The Move

by Doug Smith

Chapter 48

Josh

Scott wanted to go to the restaurant that was part of the arcade. He probably thought I would change my mind about taking him if the arcade wasn't right there. He was pretty excited. Even more than normal, if you can believe that. Some people would probably say he's hyper, and maybe he is to an extent, but I see it as selectively hyper. He's fun-loving. He's active like an eight year-old, but he's serious about things when they matter. I remember the first day I met him. That was a weird day. It was the day Dan finally told me about Aaron and how much I looked like him. Scott asked me if I was going to make Dan happy again. It was obvious they loved each other. That all seems so long ago.

The arcade is really part of a larger fun park that has batting cages, mini-golf, go-carts and things like that. All that is closed for the year since this being New England and November, it could snow any day. While we don't usually get snow until later, we've had snow storms much earlier some years too. It was actually the same place I came with my parents last week when we spent the day together. That must have been the last week for the mini-golf. Only the restaurant and arcade were open now.

"Scott. What do you want to eat?"

"Pizza!!!"

I laughed. Why was I not surprised? It's probably good Scott is so active because he could eat an entire pizza by himself… and I'm not talking about the personal size pizza. We'd have to get a large if I wanted any.

"How about a salad?" I teased, causing him to frown.

"You're not Dan and they don't have salads here."

"You've got me there. I'm up for pizza. What do you want on it?"

"Anchovies!" he said laughing.

"Anchovies? Have you ever had anchovies? They're disgusting. I think you just want your own pizza. What do you really want on it?"

"Okay, how about meatballs… and some bread sticks… and cheese sticks… and..."

"I get the idea," I smiled. "Maybe you should just say what you don't want. How about a large meatball pizza and some bread sticks. We'll get ice cream after the arcade."

I enjoyed spending time with Scott. This was actually the first time he and I did something like this together though. It was fun. Normally, we just played Nintendo or pool at home. I'd have to make sure we did stuff like this more often. Of course, at some point, he and I wouldn't be living together. Neither would Dan and I. I hadn't thought too much about that while Dan was in the hospital, but obviously my parents and I couldn't live with Dan and his family forever. I didn't know what was going to happen and nobody had said anything. My parents live in Chicago. They haven't said when they're going home or what will happen when they do. They've just said we'd figure it out, but now that Dan was out of the hospital I was beginning to worry. I assumed they'd want to go home after Thanksgiving. I was going to try not to worry though. For the meantime, I was going to push those thoughts out of my head… at least as much as I could. I wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving.

We placed our order and then sat at a booth by the window. There were only a few other people in the restaurant so we probably wouldn't have to wait too long. Scott sat across from me and was looking at a family of four at a nearby table. The kids were about Scott's age so he might have known them from school. I kind of wondered if he was looking more at the boy or at the girl, not that it mattered. Besides, he's only eight, so he might have just been looking.

I don't remember when I first looked at boys in that way. I was older than eight, I know that. I was eight when my mother died - I guess my adoptive mother - so I had other things on my mind. I do sometimes think back to when I did know, however. I could probably point to things that should have tipped me off, but I just didn't know enough. I had no clue about sex at that age, but I remember most of the TV shows I watched had cute boys in them. Maybe that's why I watched them. Anyway, Scott was too young for it to matter.

It did give me the opportunity to study his features, since he was looking elsewhere. He was definitely cute. He looked like a miniature version of Dan which I guess wasn't surprising. He had the same eyes and eyelashes. His eyes sparkled more, but that could be because of his young age. He had the same darkish hair, but his was a little longer. It hung down over his forehead more. Maybe I was biased, but he wouldn't be driving boys or girls away because of his looks when he got older.

"Do you know them?" I asked.

"That's Amy," he said. "She's in my class. She's the girl who kissed me."

I smiled. I remembered Dan told me about a girl kissing Scott at school. "She must like you."

"I told her not to kiss me. That's what Dan said I should do if I didn't want her to do that. She said she wanted to be my girlfriend, but she got really mad when I told her not to kiss me anymore. Now she's mean."

The thought of an eight year-old having a boyfriend or girlfriend was humorous. What did it mean? It's not like they could go out on dates. I just never thought of Scott in that context. Just like I don't think of him being gay or not. It just doesn't matter. He's only eight. I had other things to deal with when I was eight, but I didn't think of having either a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Were girls different?

"Well, I'm probably not much help when it comes to girls, but you probably hurt her feelings. Don't worry about it, though. You did the right thing and she'll get over it. She shouldn't just kiss you if you don't want her to, but she obviously liked you. She probably still does. She just got hurt because you didn't feel the same way."

"Girls are yucky."

I laughed. "You didn't say that to her that did you?"

