The Road of Dreams

by Geron Kees

Chapter 8

© 2016 by Geron Kees. All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. All characters and situations are imaginary. No real people were harmed in the creation of this presentation.

Brian led the others around the end of the water and up the path to the rocky ledge. The two guys from the Oldsmobile were standing with their backs to them when they arrived on the rock shelf, and Brian stopped and just stood there, watching them. Both guys were dressed in bathing suits and tee-shirts, and both were shoeless. The bearded boy was the taller and huskier of the two, maybe having two inches and ten pounds on Brian. The freckle-faced guy was slight of build, looked younger, and had a mild look about him that seemed not to conceal any hidden sharp edges.

There were others on the Front Porch, but they were clustered further down, and no one else was close to the boys in question. Those two stood close, talking and looking down into the water, oblivious to the small knot of teens now watching them.

Brian stepped a little closer, sensing Ed and Jeff at each side of him, each about one step back.

After a moment, the freckle-faced guy noticed them, and his eyes opened a bit, and he grabbed scraggily beard's arm. That boy also turned to look - and by the way he stared at them, Brian was certain he recognized them.

"What do you want?" he asked gruffly, his eyes darting back and forth among them. He casually shook off the freckle-faced boy's hand.

The guy had balls, that was for sure.

Brian took another step forward, and then felt the tension run out of him. He relaxed, just the way he did before a boxing match. His muscles became fluid, tough, ready to go. He took his towel and almost unconsciously handed it back to Annie in order to free up his hands. "What do you think?"

The other frowned. " Yeah. Well, sorry about that. You pissed me off."

Brian was so startled he laughed. "We pissed you off? How do you think we feel about what you did to us?"

The dark-haired boy gave a little huff, and shrugged. "I got a bad temper. Sometimes I do stupid shit. Sorry to scare you."

"You stupid fuck, I'd like to push your face in," Ed growled, waving a fist. "Fuck - that was some bullshit, dude!"

Brian just stared at the guy. Was he for real? "You...you feel like that's enough, man? 'Sorry you scared us?' You almost wrecked my car. You could have killed us."

"Fuck is wrong with you?" Jeff put in, anger apparent in his tone. "You shouldn't be allowed on the road if you can't drive."

Freckles was looking nervous now. He took a small step back and edged just a bit behind his larger companion.

Scraggily-beard took notice of the fact, and grimaced. "You're scaring my little brother."

It was an odd and jarring bit of input, and for a second Brian was simply amazed that his first thought in response was, they don't look anything alike.

"So - what? You wanna kick my ass?" the other boy continued. "Like that'll help. I said I was sorry." But his eyes seemed to belie that sentiment, somehow. That the Olds driver was a little hyped seemed plain. Hyped - and what?

He wants me to do something, Brian realized.

Ed took a step forward, but Brian raised an arm to stop him. Ed looked at him incredulously. "You gonna let this prick get away with this, Bry?"

Brian gave Ed a look. "Just wait a second."

Freckles again took the bearded boy's arm. "Come on, Brad. Let's go," he whispered.

Brian watched the bearded boy - Brad - as he thought about that, and slowly shook his head. "Just be quiet a minute, Casey."

Brad sighed, and looked back at Brian. "Can my brother go sit over there?" He pointed at where the shelf raised a foot or two against the back wall, forming natural seats. "He's not in this."

Brian nodded. Brad turned to look at Casey, and tossed his head, indicating that he should go and sit. Casey immediately looked disinclined to leave his brother, and moved closer to him.

"Go," Brad said softly. "Casey - please."

The freckle-faced boy looked again at Brian's crowd. "There's too many, Brad."

For the first time, some of the bearded boy's bravado seemed to slip. He let his eyes go momentarily to his brother's, and his gaze seemed somehow an apology. "Please, Case. Go sit. I need the room."

Casey sighed, scrunched his face up painfully, and looked almost pleadingly at Brian - but he nodded slowly, and went to sit on the low ledge.

Brad looked around himself, gauging his space; then he sighed, rolled his shoulders briefly like he was loosening himself up. He nodded at Brian. "Okay, buddy. Take your best shot."

Brian frowned. This was not going in any way as he had expected it to go, not at all. He hadn't really expected to trade blows with the guy - not really. Certainly, he hadn't expected the other to want to fight, when he was clearly in the wrong. He had expected the guy to yell, to maybe be defensively angry - but not act like this. Not just kind of blasé about the whole thing. Something was wrong with this guy - or something.

Brian let his eyes slide first to Jeff, then back to Ed. "Don't do anything yet."

Jeff nodded, but Ed stared at him a moment, looking like he didn't believe what was happening. "Fuck, Bry!"

Brian risked a look at him, and Ed made a noise, but stepped back.

Brian returned his eyes to the bearded boy, noting his stance, his readiness. Brian had been boxing for too long not to know when he was facing another fighter. But the Olds driver did not stand like a boxer, and only the patient look in the guy's eyes gave away that he was simply waiting for Brian to make a move.

So that he could take advantage of it.

Brian smiled. "Asshole."

Brad's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. He did have a temper.

Brian nodded. "You really think some piece of shit Oldsmobile could take my car? I had four people with me and I still blew you off the road."

Brad's lips compressed. "It shouldn't have happened." He shook his head. "I don't...I don't get beat."

Brian smiled again. "Well, you did. And it wasn't pretty - especially after you acted like a little girl and had a temper tantrum."

Brad's lips compressed further, and anger filled his eyes. "Are you gonna hit me or what?" he grated.

Brian nodded. "Okay."

He took a quick step towards the other and jerked his right shoulder forward at the same time - and then stepped back just as quickly.

But Brad had already become a blur as he came up on the ball of one foot and launched into a spin, his other leg coming out. Brian blinked in surprise as the other boy's foot went by only inches from the end of his nose, contact avoided only by Brian's already reversed motion.

