sure you're going to be safe. Now that I know about all this I can't just ignore it. If something should happen then I'd be morally, if not legally, negligent. Is that okay?"

"Josh, you can trust my father. He knows what he's doing."

"Alright, but I don't want to go to a foster home. I'd rather live like I was. At least then I knew how things were."

"You shouldn't have to live like that. Do you have any relatives in the area?"

"Just my aunt. She and I get along but she doesn't have much room at her place."

I said how she is the guidance counselor at school. "She told me the first day I met her that she was Josh's aunt."

"She's my mother's sister. That's probably the only possibility."

"Do I have your permission to talk with Jon and maybe go talk with your father if that's what he thinks is best? We might be able to resolve things without a lot of people getting involved."

"I guess that would be okay. I am scared to go back there."

"Why don't you guys go do what you were going to do this morning. Let me make a few calls. I need to talk with Jon." He looked over at Josh. "Don't worry Josh. Things will be okay."

Josh thanked him but didn't sound very sure of himself.

"Let's go get something to eat," I said.

My father watched us walk to the door. "Oh, and Josh," he said. "It's nice to meet you. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you," he smiled.

I smiled at my father before closing his door. "Thank you," I mouthed. He just nodded and picked up the phone. I'm sure he would want to talk later but for now he was helping and that was good. Josh needed help.


We walked into the kitchen. "What do you want to eat?"

"I thought you were a klutz in the kitchen," he said trying to laugh.

"Anyone can burn an English Muffin and pour OJ. I'm sure we can also find something for a sandwich if you want something like that."

"How about a sandwich?," he said sadly.

I put some sandwich meats, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese on the counter. "What do you want to drink?" I asked handing him a glass.

"It doesn't matter."

I felt really bad. Even though Josh's life wasn't the best I blamed myself for things getting worse. I kept wondering what I could have done differently. I knew if I had simply left his father probably wouldn't have threatened him and none of this would have happened. If I had done that though then Josh would think I was just like everyone else and any chance of a friendship would be over.

"Josh, my father will be able to help."

He just nodded. He was obviously worried.

I put my arm around him pulling him against me. "Trust me. I'm not going to let anything happen to you," I said softly. "Things will be fine. My Dad knows what he's doing."

"I hope so," he said leaning against me.

I think he mainly wanted to feel someone close. I guess I did too and put my arms around him. We stood there lost in thought without saying a word. I know my thoughts were that it felt really good to hold someone close. It had been so long. The problem was that I also remembered holding Aaron the same way and there was that split second when I was thinking of him. Josh seemed to know but just smiled.

"It's okay Dan. It's okay to think about him."

I smiled. "Thanks. You're the first person I've held like this in over a year. It reminded me of when he and I used to hug the same way. It felt so similar. The feelings inside me. It felt really good but it was holding you that felt good, not thinking about holding him."

He smiled. "I know."

Josh pulled away when we heard Scott giggling at the door.

"Hi munch," I smiled. "I thought you were playing Nintendo."

"I'm hungry."

"You're always hungry. We're just having sandwiches. You want one? ...And stop looking at Josh like that."

"Can Josh play Nintendo?"

"What about me?"

"We can play any time."

I laughed. "You'll have to ask him but he needs a karate lesson first."

Scott became all serious and looked at me.

"What's up buddy?"

"Did you kiss him because he's your boyfriend?"

Josh gave me a surprised look. "You told him?? Do your parents know??? What did you say?"

"Josh, relax. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I was in such a good mood when I got home last night. We stayed up and talked as a family. It was the first time in a long time. They were surprised but don't worry. Everything is okay."

"So they know I'm gay? How much did you tell them?"

"I told them I kissed you. They were surprised. I think my mother thinks it's too soon. I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. When I said it my father asked about you being gay."

"Geez Dan. What if he tells my father?"

"He won't. I'll talk to him if you want. Please calm down."

"And he'll still help me?"

"He knew when we talked to him and he's helping, right? Look at me... It doesn't matter. Trust me."

"It's just that until yesterday only Chris and Ryan knew. How can I face your parents not knowing what they think?"

