Matt and Tim II

by Small Town Guy

Chapter 5

The boys had made several trips out to the tent. Their snacks were in place and the fluorescent lamp was glowing brightly. Tim unrolled the sleeping bag.

"Oh gee, I sure hope you didn't have something special planned for tonight, Matty. I just totally forgot about all of this..."

"...So did I! All I was thinking about was that shower and something to eat. After that, all I thought about was going down into the basement and just zonking out!...

"I'm telling you, I'm beat! All that digging we did today. I'm not used to that...

"Oh gee, I hope I don't fall asleep too quickly! I want to enjoy this for awhile."

They pulled off their t-shirts and slid into the bag without unzipping it. As Matt drew the lamp and cells close, Tim adjusted their pillows.

"Oh yeah!....Oh yeah!....This is going to really feel great. My shoulders and back are just killin'! I sure hope you don't mind if I don't feel like.... doin' anything tonight."

Matt settled back as he drew his arms around Tim.

"...You can do anything you want....Just don't wake me up, hee, hee."

Tim drew his arms around Matt's neck and rested his head on his shoulder.

"Oh yeah, it is a bit chilly tonight, huh?"

"I don't think it's much worse than last year. We took hot showers and had something to eat. We'll be a bit chilly until this bag warms up."

"Oh now I wish it would start raining again," Tim mumbled.

"You gotta be kidding!"

"Well....I don't mean like last year!......Just a gentle rain. We can do without the wind and thunder 'n lightning! I want to hear just a gentle rain pattering on the canvas."

Matt reached out and turned the lamp off.

"Hey!....Don't do that! It's harder trying to stay awake in the dark."

"We'll fall asleep and run the battery dead."

Matt reached around Tim's chest and gave him a deep hug.

"...I always liked your skinny ribs stickin' out, but today....I don't know. You sure looked hot when you took that shirt off! I miss your braces though. Really!"

"Oh I'm so glad those things are finally off!"

"Well, I don't mean I liked it when they hurt you. They were kinda cute 'n hot at the same time."

They remained in silence for several minutes. Matt had just been waiting for Tim's arms to begin to go limp around his neck.

"TIMMY WAKE UP!"

"OH GEE!....Why don't you try scarin' the shit outta me?!"

"That should keep you awake for a couple more minutes."

"Oh, don't be mean like this....I'm just soooo tired. We can lay around in the morning and cuddle."

"You know as well as I do, it'll be hot in here!....Or if it isn't, we'll both be in pain 'cause we gotta pee!"

"Well, we'll go in the house and take care of all of that. We'll eat breakfast and then come back out here. Yeah....and just lay here....'n hold each other....'n just be together..."

Matt remained silent for another minute. He smiled, trying to hold back a giggle.

"TIMMY WAKE UP!"

"OH SHIT! Don't do that!....My heart's just pounding when you yell like that."

"That's the whole point of it......Kinda give you a shot of adrenalin!"

"Ohhhhh....pleeeese?!....I'm hurtin' here! I'm soooo tired. My back hurts, my arms, my shoulders. I need SLEEP Matty!"

Matt giggled as he turned over, pushing Tim to his back. He held his shoulders.

"Ouch!....That hurts!"

Matt gave him a deep kiss, yet for only several seconds.

"Oh gee, that's nice Matty....but I'm hurtin' 'n tired here. Wait 'til I fall asleep and you can do anything you want."

"Hee, hee....You must really be out of it."

"I am!....Let's just lay here and hold each other."

"No. We'll fall asleep!"

"Yes!....That's the whole point of it."

"Just another fifteen minutes......I gotta squeeze your chest and kiss a little."

"...How about five more minutes?"

"No. Just fifteen...

"Like I was saying before. I always liked your skinny ribs stickin' out....but you're filling out now....Nice 'n solid!"

"Ohhh! (cough, cough!)"

"Well I'm not sayin' either one of us is exactly....buff! Just filled out. I think you're passing through that cute stage and getting into the hot one! Oh shit Timmy.... when you took your shirt off out there today......I don't know what it was. It was kinda like I was just seeing you all different today!......It was like I hadn't seen you in months! I mean we see each other everyday! Why haven't I noticed how....HOT you're getting?"

He kissed Tim again. This time Tim had hugged him deeply in return.

"...Well," Tim replied in his somewhat shy manner, "I kinda like SAW you out there too today......You're getting a kinda hot 'V,' you know that?"

"Hee, hee....a 'V'?!"

"Yeah, that kinda crease along your thighs 'n belly. I love 'V's'!"

"I know what it is....but me?"

"Well sure Matty. Oh shit, I think we're both going through a growth spurt. Have you noticed Gram hasn't been into that 'walking skeleton' stuff?......She hasn't called us anorectic for months!"

"Well, I wouldn't call you that! Even when you were a bit more skinny. I just like holding onto your chest. Mmmm....It's so....solid! Oh I love this, Timmy! I love just laying here, holding each other."

"Well, how would you like holding me while I'm asleep?"

"TIM!....Ten more minutes!....Okay?....Then we'll both go to sleep."

He felt Tim kiss his shoulder as he rubbed his back.

"Yeah, I guess we are kinda fillin' out, huh? Funny I never really noticed that before."

"Well, you always gotta have the light off!"

"Matty, I keep tellin' you that's not a....a shy thing with me......I just like to go by sense of touch! Why should I want to see you when I can touch you?"

"Yeah. Oh this is really great. It's still kinda exciting, huh?"

"Matty, if I wasn't so tired tonight....this would be very exciting! But I'm really tired and sore. We're going to have to get out there more this summer and get a little exercise. I'm not talking body building here....Just tone-up a bit. Maybe we could even go out to the river or lake a bit early this summer. So what if we're a little chilly. I'm not one for the cold. I'll say it! This past January was bad! But I really think it would be good for us."

"Yeah....Well the water is kinda warm already, but it's the air! I hate it when there's just the slightest breeze!"

They remained still for several minutes again. Matt smiled as he felt Tim's arms relax.

"TIMMY! WAKE UP!"

"HOLY FUCKIN' SHIT, MATTY!......I'm serious here....You're going to give me a heart attack!...

"Remember last fall when you asked me when we were going to have our first argument?......Well, we're going to have one in the next two minutes if you don't let me get to sleep!......I'll....I'll lock myself in my bedroom 'til twelve tomorrow!"

"Hee, hee....Okay. That was it! I won't do that anymore. But after breakfast tomorrow, we're coming back out here."

"Oh yeah!....I'll love that. We'll be all rested up."

"Yup, we'll be all rested up so we can cuddle up and take a nap!"

"Ohhhh, Matty!....Go to sleep!....Please?!"

"Okay, I promise. It's that it's one of nights where I just can't get close enough to you. Oh this feels so good."


Matt found he woke four hours later. He had to check his cell. It was so dark in the tent, the tiny screen on his phone had caused him to squint.

"Awh!....Why did I wake up? I don't have to go to the bathroom or anything. Oh it's okay. I kind of like waking up for short periods of time...

"Oh, Timmy's still holding me. Oh gee! Now I know why I woke up. My shoulders!....My neck!....My back!....Oh this really hurts. I didn't think I was workin' all that hard out there. I think I set-up while I was sleeping. Oh this just kills! I think I've got to get up and just move around a bit."

He slid from the bag and quickly slipped on his sneakers. He untied only one tie on the flaps near the bottom. He crawled out.

"Oh shit! That dew is running down my back like rain ! Is it heavy already. And really cold too! I've just got to walk along the patio here a bit."

He flexed his arms and shoulders. He rotated himself at the waist.

"Oh yeah, that's better. Oh shit is it cold out here tonight. I think it's the dampness that makes it feel like that."

He gazed up at the crystal clear sky. There was only a sliver of waning moon remaining. The stars shined in sharp contrast with the black sky.

"I could understand a heavy dew if it was more overcast, but it's really heavy tonight."

He gazed across the lawn in the dim glow of the yard lights. Each of the hundreds of drops of dew seemed to flash a slight glint of light toward him as he walked back and forth. The surface of the damp picnic table actually shined. Although he could see the terrace stones were wet, they were too rough to cause reflections. Only the smooth grout between them shown a white light. The irregular shapes in the flagstone walk also had their grout and sealer reflecting light. They nearly looked three-dimensional. It appeared as though they were suspended several inches above the ground.

"Wow!....It's really a pretty night....I just wish it wasn't so cold 'n damp. It's good there isn't any wind tonight."

He leaned up against the picnic table and stepped back. Arching his back, he pumped a few strokes of his arms, stretching.

"Oh yeah!....That's lots better. Oh gee, my whole body aches!...

"Yup, Tim's right....We gotta get out there and do a bit more. The way I feel right now, I don't think I could push a power mower ! It would kill!...

"Oh I'd better get back in there before I catch a chill. I don't want Timmy waking up and finding me gone."

Again he crawled under the tent flaps with more dew running down his bare back. He tied the short strips again in the event of wind starting up. He made his way to the snacks where they always kept an old towel for wiping their greasy, salty hands. He felt around in the dark.

"Ahh! Yes! Here it is. Gee! I can't believe the dew tonight. It's just running off everything!"

After drying off, and removing his shoes, he made a clumsy reentry into the bag. Tim was already on his stomach and stirred a bit. Matt lowered his head to his back and drew up the bag to their necks.

"Well, that little stretch helped some, but my shoulders are in such pain. Yeah, I think that was a bit too much for us yesterday. We walk a lot and ride our bikes, but we don't really do anything with our arms 'n backs. We should rent a boat on the lake this summer. It's only a few dollars to rent a boat for the whole day! We'll start out slowly and kinda work up to it. Yeah, and we'll be dry so the breeze won't feel so bad."

He held Tim's chest in his hands and squeezed it.

"Yup, Tim's really filling out. He's not so thin, front-to-back either. Wow! This really feels good. Oh gee, I feel like I'm getting into another one of those suffocating, clingy moods again. I just can't get close enough to him!"

Tim suddenly lifted up part way on his arms, elbows into the floor.

"Shit, Matty!....Are you cold! You feel all right?"

"Oh sure....I went outside for a bit to stretch. My shoulders are killing me!"

Tim turned to his back again. He reached out for Matt.

"My whole body hurts!....But I'm not going outside to stretch!"

"I had to! I was in too much pain just laying here. I had to move around a bit."

Tim's arms surrounded him, he felt his mouth on his shoulder.

"Oh, Timmy!....I'm in another one of those moods where I just can't get close enough to you!....I feel like I'm getting too clingy again."

Tim rubbed his back with his mouth still on his shoulder. He felt his mouth turn into a smile.

"I've already told you....Cling all you want!....It's not like you're all over me out in public. I really don't mind us getting....clingy while we're alone."

"Well, it just worries me. I keep thinking you're going to get so tired of this."

This time it was Tim who pushed him over to his back. He stretched out on top of him, and kissed his cheek, pausing for a moment.

"Matty, I could never get tired of you. I like these times as well. It's just such a close....loving feeling."

He kissed his mouth deeply as Matt hugged him tight. Suddenly he drew back.

"Ouch!....My shoulders!"

"Awh! Sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I forgot again. I just can't get close enough to you!"

They remained in silence for a moment. Before either had known, both had dropped back into a deep sleep.

Tim opened his eyes and glanced around within the green tent. There was the sound of birds chirping nearby and the caw of a distant crow. He felt Matt's chest against him and his arms still around him.

"Oh gee. We must have fell asleep!....It's getting light out there already. I never even felt that coming on. Oh shit I hated bein' that tired last night..."

Matt began to rub Tim's back and kiss his neck.

"...You awake Timmy?"

"Oh yeah....And I just realized why....I gotta PEE!"

"Well, umm....so do I. Let's take care of business and come right back out here. This feels so good. I mean even if we don't exactly go back to sleep..."

"Let me check the time..."

"I'd say it's about seven thirty. I woke up a bit ago."

"Awh....We missed the anniversary of our first kiss!"

