Life Goes On

by The Eggman

Chapter 28

The first couple to wake Sunday morning was Ben and Graham. Disturbingly, Graham was crying and thrashing at seven-ten in the morning. Ben firmly shook his partner awake from the nightmare. Gasping and nervously looking around, Graham huffed an explosive sigh of relief. Ben frowned, "Again, huh?"

Nodding and wiping his eyes, Graham desperately wept, "I can't believe this fucking shit. It wasn't even real; only a 'what if' possibility that I never even thought of, but there it was, to making a fucking shitty situation worse."

Cuddling up to Graham and laying his head on his boyfriend's chest, Ben softly reminded, "I'm here to listen, puddin'."

Shaking and trying to calm down, Graham wrapped an arm around Ben's back, moaning, "I really wanted to make love with you tomorrow morning."

"Please don't worry about that," Ben begged. "I'm worried about you. Tell me about the dream."

"It was stupid," Graham sighed.

Ben planted a kiss on Graham's belly then suggested, "Talking it out might help."

Graham softly shared, "It was so ridiculous. I didn't go to the wake or funeral, but there I was, at the church the day of the funeral." He paused then groaned, "Omigod, it was a week ago today." He firmly assured, "I wasn't even thinking of that, Ben. All day yesterday I was a hundred percent with you. We made love so many great ways and bed time last night was best of all."

"Graham?"

"Yeah?"

"All that matters to me is you. Dreaming of a funeral you weren't allowed to go to, but wanted to, is totally understandable."

"That's the worst part of the nightmare. I was there and so were all of Francis' friends. It turned into a brawl at the church. His casket was knocked over. It opened and he fell out, naked; all the accident injuries could be plainly seen. The priest wouldn't finish the ceremony, because Francis was gay, so everything got totally fucked over, all because I was there."

Shifting onto Graham and locking eyes with him, Ben gently assured, "None of that really happened, Graham. You weren't there. You got to say goodbye to Francis a completely different way. I heard him, Eddie and Matt heard him, all your friends and mine heard him and you saying the sweetest goodbye ever. You told him that you loved and missed him. He told you that he loved you too and that he never felt a thing. If Francis was here, right now; what more would you say?"

Thinking about the question for a long minute at least, Graham then sighed, "Nothin'."

"Are you sure? I mean, we talk to him all the time; we've played with him too, like he's here with us. If you have something to say to him, then say it."

"All I'd tell him is that his parents are bigger assholes than he and I ever thought. He said he'd take care of that too though, so he already knows."

"Do you want to say something to his parents?"

Graham smirked, "Nothing nice, that's for sure."

"Then that's what this nightmare was about; your need to confront them and say goodbye to Francis. The two got mixed up in the dream and it got ugly, but it never really happened."

Graham slightly smiled, "You're sweet. I'm really disappointed in myself though."

Ben wondered, "Why?"

Graham shrugged, "For making a scene in the Intensive Care Unit, so that I couldn't visit him again or go to the funeral."

Ben nodded then thought aloud, "Let's say you didn't get emotional that day and you could visit him. Do you think you would've been able to always hold it all in?"

Shaking his head, Graham replied, "No. It would've eventually…" Graham paused then grinned, "I see what you're saying. If I had held it in that day and maybe all the way to the funeral, it would've eventually been exactly like the nightmare."

"Maybe not exactly," Ben softly assured. "Any argument at a church during a funeral is bad enough."

Graham smiled, "I love you."

Ben giggled, "I'm loving you back," and then planted a tender kiss.

Graham softly and sweetly sang, "Benjamin?"

Ben giggled, "Grrr?"

Graham whispered, "I want your dickie inside me."

Ben giggled, "What about your plan?"

Graham shrugged, "At this rate, we might not get to that special third day."

Running his fingers through Graham's wavy brown hair, Ben smiled, "Let's ignore the fact that our dickies are hard for a minute."

"Make it a short minute."