Brian settled back onto his feet even as Brad stopped turning and settled himself into a slight crouch, his arms twitching, obviously scrubbing an intended follow-up as he realized that the foot had missed and the distance between them increased. He looked shocked, his eyes finding Brian's and going wide at that fact that he was untouched.

Brian nodded, glad that he had been right to check out what his senses had been warning him about. Brad was into martial arts of some kind, and the kick he had just tried to deliver would have knocked Brian senseless had he been there to receive it.

Brian couldn't stop from smiling. "You need to be faster than that."

Brad licked his lips, the first bit of doubt appearing in his eyes; and Brian suddenly realized with more than a little shock that the other boy really was not used to losing. It did explain an inability to deal with it, though in no way excused it. How could anyone never lose? It didn't seem possible.

"What is it?" Brian asked. "Karate, or something?"

Brad just stared at him. "Or something." But then he grinned, fire returning to his nerve. "Wanna try that again?"

Brian nodded. "Okay."

He stepped forward, arms up, alert to signs that the other boy was going to use his feet again, but also noting the tenseness of Brad's shoulders, the readiness of his hands.

Brad let him get within arm's reach before Brian saw the telltale flicker of eyes, and the tensing in the other boy's calves and right shoulder. Brian tucked himself behind a defensive arm and danced to one side as Brad surged forward, his right arm coming out.

It happened very quickly, and Brian didn't see it all. He blocked the other boy's right thrust to his face, and the follow up left intended for his diaphragm, to rob him of his breath. He ducked his head and leaned into a powerful punch with his right, connecting solidly with Brad's right cheek even as a third motion of the other boy's blocked left arm brought it back around, allowing the back of his hand to smack jarringly against Brian's jaw.

They both stepped back at the same time; but Brian shook off the more minor blow, and settled now into a fighting stance; while Brad took an additional step back, one hand going to his eye. The other eye stared at Brian in amazement. "You hit me."

Brian was so dumfounded he laughed. "Yeah. And I intend to do it again, too. It's a fight - or didn't you know that?"

Brad dropped his hand from the wounded eye - it was already developing a shine.

Casey came to his feet. "Oh, Brad - you got a black eye!"

Brad looked at Brian, and Brian could see the fury building in the boy's eyes. Brad came forward again in a shockingly sudden move, his upper torso alive with motion as he let go a combination move extremely difficult to block. Brian was on autopilot; he deflected the first hand and blocked the second, but it slid off his arm somehow and got through with less force, and bounced off of Brian's ribs. Brian twisted in the middle of the block and went inside the other's guard, and landed a forceful right-left-right combo to the other boy's belly that caused him to gasp in pain and double over, to fall to his knees. Brian danced back - only then realizing he'd also been hit in the mouth somehow, and that his lip was already feeling numb.

Casey came at Brian then, but Ed and Jeff both grabbed him and drew him to a stop. But Casey wasn't trying to attack. "Don't hurt him! Please! He's all I got!"

The words stopped Brian cold. He stood still, looking down at Brad, who had had the wind knocked out of him so badly that he was struggling to get up - and not making it.

Brian took a deep breath and stepped back out of range. But Brad was not getting up just yet.

Brian looked at Casey, at the desperate plea in his eyes. "What do you mean?"

Casey seemed shocked that Brian had stopped and was now talking to him. "He's all I got," he repeated, in a whisper. "It's just him and me."

Brian moved closer to Casey, not taking his eyes off of Brad. "Where are your parents?"

"They died. A truck killed them." Casey's face was white, as though he was reliving the moment behind the bright stare of his eyes.

Brian was stunned. "You guys live alone? How is that? You guys aren't old enough to be on your own."

"We live with our grandmother," Casey returned, staring at his fallen brother. But then his eyes came up to touch Brian's. "But she's old. In a few years she'll be gone." He shook his head. "You can't kill Brad. I need him."

Brian stared at the boy, shocked. "I'm not gonna kill your brother, man."

"Shut up, Casey," Brad finally managed, gasping around the words. "Don't tell him anything."

"No! You were wrong, Brad. What you did was wrong. You should say you're sorry, so we can go home. I don't want to be here anymore!"

Brian studied the younger boy's face, saw a hint of the tangle of dark things that lay behind his green eyes. Fears and doubts - and needs. Insecurities, by the bushel basket full. It hurt to see what was there.

Jeff looked like he saw it, too. He released his hold on Casey, leaving only Ed's hand on one of the boy's wrists to act as a detainer.

Brian nodded. "I'm done, Casey. You guys don't even have to go. This is all over." He turned to Brad. "Are you done? Or do you still need to prove how tough you are?"

Brad was still gasping for air, and the look he gave Brian was anything but conciliatory. But behind the glare of dislike was something else - a small, hurt, wounded thing, like an abrasion of the soul, all tortured edges and rough healing. Brian had just knocked the scab off of it, and it was open again - and bleeding.

Casey's face compressed. "Say you're sorry, Brad."

Brad looked like he'd rather die on the spot. He glared at his brother, then at Brian. "I already said I was sorry."

Casey shook off Ed's hand, and went to crouch by his brother, putting an arm around his shoulders and giving him a squeeze. Brad stiffened as though he had been electrocuted - but he looked up at his brother, and did not try to shake off the arm.

"Please, Brad." Casey's voice was soft. "I wanna go home. And I want you to come with me, okay?"

Brad stared into his brother's eyes, and Brian could see the softening of the hard knot that Brad had inside. For just a moment the world seemed upside down, like Brad was the younger boy, and Casey the older and wiser. Casey seemed to see the change in his brother, and a smile tugged at his lips. Brad came very close to smiling himself - but nodded instead. "Okay, Case. We'll go home."

Casey sighed in relief, and helped his brother to his feet. Brad circled an arm around the younger boy's shoulders, leaning on him, and rubbed his other hand on the tenderness in his middle, taking a few deep breaths. He looked at Brian. "I'm sorry about what happened."

That it was an effort on Brad's part was obvious. What Brian couldn't understand was why it was so hard for Brad to admit he had made a mistake.

