Val 'n Tyne

by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter

Chapter 23

Warning! This story is a work of fiction written by a legal age adult. Any similarity between the fictional characters and any live person is purely coincidental. This story contains fictional descriptions of sexual activity between consenting minor youth. If you are under the age of 18, and/or if you are offended by this content, and/or if it is illegal in your jurisdiction to possess or read such material, please leave now and do not read this story as neither the internet host nor the author can be responsible for your actions. Please, always practice safe sex; no momentary thrill is worth your life.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be transmitted or reproduced in whole or in part in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Author or Publisher, except where permitted by law. Copyright (c) 2012 by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter. This work is collaboration between Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter.

The Sunday following the group pool party over at Nick's house, Val and his family all rose early, dressed, ate quickly and piled into the old family van for church services. Vi was wearing a brand new, pale blue, springtime dress. She looked very pretty in it. It fit her developing frame perfectly and showcased the youthful innocence she still possessed as well as her emerging womanhood while maintaining an appropriate modesty level. "Wow! Looking good, Sis. What's the occasion?" Val asked.

"I just want to look good for church and Mom said it was okay if I wore my new Easter dress."

"Easter's not until next Sunday," Val pointed out. "Won't that spoil the dressing up for Easter Services thing you girls do? Besides, I'm pretty sure it's Tim you want to look good for, not anyone else at church. Am I right?"

"Maybe. But … well, I got two dresses actually, so I'll still have a new one for next week too."

"Two dresses? What's up with that? Dad, did you score a big raise at work or something? You holding out on me?"

Chuckling, Val's dad responded, "I wish. I'm just finding out about all of this myself."

"So what am I getting for Easter?" Val chided in a good natured tone.

"First, you have to be willing to go shopping with me. You're too old for me to pick out your clothes. I don't know what you older kids like any more," Val's mom stated.

"I hate shopping. Just surprise me." Val pondered for a minute then added, "I used to hate it when you'd drag me shopping as a kid. You always wanted to go to the women's section for 'just a minute' and two hours later, I'd still be sitting outside the dressing room getting stared at by the all the old ladies. Then you'd come out and ask me if you looked good in this one or that one, like a twelve year old boy has any idea. I'd just always say yes in hopes you'd buy it and then we could go." Val's dad was literally shaking with suppressed laughter. He leaned over and caught Val's eye in the rear view mirror and winked.

"I'll bet Noah could help you pick something out," Vi chimed in. "He did a great job helping Sylvia. She's looking pretty good these days with our help."

"No way," their dad piped up. "That's a really scary thought. No telling what that fruit loop would come up with for Val to wear. He'd probably end up looking like Elton John."

Val chuckled as he thought back on some of Noah's outfits and especially his pool party costume, not to mention the bizarre things he wore to the basketball games. "What if I just find something online?"

"Oh, that's a good idea, Vally. You should do that. That would save so much time," Mrs. Hardcastle quickly agreed.

Val pulled up some online clothing sites on his Smartphone and browsed them, wondering what Sylvia and Tyne would think he looked good in. Most was weird stuff Noah would wear, but he found a few things he thought he could roll in. Before long, they arrived at the Virgin Hills Redemption Church and went in for the services. They sat in what had become their unofficially designated pew across the aisle from where Tim's family sat. The end spots were spoken for by Tim and Vi, of course. When Vi walked in, Val watched Tim's eyes widen and his smile broaden. He was clearly impressed and couldn't take his eyes off of Vi's shapely legs. Her legs were definitely nice for a girl her age, well conditioned from her years of soccer play. Val smiled to himself as he watched the innocent joy of puppy love flit back and forth across the aisle and he promptly scanned the choir loft for Sylvia. When he caught her eye, his own smile widened and she winked at him.

The services were pretty good for a change. Pastor Dave delivered an inspiring sermon on being a true believer and following your personal convictions. One particular quote from Shakespeare stuck with him. "This above all;" the pastor quoted, "to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

After the sermon, Pastor Dave announced that the Wednesday night youth group would be meeting on Saturday instead and asked all the youth to gather on the back lawn after services for more details. The choir numbers were more traditional since the band was absent. Val's father was overjoyed to see them gone. Val later learned by overhearing his mother's gossip session that two of the band members had gone into rehab. That made Val sad to hear. He hated seeing anyone screw up their lives with drugs.

Val met up with Sylvia on the grass after the sermon and closing prayer, where they hugged and smooched. They gathered with the other youth including Tim and Vi, who were holding hands and chatting incessantly, while Pastor Dave got their attention. Once they were mostly quiet, he invited Wyatt, the fag tag fanatic, to explain what was going down.

Wyatt sprang forward in his typical, highly charged exuberance and flashed his pleasant smile. "Guys, and gals, we have a super wonderful opportunity to do some fantastic service this Saturday. My uncle is a fireman and they are sponsoring a community egg hunt and activity day for the underprivileged children over at Mountain View Park. They need lots of volunteers to help with the games and activities. I'm running the face painting booth and will need some help with that, but there's like all kinds of things to do. It starts at ten but we need to be there by nine to help set up and get organized. If any of you need service hours for school, bring your forms and my uncle will sign off for you." He was about to step away, when he added, "Oh, and we need lots of help like I said, so if you have friends who might help, bring them along."

"That sounds fun, doesn't it, Val?" Sylvia said cheerfully.

"Yeah, it kind of does – definitely a welcome change from our usual fag tag or Bible Trivia."

"We could get Nick and Noah to join us," Sylvia suggested.

"And Tyne, of course," Val added.

"Oh, yeah, Tyne too, of course. But then we'll also have to invite Dane."

"I suppose," Val admitted. "I'll text them all now."

Val punched out a group message and hesitated a minute before including Dane's number on it. His conscience wouldn't allow him to leave him off, but he secretly hoped he would have a conflict. To his dismay, Dane was the first one to shoot back an acceptance. Within an hour, everyone replied that they were down for it.

They discussed the details at school that week and they were all looking forward to helping out with the community Easter activity. Sylvia was going to drive Val and Vi and pick Tyney Tim up as well. Nick would be taking the rest of the high school group. Noah's big question was what to wear and Tyne informed him that he should probably let Nick choose his outfit, considering there would be both children and firemen present.

Val forced himself to join the lunch group out by the chess tables, and to his great relief, it was less awkward than he had imagined it would be. Dane didn't fawn over Tyne like he thought he might and even Nick and Noah behaved themselves in public, but to anyone with a trained eye, it was obvious that Nick and Noah were a crazy, madly in love couple. Whenever Dane would momentarily ogle Tyne with that semi-dreamy look and crooked smile, it caused Val's stomach to lurch.

