The Question

by Kit

Chapter 4

That day the hiking was less strenuous, not least because many of the group, especially the teachers, were somewhat stiff and aching from the previous day's exertions. The weather was bright and dry, but also quite cold, so in the evening some of us built up a couple of large fires while the others prepared a nice hot, high-calorie meal. Mr Carter even made us all some delicious hot chocolate before we all began drifting away to our tents. Being reluctant to leave the warmth of the fires, I was one of the last to retire. Frank, who seemed a little quieter and more thoughtful than usual, went with me, leaving Graham and his two tent-mates alone to put out the fires.

As I undressed before getting into my sleeping bag, I wondered, only half seriously, if Frank would be keeping my back warm again that night. However, I decided that in any case it would be a good idea to wear a sweatshirt as well as underwear. Frank had been silent for several minutes after we'd got into our sleeping bags, so I assumed he was asleep, and I was just beginning doze off myself when I heard him whisper.

"Ian? You awake?"

His voice was so quiet and hesitant that it almost seemed as if he were hoping that I wouldn't answer. Indeed, his tone was so tentative and so unlike his normal confident self that it confused my half-asleep mind, so I didn't respond immediately.

"Ian?" he whispered again. How a single, barely audible word could convey both disappointment and relief I don't know, but that was certainly the impression I had from it.

"Hmm?" I responded eventually.

"Er, sorry, did I wake you?" he asked, sounding slightly guilty.

"No. Well, not really," I mumbled.

My answer might have been a little more gracious and more considerate if I'd been thinking more clearly. As it was, it seemed that my response inhibited him from saying any more, and there was a long silence. By now I was more alert and my curiosity was aroused.

"I'm awake now," I said quietly in a more conciliatory tone.

"I couldn't sleep," he said. "And I was just wondering..."

Again he sounded hesitant and not at all his usual self, so when he left that sentence hanging I wondered if he was going to continue at all.

"Well, I don't want to pry," he said, just as I was about to prompt him for more, "but I saw you a few times last year with Simon Stratford."

"Oh?" I responded as neutrally as I could manage.

At first my heart sank and I wondered if Simon had mentioned something about me being queer. Then, thinking more carefully about Frank's actual words, it seemed that whatever he was talking about was related more to his own observations rather than anything Simon might have said. Besides, I thought to myself hopefully, he wasn't one of Simon's friends and I'd never seen the two of them even talking together. That led me to wonder why he should have bothered to notice who was or wasn't with Simon.

There was plenty of time for me to have all these thoughts, because Frank had lapsed back into silence. Perhaps he'd taken my deliberately cool response as a sign that I wanted to discourage further discussion. Actually, that was partly true, but now that this topic had been raised and my curiosity aroused, I couldn't just leave the matter hanging.

"Yeah, well, we used to be friends," I said. "So why do you mention it?"

"You aren't friends any more, then? Why not?"

Instead of answering my question he'd just countered with two of his own so, perhaps childishly, I didn't reply.

"Did you drop him or did he drop you?" he asked when he realised I wasn't going to answer his earlier questions. Although his voice was sympathetic and his tone was placatory, I still maintained a stubborn silence, and eventually he continued, "Simon used to be my friend, too. Once I even thought he was my best friend."

That piece of unexpected information certainly succeeded in eliciting a response from me, and I was unable to hide my surprise as I responded, "Oh? I never knew that. When?"

"When we were eleven we were in the soccer team together and became really good friends. Then a year later he just dropped me. That's one reason I took up rugby. Did he do the same to you?"

The possible parallels with my own situation didn't escape me, and my mind was filled with questions, most of which I didn't dare to ask aloud.

"Yeah. Er, well, sort of," I said. Then, feeling just a little brave, I added, "So, why did he drop you?"

"Well, as you probably found out for yourself, sometimes he can be a real bastard."

That, of course, didn't really answer my question, but the way he said it indicated that he didn't want to discuss it any more that night, and that was confirmed by his next words.