"No," he frowned. "I just told her not to kiss me and she got really mad. She called me a dopey jerk boy."

I didn't want to laugh but it was hard not to smile. Scott was being so serious. He looked like he was getting mad."

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm not laughing at you. I was just picturing her calling you that. Don't worry. Next week she'll probably want to kiss you again. Just be nice to her. You know… no girl ever wanted to kiss me when I was eight. You must be special."

Fortunately, our pizza and bread sticks came. He still wanted mozzarella sticks but I reminded him we'd get ice cream after the arcade. I'm not sure it was too smart to give him a sugar high right before we went home, but I thought it would be fun. At least the pizza took his mind off the girl who had kissed him, although I did notice he kept looking in her direction every once in awhile, between bites. She was looking back too.

"Are you looking forward to Thanksgiving?" I asked, while we ate our pizza. "I am."

Maybe he was more distracted by the girl than I thought, because he didn't answer right away. It looked like he was deep in thought. At least deep in thought for an eight year-old.

"Scott? Thanksgiving? Are you excited?"

"Yeah, it'll be fun," he said, smiling, but growing quiet.

"Is something wrong?"

"I was just remembering. Thanksgiving was when Dan almost died."

I knew Dan had tried to kill himself, but I didn't know it was around Thanksgiving. I didn't really know what he had done. It wasn't something he and I had really talked about. The thought of him doing something like that made me cringe. Not that the only reason I'm glad he wasn't successful was because none of this would have happened if he was, but it's amazing how things work out sometimes. Maybe Aaron had something to do with him being unsuccessful at that too.

"He loves you Scott. He knows he made a big mistake. He told me about waking up in the hospital and feeling really bad seeing you so upset. Try not to think about it. He's fine and he's happy. We're going to have a fun Thanksgiving."

I didn't want to remind him that his cousin would be there too. I was kind of worried how that would go. Maybe he'd end up not coming. Mrs. J said she didn't want them there if they were bigots. I'd say I couldn't imagine anyone saying what Jake said at all, let alone the day after Aaron's funeral, but I had lived with my asshole adoptive father for the last eight years so I guess I can't say that. I can imagine him saying something just like that if he had the opportunity, as well as the brains to think of it. I was going to take my own advice though, and not think about Mr. James Sullivan, other than hope he rots in the hole he crawled out of. 'Okay, I'm not bitter,' I thought.

"Hi Scott," said the girl who had wanted to be Scott's 'girlfriend' as she walked by on her way out. I noticed her parents and brother were just getting up from their table and putting their coats on but she had taken advantage of the opportunity to see Scott. She was kind of cute if you're into eight year-old girls, which I'm not, but Scott was more into them than he let on, because he was suddenly very quiet. It was kind of awkward because rather than just saying hello, she hung by our booth like she wanted a conversation.

"Scott," I whispered, or more like, mouthed, "Be polite."

"Hi Amy," he said rather shyly. It was funny. If there was one thing Scott wasn't, it was shy. At least he didn't strike me as the shy type. Amy's father, who had caught up to her, seemed to think it was amusing too. I could tell he was trying not to laugh.

"Sorry to interrupt," he said. "Amy, we need to get going." Amy's mother was smiling but her brother who looked a little older looked bored.

"Okay Dad. I just wanted to say hello to Scott."

"Do you know each other from school?"

"Uh huh," said Scott more looking at me than Amy.

I smiled. "Don't worry about interrupting. He's usually more talkative. Especially when he conned me into taking him to lunch and the arcade."

"I did not," he said. "You volunteered."

Amy's parents both laughed. "Well, you're a good big brother. Not all teenagers would take their little brothers to lunch. We know."

Not that it mattered I wasn't Scott's brother, but I hesitated before replying. At first I was going to say I wasn't his brother, but then thought I should just say thank you and go with it. Why have to explain? Unfortunately, Scott was too quick, and before I could stop him, he blurted out the truth.

"Josh isn't my brother. He's my brother's boyfriend!"

"Oh??" asked Amy's mom, raising an eye looking at me with an uncertain look. I wasn't sure what she was thinking. Was she just surprised or was she being disapproving? Amy just stared at me, but her brother was smiling. All of a sudden he wasn't quite so bored.

"Where's his family? Why is he with you? Do they know about you and his brother?"

"What?"

"It's okay dear. We should get going and leave these boys to their lunch."

"How do we know it's okay? Here's a boy Amy's age alone with a teenage boy, a gay teenage boy. I don't care that he's gay, and it might be fine, but there are a lot of weird people these days. How do we know this boy isn't in trouble?" she asked, looking at Scott.