Saturday morning arrived and Vi was giddy with excitement to spend the day with Tim at the park. Val was less enthused, worried about the awkwardness of being around Sylvia and Tyne both at the same time and in the same place, not to mention the Dane factor. When they climbed into Sylvia's car, she was just as excited as Vi was and she leaned over for a quick smooch from her hot hunk. Vi giggled from the back seat. "Val and Sylvia sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, next comes sex and then the marriage, Uhh-huh, Uhh-huh, you know what I mean. Then comes Val pushing a baby carriage." She sang off key, and ground around in her seat to dramatize the sex.

"Shut it or I'll make you walk you little dweeb," Val called back to her. She just giggled more.

"How cute," Sylvia said, "I haven't heard that since grade school – slightly modified. That must be the wil.i.am remix."

"Don't encourage her," Val warned. "It'll only get worse." He snickered. "This really should be fun today. I like little kids. They're so innocent and full of life."

"I think so too. How many kids do you want of your own?" Sylvia inquired.

"What? None at the moment, thanks very much. But someday I'd like to have two or maybe three. What about you?"

"I'm thinking more like five or six," Sylvia said with her head cocked to one side and peering in Val's direction.

"SIX? I'm not sure that's even legal anymore, unless you're a Mormon or a Catholic."

Sylvia and Vi cracked up. "You're so funny," Sylvia said, giving him a gentle shove on the arm.

"Dang. Six kids. Wow." Val fell into silence with that thought on his mind. He started imagining what kind of creatures he and Sylvia might create together. It got a little weird in his head as he pictured Amazon sized girls with beautiful long hair, who could dunk a basketball, playing in the WNBA and sporting mustaches on their upper lips and hair growing under their pits.

They picked up Tim and he slid into the back seat. Vi snuggled right up next to him, which he didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, he quite obviously liked it as he wove his fingers into hers. He was dressed sharp in tight fitting, steel grey jeans, a pair of new looking, black and purple Van's and a dark purple, A&F shirt. His hair looked as if it had been professionally styled with every strand set and glued into place. He had the cutest dimples when he smiled.

When they arrived, they saw Nick's car parked at the far end of the lot against a curb and went to park next to him, as a favor, to protect the driver's side from getting dinged by other potentially careless visitors. The guys had picked up Dane from his sister's house that was nearby Mountain View Park in the lower rent area of Hartsdale. He'd been babysitting the triplets and smelled faintly of baby powder. They were all milling around on the sidewalk since they didn't know anyone there. Val and Sylvia joined them as Vi and Tim took off together toward the work party. The older kids followed in that direction after the customary nods and fist bumps. Tyne and Val exchanged their unique handshake they'd created up at Mother Lode Lake and that obviously bothered both Sylvia and Dane. Sylvia slipped her arm through Val's and pulled him away.

They found Wyatt and his uncle, who directed them to start grabbing tables and chairs and setting them up along the edge of the park for the activity booths. Wyatt enlisted Dane's help to carry his face painting stuff to one of the tables and then help him set up the booth. Wyatt was looking pretty good with his curly, sandy blond locks and bright blue eyes. His acne had been improving and only a few zits along his jaw line were visible. He was wearing a crisp, green, Jesus Loves Little Children t-shirt. He had a paw print painted on one cheek and a smiley face on the other to show off his work. The smiley face was unique in that the smile was a leafy vine and the eyes were little daisies. He engaged Dane in friendly conversation, which is not hard to do, and actually acted interested as Dane went on and on about the triplets and his family life along with his intense love of basketball. Wyatt felt like he'd actually attended the final championship game from Dane's play by play descriptions and even sighed in sympathy as Dane related how the ball got stripped away just as he went up for the final shot.

As soon as Wyatt was able to get a word in edgewise, he asked how Dane found out about the volunteer opportunity. Dane explained that he was a friend of Tyne's. That meant nothing to Wyatt so Dane explained that Tyne was a friend of Val's. Dane was pleased to hear Wyatt's reaction to Val's name when Wyatt exclaimed, "Oh, Sylvia's boyfriend." Suddenly, Dane started pumping Wyatt for information. He wanted to know how long they'd been a couple, if they held hands a lot and most importantly, if Wyatt had seen them kissing each other. Wyatt supplied all the right answers and surprisingly added a comment about what a hot looking guy Val was.

When the setup was done, all the volunteers spread out around the park. A fireman announced on the portable sound system that only the youngest children were allowed in the playground area where the eggs were easier to find. Then he counted to three and a mad dash began as children shrieked and ran amok with their baskets and bags in hand to collect the brightly colored, plastic eggs full of sweets. Noah noticed a shy little guy who kept reaching for eggs only to have them snatched away by a more aggressive child. Noah walked up and took him by the hand and helped him collect several eggs while staring down the little vulture who'd been snatching them from him. The bully skulked off. The little boy gave Noah's hand a tight squeeze and flashed him a huge smile before running off on his own, more confident in finding and keeping more eggs by himself.

When the whistle sounded, the hunt was over. At least officially, it was over. The more determined seekers kept prowling about in hopes of finding another hidden treasure that may have gone overlooked. Wyatt's uncle met with the volunteer group and parceled them into crews. Vi and Tim were assigned to the donut eating booth where the children had to try and eat a whole donut tied and dangling on a string without having it fall onto the trays below. If they succeeded, they earned a certificate for a free dozen from the local bakery.

Wyatt nabbed Dane and Sylvia to help in his booth. His fireman uncle directed the other four boys to go help with the relay races and he put Val and Tyne specifically in charge of the three legged race. Sylvia protested that she wanted to help with the relays also, but the burly fireman explained how the organizers wanted a male and a female volunteer in each booth and that he already had plenty of girls helping with the relays. Reluctantly, Sylvia went with Wyatt to help paint faces. Tyne and Val tried really hard to not show their excitement at the idea of spending the day with each other at the relays. It was pretty obvious through the trained eyes of Nick and Noah and even to Dane and Sylvia.

More than once, Sylvia had to be asked questions over and over because her attention was focused across the field. She barely listened to the banter between talkative Dane and flirtatious Wyatt. It clearly wasn't Sylvia who Wyatt was trying to flirt with and she quickly slipped away from their persistent conversations. Once the crowd of children desiring face painting dwindled off, Sylvia excused herself to go find Val. Wyatt was happy to see her go.

"Dane," Wyatt said as the last child left, looking like a one-eyed pirate, "you've been such a great sport to help out today and you're such a cutie with the kids. Thanks so much."