"Josh," said my mother who was in the doorway listening. "Dan is right. It doesn't matter. Mr. Johnson won't say anything to your father. He went out to meet with someone he works with. If it'll make you feel better I'll call him and make sure but I promise you nobody else will know and we're perfectly fine with it. We're okay with Dan, right?"

"He's your son."

"And you're his friend."

"I'm just not used to people knowing."

Josh calmed down after my mother called my father just to make sure he wouldn't say anything. There was never a doubt but it did make him feel better.

I regretted saying anything to my parents but hadn't even thought about it when we talked. I had told Josh I didn't kiss and tell but I hadn't thought about that with my parents. They both knew about me and I knew they wouldn't care. I was mad at myself that I hadn't told Josh but it really hadn't occurred to me.

We went out back after having lunch. I grabbed the punch shield Aaron and I had used when we had practiced and then we went into the back yard. Josh seemed more himself once we were alone."

"I'm sorry Dan. I shouldn't have gotten upset. I'm just not used to parents knowing."

I smiled. "It's okay. I shouldn't have said anything or at least I should have told you. It's just I didn't even think when I told them that I kissed you. They knew about me and Aaron so I didn't even think. I'm sorry. I didn't even think about it from your point of view."

"It's okay. It's great that you can talk to your parents about stuff like that. I just can't imagine it. I've always kept that I like guys well hidden."

"I know. I wouldn't have said anything to anyone else, not even Chris and Ryan. It's just that I've been able to be pretty open with them... at least once they knew anyway. I did just say we kissed though. I didn't tell them your nickname," I smiled.

"You better not."

I smiled. "You ready?"

"What do I need to do?"

"The first rule is that it's all about your safety. It's not about winning a fight. You do what you have to do to get out of a situation and to be safe. It's not a tournament where there are rules. Don't worry about being manly. If a good knee or kick to the balls will work then do it. ...And don't stay around. As soon as you can get away then take off."

"Got it. ...Kick him in the balls and run. What else?" he smiled.

"That's not what I meant."

"I know," he smiled.

"Don't be afraid of getting hit either. It's going to happen. The trick is to minimize the impact. Keep your hands up to block punches and move in close. That way you take the power out of any punches. If you stay back then punches will hit you full force. Plus he won't expect it. He'll expect you to be scared. Standing up for yourself will show that you're not."

"Yeah, like he'll believe that."

"All the better if he doesn't. He'll be overconfident."

We spent the next half hour going over some basic moves. I showed him how to stand as well as some basic punches and kicks. He definitely wasn't a fighter but did pick up a few things. Towards the end things got more playful and we ended up wrestling on the ground. I could have easily flipped him back over but we were just fooling around. Besides, it felt good feeling him on top of me. Our crotches were pressing together and I could feel his hardening cock against mine.

"Whatever you do, don't get hard if you end up wrestling with Phil," I laughed.

"Shut up asshole," he smiled. "I won't do this either," he smiled putting his lips on mine.

Just as he kissed me my mother called. "Dan, Becky is here." She wasn't only there, she was standing on the deck watching us. I smiled at Josh.

"I'll give you another lesson later."

We tried to adjust ourselves but it was obvious we were both hard. I'm sure my mother noticed. I know Becky did.

Becky looked surprised. There aren't many things I can do that would surprise her but probably seeing Josh and me rolling around on the lawn kissing after the events of the last few days is probably one of them. I think she looked a little disappointed too. We had talked a lot and even though she knew I'm gay I think she always held out hope. Seeing us on the ground kissing probably removed all doubt. I felt bad when we made eye contact.

It's a good thing we had the sparring equipment. It made good cover although I know she noticed. She showed she was a good friend though and just smiled.

"I'm surprised to see you here Josh. I didn't think Dan was ever going to admit how he felt. Do you know how much I've had to put up with listening to him?"

Josh smiled. "Probably no more than Chris and Ryan had to listen to. He's really only giving me a few tips in self-defense."

"I can see that," she smiled. "What kind of wrestling move was that Dan? I've never seen the guys on the wrestling team use that move on their opponents. I would think kissing your opponent might get some guys upset."

Thankfully my mother had gone back inside but Becky seemed to be enjoying our embarrassment.