Did this lady actually think I would do something to Scott? I admit I hadn't said I wasn't his brother, but that was more for expediency. I didn't want to take the time to explain. It wasn't because I thought she'd get the wrong impression or jump to conclusions based on nothing, which she obviously had.

"I'm not in trouble," Scott said. "I didn't do anything."

Like Dan says, you have to love Scott. He could come up with a logical reason why his parents didn't see Aaron in the pictures, but he was so innocent, he didn't know what she really meant. This lady definitely watched too many crime shows.

"Of course not dear."

"Ma'am," I said. "Everything is fine. I just brought Scott to lunch because our parents went to lunch and we were home alone."

"That may be, but how can I be sure?"

I couldn't believe it. Who was this woman? I just looked at her and then her husband, waiting for him to say something. It was obvious he just wanted to leave and be on their way, but his wife wasn't having any part of it. She was actually lucky Scott was here because I didn't want to say too much in front of him. I wanted to ask her if she'd be worried if I wasn't gay, but Scott didn't need to hear stuff like that. Plus, I didn't want to make more of a scene. It pissed me off.

"Scott? Do you have your phone? Can you call your parents?" I knew she probably wouldn't believe we actually called his parents if I called on my phone, but hopefully she would if Scott called.

"Why do we need to call mommy?"

"I need to ask her something and I forgot my phone." I hadn't, but he didn't know that.

"Okay," he said, pressing one to speed dial his parents before handing it to me. He just gave me a funny look and went back to eating his pizza.

"Mrs. J?" I asked standing up and walking away from the table. "We've got a situation here," I said talking softly. "No, Scott is fine. He's right here… There's a woman here who is questioning me being with him… yeah, because I'm not related and older… I'll explain later, but could you talk to her, tell her it's okay we're together. I don't want more of a scene… Okay, thank you, here she is," I said, handing the phone to Amy's mother. "It's Mrs. Johnson, Scott's mom."

She only talked with Mrs. J for a couple minutes, but it seemed to satisfy her. I heard her tell Mrs. J she just needed to be sure, that she has a young son and would want someone to make sure everything was okay if they had any concerns. She said she'd rather be wrong than hear about Scott on the news. I could understand that, but it still pissed me off. She only said anything after she found out I was Dan's boyfriend. Would she do the same thing if Dan was here? I think Mrs. J gave her an earful because she seemed pretty contrite when she hung up. Either that or she realized she was an idiot.

"I'm sorry," she said hanging up and handing me Scott's phone. "I just needed to be sure."

"Whatever," I said sitting down.

"I'm sorry," her husband said, obviously embarrassed. "Let us pay for your lunch."

"I can buy lunch. I don't need your money," I said. I didn't care if he knew I was pissed.

Just then Chris and Tommy walked in, seeing us. "Mr. and Mrs. Miller? What are you doing here? Do you know Josh and Scott?"

"Chris… It's good to see you. No, we just met them," said Mr. Miller, looking at me uncertainly. "We were just having lunch."

"I thought you'd have left already."

"Left? Left for where?"

"Ryan told me you were going away for Thanksgiving and wouldn't be back until Sunday night."

"Uhhhh, I don't know Chris. We're staying home this year."

If it was awkward before, then it was really awkward now. Chris was dumbfounded. I was too. These were Ryan's parents? They had to be. I'd never met them before, but who else could they be? I felt so bad for Chris. I knew something was up with him and Ryan, but I never suspected this. Ryan lied to him? Why would he do that? Chris looked like he was going to cry. Ryan's parents might not know about Chris and Ryan's relationship, but they knew they were good friends.

"I don't know what to say Chris. Maybe you misunderstood. I'll tell him to call you."

"Don't bother," he said. "I didn't misunderstand. He knows where I am. He obviously doesn't want to talk to me."

Mr. Miller looked at his wife and said they should leave. That was an understatement. I bet he wished he never came in. I know I did. They would have been in and out without any of this if their eight year-old hadn't kissed Scott. I wasn't sorry to see them leave.

"Dummies," said Scott as soon as they left.

"Scott!!!"

"Well, they are. Why did they make me call mommy?"

"What?" asked Chris. "Why would they do that?"

"I'll explain later. We're still eating. Why don't you order and join us?" I suggested, looking at him hopefully. He probably just wanted to leave but I'm sure he'd promised to bring Tommy to the arcade just like I had brought Scott. Tommy hadn't said a word but he knew something was wrong.

"Are you guys going to the arcade too? Slide over Scott. I'll go order you some mozzarella sticks while Chris and Tommy eat. Then we can all go. Tommy… sit," I said as I got up putting my hand on Chris's back leading him towards the counter.

"I'm sorry Chris," I said, when he didn't say anything.

"No worries. It's not your problem. It'll be okay," he said.