"My pleasure, dude, I really enjoyed it. The kidlets are so awesome and you're seriously artistic. I'm way amazed at some of the cool things you painted. I never ever had a face painting. My parents never let me get one. They said it was a waste of money for something that would just wash off and my dad thought it was kind of sissy for boys to get one. I didn't know you could do such awesome things for both boys and girls. My favorite was the snake you did on that one boy so he could scare his sister with it. How funny was that?"

"You never had a face painting? That's so sad. Do you want one now?"

Dane chuckled, "Nah, better not. I'm a little old for it now."

"How about if I give you one where no one can see it. Lift up your shirt."

"Nah, that's all right, really," Dane said.

"Please, I want to do one for you since you helped me out so much today. I hope you'll like it."

Dane rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, if you really want to. Go ahead." He sat sideways on a chair and pulled his shirt up. The brush strokes tickled his back as Wyatt worked his artistic magic. When he was finished, Wyatt took the hair dryer, set to low heat, and dried the paint. He dabbed at it with his finger to make sure it was dry and then pronounced it complete. Dane twisted to see what he'd gotten but he couldn't see it.

"Don't peek and don't show it to anyone until you get home. Then you can check it out in the mirror." Wyatt flashed a mischievous smile and finished packing up his paints. They all met back up by the playground and Wyatt's uncle signed off on the community service forms for the Hartsdale High group. On the way home, Val and Vi each jabbered about the good time they'd had. Sylvia commented that it was okay, but she was really annoyed about being separated from Val. In the other car, they all seemed enthused over the activity. When they reached Dane's house, Noah prompted Tyne to walk up to the door with Dane. Tyne flashed a sheepish 'Oh yeah, huh?' look and climbed out. They chatted for a brief minute on the doorstep of Dane's house, which was shielded from the roadway and neighbors, after which Dane leaned down for a kiss. The kiss gave way to another and then another until the two were sucking face and groping asses. Noah smiled a satisfied little grin as Tyne and the redhead locked lips and fondled each other's tight butts. Noah reached over for Nick's hand to give his special friend a little squeeze. Nick lifted their hands to his smile and pressed the back of Noah's hand softly against his smooth, puffy lips.

Easter Sunday came and went, the following day, without fanfare. Vi looked even lovelier than the week before and Tim was also very dapper in his new grey slacks and pinstriped dress shirt topped off with a paisley bow tie and black vest. Val was sporting a totally sick, retro, collared shirt, beige with black panels on the front of it, and a pair of actual dress slacks for the occasion that his mom bought online for him, true to her word.

The following week at school, the five boys all hung out at lunch and they became more and more socially comfortable as a group. Plans were being made for the spring break outing and the one big issue was how to get the quads to the lake without the use of Val's truck. Sylvia acted annoyed whenever Val mentioned the lunch group meetings during their evening study sessions since she had second lunch and was excluded. He quickly learned to stop talking about them.

On Tuesday in AP math, Lukas reminded the emo chick about the cinnamon flavored lube she was supposed to be getting for him. She rolled her eyes and told him she'd bring it the next day. When he turned around, Tyne couldn't resist. "You really think that frigid bitch will let you fuck her? Good luck. You're both such pathetic losers. "

Lukas scowled and leaned in close across the aisle, "Listen, asswipe. Tell your fag boyfriend that I'm gonna fuck his last bitch and then I'm gonna fuck up his current one, only on you, I'll use my fist instead of my dick."

"Bring it on, dickwad," Tyne shot back. "Next time I won't go so easy on you. I'll send you to the hospital instead of jail, or maybe the morgue."

After class, Dane wanted to know what that was all about. "Lukas was bragging about screwing Lizzy, and then threatened me. You work at Subway tonight, right?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Bring me one of those super hot jalapeno peppers in a baggy. Don't forget. In fact, if you can, bring it by my house tonight. I'm home alone."

"Why?"

"You'll see," Tyne said. "I have an idea."

"What'll I get for it?" Dane asked ever so slyly with a flick of his bushy red eyebrows.

"Hmm, I'm not sure, but it'll probably be as hot as that pepper you bring me."

"Then I'm all over it," Dane said as he headed off to his next class.

The following day, Tyne fingered the pepper from Dane in his sweater pocket while he hung out in front of the math building waiting for the emo girl to show up. When she finally did, he intercepted her. "Hey, can I ask you a favor?" Tyne asked.

"What? I'm late for class," she grumbled.

"So? You're almost always late."

"Yeah, true. So what d'ya want?"

"Don't tell anyone about this. but you know I'm gay, right?"

"So?"

"Well, I've hooked up with this hot emo guy and I was hoping I could check out that lube stuff you're bringing for Lukas before you give it to him. I overheard you telling him that it was way hot. Could I just like put a drop on my finger and taste it?"

She laughed out loud. "I thought you and that jock were a couple." Tyne had never heard her laugh before.

"No, we never were. That was just that stupid class assignment for Ms. Harris' Contemporary Lifestyles class. Only Lukas still thinks that. So, anyway, can I try some?"

"Sure." She pulled it out and handed the small plastic bottle to him. "Just a drop, though. I don't want Lukas to know and get all shitty about it."

"Yeah, yeah, thanks." Tyne took the small bottle and then said, "Oh, one more little thing. I downloaded some tracks for when me and my boy finally do it together. I was wondering if you could listen to a couple of them and tell me which ones would be best? I got Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects and Jimmy Eat World. I wanna do a mix that will get him all sexed up, you know? I even printed out the words to some of the songs. Here, check 'em out."

She shrugged and said, "Yeah, you're the guy who keeps his clothes on, right?" referring to a popular Jimmy Eat World video. When Tyne didn't answer, she took his phone and set the dr. dre Beats over her ears as Tyne hit play. She snatched the printed lyrics from his hand and read along, fascinated over the actual words to songs she'd listened to so many times but never fully understood.

While she was occupied, Tyne surreptitiously unscrewed the top of the lube bottle, retrieved the jalapeno pepper that he'd bitten the tip off of, and squeezed as much spicy hot pepper juice as he could into the bottle. Then he dropped the pepper in the bushes and replaced the cap. He licked his lips and waited for her to finish with the songs. She handed him back the headphones and recommended he get some stuff from Paramore instead of what he'd downloaded. He gave her the lube, claimed it wasn't something he thought he wanted after all, and made an excuse about needing to use the bathroom as they went inside.

"Where were you?" Dane mouthed as Tyne slipped into his seat.

"Bathroom," Tyne mouthed back. Dane nodded.