"If we made love now, what would happen?"

"The noise your mom heard yesterday would be nothing like she'd hear now."

Ben nodded and giggled, "And if we waited until tomorrow, like originally intended, then what?"

Graham evilly leered, "We'd never make it out of the house, that's for sure."

"And all our friends would know exactly why we missed rehearsal. Matt, Eddie, Mike and Derrick would know for certain."

Graham prompted, "Your plan is?"

"We compromise; Tuesday, at your house, no matter what your dream happens to be. Today is our fourth morning together; two good dreams, one bad, and one with no dreams of Francis. You're making real progress, so let's just choose a day."

Graham checked, "Tuesday; whether I have good, bad or no dreams?"

Ben nodded, "If it's bad, we wait until you're feeling better, maybe that afternoon, but Tuesday will be the day." Shifting his eyes, Ben giggled, "Until then…" Diving face first into the crook of Graham's neck, Ben started sucking hard.

Cringing, Graham loudly giggled, "Omigod, I do love my grizzly bear!"

Lifting his face for a moment, Ben giggled, "Do you know when you pushed the button?" and then, without waiting for an answer, dove right back to Graham's neck.

"I can't think!" Graham cackled.

"Then I'm leaving the biggest hickey ever," Ben warned.

Becoming hysterical, Graham laughed, "Omigod, what did I say?" Sniggering and trying to recall what he had said; Graham snacked on Ben's shoulder. It took far longer than Ben expected for Graham to breathlessly laugh, "I want your dickie inside me!"

Ben's face popped up again and he nodded, "I want to, puddin', very much. I want your dickie in me too. When we go for it, I can almost promise you, we'll be in bed the whole day."

Graham giggled, "Almost?"

Ben nodded, "We'll eventually have to pee and eat, but other than that…" Graham spread his legs wide and Ben's lower half sunk to the mattress. Ben giggled, "More practice?"

Graham nodded and smiled, "The last position is doggie-style."

"That's not too different from a crack slide."

"What can I say? That's the way I want it from you this time."

Ben nodded, landed a passionate kiss then moved off Graham. They got into position and set about playing their preparatory game.

In Corey's bedroom, Corey woke before the alarm and was under the sheet once again, giving Drew another wake up blowjob. That's not what Drew wanted that morning; he wanted to make more babies. Corey first happily bounced to an incredible orgasm then leaned down for kisses and so Drew could plow away. Down close to Drew, Corey whispered his desire for twins. Holding Corey in place, Drew carefully flipped them over into the missionary position. When the second orgasm raced through Drew, Corey giggled, "Triplets?" and Drew collapsed in hysterical laughter.

Prez woke wanting to call his aunt and cousin. The concert was Friday night and he needed to alter their plans. Maybe Wednesday or Thursday night would be good and he could go with Keith. He slid into his shorts and left Keith sleeping. Saying good morning to dad, Rush was let out for his morning toidy and then Prez called his aunt. After a brief conversation, they chose Thursday night for Bob's guitar lesson and for dinner together. Extremely happy that he would at last get to spend time with Keith and his Aunt's family, Prez returned to the bedroom to wake Keith. Groggily realizing that Prez was ravenous and raging, Keith felt Prez snaking arms and legs around him. In moments, Prez rolled onto his back and brought Keith along for the ride. Lifting his legs, Prez made it clear what he wanted and how he wanted it.

Across the 101 Freeway, Shaun and Gil were similarly involved. Every weekend, Gil was spending with Shaun and his family. Friday night Sabbath meals were always followed with music played by Shaun and they all sang. Shaun's parents really liked Gil and never made any issue of his Christian upbringing. Gil never knew what to expect from Shaun in the mornings. Sometimes Shaun would be top, but more often he would choose instead to get Gil crazy and then go for a ride, as was the case this morning.