"Anyway, I'm really tired now. G'night," he said.

I heard him moving, and although I couldn't see anything in the darkness, from the sounds I guessed that he was turning on his side and facing away from me.

"G'night," I said, knowing that my sleep would not come easily.

Bearing in mind that I'm not a morning person and usually sleep in as long as I can, the fact that Frank was already up and out of the tent when I awoke the next morning didn't strike me as being significant. However, during the course of the day it became clear to me that he wasn't his usual cheerful self. During that day's hike, although he was still very friendly toward me, he seemed a little reserved, almost as if he were embarrassed about something. That night he said goodnight to everyone and went back to the tent as soon as he finished eating, leaving me chatting to Graham, who was plotting to sneak some beer into the campsite for the following evening.

When I crawled into the dark tent about half an hour later, I could just about see by the dim light from the campfires that Frank was already deep inside his sleeping bag with his face turned away from me. I doubted that he could have gone to sleep so quickly, but just in case he had, I tried my best not to disturb him as I undressed. However, in the cramped space I couldn't avoid nudging him as I climbed into my sleeping bag, and he turned to lie on his back.

"Sorry," I said, I snuggled down and added, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," he replied. "Just really tired."

"I don't think I've ever seen you tired before," I said lightly. "You always have so much more energy than me. And today's hike wasn't too tough."

"Yeah, well I didn't get much sleep last night."

Although I suspected what he really meant, I attempted to take the easy option in my response.

"Weren't you feeling well? Too many burgers for dinner?" I said jokingly.

"Ha-ha! Very funny," he said humourlessly. After a brief pause he added, "No, I was just thinking. Well, wondering really. About why Simon should dump a nice person like you."

Fortunately, the darkness hid my blushes, which were caused not just by the compliment but also by memories of why Simon had indeed dumped me.

"I wondered the same about you," I said, indirectly returning the compliment and attempting to divert the conversation away from myself.

As the subsequent silence lengthened and it seemed that the conversation was over, I felt mainly relief but also a tiny hint of regret that my curiosity wasn't going to be sated. Then, just as I was beginning to relax in my warming sleeping bag, he spoke again.

"It's personal. And a bit silly and childish, really, but I'm sure you can be trusted, so I'll tell you if you tell me about why he dumped you."

His offer stunned me, partly because of his trust but mainly because there was no way I could ever tell him the truth about Simon and me. Of course, I was eager to find out more about his interactions with Simon, and, to my shame, I briefly considered making up some lie to exchange for his truth. However, Frank was the closest thing to a friend that I had and my ethical sense quickly squashed that temptation. I sighed.

"I'd really like to know about you," I said, "but I can't promise to tell you anything in return."

"Oh," he said, the hurt clear in his voice. "So you don't really trust me?"

For a long time I lay there, not knowing how to respond. Of course, I didn't want to hurt his feelings and maybe damage our developing friendship, but on the other hand I didn't want to lie. Well, to be honest, maybe I would have lied if I could have thought of something plausible. It seemed that I was caught between a rock and a hard place, because if I didn't say anything at all it would be the same as admitting that I didn't trust him. No doubt as the silence lengthened he was reaching that very conclusion. Hearing the sound of movement, I turned my head, and in the not quite total darkness I could make out the darker bulk of his body as he turned his back to me.

"It's not you. It's not that I don't trust you personally," I said, more plaintively than I'd intended. "But there are things, very private things, that I can't trust to anyone."

Suddenly, I was appalled by my own words and I immediately regretted them. Surely I'd already given away too much, and he must now be speculating about what shameful things I was hiding. While I was still trying desperately to think of a way to salvage the situation, he turned back toward me and spoke. Although I couldn't see the expression on his face, the tone of his voice told me everything.

"That's okay. I understand," he said with gentle compassion. Then after a brief pause he added, "Maybe someday."

The situation thus defused, I felt a wave of relief wash through me, and I began to relax again. Having rejected his offer of exchanging confidences, his next words both surprised and pleased me.