"Chris, don't be like that. You've always been there for me. Let me, and Dan, be there for you. Order your pizza. Scott can entertain Tommy and you and I can hang out. I'll text Dan and see if he's done with lunch. He and Nick Wade went to lunch but that was awhile ago. He'll come too. We're here for you Chris."

"Thanks," he said.

This sucked big time. Chris and Ryan had been together as long as I could remember. I thought they'd be together forever. If they can't make it then who can? One day everything was fine, and today, who knows? It was just a couple weeks ago the four of us slept over after Dan's party. I can't believe Ryan would be such a dick. How could he hurt Chris like this? Chris was just standing there. I'm not sure he could have ordered anything without breaking down.

"What do you and Tommy want? I'll order. It's on me. Go sit down. I'll text Dan."

"Dan really went out to lunch? I assumed he'd be home in bed when I saw you here."

"Believe it or not, Dan is fine. He must heal fast because he woke up this morning and it was like nothing happened. He even practiced kickboxing with Scott." Chris looked confused, but I didn't want to tell him what really happened. Not that we wouldn't at some point, but I just didn't want to go through it again. Hopefully, Scott wouldn't say anything.

I ordered another pizza, some more bread sticks, and some mozzarella sticks while Chris went to sit down. He didn't look very good, not that I could blame him. I couldn't imagine how he felt. Or, didn't want to imagine it. I guess it's true you have to enjoy what you have because it may not last. I texted Dan before going back to the table.

Josh> u done with lunch?

Dan> almost … y … what's up?

Josh> meet us at the arcade? … chris is here … not good

Dan> ryan?

Josh> yeah

Dan> shit …

Josh> tommy is here ... he and scott can hang out … chris needs us

Dan> b there soon … lu

Josh> lu2 … hurry

I sat next to Chris, with Tommy and Scott across from us. Chris didn't say a word. Fortunately, Scott and Tommy were entertaining each other. Evidently, Tommy had wanted to come to the arcade as well, and Chris had volunteered to bring him. It sounded like he had been driving his parents crazy while they were getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Scott and Tommy were talking about who was better at a particular game at the arcade. I didn't know Scott knew much about arcade games, but evidently he did. It was funny hearing them talk. Chris looked like he was out of it. I wished Ryan's parents hadn't been here. Then he'd still think Ryan was going away for the holiday. I'm sure he would have found out he lied at some point, but it wouldn't have ruined his Thanksgiving… not quite as much, at least. I put my hand on his back and pulled him against me which caused him to smile but he still didn't say anything.

Tommy dug in when their pizza came. I'm glad I ordered mozzarella sticks for Scott the way he kept looking at the pizza. He'd probably scarf down a couple more pieces if he had the chance. How that kid could eat so much pizza and be skinny as a rail was amazing. Of course he probably burned a couple hundred calories an hour just sitting still.

Dan

"Sorry," I said to Nick. "That was Josh." I usually don't answer texts when I'm with someone else. I think it's rude when you're talking with someone and they check their phone when they get a text, so I don't like to do it. Especially if you're in mid-sentence. Getting a text from Josh is an exception though.

"That's okay," he said. "You have a lot going on."

I smiled. That's probably what I'd say too even though I'd be thinking something else. I don't know, maybe it's just a pet peeve of mine. I know it's tough to resist checking your phone when a text comes in but responding is something else. I just think it makes whoever you're with feel like they're less important.

"Anyway, Josh and my brother, along with a friend, are at the arcade and wanted me to meet them. Do you want to come? I could use directions."

"So you just want me because I know my way around?"

"No, of course not," I said, hoping he wasn't serious.

"I'm joking Dan. Sure I'll come, but I should probably call home. I don't think they'll care, but after the last few days, I'd rather be safe than sorry. I should at least tell them so they'll know where I'll be. That's what pissed my father off the most… or worried him the most. I think he thought I might do something stupid."

"You mean other than getting high??" I smiled.

"God, I can't believe I did that. It was weird."

"You were acting pretty weird when we saw you. How did your father take it?"

"He actually told me he had done it in college. He said that didn't give me permission to do it, but he didn't make a big deal about it. He was more interested in the being gay thing. I think it helped that cop is gay. He said he couldn't believe someone like that is gay. I think you confuse him too… or did."

"Lieutenant Henderson is a good guy. He stopped by the house this morning. He was looking for Kyle and thought I might know where he is."

"Kyle?"

I'd forgotten Nick was in middle school and probably didn't know Kyle. I didn't really think of him like that.

"I'll explain later. Why don't you call home and I'll go talk to my parents. I'm on thin ice right now too, so I should let them know what's up."