Brian just nodded.

Somehow, that seemed to sit well with Brad. "So what were you using? I've never seen it before."

Brian shrugged. "Just boxing."

"Really?" Disbelief was plain in Brad's eyes. "You're fuckin' fast, too."

Brian heard a snort from Jeff, but didn't let it distract him. "Little bit."

Brad sighed. "Shit." His face worked through several attempts to arrive at an expression he could deal with, before finally settling into one of mild disgust. "I really didn't mean to do what I did. I just - lost it. I thought - shit, I don't know what I thought. I couldn't believe you took me with all those damn people in your car."

Brian shook his head. "Then why all this crap? Couldn't you have just said you fucked up, and you were sorry?"

Brad made an even more unhappy face. "I'm not good at that."

Brian couldn't help giving a little laugh. "So - you were gonna kick my ass, if I had just tried to swing at you?"

Brad frowned, as though reviewing his intentions. "Yeah. Sorry. That's kinda fucked up, huh?"

"Uh - yeah." Brian shook his head. This guy was damaged goods, somehow. Something was wrong - something Brian didn't understand. He frowned. "I've never seen you or your car before. I know you don't go to Proctor. You don't go to Kennedy, either, do you?"

"No. I go to West Run."

"Shit. I didn't know anyone could even drive at West Run." The remark was out of his mouth before Brian could stop it. That school was the smallest high school in the county, and noted for the slimness of its offerings in every area where schools competed.

For a second it looked like Brad might take offense; but then he smiled. "A few of us do."

Brian nodded. "I know. You have a pretty car, and it runs okay. It's stock, though, isn't it?'

Brad frowned. "It's got headers and a hi-rise on it."

Brian smiled. "That's basically stock. For what it is, it runs damn good. But...it's not really up to taking on something that's built."

"Your car is built up?"

Brian nodded. "Yeah. And not just a little. I'll bet I have well over a hundred horses on you." He shrugged. "Nobody is unbeatable, you know? Me, either. Someone out there is going to have my Bee for lunch one day. I just haven't met 'em yet."

Brad licked his lips. "Maybe. Yeah." He nodded. "Look. I really am sorry I messed with you guys. We were just out to have a good time, come here and swim." He gave Casey a small squeeze. "Have some time together. I'm sorry I messed that up with my stupid temper."

Brian nodded. "If I come a little closer, you won't try me again, will you?"

Brad grinned. "I guess not."

Brian laughed at the sound of it. But he stepped closer and looked at Brad's right eye. "Hurt? In the eye, I mean?"

"Mostly the cheek."

"Good. No blood in the eye, and I was pretty sure I hit below it. Might be some shock damage later - might get a little bloodshot in the white of your eye - but I think you'll live."

Brad squinted at him, and then let his eyes move to Jeff and Ed and the others. "This - this isn't how I thought this would go when I saw you guys standing there. I thought you'd be - well, you guys are pretty cool. You know?"

Brian could see now that Brad had a few devils of his own inside his head. It wasn't just his brother who had insecurities.

"What did you think would happen?" Jeff asked.

Brad gave a little shake of his head. "I don't know. I figured you'd want to fuck me up. I couldn't let you do that."

Brian nodded slowly. Yeah, something wasn't right in this guy's thinking. He smiled. "We're here for the same thing as you two - to swim and have a nice day."

Brad looked like that pleased him to consider. He turned and smiled at Casey. "You still want to go?"

Casey looked pointedly at Brain. "Are you guys done fighting?"

"I am. You keep your arm around your brother like that, and I doubt he'll hit me again, either."

Casey beamed, and gave Brad another squeeze. "It's a deal."

Brad rolled his eyes, and looked somehow embarrassed, but did not shake off his brother's fond grasp. The two locked eyes for a moment, and even Brian could see the affection they had for each other. For some reason, it caused him to look over at Jeff and smile.

Jeff smiled back, his eyes twinkly with reflected sunlight, and Brian felt a light, fluttery feeling inside. Ah, love.

"So," Brian continued, leaning a little closer to Brad. "You guys smoke?"

Brad smiled, and Casey looked delighted.

"I do," Brad said quickly, "but Casey doesn't."

Casey immediately gave his brother a shove. "I do, too!"

Brad rolled his eyes again, but when they came back to Brian's they held a smile deep inside of them. "I guess we do."

Brian grinned. "Well, let's go and discuss that, then."

Brad looked surprised, but nodded. "Okay. Let's."


They hadn't realized it, but half the quarry had paused to watch the two guys scrambling in plain view up on the rocky shelf. After it was over, while Brian and his friends had settled down with the two newcomers, they heard the sound of feet negotiating the rocky dirt path up to the Front Porch. Ed Routh and Mike Zurka appeared, with Mike's girlfriend Molly in tow. They all looked happily stoned, and somehow relieved when they saw Brian and the others seated with the guy it looked like Brian had been fighting with.

"Thought you guys were going to war," Mike said, collapsing into a loose, cross-legged sit across from them. His eyes were red and his smile a little silly. "We came up to help carry that guy, if need be." He pointed at Brad, who paused in just putting Ed's mini bong to his lips.

"Gee, thanks," Brad said.

Mike didn't get the sarcasm, and just nodded, "No problem, dude. Glad you can still walk on your own."

Ed - who looked less than happy about it, but who was going along with Brian on this - waved a lit Bic at the bowl on the bong. "You gonna smoke, or talk?"

Brad's eyes flicked at Ed, but he just nodded and pulled the bong to his lips. Ed lit him, and Brad carefully toked down, until the last embers disappeared down the stem beneath the bowl with a small slurp.

The Olds driver's eyes closed, and his chest heaved, but he managed to hang onto the hit long enough for it to have effect. When he finally sighed it out, and his eyes opened, they held just the smallest bit of glaze to them. "Whew. Rush and a half."

That actually brought a smile from Ed, who had a soft spot for anyone who liked his favorite mood modifier. "It's pretty good shit, for homegrown."