On the Saturday following the Easter activity at the park, Tyne was logging some serious zzzz's. The phone on top of the big, old, pine nightstand next to Tyne's rumpled queen-sized bed buzzed and chirped with annoying abandon. It was barely 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and he was stone dead asleep, all alone, dreaming of Val doing incredibly sexy and nasty things to his naked boy-bits. He sleepily rolled over on top of his bone-like hard-on and swore like a fisherman stuck in a hurricane. He reached down and jiggled his favorite jewels a bit, letting go when the freakin' little machine buzzed once more. He reached a hand out from under the warm covers, flopping his arm all around, feeling for the device. Once he finally found the palm-sized intruder, he picked it up and held it out at arm's length in front of his sleepy mug. He opened his right eye, then focused to see who the fuck was sending him a message at that ungodly hour. Of course, it had to be Noah. Noah, Noah, Noah. God, he loved that skinny, hairless dude, loved him to freakin' death, but sometimes he just wanted to choke the ever-lovin' crapola out of him.

He squinted again, then read the words on the screen: "Crazy news, Bitchy Bitch McBitch! Gotta tell u in person. C U in 15. BTW Get off Dane, or get Dane off, fast! Whatever –it's all good, T. Just wash your junk and get into something decent. And not teal! I'm sporting that today."

"Shit! Fuck! Damn!" croaked Tyne, out into his empty bedroom. His head was so muddled from school, homework, cooking dinner and doing laundry for him and his mom, being insanely jealous of Sylvia, making out like crazed, horny dogs with Dane, guilting over making out with Dane, guilting for feeling guilty, tutoring Val, and mostly from pining over Val. That big, stupid, hard-ass, mo-fo stud, Val, who Tyne knew wanted it just as badly as Tyne did, but wouldn't commit. Plus, his mom was getting all up in his business lately. The last part wasn't really so bad; she just wanted to make sure his head was on straight, or both heads, so to speak. He wished, like for the millionth time, that his dad was still around to be a sounding board. It was always easier talking to his dad than his mom.

Grudgingly, he slithered out of his toasty warm bed, stretched his arms towards the ceiling, scratched his droopy balls, farted twice and headed to the bathroom down the hall. He didn't have to worry about his mom seeing him bare-assed. Oh no! She was at work, and besides, she had seen both him and Dane when they fell asleep in front of the fireplace naked as the day they were born a couple of weeks earlier. "That was so stupid," he thought. "Why didn't we get up and go to my room? Stupid, stupid, stupid." Even though his mom hadn't said anything directly about it, he knew she knew and she knew he knew and it was all awkward.

Coming to, he flushed the toilet, stuck his head under the faucet and fingered his hair into place, brushed his teeth, smelled his pits and decided he could pass on the deodorant. Then he threw on some clean clothes that he had washed around midnight a few nights ago. Sometimes he felt like he was at college already.

He looked at the time on his phone, and realized he had two minutes to grab something to eat. He knew Noah like the back of his hand, and usually he was late, but since he'd hooked up with Nick, he'd become amazingly punctual. Who says people can't change? He ran down the hall and on into the kitchen where he popped a whole wheat bagel into the toaster oven, then pulled out a plastic jar of cream cheese and a jar of raspberry jam from the fridge and set them on the counter. The second his bagel was ready, the doorbell rang. Tyne slathered on the cream cheese and jam, shoved the bagel between his teeth and headed to the living room to open up the front door.

"What took you so long, T-Weeny?" asked Noah as he rolled his saucer-like eyes. "We've been out here for hours. I'm gonna have to go back home and shave my beard again."

"You should call him T-Money," Nick said, strolling up the path to the porch. "Got any more of those bagels?"

"Yeah. C'mon into the kitchen. Noah, I hate to ask, but what's going on? And why T-Money? And don't kid yourself; you can't even grow a beard."

"You're in the money, honey-bunny. Look." He held out an envelope to his BFF, grinning from ear to ear.

Tyne took it and looked at the return address of some law group on the fanciest street in downtown Hartsdale. He shoved the half-finished bagel in his mouth, and using both hands, opened the envelope. Digging through a bunch of paperwork, he found a wire voucher made out to him. "Twenty thousand dollars! Are you fucking kidding me?" Tyne's mood had instantly improved.

"Thank Nicky-boy here. Well, his parents – they did all the work. And they didn't even charge you. They did it pro boner."

"Pro bono, you nimbus," laughed Nick. "And they didn't have to work very hard. The station practically threw the money at them. My mom says they're sending that reporter who interviewed you off to their sister station in Sacramento, too. Good riddance."

"Oh man. I don't know what to say. Thanks guys. I gotta go call your mom and thank her."

"You can do it later. They just left for some convention in Florida. They'll be back next week. So, you plannin' to tell Val what you wanna do with the money?" Nick asked as he followed Noah into the kitchen.

"I don't know. I hadn't really thought we'd get this much money, or even if they would give us any money at all. Wow. I'm kinda in shock. So when do I get the money?"

"You already got it, Pinkberry brains. It was wired into your account at the credit union. This will certainly get Val out of his funky old, stinky-ass mood," Noah said, as he made Nick a bagel. "Do you want some of T's warm jam and smooth white cream on your hot bun? Bottom or top?"

"Oh my god. You did not just say that. That's nasty. But yeah – make yourself proud, Woody." He slipped in behind Noah, wrapped his strong arms around him and pulled his tight little ass into his crotch. "I'll take care of jamming my hot cream between your buns later on."

"I juss love me my mans," Noah said in his high octane voice. "Hey! I've got a question. Why is it that cat food doesn't come in mouse flavor? And when it's 'new and improved' who tastes it? Because if some poor dick has that job, they definitely need to be on that America's Dirtiest Jobs show."

"Nick? Did he take his pill this morning? Or did he double up?"

"I don't know. I'm not his mother. I'm his DADDY! Should I be watching him?" Noah flicked his eyebrows and started doing the Gangnam dance.

"Forget it. Forget it. I can see I can't hold any kind of sane conversation with you two today. Do you guys need some alone time in my room together or something? So anyway," Tyne asked, rolling his eyes and ignoring Nick and Noah's antics, "how should we do this? I mean, I kinda wanted it to be a surprise, but now I'm not so sure we can pull this off. I don't know even the first thing to do about buying a truck. Especially like that killer ride he had all tricked out and everything. Do I just get the cash from the credit union and go to a car lot? I don't wanna waste the money on a piece of crap. Should we go see King and see if he can help us?"

"Sweetie! As much as I love King, I'm pretty sure we know more about those big burly trucks than he would. I mean, he's a bit fey, don't you think?" asked Noah.