"Well, I s'pose I could tell you anyway," he said thoughtfully and almost as if he were talking just to himself. "After all, I can't expect you to trust me if I don't show I trust you."

"But you know I can't promise?" I said, fearful that he might expect more than I could give.

"Yeah, I know," he said, and I thought I heard a small sigh.

"Like I told you," he said after a long pause, "I was in the soccer team with Simon when we were eleven. We became friends, and when we found out we lived quite near each other we started spending a lot of time together outside of school. We made a good combination. Even though he's a few months older than me and he was a bit taller, ever since I've known him I've had more muscle and been stronger, so if we got into any aggro with other lads I was the one who got us out of trouble."

There was no mistaking the pride in his voice when he said that, and I guessed that he had one or more specific incidents in mind. However, before I could speculate any further on that, he continued with his tale.

"On the other hand, he's fast and agile, so he was a much better soccer player than me, and it felt good to be best friends with the star of the team," he said with a hint of wistfulness. Then he paused briefly before continuing, "Another difference between us was that I was, erm, developing faster than him. Actually, faster than anyone else I knew about in our year."

"Developing?" I asked. Although I had a pretty good idea what he meant, I just wanted to be sure we were both on the same wavelength.

"Yeah, you know, down there. In the wedding tackle department."

If it hadn't been so dark I suspected that I would have seen him blushing at that point.

"Ah, right," I said and waited for him to carry on with his story.

"Anyway," he said after a longish silence, "being in the soccer team we all got to see one another in the showers and changing rooms, and some of the lads teased me a bit, but I was relieved that Simon never did. In fact, he didn't even seem to notice. Then one day when we were in his bedroom he asked if I could cum yet."

"What?" I asked, surprised even though I knew how forward Simon could be. "He asked that out of the blue, just like that?"

"Well, I suppose it wasn't completely out of the blue. It was the Saturday after we had that 'birds and bees' talk in the first year. Remember that?"

"Ah yeah," I said, recalling what passed for a sex education course in our school.

"Anyway," he continued, "I told him I could, and he said that he could, too, even though he didn't have as much hair down there as I did. Then a couple of minutes later he suggested that it would be interesting to compare our tackle. He tried to pretend that it was, like, just vague interest, but from his voice and expression I had the impression that it was more than just idle curiosity."

"And did you?" I asked, a little breathless with excitement. "Did you compare?"

"Well, I wanted to, but I didn't want to seem too eager, so I said he should go first. We argued about that for a bit then decided to do it at the same time, so we undid our jeans and started to pull down our underpants."

At that point he paused, and I wondered if it was just for dramatic effect, but as the silence lengthened I couldn't contain myself any longer.

"And?" I prompted. "What happened then?"

"Then," he said and sighed. "Then Robert burst into the room."

"Oh, shit!" I exclaimed without thought.

"Oh, shit, indeed," he responded with wry humour. Then his tone became sad as he continued, "Unfortunately I'd got further than Simon in pushing down my pants and I was in a more direct line of sight from the doorway. Simon quickly fastened up his jeans, but I was so shocked and scared that I just froze, so Robert only saw me with my jeans down. I don't know if he'd even had a chance to notice that Simon's bits had also been hanging out."

There was a brief pause as Frank allowed me to absorb the horror of the situation, then he continued, "Anyway, Robert went crazy and started calling me all sorts of horrible names. Then he grabbed me, dragged me out of the room, punched me in the stomach and almost threw me downstairs."

"But you're probably almost as strong as Robert," I said. "Why didn't you defend yourself?"

"I guess I was in shock, and I was still trying to fasten my jeans, and, and I s'pose I felt guilty, like maybe I deserved it."

"Of course you didn't deserve it!" I protested. "You hadn't been doing anything that deserved being attacked like that."

"Robert obviously didn't agree with you on that," he said with a wry sadness, "because as he pushed me out of the house he called me a disgusting pervert and said if he ever saw me anywhere near his brother again then he'd kill me."