Matt smiled as he rubbed Tim's back some more.

"Oh wow!....Our first kiss!....Timmy....that was so HOT 'n....SWEET all at the same time! I was sooooo scared to try that. I just couldn't resist any longer. I tried to come out to you. I just couldn't find the words. I was in HEAVEN, Timmy!"

He paused here for a moment as he gave Tim a smile.

"That sure was no little peck! I'll just never, ever forget that."

"Oh yeah! Me either....I've thought about that a lot. I enjoyed it too. But it was so much more than just a kiss, Matty......I think we actually....said a lot more with that kiss than we'd have ever been able to do with words!"

"You're right......And as much as I'd like to lay here talking about this. I really gotta get into the house!....I'm in pain here!"

"Yeah. Mom and Dad will be gone to work but let's try to not wake Gram."

As they made their way to the steps, they glanced up at the gray sky.

"Well," Matt put in, "maybe we'll get that rain you wanted."


As they left the bathroom, they passed into the kitchen. Both looked around with the same expressions. Matt turned to him.

"I believe we're both thinking the same thing....We're hungry!"

"You got that right. And I was thinking something along the manner of pancakes!"

"Awh, cereal will be fine."

"No! Pancakes and bacon!....It can't be that hard to do."

They had been whispering to each other as Tim made his way to the nook. He slid a note off the table.

"It's from Gram!" he said in a more normal volume, "She went to the senior citizen's place. It was her turn to help in the kitchen for their coffee hour today."

"We got the whole house to ourselves! Lets put on a feast!"

"Oh no!....Let's keep it simple....Bacon, pancakes and....chocolate milk."

"Okay."

Matt got his knees on the floor before a cabinet. Tim drew out bacon from the refrigerator.

"Right in front of you, Matt," Tim put in, looking at him.

"This big bag?"

"Yup."

"I thought that was flour for bread!....I was looking for a little cardboard box of pancake mix."

"Nope. That's about the only thing Mom buys in bulk like that. We all go through lots of pancakes around here....As you may have seen."

"Well, yeah, but I never saw the container!....Just the batter all mixed up."

"Set that on the counter. I'll use the food processor to mix it up."

"A food processor?!"

"Well sure! It has a mixing blade. It does everything!"

Tim drew out the processor and set it on the counter. As he was measuring, Matt drew out a large frying pan.

"No Matt. Go into the oven. There's a special tray in there for bacon. It let's the grease drain through. Just rinse the strips of bacon at the sink there under hot water."

"...Rinse the bacon?"

"Hee, hee....Yeah. It get's some of the fat and salt out."

Tim went for the refrigerator for eggs and returned to the counter. Matt covered the tray with bacon strips and slid it into the oven.

"Oh Matt!....Would you grab the milk out of there?"

Matt started toward the counter with the gallon plastic container. His greasy fingers slid from the handle and it fell. The pressed on cap popped off as milk shot out.

"Oh no!"

Both bent over to reach for it and bumped their heads together.

"Ouch!......Oh! Matty, go into the laundry room. Grab a couple of those old beach towels. We'll soak this up."

Matt threw a towel over the spill as he gazed at Tim. He was cracking eggs into a shallow bowl.

"What are you doing?....Measuring the eggs?!"

"Hee, hee, not really....I have to crack eggs into a bowl. I'm sure to get some shells into it. This way I can spoon 'em out!"

Matt set the large bag of mix onto the island to allow Tim more space.

He studied the eggs in the bowl.

"...I don't believe this. I didn't get any shells into it!"

He poured them into the processor with a measure of milk. Reaching over the counter he plugged the cord into the outlet. The processor started up with a high-pitched whine. Batter began splashing out the top of the container. It was both part batter and dry flour mix. He quickly went to cup his hands over the top as Matt rushed through the cloud of flour and pulled the cord from the outlet. At the same time, the container was pushed from the base of the unit and tilted over. Half the contents spilled onto the floor, the rest into the sink and onto the counter.

"Shit! I didn't know it was already ON! I didn't have the lid on it yet!"

They stood there watching the batter run down the cabinet as the cloud of flour settled out. Tim gave him a serious expression.

"...Ummm....How do you feel about French toast?"

"...Well, maybe it'll be less....messy!"

"Oh let's get this cleaned up first."

"Gotcha!"

Tim brought out a mop from the utility room as Matt wiped the counter top. Tim was about to dampen the sponge-mop in the sink and struck the milk container. It tilted over and began pouring milk over the counter again. Matt quickly up-righted the container again. He went for the spray attachment on the sink.

"Oh!....Just let me spray all this into the sink!"

Tim already had the hot water on full force to wet the mop. The spray struck the counter, the wall, and returned into their faces.

"Oh gee!....I guess that wasn't a very good idea!"

As Tim mopped the floor, Matt was wiping the counters. They both eyed the large bag of mix on the island. Both thought of it falling or in some way getting wet. They both reached for it from opposite sides of the island. The bag quickly ripped in two, dumping another large cloud of flour to the floor and into the air.

Matt gave a frustrated expression as he studied the ripped piece of bag in his hand.

"...I thought we were past that KLUTZY STAGE!"

Tim studied the cloud settling over their shoulders, arms and onto their hair.

"...Matty....The next time you suggest cereal and I say no....Kick my ass!"

It was here the door opened into the dining room.

"Oh no!....Gram! Just stay there! Don't come in here!....We'll have this cleaned up in no time!"

She entered the kitchen to see the damp beach towel on the floor, batter running down the cabinets, milk on the counter-top and flour covering the boys. And egg was slowly rolling toward the edge of the counter. It fell to the floor with a splat.

"OH MY STARS!....Ha, ha, ha....Hee, hee! Oh dear!......I'm not even going to ask how all this happened! Oh dear!....Oh my stars!....Hee, hee."

She quickly made her way to the nook and sat. She held her stomach as she continued to laugh.

"Oh!....You two look so silly all covered with flour!"

"Gram, I promise!....We'll clean up this mess!"

"Oh now don't you worry about that!"

"No Gram......We'll clean this up."

Minutes later as they cleaned, Tim noticed smoke coming from the oven vent.

"Oh no!....The bacon!" he yelled running for it.

He switched on the exhaust fan as he drew out the pan of bacon.

"Awhhhh!....It's all burned to a crisp."

"Hee, hee....How many irons do you two have in the fire?"

"I don't know....I lost track. I think that's it!"

"Well, you two did fine here. Now I think it best you use that shower out in the utility room. We don't need you tracking all that flour through the house."

Tim was first into the shower as Matt finished scrubbing the bacon pan.

"Oh gee, Gram....We tried so hard to do this. We've gotta learn to do some cooking on our own. We don't like you having to wait on us all the time."

"...Now I keep telling you boys, this isn't work for me! How I enjoy this!...

"I do see your point though......In a couple more years, you'll be off on your own and you'll have to be doing these things..."

She sat back and thought for a moment.

"...Now I think this Saturday we'll start with Breakfast one-oh-one! A simple bacon and eggs one. Then we'll get to the other things..."

A half hour later, they sat at the nook and ate French toast slices with tiny sausages. Matt was still shaking his head.

"Oh that drain in the shower! That flour had it clogged up like glue! I had to keep rubbing it with my toes to get the water to drain! All I could see, was now I was going to flood out the laundry room!"

"Hee, hee....Well at least you two tried."

As they cleared the table later, Tim gazed out the window. The sky was overcast and it was drizzling.

"You were right Matty! It started raining a bit......I'll love this!"

"Oh! Don't tell me you plan on going out into that cold, damp tent in this!"

"Sure, Gram. I love to just lay there and listen to the rain on the canvas. We can't really do anything today. And even if it was nice....we're still hurtin' bad from all that digging we did yesterday. We're planning on getting out a bit more this summer."

"Well, it certainly won't hurt either one of you. I think you boys are just filling out fine. Oh my stars!....I was so worried about you two being so skinny! I just wish you two wouldn't run around in shorts in weather like this. You should go get into some jeans and cover up a bit more!"

"Gram....the tent's warm! You know me, I can't take the cold."

Tim went to lift on the plastic pail on the floor.

"Ouch!....Oh that kills!....My back!....My shoulders!"

Matt reached out for the handle as well.

"Let's both lift it. We'll dump it in the shower in the laundry room....That way we won't have that far to lift."

"Oh dear, you boys be careful there."

"It's okay Gram. We're just still awful sore from yesterday."


Minutes later they rushed out to the tent again. They both kicked off their sneakers without bothering to untie them.

Matt rushed for the sleeping bag and slid into it in one smooth motion. He held his arms out with a silly grin.

"Come to me....my little Darling!"

"Oh shit, Matty! You just aren't going to let me forget that, are you?!"

"Oh come on Timmy. I think that was so sweet of you. I'm not teasing you about it! Now come on and get in here with me."

Tim slid into the bag. They drew up close to each other. Matt quickly got to his knees and straddled Tim's hips.

"Okay....we're a bit late with this, but we've got to reenact our first kiss out here...

"And I've been wanting to ask you about that......Did you think I was going to try that?"

Tim nodded his head with a smile.

"I already told you that!......I really thought you were going to try it. I didn't know what to do at first. I didn't want to really do anything! I didn't want to scare you and not have you try. So I just laid here....kinda doing nothing!"

"Oh Timmy!....All I could see was your mouth. And I could see your braces kinda showing through that little smile of yours...

"I put my hands on the floor here....right beside your head and I started leaning forward like this. Oh! You looked a bit tired yet, but that's when you told me your braces didn't hurt. And I could see that mouth! Oh wow! I just couldn't resist any more! I kept thinking if this was the time....If we were ready here...

"...And I kept getting closer 'n closer like this. I did it slowly, in case you wanted to turn your head away. Oh! Our lips were so close together....I could actually feel the heat coming from them. Then....they finally touched like this..."

As he went to kiss Tim, his arms gave out. He fell forward and they knocked foreheads.

"Oh! Ouch!....I didn't mean that, Timmy! My ARMS! They're just killing!"

As he spoke, he tried to hold onto Tim's shoulders.

"Ouch! Matty! I'm hurtin' here too!"

Tim went to hug Matt.

"Ouch!....Easy!"

"Hee, hee....Oh shit!....What an anniversary! We're in such pain, we can't even DO anything!"

"Let's lay on our sides here."

"I can't be this close to you without hugging you!"

They tried their best with their sore muscles.

"Oh shit, Matty!....I feel worse today than I did yesterday! And when we got done with the digging, we helped the girls with painting! My arms don't just hurt, they feel like they weigh fifty pounds!"

Matt suddenly held his finger up.

"Listen!"

It was here they noticed the heavier rain pelting the tent.

"Oh yeah!" Tim put in, "I was hoping for this!......No thunder 'n lightning or wind! Just a nice rain striking the tent. I don't know what it is about the rain, but it sure helps me to sleep. I think it's more psychological than anything, but I love it!"

Matt moved his face closer to Tim's and kissed his lips lightly.

"I barely recall the rain that night......Well, I do remember it was rather nasty but I just wasn't paying all that much attention to it."

He smiled and felt a slight blush overcome him.

"Oh Timmy!....I was just so happy that night!....Well morning? It was just starting to get a bit light out. And after that kiss....we were out to each other! It just felt sooooo good! I was trying so hard not to start crying, but I just couldn't help it! Oh shit! We fell back to sleep......I don't think I ever slept so soundly in my life!"

"Oh yeah! Me too!......That was great! As I told you, I woke up a few times there. I just had to look at you! You were just so sweet 'n cute that morning. And I kept thinking about you wondering if you should come out to me that morning. You mentioned you didn't get much sleep worrying about it."

Matt nodded his head.

"Yeah. I kept thinking if I didn't say anything, I'd at least have those little moments where we could just lay together and hold each other......I think in the back of my mind, I really did want to come out. I wanted it to be more than that. Oh shit, Timmy! That kiss!......I'll just never forget that! It....it just changed everything! I was just so....so relieved after all that...

"I just wish that could have been a bit more romantic."