Brad blinked at him. "Really? I'll say." He smiled. "You kind of look like someone who could grow pot like this."

Ed looked astounded, and grinned at Brian.

Brian laughed. "Ed didn't grow it - but you're right - he looks a lot like the guy who did."

Ed gave him a look; but the smile in his eyes said he was eating up the compliment.

Brad handed the bong back to Ed. "Smaller hit for my brother, okay?"

Casey looked annoyed. "I can do it, Brad."

"I know you can, squirt. I would have taken a smaller hit myself if I'd known how good it was. Just trust me, okay?"

Casey frowned, but nodded, and Ed put a smaller hit into the bowl and handed the bong to the younger boy. Casey took it, briefly smelled the bong's tube - wrinkled his nose, and brought it up near his lips. "Water needs changing."

Ed smiled. "It's beer."

Casey's mouth formed an "O" of surprise; then he grinned. "Oh - okay. Sorry."

Ed repeated the light for Casey, and the younger boy sucked down the hit just as carefully as his brother had done, and wrestled just as stoically with the smoke before coughing it out into the afternoon air. "Whoa. Damn."

"Good, huh?" Ed asked, now thoroughly delighted with the two new boys. Nothing warmed Ed's heart like sharing smoke with someone.

Jeff leaned forward and smiled at Casey. "How old are you?"

Casey looked momentarily defensive, but then emitted a smile of his own. "Fifteen. But I'll be driving in six months. My brother's going to teach me."

Annabelle, who was leaning gently against Brian's side, smiled. "Bet that will be interesting."

Brian caught the double edge of her comment, but Casey didn't. He looked adoringly at his older brother, and smiled. "I can't wait."

Brad looked uncomfortable, but nodded at his brother. "Yep."

Ed went back to sit with Missy, curling an arm around the girl and leaning his face down against the tops of her breasts. Missy smiled and gazed up into the trees, not in any way trying to discourage him.

"Love these cabbages," Ed mumbled, and Brian grinned. His friend was a breast man, no doubt.

"You guys juniors or seniors?" Brad asked, settling his back against the stone wall and starting to look a little mellow.

"We're all juniors," Jeff said, before Brian could answer. Brian nodded.

"Really? You guys all go to the same school?"

"Proctor," Brian answered, finding Annie's hand and giving it a squeeze.

"Kennedy here," Jeff said, raising a hand.

"I don't go to school," Dave Routh mumbled, elbowing Mike and laughing. "Just drop in to visit once and a while."

Both boys laughed, obviously finding the statement somehow funnier than it really was. Brian stifled a smile of his own, realizing that the two of them were severely buzzed and not to be taken seriously.

Jeff was seated to Brian's right, and Brian felt the other boy lean just a little harder against him. They were all sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, and another few pounds of pressure would not be noticed by the others. Brian used his upper arm to press more intimately against his boyfriend, and couldn't miss the small smile that Jeff turned his way.

Brad gave a little sigh. "I've been by your schools before. You guys both have a lot of nice cars in the parking lot."

"Not that way where you go?" Brian asked.

"Oh - yeah, it is. Not like you two have. But your schools are bigger. Our senior class is probably half the size of yours."

Brian felt his eyebrows go up a little. "You're a senior?"

Brad nodded. "Yeah - I mean, I will be this year coming."

Oh. Shit, I am stoned, Brian thought. "Yeah, we'll all be seniors this coming year, too."

Wade Tomlinson showed up then, with Tim the GTX guy, from Kennedy. Both boys looked sun-browned and very appealing in Speedo bathing suits. Brian nodded at them and then looked away, feeling like he was radiating lust. Pot did that to him, sometimes.

"Is it all over?" Wade asked, grinning. He already knew the answer, from the relaxed way everyone looked.

Tim looked at Brian. "We saw the end of it from down on the beach. Couldn't tell if you were having fun, or really going at it."

Brian, feeling mellow now, grinned at Brad, and then at Tim. "We were just playing."

Tim's eyes settled on Brad's black eye before coming back to Brian's. "Uh huh." He leaned forward, staring. "You have a fat lip."

Brian touched his lip gently with his tongue, and nodded. "Whoops."

Brad gave a small laugh, and Brian imitated it. Tim smiled, nodding, and went to squat by Ed. "Got your mini with you?"

The day wore on slowly. Other members of the Proctor crowd joined them, and everyone was talking about the party the night before, and everyone seemed a little stoned. Despite that, they smoked a little more, and swam some in the cool waters. Brian's lip hurt now, and his ribs were bruised where Brad had connected with him. The cool waters did wonders for both. Brad's eye was going to be a shiner, and by the time they all decided they were hungry and wanted to go somewhere to eat, Brian could tell that the other boy was hurting.

"Sorry about the eye," he told him, as they all walked back towards the cars. He didn't know if it would be appreciated, but Brian felt a need for a physical connection to the other that was not delivered with the momentum of a thrown rock. He dropped a hand carefully on Brad's shoulder, gave it just a small squeeze.

Brad shrugged, apparently not bothered by the brief touch. "Yeah. My fault. Sorry about your lip." Brad looked briefly into the canopy, as if counting leaves; and then his eyes came back to settle on Brian's. "I don't know what's wrong with me. My temper is kind of fucked up ever since the accident. Sometimes it's like I just flip out. I don't mean to do it, really." He licked his lips. "It's embarrassing."

Brian could understand that. The thought of losing his own parents was infinitely sobering. "I can see how you'd be angry."

Brad leaned a little closer, his eyes briefly going past Brian to touch upon his brother, who was happily discussing weed with Ed now. "Me and Casey were in the back seat when it happened. The truck rolled over the front of the car, right where my parents were, and cut the car in half. Broke my left leg and Casey's right arm. Other than that, we just got scratches." A small look of disbelief came onto his face. "The car was stopped when we got hit. Afterwards, all I could see was truck in front of us where the front seat had been."

Brian stared at Brad, a slow feeling of horror coming over him. "Man. That really sucks."