"And that's why you stopped being friends with Simon."

"No!" he responded. "Once I got over the shock I realised that I wasn't afraid of Robert, at least not physically. I was worried he might spread rumours about me, but even that wouldn't have been enough to stop me being friends with Simon. He was my best friend, and if Robert said anything we would both just deny it. After all, Simon's very popular and it would've been Robert's word against ours."

"So what happened then? With you and Simon?"

"When I got back to school on the Monday Simon just ignored me all day. When school ended I managed to get him alone and told him that as far as I was concerned we were still friends, despite what his brother said. He wouldn't look me in the eyes and just started to walk away from me. As I followed him I told him that if he was afraid of Robert then we could get together when his brother couldn't find out. But he just carried on walking and ignored me. And he's never spoken to me since."

He couldn't hide the sadness and hurt in his voice, which cracked slightly during the very last part of his tale. We obviously had more in common than I'd thought, and my heart reached out to him, though my body didn't move. I felt that his story and show of trust deserved some sort of comment, but I couldn't think of anything particularly appropriate to say. Eventually, I settled for what might be regarded as a somewhat trite comment.

"Seems to me that you're a much better friend than Simon," I said.

Of course I was aware that there was more than one way that might be interpreted, but I wasn't concerned about possible ambiguity because my true feelings were contained within any and all of its meanings.

There was a long silence, during which I could hear Frank moving a little, as if he were trying to find a more comfortable position. Turning my head, I could make out his darker form moving against the slightly lighter background of the tent, but after a few seconds he became still and I settled down deeper into my sleeping bag. While Frank had been speaking, the noise of the campers still around the campfire had gradually faded, and from the silence outside I guessed that everyone had retired to their own tents.

For a while I tried to sleep, but Frank's tale and its parallels with my own experiences kept going around and around in my head. From his small, almost imperceptible sounds and movements I deduced that Frank also wasn't sleeping. Indeed, I had the distinct impression that he was waiting for something, though I couldn't pin down any particular reason for that feeling. Then it occurred to me that he was waiting to see if I would return his trust and tell him about Simon and me. Although I'd been careful not to promise anything, I began to feel guilty, and I knew that the feeling of guilt would grow if I didn't share my own story with him.

"Frank, are you awake?" I whispered, though I already knew the answer.

"Yes," he responded quickly, almost before I'd finished the question.

So I told him all about Simon and me. In fact, once I'd started it all seemed to pour out, and I surprised myself not only by how open I was with him but also how easy it was to confide in him. When I'd finished I felt almost dizzy with the sense of relief that washed over me, as if a weight had been suddenly lifted from my chest. The only part that I missed out was the reason Simon stopped being my friend. I merely told him that Simon had suddenly ended the friendship and allowed Frank to draw his own conclusions.

I never mentioned my confession of love to Simon in case Frank might think I was queer, and although I did trust Frank, that trust was not yet total or unconditional. Whether or not he suspected or even cared that something had been missed out I don't know, but I was grateful that he didn't ask me any questions about it.

"Thanks, Ian," was his only comment. Then a few seconds later he added, "G'night."

For several minutes I lay still, and in the quiet darkness I could just about hear his breathing as it became slower and deeper. As there had been no detectable movement from him for some time, I presumed that he was asleep. However, I wasn't feeling at all sleepy, and in fact I was feeling incredibly horny. Because of the severe limits on my privacy, since the start of the camping trip I'd had the opportunity for only one wank, late at night in the toilets. Also, after exchange of stories with Frank, my head was filled with images of Frank with Simon, as well as with memories of my own adventures. Although I was pretty sure that Frank was asleep, I did my best to minimise the extent and speed of my movements as I slowly moved my hand on my erection.

"Need a hand with that?"

Although the voice was so quiet as to be barely audible, it startled me and caused my whole body to twitch before it froze completely. Embarrassed at being caught in the act, I remained still and silent, desperately trying to suppress my breathing. After what seemed like ages but was probably just a few seconds, Frank spoke again, still so quietly that I could just make out the words.