"Never Matty!....I keep tellin' you....That was perfect! Perfect in every way. I really didn't mind the rain. And, well yeah, it was a bit cold....damp, chilly. But I liked that part too. We were warm in the bag here. Everything was just perfect!"

Matt moved in closer to him. He lightly kissed his lips. He drew himself closer by pulling on his shoulders.

"Umph!....Ouch, that hurts!"

"...Sorry. I keep forgetting."

He remained beside Tim as he gently rubbed his chest.

"Oh shit, I wish we weren't so sore. This would be perfect."

They drew together and within minutes fell into a deep sleep. When they opened their eyes, it was already dusk.

"Holy shit!," Matt said, looking around, "...We slept all day?!"

"Matty....I like really gotta go into the house for a bit. I gotta pee a lake again! I need to get some of that sport cream out of the bathroom too. This feels like it's getting worse 'n worse! My back 'n shoulders are just killing!"

Without switching on the lamp, Tim began untying the bottom two ties on the tent flaps. They didn't bother with shirts or shoes as they crawled out onto the damp grass on their hands and knees. Tim quickly got to his feet.

"Oh gee, that drizzle feels like ice!"

Both ran for the back steps and into the kitchen.

It was obvious several small counter lights had been left on in the kitchen. Both wiped their bare feet on a throw rug before the door. Tim ran for the bathroom.

"Oh gee, it is cold out in that rain," Matt thought, "I'm fixing us a hot chocolate right now!....With a good dash of heavy cream in it!"

Tim entered just as Matt had set the items on the island.

"What are you doing?"

"Making us both a hot chocolate! That little dash in the rain chilled me right down."

Minutes later they sipped hot chocolate as Tim uncapped a large plastic tube in his hand. He turned to face outward on the edge of the bench seat of the nook.

"Just rub a bit of this on my shoulders and back....and be easy about it!"

Matt tried as gently as he could to rub the cream onto him.

"Ouch, ouch!....Easy, huh?"

It was here Ayumi came into the kitchen in her robe. Her face was tired and her hair was tied back.

"Oh shucks, Mom!....We didn't mean to wake you. I didn't think you'd be sleeping this early."

"We all went to bed early! I think it's just this dreary day. The rain! Are you boys okay?"

"...Yeah....Just a little sore from all that digging we did yesterday. My shoulders are so sore, it feels like my arms are going to drop off!"

She poured a small glass of milk from the refrigerator.

"Well, as long as that's all it is. I was afraid you two had upset stomachs or something. We were wondering if you two were okay out there. You slept all day! I had Dad check on you."

"Nah!....We're just sore. Tonight would have been perfect. It's just with all that digging 'n painting we did. It just keeps getting worse! All we wanted to do was sleep!"

Ayumi sipped at her glass as she sat on a stool at the island.

"..Well, maybe the tent wasn't such a good idea tonight......Why don't you move down into the basement."

"...It's not the tent that's doing it! We just haven't been all that active all winter."

Ayumi nodded her head with a slight smile.

"...Oh yeah. You've spent nearly the entire winter sitting at a desk....At school and here at home as well! I'm sure you'll toughen-up a bit over the summer...

"It's just that I don't think that tent is exactly helping you. Way too damp and cold."

She gazed over them both shirtless and barefoot. She shook her head.

"Don't tell me you two sleep like that out there!"

"Yes we do, Mom!......It's warm in the sleeping bag! We're just a bit out of shape. We plan to do more this summer. We gotta get out there and take a rowboat or canoe out a bit. We've gotta work on our upper bodies some. We do lots of walking and bike riding. That's not helping our arms 'n shoulders."

"Well there's only one rule I'll call for on that......LIFEJACKETS! And I mean at all times!......If you were to tip over and get knocked unconscious, you'd drown!...

"You could sign up at the gym too!"

"Oh Mom!....The GYM?......How totally boring! Just sitting there working out on a machine?! I think that's why lots of people never follow through with stuff like that. We can go out and get exercise and have fun at the same time."

He stood and looked at Matt.

"Okay, Matty....You sit on the outside here and I'll put some cream on you."

Ayumi smiled as she looked at them.

"Oh! Gram's right!......You two look so sweet when you're caring for each other. I think I started noticing that a bit more as time went on......I wasn't so sure at first. I had nothing to compare it to. Gram's right....You two just couldn't hide it from us any longer."

Matt sat as Tim applied cream to his shoulders.

"Hurt?"

"...Umm....a little I guess. Not that you're being rough or anything. You could be putting the stuff on with a feather and I think it would hurt!"

"Oh, I still say you boys should set up down in the basement. We wanted to do something for your first anniversary, but now I'm thinking otherwise. That cold, damp tent just isn't going to help."

"It's not that, Mom. We're just a bit out of shape."

"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that. You two have really grown in the past six months. I never really said anything, but I was getting a bit worried about you two being so thin all the time. I guess all that eating is finally filling you both out."

She went for the sink and ran water into her empty glass. She turned and leaned up against the sink.

"Yeah, boys....I think I knew what I was seeing all along. I guess I was just denying it all."

Tim nodded his head as he ran his hands down Matt's back.

"...Yeah......Having a gay kid......I understand all that."

"Oh Timmy! Now that's not it at all!...

"I really understand all this. And I know you can't change! I'm very happy for the both of you....but I worry..."

She made her way back to the island and sat on the stool.

"Things are really turning around for the gay community, and in years to come, this will all be history....Yet....there'll always be the bigots out there....The haters! That's truly the only thing we worry about..."

She seemed to brighten slightly in thought.

"Oh! I just remembered....Ryan called earlier tonight."

"...Really? Everything okay?"

"Oh yes!....He forgot your cell number. I gave it to him and told him to call you out in the tent."

She gave a sheepish grin.

"...Umm....I had told him it was your first anniversary and what we'd done. Oh dear, he sounded sooooo embarrassed about calling you.......He said he didn't want to.... umm....interrupt anything."

"Oh Mom! We weren't doing anything! Really! We're so sore tonight, it's hard to just hug each other."

"Well, I guess he felt a bit uncomfortable about it."

She continued to smile.

"We had a nice little chat there for a few minutes...

"You know his family was going to PFLAG's with him......Ethan's too!

"I went with them to their first meeting. I guess they were a bit uncomfortable about it....a bit embarrassed. But you wouldn't believe what progress they made in just those couple hours! Well, the meeting was about two hours, with all kinds of speakers. I actually think it was the coffee hour after, where they really started understanding!"

"Really?!"

"Oh yeah! They were questioning others while we sort of milled around. Parents with kids as young as eleven!...

"I have to admit, they went there with very open minds...

"I only wish you could have been there Matty."

"Really?!"

"Oh yeah. They had a counselor up there giving a talk about suicides and bullying and all that. I don't think it was anywhere near as good as the one you gave last year at the school. But it seemed to get people's attention. I noticed it on lots of their faces. You could just see it!....If they weren't exactly accepting yet, you could tell they were at least thinking about it...

"Oh yeah....Ryan's parents were questioning everyone! I'd like to see lots of those other parents get up there and talk as well. I really think it's the parents who want to talk to other parents more than any of the professionals.

"They were a bit quiet on their way up there, but on the way home they were sure a lot more talkative! I tried to answer their questions as best as I could. I think they understand now that love knows no gender.

"Yup!......Your father and I could sort of see that right from the start......Oh! Not that you two were gay or anything......It's just how you two were made for each other. You were both so shy and quiet. You've done wonders for each other!

"Oh!....And Ryan says he took a spill on his skateboard. He thought he fractured his arm.......It was just a pulled muscle."

"Oh gee, that sounds painful."

"Well, he says it's not all that bad."

"So did he say if he had anything important for us?"

"Well, as I say....I think his parents have....well....adjusted to this fairly well.... Ethan's parents too! They were there along with the rest of us. I went out there with them for the first time. I had no idea if they'd be shy or embarrassed or whatever. I wanted to be sure to get them talking with the other parents there. Well, not that I really had to. They seemed quite comfortable talking with others rather quickly. Of course they asked quite a few questions...

"I had a little talk with them myself. Well, it was more about the boys....visiting here.

"As I say, we have to be careful. I hate the sound of it, but I don't want parents thinking of this place as a....a gay hangout! Lots of people think gay is learned. I just don't want any trouble. We love you boys having your friends over....as long as their parents know about everything."

"Yeah....we understand all that."

Matt flexed his shoulders a couple times.

"Okay," he said, "That's good. I don't think anything is going to really help except time."

"Well let me get you boys a couple sweatshirts out."

"No! Mom!....We don't need 'em!"

"Oh gee!....I get the chills just looking at you two shirtless and barefoot!"

"It's warm in there! You know I can't take the cold. We'll be fine....Well, as soon as this pain goes down some. I think I just need a couple aspirin."

"Well, I still don't think that tent was a good idea tonight....Not with sore muscles."

"We'll be okay. We just like holding each other. It's just it's kinda painful."

"Well, I still say you should go down into the basement. It would be different if you two felt better. We never thought of you being so sore from your work yesterday."

The both stood and stretched.

"We'll be in just as much pain in the basement as in the tent! This will just have to run its course...

"Well, we'll grab a couple old towels out of the laundry room. We'll dry off and get right back into the sleeping bag."

Both of them took aspirin with a sleep ingredient.

Ayumi glanced out the window. Rain ran down the pane, blurring the yard lights. She shivered and rubbed her arms.

"Oh gee! Just the thought of it. I couldn't dash out into that even for a few seconds!"

"Mom! We're going to be in the back yard! If we get cold we'll come inside."

"Do you two seriously think you're going to sleep?......You slept all day!"

"Mom....I think I could sleep for another twelve hours!"

They made their way out into the utility room and each grabbed an old bath towel.

Ayumi watched them from the window. Their bare feet splashed along the lawn. They got to their hands and knees and quickly crawled into the tent. She shivered again, yet couldn't resist a smile.

They quickly dried themselves and literally dove for the bag.

"Ouch! Ow! Ow! Oh Timmy! It hurts just pulling up on this bag. I want it right over our heads!"

"Oh yeah! Oh yeah!....It'll warm up faster with our breathing...

"Now let me hold you close."

"Well, just don't pull on my shoulders real tight."

"Yeah! Oh, this is nice. Let's spend a week out here. We should feel better tomorrow night. Maybe we can even.... get it on! "

"Oh, right now that's about the last thing on my mind. I'm so sore, but I think I'm ten times more tired! Really! Even after sleeping all day!"

Tim grinned as Matt settled his head onto his chest. He waited several minutes, literally holding back laughter. As Matt's hands eased their grip on his shoulders, he quickly grabbed his chest.

"MATTY WAKE UP!"

"Holy fuckin' shit!....I think I gotta change my underwear!"

"Hee, hee....Payback time Matty!"

Matt slid up so his face was beside Tim's. He kissed his lips deeply.

"Mmmm....mmmm, oh gee, Matt....Make me feel like shit now."

"No. I'm not trying to do that. I just wish I wasn't so sore and tired. Oh, I'd kiss you 'til the sun came up!..."

He hugged him gently as he understood they both were sore.

"I just love you so much, Timmy. I just couldn't function without you...

"...I still miss your braces though."

"Oh don't start on that again. I'm so glad I got those things off!"

"Well, I liked 'em...

"I thought I'd miss your skinny ribs too but I don't think I actually do...

"Oh wow! Timmy! I keep sayin' it. When you took your shirt off out at the park yesterday....I think I was trying real hard not to stare too much. Mmmm, I just love holdin' you and feeling your chest under my head."

He lowered himself into the bag and rested his head on Tim's chest again. He gently stroked his side.

"Yeah, I just love this. Just being together Timmy. I think I can handle a lot as long as we're together. I just feel us getting closer every day. I don't know, maybe it's just because we aren't quite as shy as we were a few months ago."

"...Well, that might be part of it....but I feel us getting closer too..."

"So....What are we going to do tomorrow? Let's rent a rowboat!"