I just shook my head. "Did you want something?" I asked feigning annoyance.

"Relax Dan. I heard what happened with Phil. I wanted to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine. Thanks. It wasn't that big a deal."

"It could be. Phil isn't used to people standing up to him and he won't let this go. I told you about that kid last year. Just be careful. Okay?"

"We will," I smiled putting my hand on Josh's shoulder.

"It looks like you two have worked out your differences. It was so obvious you liked him. I could never understand what your problem was. Don't think I didn't notice what happened in class the first week you were here. It was "obvious" you paid more attention to him than you did to what was going on in class. Boys can be kind of obvious you know."

I blushed and Josh looked puzzled.

"I knew you were watching me. Like I said, that kind of creeped me out. I didn't know you were looking at me like that."

I smiled. "Sorry, it really wasn't like that. You did look good leaning forward though."

"Alright Dan. I'm sorry I brought it up. I don't need to hear how you like Josh's ass. ...So tell me, what happened? Yesterday you acted like you hated each other or is that just what you want people to think?"

"Let's go to my bedroom. I'll explain. There's something I could use some help with anyway."

I put my gear away and grabbed a drill, level, screwdrivers and some screws from my father's workbench. "Come on. We can talk while you help."

Becky had never seen my room. She and I had always gone to the family room in the basement. Even though we were only friends I didn't feel comfortable having a girl alone in my bedroom.

Becky looked around as soon as we walked in and it didn't take her long before her eyes were focused on the one picture of Aaron I had left out. She looked at the picture and then at Josh without saying a word. It was kind of funny. She kept looking back and forth between Josh and the picture with a confused look on her face.

"How long have you guys known each other?"

"You know when I moved in," I smiled.

"But you're both younger in this picture."

"I was fifteen when it was taken."

"That doesn't make sense. If you just met Josh a month ago then how could you be fifteen when this was taken?"

I could have teased her a little but just smiled. "It's because that isn't Josh."

"What???" she said looking at the picture and then at Josh. "Of course it is. It looks just like him."

I laughed. "His name is Aaron."

"What?"

I gave her the condensed version of who Aaron was and what happened. She spent the entire time looking back and forth between Josh and the picture.

"I could tell," she smiled.

"Yeah, right," I laughed. "So you see it's been kind of tough the last month. I resented Josh. At least I did until I got to know him. Then things were just fucked up. We had already gotten into the habit of ignoring each other, at least until the last week. I had a long talk with a friend from home and he convinced me to try and talk with him. He didn't make it easy though," I smiled.

"It does explain a lot. You're really the one who did that to Phil? He'll be out for revenge you know. He's an asshole."

Josh and I laughed. "Becky!!! Is that any way for a nice girl to talk?"

"It was the nicest word I could think of."

We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, listening to music and playing my guitars. Josh was really good, much better than me. I couldn't really read music. I just used tablature and played by ear. Josh had pretty much taught himself how to play and had obviously worked at it.

We also put up some shelves that have been sitting against the wall for the past month. I thought it was about time I put up some of my trophies. I got a box from the back of the closet and started to go through them. Josh's eyes lit up while I put some of them on the shelves.

"Holy shit, you won all these?"

"Nah, I bought them," I smiled. "It's a lot easier that way. They look impressive plus you don't get kicked."

We broke up laughing. "You're an asshole. You know that?"

"I hope you mean that in the nicest of ways," I smiled.

Becky just shook her head. "Don't worry Josh. You and I can gang up on him."

I smiled. "That sounds like fun but despite what you think, Josh and I really are just friends."

"Right Dan. You and I are friends. What I saw out back was more than friendship."

I suggested we go down and get something to drink. My father wasn't home and my mother would only say he went out. I tried to get more out of her but she said she hadn't talked to him. Becky looked at me but didn't say anything. I didn't say anything either since it was Josh's business.

Becky said she still wanted to go to the movies and that Josh should come too. He tried saying no but Becky insisted. She left around four because she wanted to change but did say she expected both of us to pick her up at five.

Josh still didn't want to go. "I don't even know where I'm sleeping tonight."

I smiled. "We have plenty of room. You can stay here."