"I can't believe you just said that, Noah! Besides, who knows? His husband, what's his name? Apollo?" Tyne asked "Apollo might take him four wheeling on their days off. Maybe they're totally into bouldering in the mountains. King might even be all tatted up underneath those designer duds with a giant Jeep logo on his back. I bet he's got more freaking piercings than you've got. But yeah, I guess you're right. More likely, he packs the picnic basket with champagne and foist … whatever that dead, ground up pigeon liver is called and the only bouldering they do is between each other's legs."

"Well! I'm just trying to be realistic here," Noah said with a pouty lip.

"So stick to buttering your boyfriend's big beefy buns. Something you actually know something about. Should we look on Craigslist?" Tyne asked, turning to Nick and changing the subject to what was at hand.

"No. Maybe we can go talk to Val's dad first. But we'll have to do it when Val isn't around. Maybe you and Pops can go out shopping and he can show you what to look for. He knows all kinds of shit about cars and trucks. And he can make sure we don't get screwed and overpay or buy a lemon. Or get stuck with something that was submerged in those hurricanes last year."

"Pops?" Noah asked. Tyne already knew the answer to that. "Really? Pops?"

"Yeah. That's what I call him. He's like my other dad – the 'not afraid to get all sweaty and dirty' kind of dad. I have a white collar dad and a blue collar dad. It's the best of both worlds."

"Cool! But yeah, that's an awesome idea. You know, now that I think about it, one of my dad's old cop buddies had to retire early when he got shot in his butt cheek. He ended up opening a used car lot. He does repo's and towing stuff too. I wonder if he might be able to send us in the right direction. Maybe he's even got one on his lot." Tyne suggested.

"Also," Nick added, "Dane's dad is really into cars, especially old ones and he like collects them. He might be able to help us too." Noah gave a disapproving look at that idea but opted to keep his mouth shut since Tyne emphatically shook his head and said he didn't want to involve Dane's dad in it. He wanted it to be more from him than anybody else.

"Yeah, that might work. If it's a repo, maybe we'll get a good deal on it. That reminds me that I went to this scrap yard with Val and Pops one time to get some parts for their old van. He seemed to know the owner pretty good and he sold used cars on his lot too. Anyway, let's get going. I'll call Val along the way and see what he's up to," Nick urged. Noah grabbed Tyne's arm and pulled him toward the doorway.

"We should go hit my credit union first before they close. Just in case we're able to get one today. How unbelievably amazing would that be?"

After they went to the credit union and got a huge wad of Benjamin's, Nick called Val to see what he was doing. He was off to a bible study class with Sylvia and the rest of the church youth group. They decided to try another Saturday activity in place of the Wednesday nights. Apparently, the group was going to do some bible study first and then head over to the mall's arcade for some pizza and games. Nick hung up with Val and took the opportunity to call Val's 'rents and ask if they could all go over and visit with Polly and Pops about something important to do with Val and, of course, they agreed.

Before heading out, Tyne called his mom and broke the good news to her. She was thrilled for him and very proud of his generosity toward Val. But she scolded him for even thinking about carrying that much cash around. Tyne hung up, ignoring her request to be safe with all that cash and smiled saying, "I love my mother. I just wish she was home more."

"Okay, grab a tissue and dry your eyes, Mr. Sappy and let's get going. This is soooo exciting," Noah crowed. "We're big boys now! I feel like we just robbed a bank. Let me hold the money for a minute, please." Noah fondled the large stack of bills and even lifted them to his nose and inhaled."

"Yeah good idea, Noah – rob the police credit union. You'd make a brilliant thief. You'd probably wear a pink silk scarf over your face and leave your phone number with any cute guy tellers," Tyne said laughing.

"I would not. Everyone knows you don't wear a pink scarf to a bank robbery, you wear black – with a ¼ inch lace border. And the only guy getting my number is Nicky. Right babe?"

"It better be, Woody." The two quickly smooched.

When they arrived, Polly and Buford Hardcastle invited them into the living room. Nick showed them the letter about the insurance adjustment first. Buford was thrilled that Nick's dad got the insurance company to go up to a more reasonable twelve thousand for the wrecked truck. Then Tyne explained about the settlement money that he'd gotten from the TV station. He explained that he wanted to contribute toward a new truck for Val.

"Are you sure?" Val's parents kept asking. "Are you really sure?"

Tyne convinced them that he was really sure and then asked if Mr. Hardcastle could help them locate a good replacement truck. Buford said he had a friend at a repo and auto scrap yard business across town and went to call him. Polly smiled at Tyne and praised him for his selfless willingness to help out her Val. Even though Easter and the group therapy of hanging out with all four guys had been helping him some, he still was often depressed and sad.

"Well, I've got good news and bad news." Buford exclaimed upon returning. "My friend, Buck, has the perfect truck listed for twenty-one thousand, but he can't hold it. It will probably sell out from under us before the insurance money comes. That could take a month or more, I'd assume. Besides, that's probably more than you'd like to chip in."

"Why do we have to wait? I have the cash right here, if you think he might take twenty thousand for it? Later on, you can just pay me back the insurance money when it shows up." Tyne suggested. "If it's really the perfect deal, we shouldn't lose it."

"Plus," said Noah, "We need to have it in time for our stupendous, spring break trip to Mother Lode Lake." Both Polly and Buford looked at each other and scowled a bit at that comment, obviously not thrilled with the concept of their son going back up there so soon after his wreck.

Tyne quickly stood and said, "Let's go look at it and if it's really a good deal, let's buy it."

Buford looked at Polly and asked, "What do you think, sweetie? Is this crazy?"

"Maybe hon, but he seems sincere. And after all, Tyne and Val were both there when the truck got wrecked and later when the TV station embarrassed both the boys. If he really wants to help Val get another truck, we shouldn't stand in his way." Then Polly added, "Tyne dear, I should call your mother and make sure she is okay with you spending your money this way first."

"No problem. Here, let me make the call and make sure she can talk. She might be busy with a patient." Tyne dialed and when his mom picked up, he explained why Mrs. Hardcastle needed to talk to her and then passed the phone off. Polly walked into the other room and when she came back, she had tears in her eyes and a joyful smile on her face.

"So, is it a go?" Tyne asked, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.

Polly nodded and Buford shrugged. "I have a couple things to finish up here. Go back to your house and wait for me and I'll be there in about an hour. And for heaven's sake, don't go flashing that cash around. Polly, get him one of them vanilla envelopes to put it in. This is just so incredible," he said shaking his head. "I really don't believe this is happening. Just incredible. Val will be shocked. I'm excited to see my boy get back to being his happy, cheerful self again. I hope this will do it."