"Oh shit too! It'll be a couple days before I feel like doing that!"

"Just joking. I'd stay out here in the tent all day if it didn't get so hot from the sun. We should camp out at the state park. We could put the tent up under a big tree where the sun wouldn't beat down on it. Set the tent up right off the lake! It's cooler with a lake breeze."

"Oh gee, we'd have to live on hamburgers and vegetables warmed in a can!"

"I could do that for a week. Oh shit!....I could do that for a month with you there!"

Tim lightly rubbed small circles over Matt's back.

"...That sounds ummm....kinda nice. It's something to think about."

"Oh Timmy....Let's think about that tomorrow. I'm just so sleepy right now. Can I go to sleep now without you scarin' the shit outta me?..."

"Hee, hee....I wanted to pay you back, but it backfired. You just had to kiss me."

Matt thought for a moment.

"Let's go out to the river tomorrow! Let's sit in the whirlpool and just relax our sore bodies."

"Sounds good. Well, if it's warm enough."

Matt kissed his chest as he held his shoulders.

"Oh gee, Timmy, this is just so nice. Let's try to get some sleep. Hopefully tomorrow we'll feel better."


The next morning they woke early to an already warm tent. Matt unzipped the side of the bag and tossed it off them.

"Oh gee, it's just getting light out and it's kinda warm in here already."

"Yeah, it is," Tim replied, flexing his shoulders.

"Well," Matt continued, "I'm still sore but nothing like last night."

"Yeah, I'm lots better too...

"So do you feel up to a dip in the river today?"

"Well, let's check on the weather report. I know the river will be warm, but I don't like cool air blowing on me when I'm wet."

Matt drew himself up and lightly kissed Tim's lips. It had only lasted several seconds before he dropped his head to his shoulder.

"Oh shit, Timmy!....I just love you so much!"

Tim gave a shy grin as he held him lightly.

"I love you too Matty......Oh! I wish I wasn't in such pain last night. That would have been a perfect night."

Matt held his shoulders a bit tighter as he kissed his neck.

"Well, we didn't really ummm....do anything, but it was nice...

"Oh wow. I was out all night. I never woke up once. I don't like that. I like to wake up just for a minute or two during the night. I like to feel you all scrunched up against me."

Tim rubbed his back lightly.

"Yeah. I like that too. I never woke up either. I don't think I slept last night......I think I died for a few hours!"

Matt giggled as he kissed him again.

"Oh gee, this is nice. I just wish you still had your braces."

"Oh Matty!"

"No! Really!......I like your new haircut and all......Your entire makeover! I just miss those cute, silver braces. Oh! I mean I didn't like it every time you had to have 'em tightened and they hurt you. I just miss 'em. They were just so keeuuutt!"

"Matty, will you knock it off!"

They continued to hold each other in silence for a moment longer.

"Well," Tim began, "I gotta get inside. I gotta PEE again!"

"We're getting a coffee can for in here!"

"Yeah, sure....You just know we'll dump it over!...

"I think I'll grab that detergent bottle out of the recycling bin. We can use that. The cap fits nice 'n tight!"


They entered the kitchen to see the electric griddle on the counter. Places had already been set at the nook.

"You boys ready for breakfast?"

"Oh Gram!" Tim yelled into the living room, "Matty and I can fix some cereal today."

"Well I set everything up for pancakes this morning. All I have to do is mix up the batter."

"Oh Gram, that sounds awful ummm.... heavy this morning. Bacon and eggs will be fine."

They made their way into the bathroom as Clara passed through the dining room for the kitchen.

"Oh gee!....There you two are again, shirtless! It gives me the chills just to look at you like that."

"...Gram!....Sleeping bag!....Insulation!....Warm!"

Both washed at the bathroom sink and returned to the kitchen. They sat at the nook. Both noticed their places had been set at the same side of the table. Clara had heated the griddle and began placing the bacon and eggs on it.

"I was just about to fix myself breakfast. I had no idea you boys would be up so early.......Then again, you slept all day yesterday!"

"Well," Matt began with a mock expression of frustration, "Oh! We were beat! We'd still be out there if it wasn't for Timmy and his two once capacity bladder!"

She turned from the griddle to look at them.

"I still say you should dress warmer for that tent at night!......Then again....I guess you have your love to keep you warm!"

"Oh Gram!....We were too sore last night to even hug each other. Our shoulders and backs were just killing us!...

"We were thinking about going out to the river today. Just sit in the water and let it flow around us."

"Well the weather report says it's supposed to be a scorcher today. You should take advantage of it. Get out there and exercise a bit...

"Oh you two are just filling out so nice! You both looked so scrawny last year. I was very concerned about that."


It was two hours later as Matt and Tim settled into the water of the whirlpool.

"Oh yeah!" Tim gasped, "Oh yeah! This is great! Oh! Just feel that warm water circulating around us!"

"Yeah. I've never felt it this strong before. We had lots of runoff this spring and quite a bit of rain......Hear that spillway rumbling?"

"Hear it?!......I can feel it! Oh wow, this is great. I can just feel those aches bein' soaked away."

Matt turned to him shyly and reached out to him with one arm. Drawing him close, he kissed his cheek lightly.

"I love this. I really thought this was going to be a bit chilly out here. I've never went out into the water this soon in the summer."

They glanced around, looking at the spillway, the grassy knoll, the rock strewn shoreline where they'd left their towels. Tim's eyes suddenly enlarged.

"Oh rats!....I was going to call Ryan today!....And see what he wanted. I wonder why he called last night. I hope everything's okay."

"Well, it couldn't have been real important......Your mom said he didn't want to call and interrupt us."

They both gazed in the direction of the dirt service road when motion caught their eye. Two boys on bicycles came through and parked a distance from the shoreline. They suddenly looked out toward Matt and Tim.

"Hey!....That's Scooter 'n Toby!" Matt put in.

He stood up and waved overhead with both arms. With the rumble of the spillway he knew it would be useless to call out to them.

As Matt and Tim had done, they already wore their swimsuits. They carefully made their way out over the rocks. As they drew near, Scooter seemed to blush slightly.

"Oh gee....I sure hope we aren't interrupting anything."

"Never!......Come on over and sit down. The water's great!...

"Me 'n Tim just came out to soak our tired bodies. We're really cramped up from all that digging the other day."

Scooter and Toby both nodded in agreement.

"Oh yeah! We must have mowed two acres with those reel mowers. That's exactly the reason we're out here."

Toby quickly sat.

"Oh wow!....This water is warm! Sit down, Scoot."

Scooter sat as he gazed at Toby.

"Warm?....You actually think the water is warm?"

"So," Tim began, "we don't see you much around school. How's it been going?"

Scooter held Toby's hand and looked at him seriously.

"We're fine. It's my dad that changed! Oh wow! This is great. I think he understands lots more. Him and Mom have been going to lots of meetings and stuff. He's really making it up to us. He takes us out for pizza every Saturday night!"

He kissed Toby's fingers as he held his hand tight.

"Wow, my dad kept apologizing to Toby over 'n over. Mr. Ace too!....Toby's dad. I think he had a bit of a time of it himself."

Scooter had a large grin as he looked at Toby.

"I think they're all coming around. They had lots to think about. For me and Tob? ....Well, as I say, we both kinda knew all along....we just didn't know what it was called! Huh, Tob?"

"Yeah....Everything's kinda okay now....Well, great really!"

Toby reached around Scooter and held him close. It was here that Matt noticed the water was up to his neck.

"Gee, I thought the water was deeper today. And that current is a bit stronger too. How's it feel on the shoulders, Tob?"

"Great! My arms and shoulders were the only thing bothering me. This is great!"

He gazed over Matt's shoulders at the torrent of water cascading over the spillway.

"..."Ummm....Just don't ask me to slide down the spillway. I don't think I'll try that 'til next month! Wow! Look at that water pouring over!"

"Are you kidding?!" Matt shouted over the rumble of water, "We'd get pounded on the rocks here!"

Motion along the shoreline caught Matt's attention.

"Hey! Who's that?"

Tim gazed closely.

"Ethan and....I don't know!"

The boys parked their bikes and waved to the others. They carefully made their way out along the rocks. They wore simple shorts.

"Whoa!" Ethan yelled out. He knew they were still too distant to be heard well. They gradually made their way out to the whirlpool.

"Oh gee, these sharp rocks hurt!"

"Come on in closer! There's a nice silty bottom here! The current isn't too bad!"

Both found an area and quickly sat.

"Ryan! Okay. I didn't know who you were at first. What's so different about you?"

"His new haircut," Ethan put in quickly.

Indeed it had been cut a bit shorter. The hair before his ears curved outward and held tightly to his cheeks.

"It's cute! I love it!" Tim put in with a smile.

"We stopped over at your place," Ethan told Tim, "Your gram said you'd be out here."

"Oh yeah....No real swimming. We're just soaking."

Ryan nodded.

"All you guys who dug are hurtin' today. All we had to do was pickup trash!"

"So we heard you called last night."

"Oh yeah," Ethan put in with a slightly embarrassed smile, "They said it was your anniversary so we figured we'd better not bother you."

"Well you wouldn't have bothered us. We were too sore to do anything!....And I mean, we were too sore to even hug each other...

"Yeah, it was our anniversary. We didn't even think about it! I guess we were just too tired out to function very well."

"Awh. it wasn't important. We just wanted to know if you wanted to go to Harvy's or....whatever!"

"Yeah," Ethan continued, "You two have been so good to us. We just wanted to get you a little something. You know, and kinda sit around and talk."

"Well you don't have to pay us or treat us to be friends," Matt put in.

"Well, we thought it would be nice...

"It's just your mom said they had that little cookout for you and had set up the tent."

"Yeah, 'n we were too tired and sore to do anything! Well, we held each other and went to sleep!"

Ethan continued with and embarrassed grin.

"Well, she kinda told us about last year. Did you really have your first kiss in a tent?"

"Oh yeah!....And that wasn't the only first we had in the tent."

Ethan and Ryan snickered.

Ethan took Ryan's hand and smiled at him.

"Well, our first kiss was in your family room. The rest of you had gone upstairs to look up something on the Net...

"Well, actually it was Ryan who made the first move. I was just too shy 'n well....kinda scared too! Well, I didn't know if scared is right. I was just so shy 'n nervous!"

"So umm," Matt hesitated, "How are your parents taking this?....I hear you're out to them. Did you really go to a PFLAG?"

"Oh yeah....They're cool. Before we said anything....we, well kinda left pamphlets and stuff laying around....From the GSA?....We even put stuff on our favorites list. We didn't hide anything. I guess it kinda got 'em ready for it."

He glanced around, still holding Ryan's hand.

"Umm....my mom kinda just sorta came out and asked me one morning. I told her that this kinda hit me all at once. Well, maybe not that either. I think accepting it kinda hit me."

"We know where you're coming from," Matt put in.

"...Yeah......Well anyhow I just kinda started looking at boys more....Well, that's not it either! I think I noticed myself doin' that! I mean it wasn't like I was umm, fighting it or anything. I just kept wondering about it. I really didn't know . You know what I mean?"

Matt nodded knowingly.

"Oh gee, I fought it! Timmy too! We didn't want to be gay."

"Well, my mom kinda asked me. I don't remember how she exactly worded it. And I remember tellin' her....sorta, well....I didn't know ....Well, I do now! I don't really know what it was. I don't think it was so much accepting it, as it was understanding it."

Tim turned to Ryan.

"Your parents okay with this?"

He nodded with a large smile.

"Oh yeah! They're just awful worried about umm....other people. I think my whole family knows by now. I got lots of e's from cousins really bein' happy for me and said they support me! Oh wow! That really felt great...

"They just....umm....don't want us flaunting it too much."

"Same here," Tim put in quickly.

"So," Ethen continued, looking at Ryan, "have you heard anything more about Adam?"

"No! He said he was coming out to his family. Oh shit! I told him not to. I don't know his parents too well but....umm....just looking at them! Oh! You can kinda tell!.... You know? I really think he's asking for trouble. He just seemed to disappear!"