"He's right Josh," said my father who just walked in. "You should stay here tonight... in the guest room."

"Did you talk to my father?"

"Yes, we need to talk. Why don't you and I go into my study. Dan... you should stay here."

"No," said Josh grabbing my hand. "It's okay. I want him to come."

My father just looked at us and nodded before we all went into the study and sat down. Josh and I sat on the couch and my father sat in a chair."

"Josh," he said. "I have some news, some good and some not so good."

I felt Josh's body tighten as he moved closer.

"I know this is hard. I'm sure you're pretty worried about what is going to happen. I'm not going to tell you not to worry but I do want to assure you that I will help you through this assuming that is what you want. Given your relationship with Dan I think it would be best if another lawyer handle any legal issues. The person I'd recommend is Jon Kinkaid. He specializes in situations like this."

"I can't afford a lawyer."

"Don't worry about that. You need help and I want to help. I also want to assure you that while Jon would technically be your lawyer, I plan to be involved as well if that is okay with you. We both only want what is best for you."

"What happened when you talked to my father?"

"That didn't go very well. Jon and I, along with a friend of his, a social worker, went to talk to him this afternoon. When we got there he was pretty intoxicated and he became belligerent. He had a gun."

"Oh man, I forgot he has that. He keeps it locked up. What did he do?"

"Fortunately nobody got hurt. He just brandished it about and kept yelling. He definitely wasn't in any mood to talk."

"I didn't think he would be but I never thought about the gun," said Josh.

"The problem is you can't just brandish a gun at people, even on your own property. He could have hurt himself or someone else. We had to call the police. They were able to calm him down but they did take him into custody."

"He's in jail?" Josh asked.

"Yes, he's been charged with criminal threatening."

"What does that mean?"

"You can't just wave a gun at someone even on your own property. There was a recent case where a guy brandished a gun at someone who was just asking directions. He got convicted and sent to prison. I'm not saying that will happen in your father's case, in the other case the guy didn't think he'd done anything wrong. He wanted to prove a point and wouldn't accept a plea deal. The judge didn't have any choice but to sentence him to prison once he was found guilty."

"But my father could go to jail? For how long?"

"Josh, I doubt he'll go to prison but he is in serious trouble. He'll be held until Monday at least because that's the earliest he can be arraigned. It's tough to tell after that. If I was his lawyer I'd suggest he get an evaluation, sign up for counseling and try to avoid jail time by making a plea deal. If he goes to trial then yes, he could go to jail if he's convicted."

"What's going to happen to me?"

"Normally the courts prefer kids in your situation to be placed with a relative. The problem is we tried but couldn't get in touch with your aunt. Evidently she is out of town for the weekend. That said, I know how you feel about foster care. What I'd like to suggest is this... you're welcome to stay here until we get things straightened out. Jon's friend pulled some strings and was able to get an emergency order signed allowing you to stay with us temporally. If she hadn't then she would have been forced to put you in foster care."

"No way," I said. "He's staying here."

"Relax Dan. I've talked with your mother and it's all set. Josh can stay here as long as he wants. Are you okay with that Josh? It should only be for a few days until we can get in touch with your aunt."

Josh just nodded.

"Good, I think that's the best option. You're welcome here as long as necessary but the order is only good for seven days. By then I'm sure things will be all settled with your aunt."

"Thank you Mr. Johnson."

"You're welcome and try not to worry. Things will work out. We do need to set some ground rules though. This is me talking more to my son as a father and not as a lawyer... You guys are both going through a lot. It's obvious you're becoming friends but I hope you're going slow. Your resemblance to Aaron, what you're going through, what Dan has been through, you both being gay... it's all going to take some time to get used to. I don't want to see anyone hurt."

"We are Dad. We're talking and getting to know each other. Hopefully we can help each other."

"Okay," my father said. "Your relationship is your business but you do need to understand that Josh can stay here because Jon's friend's believes it's in his best interest. If she thinks otherwise then she can change her mind."

"Don't worry Dad."

"Alright, why don't you get Josh settled. You can find whatever he needs for tonight and tomorrow he can get things from his house."