Nick got out his phone while I went to talk with my parents. They were just finishing lunch. I wondered what they had been talking about. I'm sure some of it involved our talk this morning. I felt bad for Mrs. M since it was three against one as to who saw Aaron in the pictures. Hopefully, they didn't try to convince her she was imagining things the entire time.

It didn't appear that was the case however, since they were laughing while I was standing there. They didn't have any problem with me meeting Josh and Scott. I didn't think they would, but like Nick, I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. They just said not to be too long because they wanted to talk some more. I tried to smile, not that I thought it was funny, but I knew they didn't really want to talk about things any more than I did, but it was necessary.

"It's not what you're thinking," my father said, when he saw my look. "It's something unrelated. Your mother and I and the Michaels want to talk with both you and Josh."

"Oh dear," said mom. She must have seen the look on my face. "Don't worry him like that. It's nothing bad Dan. You might actually like it. Forget your father said anything. Go spend some time with Scott. He's missed you. Jackie and I need to start getting ready for Thanksgiving anyway. We can talk tonight."

"Okay," I said, a little uncertainly - maybe more than a little. I couldn't imagine what else they wanted to talk about or why my father had even mentioned it. Maybe it just slipped out, although he did tend to give me a heads-up when he wanted to talk about something important. Sometimes I wondered if he just liked to mess with my head, getting me to think about stuff.

I forgot about that when I walked back towards Nick however. Jaden had made his way back to our table. Nick and he were talking, although maybe it was more accurate to say Jaden was talking to Nick. It looked like he wanted to push him back onto the table and go at it right there. He might have just been talking, but the look on his face said 'I want sex'. It made me laugh. Some people might think he was being obnoxious, but he was kind of cute about it. It was funny.

He actually looked a little older than Nick. He was a bit taller and a little broader in the shoulders. Maybe he was a freshman and went to the high school and I just hadn't noticed him. That wouldn't be surprising. Seeing them together did give me a good look at him. He was cute. He was wearing tight jeans that molded to his body. He also had a small bubble butt. It wasn't big or anything. He was pretty lean. It was just there. It looked good, especially how it looked in his jeans.

Seeing him so close to Nick was kind of sexy. I admit I pictured the two of them together in my head. I know I shouldn't do that for lots of reasons, but it was hard not to, if you know what I mean. I also noticed it seemed both he and Nick were hard when I got close. Yeah, I do look at other guy's crotches.

"Hey Nick, you ready to go? Did you call your Dad?"

"Oh, yeah, he said it was fine. Jaden was just clearing our table."

I smiled thinking 'hadn't he already done that?' I was curious though.

"You guys really didn't know each other before yesterday?" I asked. "I assumed you were in the same grade."

"I'm a freshman," said Jaden. "I've seen you around school. You probably never noticed me."

"Sorry," I said. "It's not a very big school, but I haven't been here that long. I know a couple freshmen but that's it."

"I should be a sophomore but my parents held me back for first grade."

That made Jaden closer to my age than Nick's. Not that it mattered. I didn't have any interest despite getting a little hard looking at his ass. I am a teenager, a gay teenager who likes a nice ass after all. It's okay to look and even have certain thoughts, but that's all it was. It might be one step above seeing a hot guy on the street, but that's all it was. Josh is all I want.

"Let's go Nick. I told Josh I'd be right there. Nice meeting you Jaden. Maybe I'll see you around school."

"See you later Nick," he smiled, with much more than an 'I'll see you later' smile. He definitely wanted more than just to see Nick later.

I did remember to leave some cash on the table before leaving. I even left a good size tip for Marc, bigger than I normally would. After all, it wasn't my money. I gave the rest to Nick as we walked out.

"Use this at the arcade," I said. "Hopefully, your father didn't want anything back." Nick took the money without saying a word. He was too busy looking back towards Jaden.

I smiled. I wanted the best for Nick and Danny but sometimes things don't work out like you want. At the very least, Jaden had taken Nick's mind off things for awhile. And it wasn't like he was a bad kid. Besides, he made me hard too.

"That boy likes you," I said, as we got into the jeep. I just meant to give Nick a hard time, but he didn't smile. "It's okay Nick."

"No, it's not. I can't be unfaithful to Danny. I won't."

"I know. And I'm not saying you should. Just cut yourself some slack."

"I got hard! I shouldn't have gotten hard."

I laughed. "You're fourteen. He's cute. He was obviously flirting. Of course you got hard. I noticed you both were. If it makes you feel better, I got a little hard too. I thought he was going to push you down on the table."

"That's what bothers me. I pictured him doing that too… And I'm not sure what I would have done if he had."

"Well, given it was in the middle of a restaurant, I hope you'd show some restraint," I smiled.

"That's not what I meant."