"Yeah. It did. It's fuckin' unfair, man. You know? Some stupid-ass slob falls asleep at the wheel of his Peterbilt and drives it over my mom and my dad." He shook his head. "I wanted to kill that guy so bad."

"What happened to him?"

"Guys that drive like that are supposed to take breaks after certain amounts of time on the road. This guy didn't do it. He was in a hurry." Brad went silent, his gaze going off into the trees again. Brian waited patiently for him to continue.

Brad made a small sound of contempt. "He got five years in jail," he said, shaking his head. "Five years, for killing my parents."

Brian felt overwhelmed. "That's not much time for that."

Brad shook his head. "No." He looked back at Brian. "Me and Casey got life."

Brian suddenly felt he understood better the reason for the other boy's anger, and maybe for the strange way he saw the world. And for Casey's attachment to his older brother. They were survivors, and going through all the complex changes to their realities that that condition entailed. He nodded, looking away, feeling his own emotions roil inside of him. Thoughts passed through his head quickly - thoughts with no names, just faces.

"You know where the shopping center is in Alna?"

Brad nodded. "Sure."

"That's where we hang out." Brian looked at Brad again. "You ever feel you need company - that's where you can find us most evenings."

Brad watched him a moment, his eyes searching Brian's. But then his mouth quirked, and a small smile came out of hiding. "Okay. Thanks."

They walked Brad and Casey back to the Olds, spent a few minutes looking under the hood and at the car's interior. Brad was obviously proud of the car, and Brian could see how much the Olds meant to him. That it was taking the place of other things in Brad's life now, crossed Brian's mind.

Brad and Casey opted not to accompany them to Mickey Dee's for some munchies. They said their goodbyes at the Olds, and then Brian and the others watched as the two brothers drove off up the rutted lane.

Brian was aware of Jeff beside him, then felt his boyfriend's fingers interlace with his own. "I love you, Brian." Jeff's voice was scarcely above a whisper.

Brian smiled. "Any particular reason you're telling me now?"

Jeff nodded. "Just because - because you know when someone needs a kind word instead of a smack in the face."

Brian looked at him more closely, and laughed. "Uh - that was me that gave Brad a smack in the face. That's where that black eye came from."

Jeff squeezed his fingers. "You know what I mean." Jeff leaned closer. "I was thinking - we still have three hours until dinner time. I'm wondering if we could persuade Ed and Missy to be dropped off so that you and me could go to the Winnie for a while."

Brian frowned. "What about Annie?"

Jeff grinned. "So that you and me and Annie could go to the Winnie for a while."

Brian laughed. " I love your sense of subtlety."

Jeff raised his eyebrows. "Fuck subtle. I'm horny as a motherfucker."

Brian nodded, feeling a small rush in his crotch just at the idea. The others were just ahead - he gave Jeff's hand another squeeze, then moved ahead and caught up to Ed and drew him aside, and explained things as they walked along.

"Fuckinay," Ed said, grinning. "Love marches on." He leaned closer. "Missy just told me her folks are out until this evening. So if you drop us at her place, I'm sure we'll find shit to do to keep us occupied."

Brian laughed, and drifted back to Annie. She watched him come, and smiled at his arrival, and put an arm around his waist as he dropped one around her shoulders. "Why do I feel like you're up to something, Brian?"

"Because I am, little girl. Ed and Missy want to be dropped off at Missy's house - her folks are out. That just leaves you and me and Jeff - and he wants us to come by the Winnie for a while. What do you think?"

She eyed him, a look of delight creeping into her eyes. "I say let's go."

Brian turned and motioned Jeff forward, and his boyfriend came up to walk beside him. "Well?"

"Let's do it," Brian said.

They hit the road, doing a fast drive-by of Mickey Dee's and picking up some burgers and fries, which they ate on the way home. They cruised by the shopping center, noted that no one was really there, and then dropped Missy and Ed off at the girl's house.

"That was a wild afternoon," Ed said to Brian, as he got out of the car with Missy. He winked, gave Brian a little poke. "You realize we barely touched the beer we bought?"

Brian nodded. "So? It'll be there for next time."

"Uh - can Miss and I get a couple?"

Brian grinned, shut off the Bee, and handed Ed the keys. "Be my guest."

He waited while Ed got two beers, smiling at the look of anticipation on the faces of Jeff and Annie. They smiled back - he must have looked the same.

The trunk lid closed with a thunk, and Ed reappeared at the window and handed Brian his keys. "Call me after dinner, okay?" He patted Brian's arm where it lay on top of the door. "We can trade war stories."

Brian laughed, and felt the small jab that Annie gave him in response. He looked at her. "Hey - I never kiss and tell."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah. Guys never do."

They waved at Ed and Missy, who waved and then walked towards Missy's front door, bumping their hips together in a prelude to closer things. Annie sighed, and leaned her head against Brian's shoulder, and Jeff made a satisfied sound and turned up the radio a bit. Motley Crue's, Looks That Kill filtered in around them.

The drive to Jeff's was pleasant, with some tunes on the radio, a little fun conversation, and a beautiful if sultry afternoon outside the car. Brian's lip was feeling a little swollen now, and it made his speech sound almost lispy to his ears. At one point Annie leaned forward to look at him, and grimaced. "Hurt?"

"A little. How's it look?"

She squinted at him. "You can tell it's a little swollen, but it's not huge."

Brian frowned. "I'd just as soon not have to tell my folks about it."

Jeff leaned forward to look, too. "It's not that bad, Brian. Unless you stand there and let them look at you a while, I doubt they'll notice."

Brian shrugged. It was pretty hard to have a conversation with anyone and not stand there where you could be seen. He'd be going home for dinner, and who knows how his lip might look by then. He could just make up something...or not.

Brian had certain ideas about lying to people. Once you started, you left behind you a certain level of trust. It never came back, either, he thought. Once people started not to believe you, you were done.

He just nodded, rather than say anything more.