In the same neighborhood, Eddie was on his hands and knees, doing most of the work for Matt. That summer, the weekend after school let out, Eddie told his parents that he was in love with Matt and had been for over a year. Eddie expected arguments and shouting, but surprisingly got neither. At last, Eddie's family and Matt's family were well aware of their sons' sexual orientation. At Eddie's house, they were slightly more comfortable in a full size bed than at Matt's house and his twin size bed. At home, Matt didn't mind sleeping with Eddie draped over him, since it always seemed to create middle of the night sexual interludes. Waking this Sunday morning at Eddie's house, the plan was to join everybody at Mike's house for rehearsal. Needing to burn off affection and energy before the band's rehearsal, Matt kept Eddie revved up and got on his hands and knees for Eddie and the second round. The best part was that Eddie always rested his upper body on Matt's back in this position. Matt could hear every whispered word and feel Eddie's heart frantically beating.

In Agoura Hills, Mike and Derrick made love standing, so that damn squeaky bed wouldn't make more noise than both of them combined. Mike leaned against the dresser for Derrick to take him. Everything was considerably quieter, as they had intended, until they got close to climaxing, when their combined strength began tilting and knocking the dresser against the wall. Mike released the dresser and held his thighs, just above the knees, to allow Derrick to finish.

After their earlier bedroom escapades, shower masturbation, and big breakfasts with Ben's mom, Ben and Graham walked to Doug's and Brian's house about nine-thirty. Hearing knocks on the front door, Doug yelled, "Door's open." Ben and Graham stepped inside. Just finishing breakfast, Mike, Derrick, Doug and Brian were still at the table eating. The stereo was on, and again Graham heard something that sounded like Pink Floyd, but nothing he had ever heard before, so he asked which CD it was. Doug replied, "It's not Pink Floyd, it's our own music."

Graham's eyebrows rose and he grinned, "Is this the same stuff I heard the other night, when we first met?"

Brian nodded, "This same disk anyway."

Derrick smiled, "It's as good as any Floyd, huh?"

Graham nodded, "It really does sound a lot like them."

Mike got up from the table, teasing Doug and Brian while taking his plate to the kitchen; "Maybe someday we'll be taught how to do the backwards stuff?"

Doug grinned, "Select the audio file or section, pull it into the waveform editor, then Options and then Invert. The next menu gives you the flip option."

Derrick and Mike groaned, "Ah," setting Ben and Graham off in a giggling fit.

Brian teased, "If you hadn't managed Hair of the Dog last night, you'd be searching the manuals."

Standing with his plate and cup, to get a safe distance from the two men, Derrick went to the kitchen, chuckling, "We did it once before. The second time was easier."

Taking on his New York Mafioso voice, Doug mumbled, "Notice how they left the table before firing their shots?" Nodding their heads, Ben giggled and Graham evilly snickered.

Mike laughed, "We'd be exiled to Sicily otherwise."

"And we would like your help again today," Derrick sweetly smiled.

"Aw," Brian and Doug sang.

Mike chuckled, "Your vacation officially ends tomorrow, correct?"

Brian and Doug grunted and nodded. Derrick offered, "So our next chance to have your opinions might be two weeks away, the weekend before the auditions."

Leaving the confined galley kitchen and waiting behind Ben and Graham, nearer to the front door, Mike joked, "Maybe we can team up and contact others that have crossed over? I'll guarantee Lennon still has a lot to say." Mooing erupted and Mike giggled, "Ya wouldn't want to miss that, I'm sure."

Doug and Brian pointed at Mike and hollered, "Get him!" Ben and Graham spun around and grabbed Mike by the arms before he could escape out the front door.

Graham playfully checked with Ben; "Tickle torture?"

Nodding, Ben giggled, "Derrick, you get the honors and we'll hold him still."

Mike's arms were held against the entryway wall before he could uncertainly cackle, "Tickle what?"

Already evilly snickering, Derrick came around the corner. Ben prompted, "Go for it, dude." Derrick went crazy, tickling Mike from his neck to his belly. Mike howled laughing.