"Yeah, there's lots of hate out there," Toby put in quickly.

It had been louder than a whisper, yet still a bit quiet. They all had heard him, even over the thunder of the water.

Ethan reached out to rub Ryan's back.

"Well....maybe we aren't allowed overnighters but we got it kinda good, huh Dew?"

"Dew?" Tim asked.

Ryan pulled his hands from the water and slapped them over his face.

"Oh GEE!"

Ethan blushed.

"Sorry!......I knew I'd do that sooner or later."

He turned to the others.

"I named him Dewdrop because he's so sweet."

"Awwwhhh," the others all sighed.

"Oh shit, Ethan!....Embarrass the hell outta me!"

"Noooo," Tim put in quickly, "That's really cute! I love it! Awh, that's so sweet!"

Matt looked at him.

"Weren't we thinking about giving each other pet names?"

"Yeah we talked about it once, but that's all the farther it got."

"Well, I'll call you Dumplin' and you can call me Darling."

"Oh, will you knock that off!"

"Timmy, the first time you called me that....Wow! That was hot! I'm bein' serious here."

"I'll call you Pookie!"

"Could you think of something a little less.... girly? "

"Well I like Pookie!....Buttercup?....Puddin' Pie?....Sweet Lips?....Sugar Cake? Oh I got it!....Honey Buns!"

"If anyone's gonna be Honey Buns, it'll be you! "

Scooter and Toby both gave shy giggles.

"Hey! I'm not kiddin'!" Matt shot out, "Oh! That first day I saw him at school in those skinny jeans?! Wow! I saw those two little white wear spots on each side.

They all laughed.

"Really! I almost passed out! Oh! All I wanted to do was grab it and kiss it!"

Scooter shrugged and gazed at the others.

"Umm, yeah....Toby 'n I were going to give each other pet names too. We never really followed through with that either."

"I did too!....I gave you a pet name!"

Scooter snapped his head toward him.

"Toby!....I'm just not all that thrilled over Sweet Dick!"

Tim slapped a wet hand over his eyes.

"Awh SHIT! GEE!....TOBY!..."

They all laughed as Ryan slapped his hand on the surface of the water.

Scooter had a sudden questioning expression on his face.

"...Umm......This is a bit off the subject, but I was just thinking....Adam? Isn't he the boy with that shoulder-length brown hair and he wears all those loud , bright colored shirts?"

"Oh yeah! That's him!" Ryan said.

"Oh gee....Oh shit! Hey I know him. I mean we aren't exactly friends, but I talk to him around school."

His gaze was distant toward the spillway. He thought for a couple seconds.

"He....he told me he thinks he's gay......and....and that he wanted to come out to his family...

"I mean, he said he wasn't too sure at first, but now he knows."

His eyes flicked across the surface of the water before him. He seemed in deep thought for a couple more seconds. He tossed out several leaves and twigs which the whirlpool had collected before them.

"...Umm....I really hate to say this. I told him not to say anything to them. Umm....over the past few months....I kinda picked up stuff that he said. He has a real religious family. Well, his mom anyhow. I think that's what's scaring him so much...

"You say he just....disappeared?"

"Yeah," Ryan replied simply, "I mean I'm not exactly friends with him either, but we kinda hangout around school. He disappeared about a month ago. He never showed up for finals! ...

"...Umm....gee, I never really thought about that 'til now."

"Oh shit! Oh shit!" Scooter mumbled.

"What?"

"He....he was telling me he was scared of being sent to one of those camps! "

"Oh gee, one of those gay to straight places?"

"Oh yeah!...

"Well, he said they're called retreats ......He called it a boot camp! I guess they really do nasty stuff to you in there."

"Oh gee, yeah," Ryan said, "I read lots of that stuff on the Net. I think I'd rather die!"

Tim nodded in agreement.

"Oh yeah! I read those too...

"I read three of those stories where they have gays go in undercover. Well, I mean they're like in their twenties, but they all claimed it doesn't work. In fact there was some leader running one of those groups....I forget his name but he was gay. He said it's just all psychological. I mean they just get you into a state of denial. He said in all his fifteen years working there....not one person turned straight! He quit the group."

"Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" Matt put in quickly, "Think I read that too! When things don't work....they just blame it on the person! The gay person! They tell 'em they aren't trying hard enough or they don't have enough faith and all that crap. I guess they put you on a real guilt trip!"

"Yeah, but the one I read wasn't so much a religious place. It was more psychology......Only nobody was a psychologist or even licensed!"

"Well the one I read about was for young kids. It was a religious place. They don't let the kids see their parents or friends or anything! You're a prisoner there!....And they keep tellin' the parents that their kid is doin' good but needs extra help. They tell the parents what they want to hear. That way they keep gettin' paid for all this shit!"

Tim shook his head slowly with a sober expression.

"Oh shit, we were lucky, huh Matty?"

Both reached for each others hand.

"Yeah, I guess so! And I really think it was your parents that really helped. I think they talked to mine. I mean your mom's a doctor! She's seen lots of this! I think that helped....lots!"

"Yeah....We really got it good, huh?"

Tim put his arm around Matt's back and held his shoulder. It had appeared nearly an unconscious act. It obviously hadn't been an advance. Both looked down at the water before them. Tim began throwing out more floating debris which had collected there again.

"Oh shit!" Tim shot out, sounding more a forced sigh than an exclamation.

They all remained quiet for a moment. Tim looked up at Ethan and Ryan.

"So," he began, "Your parents are really okay about you two?"

Ethan nodded with a slight smile.

"Well, it didn't exactly start out that way...

"Umm....I don't think my parents were exactly....well....shocked. They were kinda umm....Well, I don't think they believed me! Umm....Well, that's not exactly right either. They thought it was a phase or something. They said everybody goes through that. In fact, I think they were actually trying to get me not to worry about it."

He looked at Ryan and smiled.

"I wasn't worried about it!"

They all laughed.

"Well, umm....I really wasn't! I just had been thinking about it lots. Since I was twelve!....I umm....didn't really care which way I umm....went! It was just I wasn't real sure. Know what I mean?"

He gazed at Ryan again. Ryan's hair was damp now. It hung straight down his cheeks, rather than curving forward. Ethan rubbed his back.

"It was that kiss, Rye. Right there! That's when I knew! Oh, I keep tellin' you....I was just sooooo nervous waiting at the library for Tom to pick me up. And I know about Jenny bein' kinda a matchmaker. It....it wasn't like we were going to go hangout....It felt like....like a DATE!"

They all broke out laughing again.

"No!....Really! I mean it! Oh shit I was just soooo nervous!"

They all laughed again. Ethan blushed.

"I really liked that kiss, Dew!....It's like I told you....I just didn't want you feelin' my stiffy!"

Again they all laughed. Matt nodded his head.

"Ohhhh....I can't count the times that happened to me!" he said, "Oh shit! Right from that first day Timmy showed up at school. Oh gee! I had to hide my stiffy with my notebook!"

"You too?!" Ethan yelled out.

"Oh yeah! I just kept wishing there was some kind of pill I could take to stop that from happening!"

"Hee, hee, hee!....Me too!"

"Well," Matt continued, "It's not quite so bad now. About a year ago it sure was! I didn't even have to think about anything sexy and, boing! Junior has a mind of his own!"

Ethan nodded with a silly smile and a blush.

"Oh yeah, I know what you're talking about."

They all looked around. Water thundered over the spillway. Mixed with air and moving swiftly, it appeared white. A distance from the dam, it slowed and showed its red-orange color once again.

The sun was brilliant in the cloudless blue sky. They could smell the iron rich water, mixed with the scents of pine and the sweet smell of decaying vegetation. They all began to grow more aware of the warm water circulating around themselves.

Matt suddenly got to his feet and stood behind Tim. He sat again, running his legs around him. He threw his arms around him from behind and pulled his back tight against himself.

"Oh Timmy!" he yelled over the rumble of water, "I'm having another one of those spells where I just can't get close enough to you!"

The others didn't laugh, yet they all had knowing smiles. Matt kissed his shoulder.

"You know something Tim," Scooter began, "I really like your new hairstyle, but....but I really miss your braces......Toby does too! They were so cute!"

"Scoot!....I keep tellin' you guys....I'm gonna be seventeen in two months! I don't think CUTE fits in there anymore!...

"I mean with my thin frame....I'll never be....buff! It's just....I'm too old for cute anymore!....Okay?"

Scooter grinned.

"Well, how about me 'n Toby buying you some fake braces?"

Matt hooked his chin over Tim's shoulder and chuckled.

"See?!....I'm not the only one!"

"You people have no idea how much I HATED THOSE THINGS!"

"Well, umm," Scooter began, "I know how braces hurt and I didn't like that idea......It's just.... well....you don't look like.....YOU anymore!"

"I don't look like me? What does that mean?!"

"Well, I'm just so used to seeing you with braces, okay?......It's like Matty called it! Your silver smile! "

"Oh shit!"

He looked over his shoulder at Matt.

"Maybe without my braces to lick....I'll feel more of your tongue on mine!"

The others laughed.

"Oh shit!....Gross me out in front of everyone!"

Tim turned to the others as he held Matt's head beside his.

"Oh shit!....He's got such a long, skinny tongue!"

They all laughed again.

There was a short period of silence as Matt gazed at Ethan and Ryan.

"So....umm....Are things really going good with you two?"

Ethan drew up their hands from under water. Their fingers were interlaced.

Although Ethan smiled, he held a bit of a serious expression.

"...Umm," Ethan began and paused a moment, "...What can I say? We're like really close but we don't actually know if....if we're for each other. "

"Ohhhh, don't say that! You two just look so sweet together! You both look like you belong together!"

"Well," Ryan began, "We're taking it a little slow. I mean....not because we're gay! I mean even if one of us was a girl, we'd still be doin' the same thing. We....umm, wanna just kinda take our time."

Ethan looked at Ryan, then Matt and Tim. His expression was serious.

"I think what Ryan's trying to say is..."

He paused, looking around.

"...Oh shit! He doesn't wanna tell you that I'm just too shy to.... do anything! "

He covered his eyes with his free hand.

"You mean to tell me you....you two haven't.... done anything?! "

'Well, did you and Tim..... do anything as soon as you met?"

Matt couldn't avoid a slight blush.

"Well....umm....not until we knew about each other! Not until we were out to each other."

He lowered his head, resting his chin on Tim's shoulder again. He rubbed his chest.

"It took us months before we came out to each other. We were dropping hints here 'n there."

Tim gave him a quick glance and placed his hand on his head.

"Yeah. Once we were out to each other, it didn't take long."

"Oh shit!" Matt shot out, "That was just soooo embarrassing for me!"

He looked at Ethan and Ryan.

"It was....umm....kinda an accident okay?"

Ethan and Ryan blushed and hung their heads.

"...Yeah, we were in his tent....in the back yard....It was a back yard camp out. The next morning....We were kinda kissin' and cuddling. Well, we were sorta rubbin' into each other. Oh shit! That came on awful fast! And I was just soooo embarrassed about it."

Tim grasped the back of Matt's hand.

"I didn't want you to be embarrassed about that. I umm....kinda wanted to stop too. Yet....I kinda didn't! "

Tim held Matt's arms which were wrapped around him.

"Oh gee, Matty...I guess I was just feeling so close to you. Yeah, it was kinda an accident....We really didn't plan on doing that. Yet it was wonderful! Oh! Just holding on to you....We didn't plan on doing that, but I'm glad it happened like it did...

"Remember we went back out to the tent after breakfast....We took that little nap. Matty, I don't think I ever slept so sound in my life! Oh wow! That just felt so good. I felt so close to you...

"Yeah, I get these moods too....Where I just can't seem to get close enough to you. That morning was wonderful. Wow! Did I sleep sound!"

Ethan and Ryan seemed a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable. Ryan finally spoke up.

"...Well we haven't even had an accident! "

His face blushed profusely.