Brian pulled up behind Jeff's Camaro and shut off the engine. Somehow, all three of them looked over at the Winnebago at the same time.

"Home, sweet home," Jeff said.

They got out of the car. "Anyone want a beer before we go in?" Brian asked, waving his keys at the trunk of the car.

Jeff immediately shook his head. "I have Molson's in the refrigerator inside, if you want one. Come on in."

Annie stared up at the windows of the house as they approached the motor home, as if looking for observers.

Jeff grinned, and slowed to walk more closely beside her, and put a reassuring arm around her shoulders. "They're in France, Annie. It's just us."

Brian grinned, jumped to Annie's other side, and put his arm around her over top of Jeff's. "You have your hand on my girl, buddy."

Jeff smiled, and tried to pull his arm away, but Brian pinned it there, grinning. "I didn't say you had to let go."

Annie laughed. "Will you two stop it?"

"Why?" Brian demanded, slowing until the others stopped. "You don't like being touched by two guys who kind of like you?"

Annie's eyes twinkled as she looked up at him. "Um - well, when you put it like that --"

Brian nodded, started walking again. "Thought so."

They climbed the two steps up into the Winnie, and Jeff closed the door behind them. Brian immediately kicked off his shoes, and the others followed suit. Jeff grinned, went over and turned on the stereo, low, and sat down on the couch and looked back at them. Brian took Annie by the hand, and they went to sit with him. To Annie's surprise, Brian pushed her down first and then sat next to her, scooting against her to push her tightly against Jeff. "Your turn to be the middle of the sandwich, little girl."

Annie grinned, but didn't argue. Jeff leaned forward and smiled past her at Brian, his eyes bright. "You trying to tell me something?"

Brian leaned right across the girl and kissed him, pulling him close and holding him gently while he did it. Jeff responded with evident pleasure, and the kiss grew long, and warm, and very, very wonderful.

And slightly painful. Brian's lip was less thrilled at being compressed, but Brian simply told it to shut up, and enjoy it while it lasted.

Brian pulled back a little, smiled at his boyfriend. Jeff also smiled, and nodded. "Been waiting all day for that."

Brian looked at Annie, at the sweet smile on her face, the softness of her eyes. She gave a little wistful sigh. "Guys are so cute when they kiss."

Brian and Jeff both laughed. Jeff's eyes twinkled, and he darted his eyes a few times at Annie, suggestively.

They both went for her, each taking a cheek to kiss, and met in the middle, three mouths together, and then three tongues at play. It was arousing as hell, and Brian was hard in a split second. He pushed a hand gently behind Annie, fumbled at the clasp of her bikini top. Fortunately, he had wisely studied that damn thing at the quarry, with a mind to getting it undone, and so had an inkling of how it worked. It was a devilish device, that he supposed was invented by some mad genius from Pluto, and designed to withstand the probing fingers of all mere Earthmen. But he understood it now, and it posed no problem.

It popped free, and in another second her top fell away. Brian tossed it on the floor, and settled one hand on the nearest breast, his fingers gently rubbing and squeezing. Jeff mimicked him, a smile on his face, perfectly willing to take the time to learn how the other half lived.

Brian had an overwhelming desire to suck on that breast, and did so. He slid his hand underneath it, and lowered his face, and stuck out his tongue to sample the nipple with the tip. Again, Jeff mimicked him on the other one, the warmth of his face close to Brian's; and Annie made a small sound of delight and let her eyes roll back and then close. Jeff had let his hand slide down, and it was now laying upon Annie's belly as he worked on her breast; Brian found it, placed his own over it, and rubbed his boyfriend's fingers for a bit.

The softness, the warmth of it all, was unbelievably soothing. Annie's skin was smooth and sun-browned, except for the ends of her breasts, which had a soft whitish ring of skin around the darker areola. Brian pressed his lips into the small brown ring, using his teeth to nibble gently upon the nipple, causing Annie to start and giggle softly. Jeff raised his head a moment to watch what Brian was doing, and then joined in.

Jeff, also, was smooth and sun-browned, warm and soft against Brian's cheek. Even as he suckled himself on Annie's tit, he rubbed his cheek against Jeff's, his shoulder atop Jeff's.

Brian smiled, took Jeff's hand and gently slid it down to the waistband of Annie's swimsuit. They didn't stop there; Brian used his fingertips to lift the elastic ring and allow their hands access to the soft, neatly-trimmed bush upon the mound they found there. He could feel Jeff's arm tense, and he stopped moving, and went back to rubbing Jeff's fingers. Jeff made a soft sound - a maybe laugh - and his arm slowly relaxed.

Brian had been reading Penthouse Forum for a couple of years. The straight stuff didn't appeal to him like the occasional gay and freaky stuff did, but curiosity and imagination had prevailed. He also knew that a lot of what he saw there wasn't real - the fantasies of people more at ease with a pen than maybe with the warmth of another human being. But despite not believing that the stories were real, he was aware that the information they contained was, for the most part, sound. So he knew a bit more about what he was doing than if he'd never read the magazine at all.

He had read accounts of guys eating pussy, and somehow the idea had always more than mildly revolted him. It certainly did not appeal to him like a mouthful of dick did - he was, after all, really gay, even if Ed did call him bi. And it was a little amazing to him that he felt good with sticking the tip of his tongue into Jeff's browneye, but would buck with sticking it into Annie's pussy. But, it was what it was.

Fingers, on the other hand, were different.

He and Jeff peeled Annie's swimsuit off and tossed it onto the floor. Annie's face registered pleasure and surprise, which only increased as Brian probed gently into the warm and moist area between her legs with the tip of a finger. Jeff watched a moment, then slid his own hand down and gently pushed a finger in beside Brian's.

"How deep can I go?" Jeff whispered, as if Annie couldn't hear him. Brian smiled at his boyfriend, at the sweet innocence of the question, and leaned forward and kissed him briefly before pulling away and smiling into his eyes. "How long is your dick?"