"Sorry to disturb you, but you did say that you and Simon, well, erm, did stuff." He began nervously and hesitantly, but then seemed to gather courage and continued a little more quickly, "I'm sure it's much better than doing it on your own, so I'd be happy to give you a, erm, helping hand."

As he spoke the last few words I detected a hint of humour in his voice, and my tensely frozen muscles began to relax a little. Of course I wanted to accept his offer, but I didn't want to seem too eager, so I didn't answer immediately. Frank waited, patiently motionless, until I eventually spoke.

"Okay," I said rather lamely.

It appeared that was all the permission that he needed because he immediately unzipped his sleeping bag and quickly moved closer to me. Then, with him lying on his side and me still on my back, he unzipped the top half of my sleeping bag. The feeling of the cold air on my torso was quickly followed by the touch of his warm hand on my stomach. His hand rested there briefly before it began a gentle, circular stroking movement.

Without any intermediate contact below my belly button, his hand immediately moved to my dick with an uncanny accuracy, bearing in mind that I must have appeared to him as he did to me, a vague and darker shape in the darkness. I moved my own hand away, allowing him free access, whereupon he grabbed my erection tightly just below the head and began to jerk it quite roughly.

"Ouch! Be more gentle!" I hissed.

"Sorry!" he whispered contritely as he complied with my request.

Reaching sideways, after a brief fumbling I managed to get my hand inside Frank's sleeping bag, at which point I discovered he was wearing nothing below his waist. When I made contact with his dick I thought that he'd already cum because it and everything near it was very wet. However, it turned out that it was just precum which seemed to pour out in prodigious amounts, unlike mine which merely dribbled. Up until that point the only penis I'd touched, apart from my own, had been Simon's, and we both had foreskins. So holding Frank's circumcised dick provided an extra novelty.

He gave a quite moan as I fondled his erection, then when I began stroking he moaned a little louder. After less than a dozen strokes he made a cute little sound that was half way between a groan and a whimper as his dick throbbed. The feeling of his semen gushing over my hand triggered my own ejaculation, which was both quieter and less copious. We lay motionless and silent for a couple of minutes until Frank took his hand away, and I both heard and felt him moving around. A couple of seconds later, his hand returned with some paper tissues, and I was touched to note that he cleaned me up before attending to himself. Because I'd been lying on my back, my sleeping bag was relatively dry, but Frank's was soaked, and it took him some time to dry himself off.

Eventually, when he was satisfied that it was the best he could do, he discarded the tissues and snuggled up to closer to me. I was still lying on my back and he was again on his side facing me. The still-open top halves our bags were almost touching, but we both kept our arms and hands inside our respective bags. Then he spoke for the first time since our orgasms.

"That was great," he said quietly. "Really great."

"Yeah," I agreed. "I really needed that."

"Ya know," he said hesitantly. "Ya know I wouldn't have offered, or done anything if you hadn't told me about you and Simon. Ya know that, don't you?"

"Yeah, I know," I said. "But it doesn't really matter, cos I prob'ly would've let you to do it even if I hadn't told you."

"I've never done anything like that before," he said. Then he gave a little laugh and continued, "Well, not with anyone else. But I've done it quite a bit on my own!"

"Well, it is more fun with someone else," I commented.

"Have you, erm, have you ever done it with anyone besides Simon. Maybe with a girl?"

"No, just Simon. Now you."

As soon as I said that I felt his body relax against me, though I don't know if that relaxation was related in any way to my answer. There was a long silence, and I was beginning to doze off before he spoke again.

"It's cold," he said, and although the words were a very simple statement, there was a strange questioning, almost pleading tone to it.

I realised that I, too, was getting cold, so my first thought was to zip up my bag and suggest that he do the same. However, instinct took over. I turned to face him, put my arm over him and pulled us together until we were touching with my head on his chest, just below his chin. Had I thought about it first, I certainly wouldn't have done that, fearing that he might flinch away and call me queer. As it happened, I didn't think and he didn't pull away, but instead he just relaxed into my embrace.