"I think we're both awful shy about that."

"Don't worry about it," Tim put in frankly, "You'll know when you're ready......You two were kinda....well.... out to each other almost right away...

"Me 'n Matty....Well, we had lots to think about. Neither one of us really wanted to be gay. We both had a little trouble with accepting it. Oh!....We're okay with it now! It's just....Well, we'd been together for a couple months before we were out to each other. It wasn't like we just met and came out to each other a couple days later. We were both too shy to do that right away. At least you two were out to each other right away...

"Go ahead and just kiss 'n hold hands. When the time is right....I'm sure you'll both know."

Matt drew Tim's head back and kissed his cheek quickly.

"That was sweet Timmy......I couldn't have put it better."

Matt looked at Ethan and Ryan.

"You'll know when it's time for hot, buttered boy sex!"

They both let out an embarrassed snicker as they hung their heads.

"I joke!....That was a joke! ...

"Tim's right. There's no hurry. Me 'n Timmy......well....we don't, umm.... do it very much....Oh! Don't get all embarrassed! I'm bein' serious here."

He drew Tim back against himself. His expression was serious. He rubbed his chest.

"We, umm....like to kiss 'n hold each other. Really! I think we're a little strange along that line. It's like Timmy says....we got hormones, but they sure aren't ragin'!"

Ethan looked up shyly, yet seriously.

"Well, I don't think hormones have anything to do with it!....It's my shyness. I'm just so self-conscious!...

"Oh geeeee! I'm just so shy 'n nervous! Not just.... this! I'm shy about....about everything!"

Ryan put his arm around his back and pulled him close.

"Do you hear me complaining? ....

"We'll just take our time."

"Well shit, Dew!....We've been kinda together since like January! I shouldn't be like this any longer."

"Ethan!....Chill! I'm not pushing anything. Just so long as we're together, that's all I need right now."

"Very well put," Tim put in frankly, "It might have taken me 'n Matty lots longer if it wasn't for that....that camp out we had. And....and it was Matty who came out first."

Ethan nodded seriously.

"It was Rye who came out first....That kiss....while we were playing that video game."

"Oh shit, Ethan!....I just couldn't wait any longer!" he replied with a large grin.

Ethan grinned back as he rubbed his chest.

"Yeah! Oh gee!....You were eating those apple wedges with the cinnamon and sugar on 'em. I could just smell those sweet apples on your breath! Oh!....Whenever I smell apples or cinnamon now, I think about that night! Oh shit, Dew! That....umm.... was really hot!"

"Come on, you must have known I was gay."

"Well, kinda......but I wasn't really sure. Hell! I wasn't so sure of myself yet! Like I say, it didn't bother me. I wasn't worried about it......I was still thinking about it.... Maybe I'm just one of those....those late bloomers or whatever they're called."

"Nah," Ryan put in frankly, "Twelve, thirteen, fourteen....I'd say you're about.... right on time. Hee, hee."

There was a pause here as Tim grinned.

"So the 'rents weren't too....umm....shocked by this?" he asked.

"Nah!....I think they knew before I did. Especially my mom!......I mean I didn't act like girly or anything. I guess she somehow just knew. I don't know what kinda vibes I'm giving off, but I think she always knew!"

Ethan leaned forward, squeezing Ryan's ribs as he kissed his shoulder.

"Yeah. Rye's parents are kinda cool with it....It's my parents! I mean, they aren't pissed about it......It's....well they think it's a phase I'm going through. I keep tellin' 'em it's not!....I should know who or what I am, right? I keep hearing gay boys sayin' like....they always knew! Well, I didn't! I mean it's not like it was some decision I had to make. It's hard to explain......I didn't always know! I....I had to kinda like discover it! That's the only way I can explain it!"

He gazed out over the horizon for a few seconds.

"...I'm wondering how they're gonna react when they know. I don't think it'll be real bad, but right now it's like they're trying to convince me not to worry about it. I keep sayin' I'm not worried about it!"

Tim looked over his shoulder at Matt.

"Matty....I like the way you're holding me but could you come around the front here, so I can hold you too?!...... Please, my little Darling?..."

"WHAT?!.... What was that? I didn't quite hear that! The spillway is too loud!"

Tim gave him a large grin.

"Sit here in front of me....MY LITTLE DARLING!"

"Awh how sweet!" Scooter shot out.

He turned to Toby.

"Why don't you ever say sweet stuff like that to me?"

"I do!"

"...Yeah......Well I don't think Sweet Dick is exactly romantic!"

The others burst out laughing.

"Gee!" Tim quickly put in, "What's got into you, Tob?! You used to be shyer and quieter than me 'n Matty!"

Scooter nodded.

"When we were finally back together....gee! I kept thinkin' he was some alien or something! Really, Tob! Go back to your old self....all shy 'n blushing..."

Toby reached out to rub his chest briskly.

"No more of that for me! I missed you too much. I missed this hot, buff body! I missed our......our hot buttered boy sex!"

"Geeeee!" Tim yelled, blushing, "Toby!"

Matt stood and made his way around Tim. He sat on his thighs, placing his arm around his neck. With his other hand, he rubbed his chest.

"I know just what Toby's saying."

He leaned forward and kissed him for several seconds.

"Mmmm....That's better. At least now I can hold you too!"

They all seemed to draw their attention to Toby. He was holding his chin above the water.

"Is this water getting deeper?" Tim asked.

Toby chuckled as he got to his feet.

"No....My skinny ass is sinkin' in the mud!"

He sat on Scooter's thighs and held his shoulders. He kissed him, lingering for several seconds.

"Oh shit!....I love you so much Scoot! We were only kept apart for a few months....but it felt like a year! I'm not going to be shy anymore. I just love to hug and kiss you!"

He pressed his cheek to Scooter's.

Tim glanced at Ethan and Ryan. Ryan had one arm around Ethan's neck. With his other hand, he gently rubbed his cheek. Matt had leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Tim's. They all appeared deep in thought. Tim could nearly feel the unspoken thoughts and emotions. Each were deep in thought over their own concerns. He reached out and squeezed Matt's chest.

"Oh shit, Matty!" Tim said in a forced whisper, "You're always talking about your clingy moods! I think that's how I feel right now. It's....it's just soooo good to have you here with me. Oh how I enjoy this."

Matt rubbed his chest as he nodded his head.

"Oh!....I feel a really romantic night coming up tonight."

"Oh yeah!....I'm still a bit sore but nothing like last night. I think we can umm.... manage to get things done tonight."

Each of the group glanced at the other. There was a moment of silence before Matt spoke.

"Hey....Have any of you seen Joe or Chris?"

"Oh yeah!" Scooter put in quickly, "...Well Joe! I mean Chris goes to Washington, right?....Joe says Chris' dad is really mellow about them bein' together. Wow! He's taking them out for pizza or burgers every Saturday......Umm I guess his dad has been traveling all over the world. He's quitting that! He says he wants to spend more time with Chris. He's really treating 'em good!,,,,Both of 'em! He's just so happy he has Joe as a friend. I guess even in a private school Chris doesn't have it too good. Being accelerated like he was, there's really nobody his age to hang with. Ummm....I don't know if he's....out around school, but he gets enough teasing over bein' a genius! I think he was kinda lonely. Mr. Gavin just loves Joe around!"

He paused for a moment's thought.

"Yeah, Joe says he gets to go everywhere with them. He kinda gives me the idea that Chris' dad is really cool. I mean with bein' rich 'n all....he sure isn't umm....stuck-up! And Joe says even Mr. Gavin is playing video games with them! Wow!....He didn't even want Chris doing that! He kept saying it was a waste of time...

"...Umm....I guess he's just letting Chris be a kid for awhile longer. He feels bad he wasn't around enough for him."

Tim looked at Matt.

"We should call them up and have 'em come over."

"On your anniversary?!" Ryan shouted out.

"Well sure!....In fact, all of you! I mean just for a cookout. We can put on a really good feed tonight, and get all updated on each other. Me 'n Matty got all night!....Hell, we got all week!"

Matt turned to the others.

"I like that idea!...

"We'll just get together for burgers 'n stuff."

Ryan shook his hands before himself.

"It's your anniversary!....You two should be left alone!"

Matt pretended to look at a watch on his wrist.

"...Ten o'clock! Everyone's out by ten! Shit, me 'n Timmy got all week together...

"Hey, you boys are younger than us. We don't see each other around school that much. We'll just have a little party. We gotta spend some time together this summer. We'll come out here lots! I love it out here!"

He glanced at Scooter and Toby.

"This is kind of a special place for Scoot 'n Tob too! This is where they had their first kiss!"

It had been his intention to embarrass them a bit but neither even blushed. Scooter looked warmly at Toby.

"Do you remember that day Tob?"

He nodded rapidly with a large smile.

"Oh yeah!....Oh yeah! Oh wow! That was kinda special, huh?"

"Kinda special?! That was one of the best times of my life! That's the day everything kinda fell into place for me. That's the day I knew what was happening!...

"I guess it was kinda like you, Ethan. I didn't really know....I guess I sort of discovered it. And....oh yeah....I was scared! Umm....well, not exactly bein' gay. I just knew how my dad felt about it..."

He looked at the others.

"Maybe it was good I almost died. Maybe it was good Jason stabbed me...

"Oh shit! I wish he hadn't jumped off that bridge! I was really hoping we could all end up just bein' friends.

"Oh gee....he must really have been out of it!......He said he didn't wanna be gay. I wonder if that's what pushed him over the edge."

"Well," Matt put in, "It's like Tim's mom keeps sayin'....he had a real screwy home-life. There was lots of hate in his family. All those kids knew was hate 'n violence. It's gotta be really bad for all of 'em."

Nobody spoke, yet they all nodded their heads in agreement.

"I think we've all had it good," Tim put in.

"Oh yeah!" Matt added.

"Well," Ethan began, "Again! I don't think my family is going to go for this. They just keep saying it's just a stage I'm going through. They think I'm the one worried about it. What are they going to do when they find out I'm gay?!"

"We'll do whatever we can to help," Tim said.


It was seven o'clock that evening. All the boys were joined by Joe and Chris. They sat around the picnic table on Tim's patio. The sky was heavy overcast. It was already dark in spite of the fact it wasn't sunset. Tim had switched on the yard lights. Several conversations were going on at once.

Chris gave a large grin as his head turned from side to side on his tiny neck.

"Oh gee!....We're so sorry!....Joe and I aren't ditching you! We've been so busy. Father makes sure of that!

"...Umm....He's been really pushing himself these past few years. I truly believe he was trying to impress Grandfather. Nothing he's done in life ever measured up to Grandfather's standards. I truly believe he simply gave up! He said he was turning into Grandfather! He truly didn't want that. In so many words, he said he was raised by butlers, cooks and nannys. He said they never did anything together, and he wasn't about to do the same with me.

"Oh wow! He's even playing video games with us! Can you believe such?! He said....You simply aren't going to believe this....He said, 'Fuck Grandfather!'....Can you believe that?!...

"Oh! They had a real nasty falling out over something. Father was knocking himself out trying to please him and all Grandfather did was complain about things and how wrong he was about every decision he made. I don't believe Grandfather has ever given him a single, positive reinforcement."

He continued grinning, turning his head on his tiny neck.

"He said that's never going to happen between me and him. This is just fantastic!"

He grasped Joe's hand.

"And next week....he has to go to Florida for a bit....but only for the week. He's taking me and Joe out to the state park. We're going camping!....In a real tent! He wants to know that Joe and I are together and having fun. Well....we'll have the chauffeur's cell number in the event we need food or supplies....or......or if we decide we don't like it out there. Father worries about those things. He knows I've been sheltered a bit too much."

Although the others were happy for him, they were nearly shocked a fifteen-year-old boy had never been camping.

He continued to look at Joe with a large grin.

"We're going to cook our own hamburgers over a real charcoal grill! And we're going to use sleeping bags!....in a real tent! We're not using a trailer! And we're not plugging into the electric either! No fancy stuff for us! It's going to be great! Right Joe? We'll be together for a whole week!"