Jeff looked startled, and then his face lit in a grin. "Oh - yeah." He laughed.

Annie gasped and closed her eyes, and Brian considered that this probably felt much like a couple of fingers up the butt - maybe even better. He tried to imagine that sensation coming from the front, and couldn't. How different it must be, to be a girl!

That this was experimentation, he was aware of. Brian briefly tried to imagine doing this with any other girl on the planet, and couldn't. Some subtle alchemy was at work here, some exotic formula based on the attractions of skin and mind and friendship.

I don't want a girlfriend, Brian realized then. But I do want Annie. I do care about her.

Something else he had read came to mind now. When he had read it, it had been immediately tantalizing, and the story had taken a spot in some rearward brain cells and claimed the space as its own. Now it came forward again, and a small thrill went through him as he considered it.

Annie, who was breathing softly through her mouth, seemed intent on starting something of her own. Her hands went searching, found stiff tents of bathing suit material in two locations, and decided to investigate their cause. Brian's middle gave off a small thrilled twinge of its own as her hand found its way inside his bathing suit, where her fingers slid gently over the length of his dick, and on down to gently massage his nuts. He saw then that her other hand was inside Jeff's suit, and the expression on his boyfriend's face was anything but displeased.

There was an amazing thrill to watching Jeff being touched, to seeing the reaction on his face. Because he had such strong feelings for Jeff, it was erotic as hell to see him being aroused, to witnessing something he was usually too close to to see in total. And by the way Jeff kept looking at him, Brian realized that his boyfriend was feeling some of the same thing. They were doing this together, despite the fact that their was a third person between them.

Fuck. Is this incredible, or what?

Brian leaned forward, helped Jeff out of his tee-shirt, received a like assistance in response. Annie withdrew her hands from their suits and pushed insistently at the waistbands; neither boy was unable to figure out what she wanted. They pulled their fingers out of her pussy, and divested themselves of their suits.

"I have an idea," Brian said, grinning, and briefly explained to them the idea he was having, based on the story he had read in Penthouse. They gaped at him, and at each other, before Annie closed her mouth into an excited smile and nodded. "I'll try that."

Jeff nodded. "Yeah. I have what we need, too."

He got up and went to the Winnie's bedroom in back, returned in a moment with a tube of K-Y. "Always prepared," he said, grinning at Brian.

He sat back on the couch and uncapped the tube, and wiped the lube over the head and length of his dick. Then he looked at Annie. "Your turn."

She nodded, got to her feet, and bent over and spread her butt cheeks. Jeff smiled, applied lube to a fingertip, and gently rubbed it into her browneye. "Hey - a girl's butt looks just like a guy's."

They all laughed. Jeff looked at Brian a moment and grinned, and then carefully pushed a fingertip into Annie's butt hole. She gasped, looking back over her shoulder at Jeff, then up at Brian. "Oh my god, is that what you guys feel?"

Brian laughed. "You never had anything up your butt before?"

She shook her head. "Why would I? I have a perfectly nice hole in front that I can reach to play with."

She had a point - although from what Brian had read in Penthouse, girls were not averse to using both openings for play. Annie just wasn't there yet.

Jeff pulled his finger out, set the tube of lube on the coffee table. "You need that for - you know?"

Annie immediately laughed. "I sure as hell don't think he will."

Brian nodded, helped Annie to sit back on Jeff's lap, watched as they joined forces to allow Jeff to slide his dick up into her butt. She winced a few times, but then gaped up at Brian once Jeff was in. "Geez, Brian, now I see why you guys like this."

Brian and Jeff both laughed. Brian nodded, came forward and squatted down, trying to find somewhere to put his legs so that he could get his dick up into Annie's pussy. Jeff had his legs spread, and Annie's legs were draped over his. That left room in the middle, but made it awkward for Brian to get his legs apart enough to scrunch down to get at what he wanted. The view was certainly nice, though, with the shaft of Jeff's dick disappearing into Annie's insides, while his nuts hung invitingly beneath.

Brian couldn't resist squatting for a moment, leaning in and kissing Jeff's balls, taking first one and then the other into his mouth to massage them with his tongue. He then licked the visible end of the shaft of Jeff's dick, right up to where it was thrust up inside the girl. Both of his friends made little appreciative noises, and Brian grinned.

He stood, bent over Annie and placed his hands down on the cushions to either side of his friends, and settled his weight onto his arms, and bent his legs. He smiled into Annie's eyes. "Help a guy inside?"

Annie grinned at him; but then he felt her hands down low, and then she was guiding him in. Again he felt the tight and warm and wet interior of her crotch.

"Oh my god," Jeff breathed. "Brian, I can feel your dick. It's almost like it's pressed against mine!"

Brian grinned. This was what the story had said. He tried a few preliminary thrusts, in and out gently, glorying in the feel of Jeff falling into synch with him below. Their shafts touched on each inward thrust, and their balls knocked together. It was amazing.

Annie immediately started to make noises, gasping and rolling her eyes and just looking caught in the depths of something incredible. Her tits jiggled up and down with their joint movements, causing him to smile. Brian briefly imagined Jeff fucking him in the butt, while someone else - someone cute - say, Mike Zurka, sucked him off. Yow!

It was arousing as hell to feel Jeff thrusting against him through the tissues of Annie's body. Brian was so hard, and the head of his dick felt so super-sensitive, he was afraid he would not be able to last long at the rate they were going. And the awkwardness of it quickly began to tell on his arms, which were supporting his body weight, while his bent legs carried none of it below.

"Hold a second," he said, finally, unable to take it anymore. He pulled gently out of Annie and straightened. "We need to do this better."

He examined his two friends critically a moment, then reached down and pushed Jeff's legs closer together, until he was able to straddle them. Then he picked up Annie's legs and spread them to either side of himself, moved between, let one go, and then used the free hand to guide his dick back into Annie's pussy. Jeff's legs now carried a small amount of Brian's weight - enough so that he could support the rest himself. He sank himself again deeply into Annie's crotch, felt Jeff's dick respond beneath his; and once again they were moving in unison.