Tyne was beside himself with excitement over the concept of getting Val a new truck. Everyone discussed it and decided to make it a huge surprise for Val. So Nick, Noah and Tyne all headed back to Tyne's house and waited for Val's dad to arrive. Noah had Tyne call Dane and include him on the fun and Dane rushed right over. Tyne's mom wasn't home, as usual, and the guys were sitting around the living room shooting the shit and eating large bowls of Moose Tracks ice cream in celebration. When Mr. Hardcastle finally pulled into Tyne's driveway a little after eleven o'clock, the boys spilled out the front door before he could even get out of his ageing family van. They all started to pile into the side door of the van, stepping over the McDonald's wrappers and Vi's soccer cleats when Mr. Hardcastle stopped them.

"I was hoping you guys could drive separately and just follow me to the repo lot. I have some other business to take care of afterwards."

"No problemo," Noah chirped. "The Noah-mobile over there is at your service. All aboard." Everyone groaned but stepped back to head towards Noah's sorry heap.

"Tyne, why don't you ride with me? I'd like to chat with you a bit, if it's okay," Mr. Hardcastle requested before Tyne could walk away. Tyne just shrugged his shoulders at Dane, who sadly turned around and headed to Noah's car.

Tyne climbed in the front passenger seat. "Sure. Thanks for helping us do this."

"Don't thank me, I should be thanking you. You managed to get the insurance company to be fair in their settlement and you're contributing a sizable sum from your own settlement with the television station. That's very generous. But I'm still a little confused by it all."

"Why? What do you mean – confused by what?"

"Why you're doing all this. Why are you so willing to spend so much of what's basically your money on getting a new truck for my son. I understand you're hoping to attend a big name school after high school and I know that will take a lot of money. Why wouldn't you put this money towards that or even towards a car for yourself?"

"It's like this: with the refund money from the insurance, I'm putting all that into my college fund, but I really only got this settlement money because of what happened up at the lake. They violated Val as much as they did me and I see it as belonging to both of us. 50 – 50. Plus, I feel responsible, even though Val says I shouldn't, for talking him into driving home that night when he knew it wasn't really safe to go. But mostly, I just care about Val and I know he's hurting and I just think this will really help him. Hopefully, it'll get him out of his depression. I hate to see him so sad."

Mr. Hardcastle studied Tyne for a minute longer than was normally safe before turning his eyes back to his driving. "That's it. Just out of the goodness of your heart? Nothing else?"

"No. Like what do you mean? What else would there be?"

"I'm not sure. I was hoping you could tell me. I'm just not used to people behaving this generously without some underlying motive. Especially for someone you've only known a relatively short time. I understand why Nick, who's been friends with Val for such a long time, would get his parents involved to help out with the legal stuff, but you only met Val a couple months ago. If you were doing this to help your little, fruity friend who's driving the other car, I could see it. Noah, is it?"

"Yes, it's Noah."

"Yeah, well, if you were doing this for Noah, I'd get it better because you two have been good friends a long time just like Nick and Val have. That would make more sense to me."

"You know, we've all known each other since grade school, actually," Tyne clarified. He was quite mystified by where Val's dad was going with the conversation.

"Known each other, sure, but you never really had the same … ahh, interests before … you know what I mean, I'm sure. I don't want to be rude, but you're very different from Val. I'm not saying in a bad way, I'm just saying … well, just different. I love Val and I just want to make sure there's nothing going on behind the scenes, if you get my drift. Things that I should know about. There's nothing you're expecting in return from my Val? This is really just about trying to help him. No strings attached?"

"I don't really get what you're driving at, sir, but whether you believe it or not, my only motivation is to help Val get out of the depression he seems to have fallen into since we went to the lake. Part of his depression is from when his truck got wrecked while he was trying to do something nice for me. He didn't have to take me up to the lake, but he wanted to after he learned that my dad was going to take me there but couldn't after getting killed during that robbery. I don't have any different motives for doing this than Val had for what he did for me."

"Okay then. I get it. Forget I brought it up." They drove the next couple of miles in an uncomfortable silence. "Here we are," Mr. Hardcastle said as he pulled into the drive, rolled down his window and pushed the speaker button on the keypad in front of the gate. "It's Buford Hardcastle. Tell Buck I'm here for the truck we talked about. The car behind us is with us also."

The speaker came back and said, "I'll let him know. You can park up by the office." A mechanical arm lifted and they drove in. Noah, following Buford with the other boys, pulled up behind the van. They both parked and everybody climbed out, excited to see what was going on in the yard. No one paid any attention to the signs on the wall since they'd been instructed to park by the office.

Instantly, a hearty, robust man, smoking a fat, smelly cigar came huffing around the corner, pulled the cigar from his thick lips, protruding from a set of round cheeks and double chins dotted with day old stubble, and spread his arms. "Buford! How the hell you been, old man?" He made his way up to the group and pulled Val's dad into a man hug. He had large sweat stains beneath each arm and smelled of motor oil.

"Can't complain. No one listens when I do anyway. How you been? Business good?"

"Too good, if you know what I mean. When the economy stinks, I get rich. Things are going to hell in a hurry, if you want my opinion, which I know you don't, but that won't stop me from giving it to you anyway."

"Never has before. So show me this truck you've got."

"Follow me."

As the guys started to walk quickly away, a goofy looking, twenty something guy in a rainbow colored, Bob Marley t-shirt, red striped board shorts and checkerboard Vans came out with a clipboard shoved into his armpit. He looked like some surfer dude who should be hitting the waves at Rincon instead of working there at the salvage yard. "Whose ride is this?" he yelled to the group that was quickly walking away. He looked silly with his long blond locks sticking out of his black knit cap.

"Mine. Do I need to move it?" Noah asked over his shoulder. He reminded him of one of his brother Booby's friends, who'd always made fun of him over playing with his woody.

"Nah, it's all good, brah. Just pop the hood and let me check her out. Start it up."

Noah looked at him quizzically, rolled his eyes then turned around and followed his directions. He jumped back in the shit-heap and turned it over, then released the hood latch. The guy pulled the hood up with some effort and the springs on the hinges complained with an ear splitting screech. The guy poked his head under the hood and grunted a few times, making sure to keep his long, sun-bleached hair out of the belts and fan. Then he shut the hood and walked around the piece of junk and kicked the tires a couple of times, making sure to hike up his shorts. Buck and Buford had long ago started off toward the sales lot, ignoring the exchange behind them. Tyne and Dane followed the old guys, not wanting to miss out on seeing the new truck for the first time. Nick was torn whether to leave Noah or not, but he finally did, figuring that Noah would catch up in no time. The surfer dude came back around and said, "Shut it off, dude. You know, this car is totally wasted. It's got no real value except the tires and scrap metal price. You know, brah, Buck wouldn't give you more'n say," The stoner paused and stared off blankly as if it hurt to think so hard, "230 bills for it."