He grinned as he drew Joe's hand to his mouth and kissed it.

Joe looked at him with a silly grin.

"You're doing it again, Chris!....Getting all squiggly and wiggly. I keep telling you, you're gonna wear out your clothes from the inside out!"

The others laughed. Chris gave a slight blush.

"Well, you boys have probably done all this before. Perhaps you'll understand what an utterly boring life I've had. This....this is going to be the biggest adventure of my life!"

Tim set a plate of burgers on the table. With a serious expression he pointed his finger inches from Chris' face.

"You'll LOVE IT!"

"Oh I simply can't wait!"

Joe studied him again, smiling.

"Chris....Quit the squiggly-wiggly!"

They all laughed and assured him he'd have a memorable experience.

"Well, I must admit....I was a bit frightened at first. You all know that. Everything frightens me!....Especially new things..."

He drew a serious expression.

"How would you like to wake up and find your school uniform all cleaned and pressed? You go down into the kitchen to find your nanny has gathered your books and assignments all neatly set on a corner of the table. You eat a delectable breakfast. Then a chauffeur opens the door to a limo!....Not a school bus! You don't get to joke and talk with your classmates on the way to school. You sit there all alone....listening to classical music...

"You get to school and go to classes. You take your desk and nobody talks to you......In fact, they barely see you there! Because you're too young and too little! And you're a brain! I'm telling you....It really sucks!"

"Did you ask your dad about public school?" Tim asked.

Chris gave a nod and a slight grin.

"...Ummm....yes. He really doesn't like the idea. I mean not that he's being cruel or anything. He worries about me....I mean with being so small and all. It looks as though I'll be graduating next year. Father wants me to wait a couple years before I start college. He said I've got all kinds of time to think about things. I really and truly don't know what I want yet."

"Chill Chris!" Tim shot out, "We keep telling you that we don't know what we want either. You just turned fifteen! Kick back and relax. Just enjoy bein' a kid for a few more years!"

Chris gave a large grin.

"Wow!....That's almost exactly what Father said!..."

He bowed his head slightly and blushed.

"Father still feels so....well, sort of uncomfortable with this...

"Oh! Not me and Joe!......In fact, he's really okay with it. He understands perfectly! What it is....well, he says he's done trying to please Grandfather. He said he suddenly noticed he was doing to me....exactly what was done to him!...

"He never got to be a kid. He said that's not going to happen with us! He's spending more time with me....Joe too! Wow! He really loves Joe. He said Joe and I met at just the right time. Mmm....Besides you boys, Joe is actually my very first friend. I mean real friend!....not just a classmate."

"Well I want to be your boyfriend!"

Chris glanced down shyly as he put lettuce on his burger.

"I'll be your boyfriend," he whispered with a shy giggle.

"WHAT?!....What was that? Did I hear you right? You wanna be what?"

"I said I'll BE YOUR BOYFRIEND!"

Chris quickly stood up, straddling the bench. He took Joe's head in his hands and gave him a deep kiss for several seconds.

"Whhoooaaahhh!" the others yelled.

Chris suddenly dropped to the bench and covered his red face.

"Oh gee!....I don't believe I just said that!....I don't believe I just did that!"

Toby reached out and rubbed his back.

"Don't worry about it, Chris. I think that was really nice."

"Well, it's embarrassing. I didn't think!"

"Awh! Don't worry about that. We're all happy for you."

Chris brought his leg back over the bench and looked seriously at Toby.

"Zack!....You got me and Joe together. All of you did! I'm going to do something very special for all of you!"

"You already did!....You gave Joe a kiss. That was great!...

"And don't call me Zack!"

"Well I can't get used to calling you Toby!"

"Well, we all knew Joe was nice. He'd never use you. He's not in any hurry!"

Joe gave Chris a sharp stare.

"SEE?!......I'm not in any hurry!"

Chris blushed as he added more lettuce and condiments to his burger.

"...Well, I don't mind waiting. I don't want you thinking I don't want to......do anything!"

Matt slowly began to smile.

"You mean to tell me you two haven't....done anything yet either?!"

Chris continued to blush. His tiny hands placed sliced pickles on his burger.

"...Umm....Well, I truly must admit....I am a bit shy about it...

"It's also a bit difficult with Father around. Oh! I know he means well. He's trying to make up for all the lost time together as he calls it......I don't wish to sound negative about it, but I believe he's....well he's overcompensating for it."

Matt dropped his hand on Chris' shoulder.

"Chris....You got one great boy here. Joe's been used! He's not looking for someone to fool around with! He's really serious about that. He told us all about this last year. He really wants to take it slow. He's not going to push you. Just take your time."

Matt paused in thought as he glanced down to see Chris place a thick slice of tomato on his burger.

"Chris! Look what you're doing! You'll never be able to get a bite of that!"

"Oh yeah?!....Watch me!"

He compressed the roll together and held it up. He took a huge bite as his tiny nose rested on the top. He chewed slowly.

"Mmmmm!....Perfect!"

"I don't see how you can taste the burger with everything else you have on there!"

"Oh yes I can!....Perfect! That's a nice thick burger Tim cooked up."


Ayumi entered the kitchen. She noticed Ken gazing out the window with a slight smile.

"So what's so funny?"

"...Nothing!....Nothing's funny....just cute...

"Look at those boys......They're all so sweet."

He shook his head as he glanced at her.

"How can people be mean to little guys like that?....Look at 'em!....Do they look like a threat to anyone?"

Ayumi drew closer to the window. She smiled.

"No. They sure don't......And yes, I worry. I'll never understand all the hate out there......Then again......if it wasn't for....this....it would just be for something else..."

"I want to go out there and join them....I just feel I'll be....cramping their style."

Ayumi quickly made her way to a counter.

"Well I don't care! I want to be a part of this. I'm taking the rest of this sheet cake out there."

As the boys finished their burgers, Ayumi came out and set the cake on the picnic table.

"Oh wow!" Scooter put in quickly, "What's the special occasion?"

"This is the last of the boy's anniversary cake. In a few more days this will be all stale!"

She cut up large portions and set them out on paper plates. Tim gazed at his piece.

"Oh gee!....I gotta eat....FEET?!"

"Timmy....That's frosting!....Not feet!"

Matt quickly switched plates with him. He leaned forward and kissed the frosting which represented the bare feet below the tent flap. He raised up, frosting on his lips.

"Mmmm....I keep telling you I want to kiss your toes!"

"Matty!"

"Oh, you've got such....such cute feet! Oh shit!....You've got a cute....everything!"

They all laughed. Ayumi quickly drew out her camera again.

"Oh Mom!....PLEASE?!"

"Now I've already told you I wanted to do this. This will be so sweet, years down the road from now."


An hour later, Mr. Gavin drew into the driveway in a large, shiny limousine. Tim's father quickly went over to talk with him. They talked as they obviously gave the boys glances.

The boys helped Ayumi and Clara clear the table. Chris looked up through his round wire glasses.

"Oh Mrs. Webster, this was truly quite a treat for me. This has been my very first cookout in my life! I'd certainly like to thank you for inviting me over. I never got to do a lot of this. It was most pleasant!"

"Oh Honey....You're so welcome. I'm just so happy for all of you! We were very worried about Timmy. He was just too much of a loner. It's not good, Chris. I want to see all of you over here for the entire summer!"

"Well, I certainly won't have any problem with that. Tim keeps saying he's not too good at cooking. Those burgers were....impeccable! I ate two of them! Oh! And that crispy garden salad was beyond fantastic! And....and the corn! Oh! Sweet corn right off the cob!....I believe it was a bit messy. It's most difficult to eat corn on the cob, mmm.... mannerly!"

"Oh, Honey! That's so sweet of you. I keep telling you to park Emily Post when you come over here. We're very informal here."


Minutes later, Mr. Gavin called the rest of the boys to his car. They rushed inside, amazed at the stereo system and television.

"Wow! Neat!" Ryan shouted out, "This is really cool!"

Matt and Tim entered the tent. It had grown dark. Tim switched on the fluorescent lamp beside the sleeping bags. He slowly settled down on it. Matt eyed him with a smile.

"Arrrggghhh!" he yelled, as he tackled him around his neck.

He threw him down on the sleeping bag, getting on top of him, giving him a deep kiss.

"Mmmm....Oh wow! Matty!....I just love it when you get like this!"

"I can't help myself tonight!......I just wanted to grab you out there. Oh gee, I feel such a clingy mood coming on!"

"I know exactly what you're sayin'!......I've felt that way since we were in the whirlpool out at the river."

"...Well then....CLING!"

They both literally clamped their arms around each other.

"Oh Timmy, I sure hope I'm not hurting your shoulders again."

"Nah!....I'm a little sore but nothing like yesterday. I really think that whirlpool helped......Well, I didn't really like that chilly ride back home on our bikes."

"Oh gee, I just keep thinking about last year when I thought the term love was just too strong. I kept trying to find a word between like and love but just couldn't come up with anything!....Now....now I'm looking for a word stronger than love! Oh Timmy! I just couldn't live without you!...

"I umm....Well, it's like I said....That very first moment I saw you in the hall there at school......I just somehow knew you were special! I mean....not exactly well.... boyfriend material, hee, hee....But there was just something special there..."

"Oh yeah!.....I felt it too Matty. I keep telling you that. Umm....well, I was still shy, but I wasn't exactly scared! I usually get awful scared meeting people. Ha! As if you don't already know that!"

"Okay, Timmy! Clothes off! I want us bare-assed!......It's time for....for some hot buttered boy sex!"

"Oh wow!....Oh wow!....I'm tellin' you Matty, I just love it when you get like this!"


Before Mr. Gavin had taken all the boys home, he'd mentioned he had a surprise for them for the following day. He spoke to them through the open sliding glass partition in the limo. It had excited their curiosity and the questions came out.

"Oh, no, no!......If I told you what it was, it wouldn't be a surprise now, would it?

"While you boys were out there eating tonight....Mr. Webster and I got to talking. We called your parents to clear everything. Everyone's okay with this."

He gave Chris a quick glance in the rear view mirror.

"Okay Chris....I know you were awful scared about me sort of....pushing you out on that tobogganing thing last winter. And I had my doubts about it too. I'll admit that. It was just so wonderful for me to hear about all the FUN you had! I've been pushing school and studying too much, Chris. You don't have any trouble with learning things. You're just one of those kids who have a sort of natural aptitude for that sort of thing. It's just...

"Oh!....I was turning into Grandfather, Chris! I was never allowed to be a....a little boy! I've told you that! Grandfather wanted miniature adults around! Well, that's not going to happen!......Not anymore!...

"Now this may frighten you a bit, but I'm sure you'll get used to it. You have some very good friends here that will take good care of you."

Chris wanted to ask what would frighten him, but remained silent.

"Now I'll be picking you all up at eleven tomorrow. We're going out for a great dinner. Mr. Webster mentioned that....that buffet that Tim had mentioned to him. They have everything in there. You can just dish-up whatever you like. So no eating tomorrow....or even a late breakfast...

"When we're done eating, I'm taking you out to see the surprise we have for you."


"TIMMY, WAKE UP!"

"Holy fuckin' shit," Tim moaned, "You're really trying to give me a heart attack, aren't you?......I was almost asleep!"

"Hee, hee. Yeah....I know that....That's why I did that!...

"Please Timmy......Let's just stay awake for fifteen minutes. You know how much I like this."

"Oh Matty, I do too!......I keep tellin' you that. I just love this. I love our weak, tired kisses 'n feelin' all sleepy like this. Oh gee, I'm in heaven Matty. I just feel so close to you when we're....done......All I wanna do is just cuddle up to you and go to sleep. It....it hurts to stay awake!"

"I know, but I hate to fall asleep too quick. I wanna enjoy this just for a few minutes. I hate falling asleep too quickly. It seems like....Bang!....And it's morning already! It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't get so hot in here during the daytime. And you just know we'll both need the bathroom!..."