"Feeling a bit warmer?" I mumbled into his chest.

"Mmmmm," he responded, and we drifted off to sleep.

The next thing I remember was waking up in the early hours of the morning, the dim light indicating that it was not long after dawn. I was lying on my back with Frank's arm thrown over my chest and a much of my upper body exposed. I pulled my sleeping bag closed around me, partially dislodging his arm but apparently not disturbing his sleep. Even after wrapping myself in my bag, I felt a particularly unpleasant combination of cold and stickiness that prevented my returning to sleep, so I decided that a shower might warm me up as well as removing any residual bodily fluids.

Although my previous movements hadn't woken him, Frank did wake up when I started putting on some dirty clothes and getting out clean clothes for after my shower. In response to his mumbled query I told him what I was doing, and he decided to join me. Neither of us had mentioned the events of the previous night, though we cast sheepish glances at one another. Maybe he, like me, was waiting to see who would bring up the subject first and how the other would react in the cold light of day.

The campsite was quiet under the dull grey sky, and everyone else was obviously still asleep as we made our way in silence to the deserted showers, pausing briefly at the toilets to relieve our bladders. Without comment, Frank joined me under the same showerhead, and for a minute or so we just luxuriated in the warmth. Although we'd seen one another naked before, we looked at one another more closely now, for the first time making no attempt to hide our interest in what we saw. Both of us were sporting semi-erections.

"I never knew hot water could feel so good," he said, and then he proceeded to rub soap on my back.

"I never knew having my back soaped could feel so good," I responded.

He moved closer behind me until he was pressed against my back and I could feel his now fully hard dick pressing against the base of my spine. Then he ran his soapy hands over my chest and stomach before grabbing my dick.

"Not here!" I hissed, pulling away in panic and turning to face him. "You never know if someone else will come in!"

"Oh, yeah. Sorry," he said, looking contrite. "I didn't think."

He avoided looking at me for the next couple of minutes as we showered in silence, then he spoke again, concern in his voice. "You don't regret it, do you? What happened last night?"

"Of course not!" I replied with a grin. "It was great fun."

"Good," he said, his worried look dissolving into a smile of relief. "Cos I was hoping we might do it again sometime."

"So was I," I said, my grin getting wider.

We'd rinsed off and were just starting to get dressed in our clean clothes when he spoke again.

"Ya know... wanking one another was really great," he said, then paused and averted his gaze before he continued, "but I bet a blow job is even better."

"Yes, it is," I replied, grinning and blushing. "And maybe you'll find out tonight. If you're a good boy all day today."

"Oh, I'll be good," he said, looking as happy as a child who'd been told there would be a whole week of Christmases. "You can bet on that!"

By the time we got back to the tent there were some slight stirrings of life around the campsite, but the only person who appeared to be doing anything purposeful was Mr Carter. He was just starting to gather together the breakfast things and seemed rather surprised to see us returning from the showers so early. Not wishing to disturb anyone still sleeping, we didn't call out to him but merely gave him a cheerful wave.

When we got to our tent Frank went in first, and then as I crouched down to enter, I put my left hand on the ground to steady myself. I cried out as I felt a sharp pain in the ball of my thumb, and looking at the source of the pain I saw the top of a beer bottle partially embedded there.

"What's the matter?" Frank asked as his head appeared in the entrance to the tent.

I mutely showed him my damaged hand as I gingerly removed the bottle top.

"Ouch!" Frank said in sympathy. "Better let Mr Carter have a look at it. Remember he said we should report any accidents to a teacher."

Blood was beginning to ooze out of the small wound and there was a small throbbing that was more ache than pain. However, it seemed too trivial to take to a teacher, and I didn't want anyone, especially Frank, to think I was a wimp.

"Nah," I said. "It's only a little cut and the bottle top looks new and relatively clean. It just needs cleaning and covering."