"Okay"

"Just remember. If someone asks I want him to be able to say his room is the guest room, not your room."

I smiled. "Okay, but that doesn't mean he can't visit, right?"

"Out!!!" he smiled.

I grabbed Josh's hand and pulled him out the door. "You're bad," he said.

"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to sleep when I know you're across the hall," I said giving him a shit eating grin.

"I hope there's a lock on the door. I don't want to be attacked in the middle of the night."

"Don't worry, if I want to attack you I won't wait until the middle of the night."

He kissed me on the cheek. "What happened to going slow?" he asked smiling.

We ended up at the same pizza place Josh and I went to the night before and then went to the movies. I could tell Josh was uncomfortable when I bought his ticket. I bought Becky's as well. She sat on one side of me while Josh sat on the other. It was a little awkward. I wanted to reach out and hold his hand but wasn't sure I should. He probably felt the same way but each time either of us let our hands touch we quickly pulled away.

Becky kept watching us out of the corner of her eye. Finally she reached across and grabbed my hand and put it on Josh's. "Would you two relax," she smiled. Josh tried to pull his hand away but Becky held them together. Finally I relaxed and squeezed his hand before relaxing my grip giving him an opportunity to move his hand if he wanted. ...He didn't.

The rest of the movie was pretty good for a chick flick. Becky had picked it after all. There were a few good jokes and we all seemed to enjoy ourselves. Becky glanced over at us holding hands and smiled. She put her head on my shoulder and kissed my cheek. "We could have had fun you know." I turned towards her and smiled. "Sorry," I said. "Nothing personal but I don't think so."

She sighed. "I know," she said. "Friends?"

"Friends," I said kissing her cheek. "Always." Squeezing Josh's hand at the same time.

We didn't go anywhere after the movie. Josh wanted to get back to find out what was happening with his father. We still didn't tell Becky what was going on but did say we'd tell her later. We dropped her off at her house which was only four doors down from mine. She kissed my cheek again and said she'd see us later. She looked at Josh and whispered something in his ear. He just nodded.

"What did she say?" I asked as we drove to my house.

"Nothing," he said smiling.

"I'll beat it out of you," I laughed.

"Better watch it. I'll kick you in the balls," he laughed.

Before we went inside I pulled him against me. "You feel good."

"Dan, we need to slow down. I don't know where all this is going."

I dropped my arms. "I'm sorry. It's just the more time I spend with you the better I feel. I guess I assumed too much. Let's go inside."

"No ... it's not that. You don't understand. I'm falling in love with you but I don't know how you feel. I don't want to feel stupid or for you to think I am."

I smiled. "You're not being stupid. You're being careful. I'm still trying to sort out my feelings too. I can tell you this ...the more time I spend with you the happier I am. I'm amazed how I can see you as you and not as Aaron. You make me feel good just like he did. I'm still coming to terms with that. I know I'm not betraying him but it's still hard. Just give me some time ...okay?"

He nodded but I could see tears in his eyes. Hopefully they were tears of happiness. At least a little bit.

"It'll be okay," I said kissing him gently. "Just think of how far we've come in the last twenty four hours. It wasn't that long ago when you couldn't stand the sight of me."

"That's not true."

I smiled. "Let's not think about that. Let's think about how much things can change in the next twenty four hours ...but only the good things," I added when I saw the look on his face.

As we went inside I noticed the sound of a door closing and a light going off across the street at Mike's house. 'Oh well,' I thought. I'm not sure Josh noticed.


"Let's get something to eat and go shoot some pool. By the way, I hope you like to run because I'm waking your ass up tomorrow morning. It's part of your self-defense course. A good five mile run will do you good."

"Fuck you," he smiled. "I don't run."

"I told you we need to wait on some things and you do now," I laughed. "Relax, it will be fun."

"Right," he said sarcastically.

We played pool for about forty-five minutes before Josh said he was tired. He seemed moody but I didn't think much of it. I assumed everything that had happened had caught up with him. He seemed really quiet when we walked upstairs to bed. He said he wanted to take a shower and asked if he could borrow some clothes since he didn't have anything with him. I pulled out a skimpy pair of bikini briefs and said "you'd look good in these."