Graham chuckled, "The rules are, his pants need to be pushed down."

"Educational value is lost if he pops a bone," Ben giggled.

Reaching for Mike's board shorts, Derrick had them untied and the Velcro ripped open before Mike could half-heartedly protest.

Clearing the table, Brian and Doug went to the kitchen to allow the boys to teach Mike a valuable lesson. With Mike's shorts and boxers at his ankles, Derrick playfully abused his partner, laughing almost as hard while watching Mike turn purple and slide down the wall. The two men were cleaning up the breakfast mess and heard Graham laugh, "Don't touch his dickie, dude; tickle everywhere else." Doug and Brian roared. In minutes, Mike was practically on his knees, purple, wheezing and powerless. Derrick stopped his tickling, Ben and Graham let Mike down gracefully, leaving a half naked, hysterical mass in a fetal position on the tiled entryway floor. Graham proudly grinned, "It'll be a few minutes before he can pull his shorts up."

Derrick sniggered, "This is a very cool educational tool."

Graham nodded, "Common practice with my buds. I was tickled to tears, Thursday night, for being a cranky bitch the last month."

Taking Graham's hand, Ben nodded and giggled, "Partners get to deliver justice. Matt and Eddie held Graham still for me."

Leaning against the kitchen wall, out of site of Mike's giggling remains, Doug chuckled, "This wasn't my intention, but it actually turned out very well."

From the living room, where he was turning off the stereo, Brian hollered, "Get up, Mike! We'll be late for your rehearsal." Ben, Derrick and Graham looked over and Mike couldn't even reply.

Facing Brian, Graham sniggered, "It'll be another couple o' minutes."

About ten o'clock, cars began pulling up to the Gibbons' home. Prez, Keith, Drew and Corey arrived first. Shaun pulled up with Gil as the first group got out of the car. Right behind Shaun's car, Matt pulled up with Eddie. At the curb, the group gathered.

Shaun and Gil were raving about a song that Shaun had learned the previous night. They wanted the band to learn the song and thought it was very appropriate. Prez and Keith were enthused, but since Mike and Derrick hadn't shown yet, they went to the front door to ask that the garage door be opened. Drew and Corey led the other four boys to the garage, explaining with Shaun and Gil that gear had to be moved. Soon, the door was rising in its tracks. Aaron and Danny pulled up while everything was being setup and wondered where Derrick and Mike were.

Keith smirked, "God only knows." He then called, "Drew, ring Agoura Hills and see if they've left, please?" Drew nodded and stopped messing with the P.A. gear to place the call. Corey took over and got everything powered up.

Aaron and Danny pulled Keith and Prez aside and warmly hugged them. Soon, Keith and Prez knew about Danny's turn about. It was quite obvious too by Aaron's physical attachment to Danny. They could barely wait to offer their thanks to Derrick and Mike too. They went out to the driveway to await their arrival and listen. Gil gave Shaun a kiss and also went out to the driveway.

Drew told Keith and Prez, "I tried twice and no answer. They must be on their way."

With only his acoustic guitar accompaniment, Shaun ran through the song he learned. Prez picked up his bass and watched the chords Shaun was playing. Keith got his lyrics notebook out and parked his buns on Mike's amplifier, listening to Shaun's performance. When the tune was completed, Shaun told Prez, "The bass line is pretty simple, just boppin'," and then sang a brief example. He then told Keith, "There are lots of places where your backup vocals will be needed; doubled during the various points in the verses, and the whole band during the chorus', and during the doo-doo-doo-dos." From his back pocket, Shaun pulled out a piece of paper with the lyrics scribbled down and handed it to Keith.

The 442 pulled up to the curb while Shaun, Prez and Keith were going through the song. Aaron and Danny went to greet them and offer their thanks to Mike and Derrick. When Aaron and then Danny hugged Mike, Prez and Keith noticed that Mike seemed to uncharacteristically shrivel and giggle.