"Okay," he replied a little doubtfully, taking the bottle top from me and examining it closely. "Just wait there a sec."

He disappeared back inside the tent and quickly returned with a bottle of water and a handful of paper tissues.

"Hold out your hand," he said as he opened the bottle.

When I complied he poured some of the water over the wound.

"Bloody hell!" I swore. "That hurts!"

There was a mixed expression of mild surprise and barely suppressed amusement on his face as he looked at the bottle in his hand.

"Maybe it's cos it's fizzy water?" he said. "Maybe still water wouldn't hurt so much, but this is all we've got."

He poured some more of it over the cut, but this time I was prepared and suppressed my urge to cry out. Then he dabbed my hand with some of the tissues, poured the rest of the contents of the bottle over the wound and dabbed again with the remaining tissues until my hand was dry.

"Come inside," he said.

When I followed him into the tent I saw him on his knees, opening up the small first aid box that he'd brought on the trip. As I knelt down, sitting on my ankles, he turned and put the box down between us, so I held out my hand, still oozing blood, toward him. Then his expression changed from one of mild concern to that of someone who's just had an idea, and instead of taking the disinfectant and adhesive dressings out of the box as I'd expected, he took his small Swiss Army knife from his bag and put some disinfectant on one of the blades.

"Er, what're ya doing?" I asked worriedly, quickly withdrawing my hand. Then trying to make a joke of it, I added, "It doesn't need surgery!"

"I know that," he said with an enigmatic smile.

Then to my amazement he made a small cut just below the thumb on his own left hand, as if he were trying to give himself an injury identical to mine.

"Give me your hand," he said as his own blood began to well up out of the cut.

Somewhat tentatively I complied, and he pressed our wounds together.

"Now we're blood brothers," he said with a satisfied smile.

Then he looked at me with a slightly embarrassed expression, as if having second thoughts or perhaps apprehensive about my reaction. Although I thought that his behaviour was rather eccentric, I must admit that I was touched by his gesture.

"Blood brothers," I echoed.

In silence he applied disinfectant and dressing to my wound, and then I did the same for him.

That day the weather was cloudy and cool but there was no rain, so it was almost ideal for our moderately hard hill walking. Although Frank and I had known one another for some weeks, that day we were more at ease together than we'd ever been before. Later, when we were around the campfire eating a late evening meal with the others, Frank, who was sitting next to me, whispered in my ear.

"Have I been good?" he asked light-heartedly.

Although I'd been thinking for most of the day about my promise to show him how good a blow job was, at first I didn't connect that promise with his question, so I looked at him blankly for a moment before I remembered our conversation in the shower.

"Mmmm," I replied quietly as if pondering the matter "Yeah, I think you were just about good enough."


He said that just loudly enough to attract the attention of those sitting nearby, and a couple of them looked at us curiously. Fortunately, the firelight helped to obscure my blush of embarrassment, which was more acute as some of our companions, including Graham, had already commented on the almost identical dressings on our hands.

"I'd better go for a shower then," Frank said as soon as we finished eating. Then he stood up he and added, "You coming?"

Graham, who was sitting closest to us, must have heard that last part because he looked up and gave me a questioning look. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I wondered if he was remembering that in the past I'd always tried to avoid showering when others were around. While attempting not to attract any more attention, I grabbed Frank's sleeve and pulled him back down to my level.

"Sh!" I whispered, "Not so loud! If the others see us going to the showers together they might get suspicious."

"Why should anybody get suspicious of anything?" he asked quietly, giving me a strange frowning look. "A shower is just a shower."

Unable to think of a suitable answer, I just shrugged. Then after a brief glance around to make sure no one had paid any attention to our interaction, I said, "I'll shower later."

With a nod and a smile Frank stood up and disappeared from the firelight, so I went over to chat with Graham and the others from his tent. A little over half an hour later I went back to our tent to find it empty, so I grabbed a towel and my torch and went up toward the showers. About half way there I met up with Frank who was on his way back to the tent. From his big grin and his request that I hurry it was obvious that he was eager for me to keep my promise.