"I know. I'm just giving you a hard time. I'm your friend though. I'm on your side."

"Thanks."

Nick got quiet as we drove to the arcade. He did give me directions, but that's all he said. I glanced over every once in awhile but he was just looking out the window. I know he was worried about Danny, but he was also confused by his thoughts for Jaden. I think under the right circumstances he and Jaden would make a cute couple.

"You okay," I asked, as we drove into the parking lot.

"Yeah, I was just thinking."

"We'll figure something out Nick. I'm here for you. Josh is too."

"Ah, jeez," he said. "If you're here for me then I better not give you a hard time in front of Josh for getting hard looking at Jaden's ass."

I laughed. "Why not? He knows he's got nothing to worry about. And how do you know I didn't get hard picturing the two of you going at it on the table?"

"Well, if you want to watch that..."

"That's okay Nick. Some things are better left to the imagination. But for the record, Jaden does have a nice ass."

"Yeah, he does," he smiled.

"Now let's change the subject so we aren't both hard in front of Josh."

"No worries. But I've been hard in front of Josh before. He has a nice ass too."

I laughed. "Yeah, he does," I smiled. I wondered if I should be talking like this with a fourteen year-old, but then I remembered what I was like at that age and just shook my head. "Let's see if Josh and Scott are still at the restaurant."

Scott, Chris, Tommy and Josh came out of the restaurant as we got out of the jeep. They must have been watching as we drove up. I hadn't told Nick that Chris was with them. I doubt he knew Chris but I was hoping he and Scott could play arcade games while Josh and I talked with Chris. He definitely didn't look very good. Josh hadn't said what happened in his text but something obviously had. He looked worse than last night.

I looked around as they walked over. There was nobody in the parking lot because one, it was off-season, and two, it was the middle of the afternoon. I leaned in and gave Josh a quick kiss when they got close. Maybe it was the week in the hospital, or maybe it was last night, but I couldn't get enough of him. Even if it was just a quick kiss like now. I smiled when he pulled back frowning when I tried to slip him some tongue.

"God," said Chris. "You guys live together. Don't you get enough?"

"I haven't seen him in at least an hour and a half. My lips were going into withdrawal," I said, seeing Chris shake his head. "Don't say it," I laughed, when he started to say something. "There's an eight year-old here." Scott laughed, but hopefully he didn't know what Chris was going to say, or at least what I thought he might say. Just the same, I didn't want Chris to make any cracks about withdrawal. Nick said hello to Josh and Scott but held back looking at Chris and Tommy.

"Do you guys know each other," I asked? "Nick? This is Chris and his brother Tommy… Chris? This is Nick. Nick is in my karate class. Chris is the guy who decided to hate me my first day of school."

"That was a misunderstanding."

I laughed. "You ready to play arcade games munch? Maybe Nick can give you some tips so you'll be able to beat me."

"I can beat you anyway," he said.

"Just don't tell mom and dad we let you play the games where you shoot people. Here's some money. Why don't you and Tommy go get some tokens."

"Dan, I brought him. I've got this," said Josh. "Put your money away."

I smiled. It felt good seeing Josh step up. I leaned in to whisper into his ear so only he could hear me saying, "I hope you're that bossy in bed tonight." He still turned red.

It was a little chilly walking to the arcade. It was only on the other side of the mini-golf and go-karts, but it was windy. And it was November. Scott and Tommy ran ahead to buy tokens while Nick hung back with us. I think he wanted to play games as much as Scott and Tommy, but didn't want to appear as a little kid.

I wondered what was up with Chris. He hadn't said much. I knew something was going on with Ryan, but from what Josh had texted, something else had happened. I was curious, but knew he'd bring it up when he was ready. Maybe he was waiting until Nick wasn't around. Josh would fill me in later anyway.

"How was lunch?" asked Josh, looking at Nick. I'm sure he was curious too. He knew Danny a long time.

"It was good. It got me out of the house. I met your parents. You never knew them? That must be weird."

"Tell me about it," said Josh. "I had no clue. Plus, they thought I was dead. I'm still getting used to all that. They're nice though."

"Dan told me about Aaron. No offense, but that's pretty weird too. Out of all the places to move, he moved here and you sat right next to him? I would have freaked too."

Josh laughed. "It must be fate," he said, smirking. It made me wonder what Chris and Nick would see in the pictures. They'd probably think we were trying to see how gullible they are if we told them about last night but what would they see if they weren't biased one way or the other? I was curious, but I didn't even know how to ask something like that. Haha, I can see it now. Chris? Nick? Here's a picture, how many people do you see? Chris would probably say two and Nick three. That would be weird. Maybe I could say it's one of those hidden pictures. I smiled thinking it would be funny, but not funny enough to open that can of worms.