Brian's Firebird stopped across the street from the house. Seemingly on rubber legs, Mike was still giggling as he approached the garage. Derrick took his place on his drum throne and started playing along. Still a quivering wreck, Mike turned on his amplifier, but looked at his guitars like they were foreign objects. Derrick laughed at his temporarily changed lover. The second run through ended without Mike's participation. Scowling curiously, Shaun, Prez and Keith turned to Mike.

"What the hell happened to you?" Keith wondered. Derrick cracked up.

Shaking his head, Mike giggled, "A not so innocent remark changed the whole friggin' day."

Shaun grinned, "Can you play?"

Mike shrugged and cackled, "I dunno."

By this time, Ben and Graham had filled in all the others about Mike's learning experience and they busted up laughing.

Prez checked with Keith, "Have you ever seen him like this?"

Shaking his head, Keith grinned, "Never. Even after numerous bong rips, he'd play and play well."

Shaun suggested, "Until you pull your act together, could we go inside and listen to the tune on your stereo, Mike?"

"Sure!" Mike giggled.

The band, all 'their ears' and guests went inside to work on Shaun's suggested cover tune. With the living room and kitchen filled, Shaun played the track You Can Do Magic off the America CD and sang along.

I never believed in things that I couldn't see
I said if I can't feel it then how can it be
No, no magic could happen to me
And then I saw you
I couldn't believe it, you took my heart
I couldn't retrieve it, said to myself
What's it all about?
Now I know there can be no doubt

In the kitchen, Aaron, Danny, Matt, Eddie, Ben and Graham were enthusiastically dancing to the song. Drew and Corey were also dancing in the living room while Doug, Brian, Gil and the band members were listening to the recording and Shaun's enthusiastic vocals.

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire
You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo...

And when the rain is beatin' upon the window pane
And when the night it gets so cold, when I can't sleep
Again you come to me
I hold you tight, the rain disappears
Who would believe it
With a word you dry my tears

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire
You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo...

And if I wanted to
I could never be free
I never believed it was true
But now it's so clear to me

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire
You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo...

You're the one who can put out the fire
You're the one who can put out the fire
You're the one who can put out the fire

Jessy arrived from her Sunday morning church service performances with sacks of Subway sandwiches. Entering the house, she said hello to everyone, including Mrs. Gibbons, sitting at the kitchen dinette table with Lindsay. After listening a second time, the entire group of teenagers moved back outside. In the garage, Brian and Doug worked with the band to pull together this new cover tune. With encouragement from Danny and most of the boys out in the driveway around the mixer, Old Habits ran through the song twice, then played Without You and Land of Confusion before concentrating their efforts on the audition and concert set list.

Since they had gotten a later than usual start, it was almost one o'clock when lunch break was taken. The band agreed that they had accomplished all they needed to for that day. Doug and Brian took their leave of everyone then left for home. Aaron and Danny were next to leave, but promised to return the next Saturday with Craig and Glen. During lunch, a discussion about the band's audition packet began. Matt, Ben and Graham told the band members that Eddie was a good photographer. Reaching quick agreement, the band conscripted Eddie to take photos the next day. Once lunch was eaten, the gear was moved back into the garage and then everyone that wanted to took a pool break. Jessy offered her farewells and then went to meet Nelson. Before leaving, Matt and Eddie hugged Ben, Graham, Shaun, Gil, Drew, Corey, Prez, Keith and Derrick then made a point of tickling Mike. Backing away and laughing, Mike almost fell in his pool, but Keith grabbed Mike's arm and Prez wrapped his right arm around Mike's back. Together Keith and Prez pulled Mike forward, into Derrick's arms.

"You aren't allowed to drown today," Derrick grinned.

Keith chuckled, "There's no audition or concert without you, bro."

Prez nodded and told the gathered group, "We've gotta get some sort of day trip at an amusement park organized."

Shaun suggested, "How about Magic Mountain?"

Gil hummed then checked with Shaun, Matt and Eddie, "The end of the month would be best for us."