"You wish," he said without a hint of a smile. I ended up giving him a new pair of boxer briefs, some warm-up pants and a t-shirt. He walked towards the bathroom and I found him a washcloth and towel. "Anything else you need just ask."

I reached out to put my hand on his arm but he stepped away going into the bathroom and shutting the door. I hadn't planned on taking a shower with him but I was getting concerned about how he was acting. I went back to my room and lay on my bed thinking about what might have happened. I had no idea. Maybe it was just everything going on. Maybe he was moody. Whatever it was I didn't like it. I especially didn't like it when I heard the water turn off a few minutes later and Josh just walk to the guest room, closing the door.

I debated just giving him time. Maybe he'd be alright in the morning. The more I lay there and thought about it the more I knew I wouldn't get any sleep unless I talked to him. Slowly I got up, walked across the hall and knocked on the door. When he didn't answer I knocked again. Still there was no answer.

I sighed and started back to my room but turned around. I opened the door slightly and stuck my head in. Josh was laying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

"Josh?" I said softly. "Please talk to me."

"Go away Dan. I need to think."

"I will but I need you to tell me ...is it everything that is going on or did I do something?"

He looked at me. "Dan, I don't want to go running."

I shook my head. "What?? Is that what this is about? Nobody is going to make you do something you don't want to do."

"You told me you were going to wake me up and make me run."

I walked over and sat on the bed. "Josh, all you had to say was you didn't want to go. It's no big deal. I like running. I like doing things with you. I thought it would be fun. I'm sorry, I should have asked and not told you you're coming."

"I don't like to be told what to do. I've been told what to do every day for the last eight years. It wasn't about what I wanted. It was about what he wanted."

"Josh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way. I just wanted to spend time with you doing something I like to do. I want to do things you like to do too. We're just getting to know each other. I want to learn what you like to do and I want to involve you in things I like to do. That way we can find out what we like to do together. That's all."

He looked at me with tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry Dan. I guess it was my turn to be a jerk."

I smiled. "No, it's my fault. I'm sorry. Besides, you had to put up with me being a jerk for a month. I only had to do it for an hour. I still owe you."

"Come here," he said reaching towards me. I lay down and put my arms around him. "Thank you for everything," he said holding me tight. "I couldn't do this without you."

"Yes you could but you don't have to. Regardless of what happens between us I'll be there for you. I promise you that. Just don't shut me out again. Talk to me next time."

"I will," he said. "I promise."

We just held each other without talking. He was exhausted. Before long I felt his breathing slow and his grip loosen. I looked over and watched him sleep. He was cute but it was obvious it wasn't a peaceful sleep. I watched him and realized I had been with him all day and never once confused him with Aaron. I leaned over, brushed his hair from his forehead and gently kissed him. I thought about staying but slowly got up so I wouldn't disturb him. He stirred and moaned slightly when I moved his arm. Before leaving I pulled the blanket over him. I almost leaned down to kiss him again but didn't want to disturb him. He had to be exhausted.

My parents were just coming upstairs when I closed his door. I raised my finger to my lips so they would be quiet. Fortunately we hadn't been fooling around. Not that they would have said anything but I didn't really want them to see me with a hardon walking out of Josh's room either.

"How is he Dan?" my mother whispered.

"Tired but he's okay. I think he's relieved it's out in the open."

"He seems like a good kid. Just remember what he's going through. Don't rush into anything."

"I know Mom. Don't worry, I just want to help him. Thank you both for what you're doing. I know it hasn't been easy."

"We love you Dan. Josh is a friend of yours. We'll do what we can."

I gave them both a hug and told them I was going for a run in the morning but Josh was going to sleep in.

My parents had their own bathroom so I went across the hall to take a shower. Josh's pants were hanging on the back of the door. I rubbed them gently and pictured Josh wearing them all day. I laughed when I put my face against them. 'You're such a perv,' I thought to myself.

After my shower I went back to my room and climbed into bed. Picking up Aaron's picture I ran my fingers over the glass. "Just because I might love him too doesn't mean I love you any less bud. I'll always love you but like you said, I have to get on with my life." I fell asleep and had one of the most peaceful nights Id had in a long time.

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