"How was your lunch?" I asked, instead, putting my arm around Josh as we got to the arcade. I think he was surprised, but he didn't pull away. In fact, he moved a little closer.

The arcade was in another building near the batting cages. I saw Scott and Tommy already hard at it playing some game where you shoot zombies. It looked like they were having a competition. It was probably good my parents weren't there. They don't like games like that. I wasn't really into arcade games either. I think Nick wanted to play, but he stayed with us while we stood at the small snack bar talking.

"Lunch was good," said Josh. "At least until Ryan's mother accused me of being a child molester."

"What?? How did that happen?"

"She what?" asked Chris, at the same time. "Was that what all that was about? What did she do?"

Josh explained what happened. The part with Scott and Ryan's sister was cute, but I was pissed after I found out what Ryan's mother did. Josh handled it well though. Much better than I would have. He was pissed, but he thought about Scott, not wanting him to hear too much. The way he told it, I'm not even sure Scott knew what she had implied. That wouldn't have happened if I'd have been there. I would have unloaded on her.

"What a bitch," I said. "Who would do that?"

"She was fine until she found out I was your boyfriend rather than Scott's brother. What does that have to do with anything? I know people have stereotypes about gays, but do they really think there's a bogeyman behind every tree? I just didn't want to argue with her in front of Scott. It's not like it would have done any good. Scott would just have heard all that much more. That's why I called your parents. We even used Scott's phone so she'd believe they were his parents. That's when Chris showed up."

"I repeat, what a bitch, but I'm proud of you," I said, giving him another kiss. "I wouldn't have been so calm."

"I can't believe she did that," said Chris. "She's always been a worrier about stuff like that, but to actually accuse you? I'm sorry she did that. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. I was pissed, but I've calmed down. The question is, are you okay Chris? What can we do to help?"

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know what's going on. Ryan's been avoiding me for a week and now I find out he's not going away for Thanksgiving when he said he was? Maybe all the stuff he's told me about how much he loves me is bullshit."

"He lied to you? Do you want to track him down? Josh and I will hold him while you beat some sense into him."

"Thanks, that's tempting, but I just want to know what's going on. He's been acting weird ever since you got hurt. He kept putting off coming to see you in the hospital. That's why I didn't come so much. I'm sorry about that."

"No worries. I was out of it a lot of the time. I might not have known if you were there or not." That wasn't quite true, but he didn't need to know that.

"I still should have come."

"It's okay. I forgive you," I smiled. "Do you want us to try talking to Ryan? I can give him a call… or Josh can, if you think that's better. I promise I won't go off on him. I'm thinking we kidnap him though, take him to an out-of-the-way place, and make him tell you what's going on. If you don't like his answer..."

"Dan, be serious," said Josh.

"Who said I wasn't?"

"It's tempting, but let me try talking to him," said Chris. "He's my boyfriend after all. At least I think he is. Maybe I'll just show up at his house."

"We're more than happy to provide backup," I said. "All joking aside, just for moral support."

"Thanks, no offense, but you two showing up with me might not go over so well. His parents just think we're good friends. They might wonder."

"I'm glad I'm not the only one with boyfriend problems," said Nick. "Not that I'm happy you're having trouble, but I'm glad I'm not alone."

"Maybe we could form a club," said Chris.

"That's one club I never want to join," I said, pulling Josh close and giving him another kiss. He was a little nervous showing affection in a public place, but didn't pull away even though a couple of people noticed. They didn't say anything though. Maybe it was everything that had happened, but I didn't care anymore. Josh was my boyfriend and I loved him. I smiled and told him so. Why shouldn't we be able to show our affection in public just like anyone else?

"You two are so sickeningly sweet. You make me sick. I'd say get a room, but I know you already have one. I'm surprised either one of you gets any sleep," said Chris. At least he was smiling.

"Would you rather we go back to the days we were avoiding each other?"

"Who was avoiding who?" asked Josh. "And don't even think about that. I know where you sleep."

"In your arms for ever and ever," I smiled.

"Oh my God," said Chris. "Nick, let's play some video games. We can have our first club meeting and compare boyfriend problems. Anything is better than these two. I'm getting a sugar high around them."

"That's better than the high Nick had yesterday," I laughed, as they walked away, shaking their heads. At least they were smiling, so maybe I hadn't gotten carried away.

"I love you. I'm just glad you can kick ass if you're going to kiss me in public," he said, smiling with his hands on my shoulders. I thought I might have to use that talent when I heard someone nearby say 'faggots,' but when I turned, I saw Tim smirking behind me.

"Pathetic straight boy," I laughed. "Bring it on."