Their speed increased, and they were soon all gasping, breathing hard, and making noises. Brian closed his eyes and tilted his head back, lost in the incredibly good feeling of it, was surprised when he felt Annie's hands grasp his waist and her thumbs stroke slowly across the spots where the tops of his legs joined his torso. A massive tingling sensation shot through Brian's middle, and he almost climaxed right there and then.

He sank forward onto his hands, pushed his face against Annie's, and kissed her. Her head lay back on Jeff's shoulder, and Jeff's face was next to hers, to the left and slightly higher. After he kissed Annie he moved over and kissed Jeff, then settled his face between theirs, kissing when kissed, breathing hard, sharing the breath of life between them

Time seemed to tug at them as they moved together, and Brian started to feel the strain in his legs. But it was nothing compared to the strain in his middle. Fire burned down low inside him, building, and spreading into the tops of his legs.

Annie gasped, tensed against him, and she let out a tiny noise and her legs squeezed against Brian. It was all he could take. His butt compressed and his hips thrust forward, and then he was shooting into her, deeply and with great force. His legs grew weak at the power of it, and he sank a bit, the shaft of his dick pushing against Jeff's.

Jeff breathed, "Oh, shit," and then he was squirming beneath Annie, and Brian could feel the convulsions of his boyfriend's dick beneath his.

When it all ended it was as if Brian had been deaf the whole time. All of a sudden he could hear the others breathing hard, and his own rapid, excited breaths. He rolled his face between his friend's, kissing Jeff's cheek, and then Annie's, and back again. Jeff turned his head and caught Brian on one return, and they exchanged a long kiss that charged down the hallways of Brian's mind and kicked open the door at the end. His mind's eye looked up to see Jeff in the doorway - and then they were in each other's arms.

He became aware of Annie kissing his neck, and that her hands were around him, softly stroking his back. He drew back, looked at her, kissed her.

She smiled up at him. "That was incredible, Brian." Her eyes twinkled, and she looked at Jeff. "That was incredible, Jeff."

Both boys laughed, smiling at each other.

"I see your girl doesn't play favorites, Brian," Jeff said, his face blossoming into a happy expression.

"I see your girl doesn't either," Brian returned, grinning.

They carefully disengaged from each other, and sat together on the couch for a few minutes, catching their breaths. This time, Brian got in the middle so that he could hold each of their hands, and just turn his head and kiss either of them whenever he wanted.

"This is gonna spoil the shit out of me, you know," he said at last.

"Hey," Jeff said, suddenly sitting up straighter. "I just fucked a girl."

Brian and Annie both broke out laughing at the expression on Jeff's face - a mixture of delight and just plain surprise.

"You should try the front next time," Annie said, giving him a playful caress along his ribs.

Jeff nodded, his smile deepening. "I think I will, if you don't mind."

Annie watched him a moment, and then nodded. "I don't."

Jeff looked at her, saw she was serious, and Brian could see that his boyfriend was touched. Jeff leaned forward and gave Annie a nice kiss, to which she responded in kind.

Brian shook his head. "I wonder if this would make a good letter to Penthouse Forum?"

Jeff and Annie looked at each other, and then they both laughed.

"Whatever you want, Brian," Annie said. "Just - don't use our real names if you do."

"What would you call it?" Jeff asked, looking interested.

Brian considered that. Then he grinned. "My gay education, part two: How the other half lives."

Annie laughed, and Jeff's eyes were twinkling. "Ain't that the truth," he said, leaning forward to kiss Brian.

There was still more than an hour until Brian and Annie needed to be home for dinner. They had a laughable time squeezing into the Winnie's little shower - three into a space designed for one - but managed to get clean, and then dressed themselves and lay down in a comfortable pile on the couch and listened to music and talked.

It was during that talk that Brian learned that the night in the cornfield at the party was the first time that Annie had had intercourse with a guy.

"Really?" Brian asked, amazed. "I was your first?"

Annie looked a little embarrassed. "Well, it wasn't the first time I had sex. Missy and I have been playing for more than a year."

Brian gave her a little squeeze, wanting to poke fun. "Oh? And what is that like?"

Annie pulled back and looked at him. "Probably a lot like what you and Jeff do."

Jeff laughed. "Ho! And the sword is nicely deflected!"

Brian nodded. "Okay, okay - I deserved that." But his curiosity was up now. "Seriously, what do you guys do?"

Annie looked at his expression, saw that he genuinely wanted to know. "Well , there's a lot of hugging and kissing, of course." She smiled. "Some licking, maybe."

Brian nodded, grinning at Jeff. "Of course. What else?"

"Well...we have each, um, eaten some pussy."

Brian nodded. And he and Jeff sucked each other's dicks.

"And?"

Annie sighed, but grinned. "Missy's dad used to smoke cigars. Missy showed up at my house one day with this tube that one of her dad's cigars had come in. It was shaped kind of like a dick, but maybe not as thick." Her face reddened a little. "We found out how much fun it was to use that on each other."

Brian and Jeff grinned at each other.

"Was it as good as one of us?" Brian wanted to know.

Annie immediately shook her head. "Uh uh." She smiled. "You - you were worth waiting for, believe me."

Brian felt slightly embarrassed, but also oddly pleased. "Well, you were my first, too." He smiled. "First girl."

Annie giggled, then put her fingertips to her lips. "Sorry. And Jeff was your first guy?"

For a moment, Brian hesitated. "No." And he told them about Chris, and their initial infatuation with each other, and then their experimentation, and then their growing affection.

And then he told them about their love. And their separation no sooner than it had happened - the most painful single moment in Brian's life.

Annie's face scrunched up, and Brian was surprised to see tears in her eyes. Jeff, also, looked subdued. Both of his friends hugged him, warmly and comfortingly, and Brian hugged them back.

People come and go in your life. You can hold them close, always, but you can never keep them if they have to go.

The memories of them, though, are yours forever.

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