Noah slammed his door shut and cocked his hips. "It's not like I needed you tell me that, dude. I already knew it's not worth shit, there's no need to rub it in my face. It's got a lot of sentimental value for me though. Lots of hot make-out sessions in there, if you know what I mean, brah. Oh my god, 230 dollars is actually generous. Seriously, I wouldn't give more than a Benjamin for it. Old Buck might just kick yer ass if he knew you were giving away his cash like that." Noah snickered, pleased with the confused look he'd left on the face of the surfer guy.

As Noah started to sashay off in a bit of a huff, the guy called after him, "Whoa, dude, leave your keys in case we need to move it before you get back." Noah paused, rolled his eyes and tossed the keys to the guy.

"Don't be taking it for any joy rides to the beach just to impress the ladies," Noah quipped with a flutter of his hand toward the guy, who was staring cockeyed toward him over his not so comical theatrics.

"Oh, yaaah, like I'd do that, dude. Anyway, I'll need your signature first," the guy said.

"Whatever, we're in a hurry and I need to catch up to my friends; I'll give you my autograph later." Noah guessed the guy must be on some kind of commission and skipped to catch up to the rest of the entourage out in the repo yard. On the other side of the yard, separated by a fence, was the salvage operation. A large crane with a magnetic disk was picking up entire cars and placing them into a crusher where they would come out the other end as compressed, rectangular bundles of squished metal. The noise of the operation was incredible and the resulting image was quite impressive. "Wouldn't it be freaky if someone was still in the car, like sleeping in the back seat or something when they crushed it up like that?" Noah asked in his typical random way as he caught up to Nick.

"I think Tyne's right. I swear you skipped your pill today," Nick laughed. "Who thinks of something grotesque like that?"

"Whatever. Where's the new truck? I want to see it."

"I think that's it." Nick pointed to a pretty, metallic blue quad cab. "So what did that guy want?"

"Fuck if I know. I think he was stoned."

Behind the office was a small sales lot, with maybe thirty or so cars and trucks. These were the ones that they had repo'd and weren't redeemed by the registered owners, and the banks and credit unions were trying to sell them before they headed off to the auction. Most looked to be in decent shape, but by far the standout was a 2009 Ford F-150 quad cab in the blue flame metallic color. The color reminded Dane of Tyne's mesmerizing eyes. "I had my boys go over it good, Buford. She's a b-e-a-uty. I wouldn't steer ya wrong. You know that," The cigar sucking man told Val's father.

"All right, what's the best you can do on it? And you have clear title, right?"

"Oh, hell ya. I wouldn't even mess with showing it to you if I didn't have the title. I could let her go for around, say nineteen."

"Eighteen – off the lot, all in." Buford countered.

"Figures. But I get the old truck to scrap out after you swap out the stereo, exhaust, and tires, right?"

"Like we agreed. Deal then." The two men shook on it and they all headed back to the office. When they got back, none of them seemed to notice that Noah's car had been moved from the other side of the Hardcastle's van.

The boys were all sitting around the office texting while the men filled out all the paperwork in another room. Tyne had carefully peeled off 180 portraits of Ben Franklin and stuffed the remaining twenty bills back in the envelope. Buck was thrilled about getting cash. The surfer guy with long hair and clipboard showed up with a box full of Noah's stuff. "Here's your 'things'", the guy said with some amusement. He handed over the box to Noah. There were two pair of soiled bikini underwear, pink and lime green, a handful of various body rings, his odd collection of cd's and two sets of leather cuffs connected with a chromed chain that even caused Tyne to raise an eyebrow. "Sign here, dude" the guy said, shoving the clipboard in front of Noah.

"What the fuck are you doing? What made you go through my stuff, asshole? This is bullshit." The guys sitting and waiting for Buford and Buck to get finished with the paperwork looked back up from their phones, wondering what was going on.

"Hey settle down, dude. Most people clean the shit out of their car before they bring it in to scrap it out. Trust me; it was gnarly, cleaning this shit out – and not in a good way. I had to put the hand condoms on," the long haired guy spat back.

"Hand condoms?' Tyne asked, "What's a hand condom?"

"Rubber gloves, little dude."

"What the fuck? I'm not scrapping my car? I need it!" Noah nearly yelled.

"What are you talking about, brah? You parked in the space reserved for estimates. You went over it with me and said you were stoked to get 230 bills because you didn't think it was worth more than twenty – no wait, fifty, yeah, fifty. That's a Benjamin, right? You said you'd sign off on it when you got back from the yard cause you were in a hurry."

"I never meant I wanted to scrap my car. I love that piece of shit. Besides, I can't afford anything better. So just go put my things back where you found them, sweetheart. You can keep the green undies for a souvenir if you want. I don't really like them. They crawl up my crack way too much," Noah said, shoving the box back at the guy.

"Umm, that's sort of a problem, dude. It's headed for the bone crusher right now."

Noah jumped up and ran outside and looked over the fence as his precious, piece of shit car dangled from the giant magnet. "NOOOOOOO!" he screamed.

Buck and Buford came running out of the office to see what was going on when they heard Noah's yell. "What's this all about, Corey?" Buck asked the surfer dude.

"The dude is weird, man. He parked in the appraisal spot and I checked it out with him. He told me he wanted to scrap his car. I gave him a quote and we settled on 230 bills. Now he's changing his mind, I guess," Corey said, easily. "He said he knew it was a piece of shit and wasn't worth fifty bucks and went to meet up with you. He said he was gonna like tattle on me for being too generous with your money or some shit. While I was cleaning it out, Manny came by and said he wanted the tires so we took it to the rack next to the crusher. He took the tires off and it's just sitting there. I think."

"YOU THINK? It's not sitting there; it's hanging in mid-air, you moron," screamed Noah as he got right up in the surfer dude's face. "You can't let him crush it," Noah turned and screamed at Buck.

"Corey, where's your radio?" Buck asked as they all crowded into the parking lot where they could see Noah's dangling car better.

"Um, I'm not sure. Around here someplace, I think." He fumbled around in the pockets of his shorts before he found the walkie-talkie.

"Give me that," Buck yelled to Corey. He pressed the button and started to talk just as Noah's car started to swing to the right heading straight for the crusher. "SHUT it down, NOW!"