"You're looking good Dan. I'm surprised to see you here. Didn't you just get out of the hospital?"

"Yesterday. I must heal quick," I said. "Is this where you come on dates? I'm sure that impresses Abby."

"Abby is away for Thanksgiving. I'm here with my brother and cousin. You remember him, right? He came to your party. He's not as big of an asshole as I thought."

"Joey, right? Lucky you. Want to trade? My cousin is coming tomorrow, and unfortunately, he is as big of an asshole as I think. I promised my parents I'd be good though." I laughed. "I was just thinking. You're really outnumbered in the gay to straight ratio in here, especially if you leave out the kids."

"And how is that any different from every day at lunch? I think you all just want my bod."

"Not me," I said. "Josh has the only bod I want. And he seems to like mine too, so it works out well. Do you want details?" I asked, laughing.

Tim rolled his eyes. "That's okay Dan. Spare me the homo-erotic details, or else I'll make you listen to all kinds of hetero-erotic stories."

"You mean the fiction you make up in your mind when you jerk off?"

"Asshole," said Tim, laughing.

"Now you're getting the idea," I smiled. "You can fantasize all you want, but you're not getting near my ass."

"Dan, quit tormenting the straight boy," said Josh. "You know he's just jealous."

"Jealous of what?" asked Joey, who had just walked over. "Hi Dan... Josh... you probably don't remember me. I was at your party."

"Actually, we were just talking about you. You left with Jim Logan from what I remember."

"Jim and I are friends," he smiled, with a knowing look.

"Right, friends," smirked Tim. "They're fuck buddies. Nothing more, nothing less."

"Now you know what he's jealous of," I laughed.

"Fuck you," said Tim.

"See what I mean? Jealous! Face it Tim, you're outnumbered. You'd better stop. We could keep it up all day if you want."

"I bet you could," he said. "I'm going to go check on my brother. I know when to quit."

Josh, Joey and I laughed when he walked away. "It's good to see you guys again," said Joey. "If it wasn't for you, I'd still be using my hand."

I smiled. "So you and Jim are getting along?"

"We really are just friends. We're not boyfriends or anything. We don't want that. We just have an arrangement. We get together from time to time," he said, smiling. "It works out well and I'm more comfortable being myself. I've met some new friends. We've all got the same arrangement. It's hot. Sometimes it's just Jim and me, sometimes there's three of us and sometimes there's more. We had a five-some once. We play gay truth or dare. If you guys want to join in I'm sure we can accommodate two more."

"Ah, thanks, but no thanks, Joey. Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to someone doing that. I can see where that could be hot. It's just not for me."

"Me neither," said Josh. "Dan is all I want."

"I'm too young for the commitment thing. My goal is to do as many gay boys as possible before I settle down. I'd even do a straight boy if he's willing. You know what they say… the difference between a straight boy and a gay boy is a six-pack," he laughed.

"Not for me. Sorry. Just be careful," I said.

"Oh, I'm always careful. I don't have to worry about my condoms passing their expiration date," he laughed. "You guys should think about it. Your mouths say no but your cocks are saying something else. You're both being kind of obvious."

He was right. Josh and I were both hard. That didn't mean I was interested in what Joey was describing. It also didn't mean the thought of four or five naked guys didn't make me hard. Pretty much anything sexual with guys made me hard. Josh too. We may be the monogamous type but we're still gay teenagers.

"Come on," he said. "Wouldn't you guys like to be part of a hexagon?"

"Hexagon? Do I want to know what that is?"

"It's where six guys lie around a room, one on his back, the next face down alternating. They're give each other blowjobs. All that moaning and slurping, it's hot. The goal is to be the last one to cum. You two could make it an octagon," he smiled. "We might need a bigger room though."

"No thanks," said Josh. "My goal is to never use a condom. I love the feel of Dan cumming inside me. It makes me cum so hard. All over his chest. Then I get to lick it up and we share it."

Josh saying that definitely made me laugh, as well as put images in my head. Sexy images. I was surprised he actually said it. Not that I was mad, but it was so unlike him. Maybe he is more confident in things now, or maybe he wanted to shock Joey in order to get him to shut up, I don't know. What I do know is that if my cock wasn't hard before he said it then it certainly was now. That was hotter than anything Joey had said. I hoped he intended on making his words a reality. It was definitely a good thing the place wasn't very crowded and we were pretty much drowned out by the arcade games. This conversation had definitely gone into X-rated territory.

Joey just shrugged. "Whatever, I always use a condom so I wouldn't know" he said, but fortunately stopped talking because Scott came over and wanted more money.

"Who are you asking?" I wondered. "Josh wouldn't let me give you anything before."

"Come on Dan. I need to beat Tommy's high score."

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