When I returned to the tent I could see in the torchlight that Frank was already bedded down. Then I did a quick double take because he appeared to be under my blue sleeping bag and I couldn't see his black bag. He saw my expression and correctly guessed its cause.

"Trying to do stuff through the zips was a bit uncomfortable last night," he said, his sheepish look exaggerated by the fact that the light from my torch was making him blink.

"I tried to zip our two bags together so we'd be warmer, but the zips don't fit," he continued, speaking quickly and sounding a little nervous. "So I just opened them up and thought maybe we could lie on mine and use yours to cover us."

He looked at me with his big brown eyes, clearly seeking my approval.

"Right," I said, feeling a little nervous myself. "Seems like a good idea."

As quickly as possible in that cramped space, I stripped down to my T-shirt and boxers, switched off the torch, and crawled under the covering bag. He immediately cuddled up to me, and the first thing I noticed was that his body was much warmer than mine. Just a second or so after that, the next thing I noticed was that he was completely naked and that his erection was pressing against my thigh. I remained lying on my back as his hand moved from my chest to my stomach.

"Brrr, you're cold!" he whispered, though he didn't move away.

"Sorry," I said in an unapologetic tone.

"Never mind. I'm sure you'll soon warm up. Then you can take these off," he said, and his hand plucked at my T-shirt where it overlapped my boxers.

We lay together like that in silence for a few minutes as I warmed up and relaxed into his embrace. My spine tingled every time I felt his hot breath on my shoulder, and then I felt an even greater thrill as his lips gently touched my neck and began to nuzzled there. His lips moved slowly, butterfly-kissing up to my ear then on to my cheek. Automatically, without any conscious thought, I turned my head until our lips met, and after a couple of seconds this turned into a full kiss as our tongues danced together.

"Phew!" he breathed a few minutes later when we paused for breath. "That was amazing."

"Yeah," I agreed, lost for further words.

His dick was still pressing against my thigh, and I reached down to hold it but could hardly keep a grip as it was so slippery with his precum and was throbbing so hard with his heartbeat. That side of my boxers was soaked so I began to push them down, and immediately Frank moved to help. When that task was accomplished he also helped me to remove my T-shirt, and we snuggled and cuddled together, our totally naked bodies touching for the first time and our dicks gently pushing against each other.

"Ya know, you may think this is weird, considering my age," he said after a couple of minutes, sounding a little embarrassed. "But I've never kissed anyone before. Well, not with tongues, anyway."

"Neither have I," I admitted.

"But you and Simon?"

"Simon wouldn't do it," I said simply, omitting the fact that Simon had said it would be 'queer'.

"Oh," he said after a moment's thought. "That seems strange. I mean not kissing but, like, putting your dick in his mouth."

"Yeah, I s'pose it is," I replied. "And speaking of dicks and mouths..."

Instead of finishing my sentence with words, I moved down to keep my promise. Then he returned the favour, proving that he was a very quick learner. Every night for the rest of the camping trip we slept together like that, naked between our two sleeping bags. Every night, no matter how tired we were, we sucked one another off before we fell asleep.

There are some things in life, certain foods, drinks or sounds, which have the ability to soothe and relax us. This may be due to some property inherent in those particular things or it may be the result of an association connected with those things. After that camping trip, the sound of rain, especially when I'm lying in bed, became very soothing for me. On the last night of the trip, as we were cuddled up together and beginning to fall asleep, it began to rain heavily and persistently. When the rain began drumming on the tent Frank held me a little tighter in his arms, and as I fell asleep I felt completely snug, warm and safe.

By the end of the camping trip we'd become not just friends and not just sexual partners but also best friends. No matter how much I might have been in love with Simon, I'd never felt as close to him as I did to Frank. During the period when I'd been socialising frequently with Simon, I'd honestly considered him to be my friend but in retrospect I realised that as a friend he wasn't even in the same league as Frank.

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