Matt seemed to know Tim was thinking about something.

"...Yeah, I wonder what Dad was talking about there. They have a surprise planned for us? Mr. Gavin is taking us out for dinner?!..."

"Oh shit!......Maybe we're going over to their place....For a little dip in the pool! Maybe we'll be given a little....privacy for a bare-assed swim!"

"Oh shit too, Matty!"

"Hee, hee."

"Well, it wouldn't be so bad if it was just us! I don't like the idea of all the others being there too."

"You're right......I'd still have a bit of a....complex over that myself! Maybe we'll get over some of our shyness in a bit."

Tim got up on his elbows and looked down at Matt's face. The yard lights caused the canvas of the tent to glow with a subdued light. He smiled.

"Well, you sure weren't....shy tonight! Well, I don't think either one of us was. And we're still bare-assed!....You didn't go looking for your shorts right away."

Matt smiled and nodded as he rubbed his back.

"...Yeah....I know....And I was kinda thinking about getting my shorts back on....in a few minutes....Hee, hee. Then you started in with kissing me again. Oh shit! That first one. I couldn't exactly see you with my eyes closed, but....Oh I could just feel your warm lips getting closer to mine. Then you kissed me so lightly 'n gently. It was another one of those weak, sleepy kisses. I love 'em, Timmy....I really do. I just love this feeling we have right now. That's why I really didn't want you to go to sleep too quickly tonight."

Matt's arms circled around Tim's back and drew him tight.

"Oh shit!......We're....done and I still can't get close enough to you. I keep wondering if I'm....I'm irritating you when I get into these clingy moods!"

"Never. I felt it myself tonight. Like I said....when we were out in the whirlpool. You were kinda holding me from behind. That's not fair! Then you moved in front of me. Oh! I had such a hard time not......CLINGING! I don't think I was too shy not to, but the others were there. I just don't feel like....being all over you while someone's watching! Then we had that little cookout there. It just felt like I was never going to get you alone!"

Tim rested his head on his shoulder.

"Umm....Can we go to sleep now?......Promise not to yell again?..."

"Yeah......We'll go to sleep. Maybe it won't get so hot in here too quickly tomorrow. We can just take our time waking up..."

They remained still for only a single minute. Matt had to chuckle. He'd stifled any sound, yet his chest shook.

"...Matty......I sure hope you aren't laughing about scarin' the shit outta me again."

"No....No! I wasn't going to do that. Seriously...

"I was thinking about us being out at the dam today. Remember Ethan saying he named Ryan, Dewdrop? I thought that was just so cute!"

Tim stirred and drew Matt's head closer to his.

"I did too. Ryan....Well he looks like a Dewdrop! Hee, hee."

"Oh shit! We gotta come up with names for ourselves."

Tim nodded weakly.

"Tomorrow!......First thing tomorrow."

"I still like Honey Buns or Sugar Buns! Oh wow! You just looked so hot that first day I saw you in school! Oh! You were wearing those skinny jeans!"

"First thing tomorrow, Matty."

"Umm....I think I like Angel Eyes too! Oh gee! I'm not lying, Timmy! I really felt like that evil witch melting!..."

"Let's think about that tomorrow..."

"...Umm....Peanut?"

"Matty! That's cute but it'll get shortened to Pea! Oh ick! PEAS!"

"...Umm....Muffin?......Jelly Bean?......Gum Drop?......Sweetcake?"

"Matty," Tim moaned, "Tomorrow!....Pleeeeese?! I'm so tired I'm hurtin' here!"

"...Butter Babe?..."

"Oh sure!......That'll get shortened to Butt!"

"Well, how about Fruit Loops?....or Tinkerbell?!"

"Oh hardy-har, Matty!"

"I got it!....BAMBI!....'Cause you're such a little dear!"

"Matty, if you don't let me get some sleep....I'm gonna start cryin' here. I'm in pain Matty! I need sleep!"

"...Sweet Pea?..."

"Oh Matty! I'm gonna barf! PEAS?!....Ugh!"

"Hee, hee....We really gotta come up with something!"

"Tomorrow......I Promise....tomorrow!"

"I think I like Bambi....or Angel Eyes!"


They both woke to Tim's cell beeping.

"Hello?......Dad!......It's ten o'clock?!......Okay. We're on our way in!"

They quickly showered and dressed. They sat at the nook, waiting for Mr. Gavin to arrive. Both pondered the surprise they were in store for. Tim's father entered in heavy sweats and a nylon jacket.

"You boys better get some jackets out. It's going to be a bit nippy out there today.

"Now I won't be able to go eat dinner with you today......I've got to go to the site of your surprise!"

"Dad!....What's all the hush-hush? What's the big production?"

"I can't tell you that......It won't be a surprise then...

"Mom's going to be out there too!......With the video camera! She wants to get all your expressions."


It was one o'clock as the limousine drove into the state park. The boys had all eaten well. They remained silent as they looked around. The driver drew up to a dirt patch near the large lake.

They noticed a large tent and three smaller ones, nestled below a group of large oaks. The grassy knoll dipped sharply down toward the lake. There was a stretch of rocks and then a more sandy shoreline. Medium sized waves were being pushed up by the chilly east wind. Seagulls stretched out their wings and seemed to glide on the wind without actually moving across the water.

They all noticed their parents were there beside their cars. They all had large smiles. Ayumi was already running the video camera.

"SURPRISE!" they all yelled out as the boys stepped from the limo. The driver had remained in place as Mr. Gavin stepped out with a large smile. He looked toward Mr. Webster.

"I hope I gave you enough time to set everything up!"

"...Right to the minute! Frank there, seemed to have forgotten the stakes for his tent. We had to head back."

Mr. Gavin and Mr. West shook hands. Mr. Gavin seemed to draw close to him in a rather confidential manner.

"...I sure hope you considered my offer from the other day," he spoke softly.

Mr. West grinned and nodded.

"...Gee, Jake......I'm really feeling a bit poorly over that..."

He seemed to blush slightly as he glanced down for a moment.

"...Look, Jake......I'm not making a six digit income working maintenance at the hospital......And I'm sure pleased with your offer......It's just....well, I feel as though it's the boys..."

"Hey!....This is no....sympathy hire! You're good at what you do. In fact, you aren't using all your talents!......Gee, Frank!....Electrical, plumbing, woodworking, mechanical!......I really can use someone like you......These young kids out there just aren't responsible enough! I can't count on them. You're a mature father. You've been through some rough times. You're established in town here. I'm telling you, I can really use someone like you around the firm!......I mean, it'll be a bit of everything! We need the hanger out at the airstrip rewired!....Insulated better for winter! We need better plumbing. I could use you around the house too! Frank....neither of us will live long enough for the list of things I still need to get done."

Frank nodded with a slight smile.

"...And what if the boys....umm....split?"

"This has nothing to do with Chris and Joe! Oh yeah! I'm really happy they met! Chris is just so happy now. And even if they....go their separate ways....Chris will still have so many friends! I told you all about that. He just doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. Joe....Hell! All these boys accepted him!....And he's getting out there and making new friends! It's a dream come true for me."

He seemed to step closer for several seconds and drew close to his ear.

"...And I'm really happy to hear you've adjusted so well to their....relationship."

Frank nodded again with a serious expression.

"Oh yeah! That was rough, Jake......The wife dying......The hospital bills....Then finding Joe's..."

He didn't complete the statement.

"...I was really bothered over this......Well, I didn't let on to Joe about it. I guess you could say I......went back to school about all this. I understand now. I really under-stand all this. It was rough at first. Then it seemed as though boys were dropping him left and right. He never said anything to me about it. I could tell he was hurt over it. He seems so much more well-adjusted now. And Chris with helping Joe with that math! I've got a high school education....and they sure didn't teach us what Joe's learning! I couldn't do anything to help him."

"Well, that little Joe is a saint, Frank! I think they're both helping each other. And even if it doesn't last....they'll both benefit from all this."

He gazed over at the boys gathering around the picnic table before the tents.

"...I'm going to say it....I'm trying to toughen up Chris a bit. Oh! He sure won't be a quarterback in college, but that's not what I'm talking about. He needs to become more independent! He needs to come out here with his friends and....and do for himself!

"I see lots of myself in him. He's a very knowledgeable boy. It's just that he has to learn to apply that to real life situations. He needs more real world experience. I think this will be wonderful for all the boys out here."

Although the boys had zipped up their jackets and raised their shoulders against the chilly wind, they laughed and joked with each other. Ayumi continued to grin as she followed them around with the camera. Each set of parents had located their boys and seemed to be enjoying their happy surprise. Clara gripped at her jacket and made her way to the picnic table, shaking her curved finger in the air.

"Oh my stars!....You boys are gonna freeze out here! I don't think I like this one bit!"

"Gram," Tim nearly sighed, "We're in a state park, not up on some mountain somewhere! We got electric!....We got the camp store for supplies! They even sell ice for the coolers! The rangers have radios and cells! If there's an emergency, we'll be well taken care of!"

Clara weakly sat at the table.

"Well, you boys are getting older now. I'm not frightened of you breaking your necks. I worry about this cold!......I worry about you not eating well."

She glanced around at the tents in the wind. She rubbed her arms through her jacket.

"Oh!....Sleeping in dark, cold, damp tents! And there's no wondering what sort of bugs 'n spiders will be crawling about! And what if it rains and you can't get out to cook at the grill?!"

"Gram, we'll have all kinds of meat 'n stuff to make sandwiches! We might have to have a few cold meals but we sure aren't gonna starve to death!"

"Oh my stars!....Just the thought of sleeping on the ground like that!"

"We won't be sleeping on the ground! The tent has a floor in it! And we'll be in sleeping bags!....Insulation?!....Warm?! Don't worry about us!"

"Oh dear! I don't know what possessed you father to go along with something like this!"

Ken drew near with a large grin.

"Mom!....The boys will love this! Think about it as a way to sort of give the boys a bit of independence. This will be quite an experience for them...

"Remember me, Mom?......I was just too shy to go out and do something like this. I want all the boys to have nice memories of this."

She glanced at the tents again, rippling in the wind. She drew her arms around herself.

"Ohhhh! Geeeee!"

Ayumi finally drew the camera from her eye.

"Okay, boys....Now this tent is from our back yard......Chris and Joe....That one is yours. Ethan and Ryan will use this one. Over there is Scooter's and Toby's. I want you all to go in there and check things over real quickly. Make sure we didn't forget anything. And if you later find you need something....CALL US! It's nothing to drive out here for something important we forgot...

"Now we're all giving you money for the camp store. I don't think I have to remind you to not spend it all on chips and candy bars. Buy good food! We've even included canned vegetables and a few of those dehydrated meals if the weather isn't with you."

Ken stepped forward.

"I've only got one thing to say......I'm not worried about you guys, but please....no fire or heaters in the tents!....Okay? You've all got flashlights and camping lamps. Mr. Gavin even got little Chris here one of those LED lamps. It's rather bright. And should the electric fail and you can't recharge it, it's got a built-in generator with a little crank on it. Please, boys....no fire in the tents, okay?"

Chris looked up at him with a smile.

"Oh!....I do believe this will be simply smashing! I've never done anything such as this before. It will truly be a memorable experience for me!"

Ayumi had gazed at him.

"Oh he's just so sweet! That head on that tiny neck!......He looks like one of those little bobble-headed gnomes one sets up on the refrigerator. I certainly hope he isn't too frightened out here."

Chris' father stepped up to him and shook his shoulder.

"I know I told you I was taking you out here next week while I was in Florida. Well, I got to thinking. I'd rather be home while you did this for your first time. You need to be out more, doing these kinds of things. You've got your cell if you need it. If this gets to be too much for you....just give me a call."

"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary......Well....I must admit, it'll be a bit frightening at night. I've never slept out in a tent at night before. I'm sure I'll begin to hear all sorts of things."

"Well, you'll have neighbors on each side of you out here. It's not that you'll be out in the deep woods all alone."

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