Luckily, the crane operator heard Buck and powered down all of the equipment. Noah's car just dangled there in the air as everyone let out a sigh of relief. Buck radioed directions to return the car to Noah. As they headed back towards the office to wait for Noah's tires to be put back on so they could drive home, Corey pulled Noah aside to show him something. He pointed to the sign next to the office where Noah had parked.

"See that? I was just doing my job, brah" he said sheepishly. "Sorry about all that, dude. No hard ones over it, eh?"

"It's okay, I guess, since it was saved at the last minute. My freakin' heart's still racing from it. But dude, in the future, don't assume shit. Maybe you should keep the green undies after all, to remind yourself of what happened."

"Yeah. Thanks brah, but I'll pass on that, I think," Corey said, with a small smile.

On the way home, Dane rode with Noah while Nick and Tyne drove the truck back to Val's house. "Hey Noah," Dane said as they pulled out of the repo lot once they had put the tires back on and turned the keys back over, "Can I ask you something about Tyne?"

"Sure, cutie. Fire away."

"Do you think I've got a shot with Tyne? I'm worried he's still hung up on Val."

Noah pulled his door shut, eliciting a new, louder moan than usual from the misaligned chunk of metal. "No doubt Tyne had it bad for the big stud, but he's really into you now, I think. I mean, he'd never even think of making out with a guy before you and Val came along. That's real progress. You're probably just worried about this whole truck thing, but don't let that get you down, snookums. Tyne felt this huge guilt over the whole truck rolling incident. I think this has more to do with him trying to make some kind of amends for Val's truck getting smashed up. In a sick, twisted way, Tyne always felt like it was really all his fault."

Dane let his frown creep to a tiny smile and he let out a sigh. "Cool, I guess. I sure hope you're right. I'm really hooked on the dude, you know?"

"Yeah, I feel you, brah. I feel you," Noah said mimicking the stoner back at the repo lot. That made Dane laugh and broke the somber mood.

They guys pulled up in front of the Hardcastle's house and were standing around admiring the new looking, used truck just a few minutes before Val and Vi got dropped off by Sylvia. She wanted to stay and see what everybody was doing in the driveway, but it was her mother's birthday and she was late to go meet her dad at the cemetery so they could put flowers on her gravesite. Val gave her an obligatory, closed-mouth kiss before getting out of the car and she sped off as soon as he shut his door.

Val knew something was up the minute he got out of her car, but couldn't for the life of him think what it might be. It was Vi who yelled out first, "What's going on?" as she got out of the back seat and ran up the driveway to see why everyone was there acting strange. She was on a crazy high after making out with Tim all morning. Every chance they got to sneak off together in the arcade, they went at it and she knew he'd gotten a pudgy from it, feeling his little wood against her thigh.

Everybody sort of merged together to shield Val from seeing the new truck for as long as possible, but they all waved to Sylvia as she drove down the street. Polly and Buford had great big smiles on their faces, and off to the left, Nick and Noah were dancing around like five year olds needing to pee, they were so happy. Dane and Tyne were on the other side of his parents, Dane smiling his cute, crooked smile. But by far, the biggest shit-eating smile was plastered across Tyne's face, hands-down.

"Yeah, what are all you guys doing here?" asked Val as he followed slowly behind Vi up the driveway. As he got closer, he could see the happiness on everybody's faces was genuine and knew something big was going on and was directed at him, but he had no idea what it was. Then suddenly they parted and he could see a big, shiny Ford truck parked right there in the middle of the driveway: Ford. Double cab. Almost new. Just like the one that he had rolled except this one was a bitchin' blue metallic color. He stopped dead in his tracks and couldn't move.

"Ta-da!" yelled out Noah, with the others guys yelling and jumping around and shouting and then they came running up to him to clap him on the back and offer their congratulations. It was so fast and overwhelming that Val just froze. His mom and dad just stood off to the side watching him and reveling in his surprise. Polly had her hands clasped together under her chin and looked like she was about to cry, while Buford, usually so stoic, looked like he was about to bust with pride.

"What the F is going on? Mom? Dad? Guys? What's up?" Val stood there dumbfounded looking back and forth from the beautiful shiny truck to his friends around him and then over to his family. It took a minute before it finally sunk in that this was his truck, but he didn't know exactly how that could be possible. Then he turned to his right to see Tyne sort of standing off to the side by himself. He had a beaming smile and seemed to be glowing in a strange mix of happiness and love, and indescribable joy. Suddenly, the full realization finally sunk in, and he knew his little one had something gargantuan to do with this.

"Oh my god! What did you do, Tyne? You did this, didn't you?" Tyne wasn't sure if Val was happy or mad as he made his way from the group over to Tyne who started to back up by the tailgate of the new truck. "What's going on?"

"Um…we got you a new truck. Well, not a new, new truck, but a nice used one like you had before. It was all my idea, but everyone helped. If you're mad, you can take it out on me. Don't blame them. We all just want to see you happy again."

Val just stood there in front of Tyne, speechless. The front yard was all quiet now, the seriousness of the moment not lost on anyone. Val stood erect and pulled his shoulders back. For a moment his pride tried to kick in and tell him he should be offended by such charity, but then his face turned red as he pushed that stupidity away and did something totally out of character for him. He looked Tyne deep in the eyes, those beautiful azure-blue eyes that matched the blue flame metallic color of his new truck, and screamed out at the top of his lungs, "Why… you… little… freak!"

Val reached around and grabbed Tyne by the shoulders, then lifted him up before Tyne had any time to react or get out of the way, and then crushed him in his strong arms, Val started to spin around and laugh like this crazy man downtown panhandling for quarters. All the guys came running up then, screaming and yelling and joining in on the happy celebration.

For Val, this was even better than winning all of his basketball games and basking in the glory of it all. What made it most special was that Tyne had orchestrated it. Tyne had done it for him, and only him.

And for Tyne, this was better, well, better than anything he had ever experienced in his whole life. Then Polly started to cry. Buford stepped up and handed Val the keys and told him to start it up. Val set Tyne back down on the driveway and pulled his mom and dad into a hug and then took the keys. "But, how did you get …" Still confused, he asked, "I thought the insurance was dicking us around and … but … Tyne? Tyne, what did you do?"

"Relax, it's all good. Nick's parents helped us out with the insurance stuff and we got some other money we didn't expect, but we can talk about all that later. Get in! Try it out!" Tyne commanded, still grinning from ear to ear. Val clenched the keys in his palm and raced to the driver's side door.

"YES! This is F'n Awesome. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!" Val cried out as he sat behind the wheel and ran his hand over the nice leather seats. "C'mon you guys, get your butts in here, let's go for a ride." Tyne dashed for the front passenger door and slid in.

"Shotgun!" Tyne called after his butt was already planted in the front seat.

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