"A Wednesday," Eddie smiled. "I'd only have to work from seven until eleven in the morning. Matt's got Wednesday's off too." Not too far away, Graham was softly encouraging Ben into making the trip. Ben wanted to go, but didn't have the cash. Graham assured his partner he could easily afford it after five weeks of doing nothing.

Still wrapped in Derrick's arms, Mike asked, "Is August twenty sixth good for everyone?"

Checking with Gil, Shaun nodded agreement, "We'll be available."

Matt smiled, "Sounds like a plan to me," and Eddie enthusiastically nodded agreement.

Derrick nodded, "Right after the audition and before the concert."

Graham grinned, "We'll be there too."

Prez smiled, "I'll give Jessy a call and see if she can make it with Nelson."

Keith confirmed, "Wednesday, August twenty-sixth, from about noon until the park closes?" Everyone agreed and started walking to the front of the house to say goodbye and get in their cars. Ben and Graham went with Derrick and Mike back to Agoura Hills.

Prez pulled away from the curb, glanced in the rearview mirror and asked, "Don't you two want to go to Magic Mountain?"

Drew shrugged, "We've already been there, with Brian and Pete."

"I wouldn't mind going again," Corey offered.

Drew reminded, "Our self defense class starts Tuesday, at Bally's."

Corey asked, "Prez, do you think we can go camping again before school starts?"

Crossing the 101, northbound on Topanga Canyon, Prez nodded, "We can probably go at least once more."

Turning slightly in the passenger seat, Keith said, "We've gotta go school clothes shopping too. That'll probably wind up being a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, so we can all go together."

Prez prompted, "Let's give Ben a call, babe. Now that he's hooked up with Graham, that trip may not be all too important to him."

Drew told Corey, "Let's check with our folks about Magic Mountain, angel. If we can go, great, if not, oh well."

"We're going, stud," Corey giggled. Drew grinned and pulled Corey over to lie on top of him.

Only a few minutes later, Prez dropped Corey and Drew off at the Seavers' then turned around and started for home. Noticing the fuel indicator lamp turn on, Prez sighed, "Time for more gas."

Keith shook his head and grinned, "We're not taking time for that, sex machine. I haven't driven my Camry in over a week, so I'll drive us to work tonight and tomorrow."

Prez leered, "Drive me, lover."

"At least twice in the bedroom and again in the shower," Keith promised.

The minute Corey walked into his house with Drew, Corey told his parents that the band wanted to spend a day at Magic Mountain, as a group, and that he wanted to go with Drew. Without any argument, Bill Seaver agreed. Thanking his parents, Corey pulled Drew outside to the pool.

Lanna looked over and asked, "Why did you agree so quickly?"

Bill answered, "Because Corey's found a place to fit in and boys he wants to be with. If I had said no, they'd be home alone with virtually no other social interaction. A day at a park might be a little expensive, but so are little league uniforms and equipment."

Nodding agreement, Lanna smiled, "Corey needs social activities. There will be eight other older boys with him too. It couldn't be safer."

Arriving home, Ben walked in his house with Graham to find his mother on the phone. Margaret Healy quickly said, "Hold on, please. Ben just walked in." A moment later, she covered the mouthpiece and smiled, "It's Preston, calling to ask about school clothes shopping later this month."

Ben nodded and his mom handed over the phone. Ben said, "Hey, Prez."

Prez said, "Hi Ben. On the way home, Keith, Drew, Corey and I were considering various plans for the month. It's getting pretty hectic, so I just wanted to check with you. When we planned on a shopping trip, you didn't have a boyfriend attached to you."

Ben giggled, "I already talked to Graham about that. We'd still like to go. It might be with Eddie and Matt too. We'll check with them again tomorrow or during the week."

"Sounds great," Prez cheered. "Since these sorts of things need to happen in the middle of the week, we're thinking the eighteenth, nineteenth or twentieth would be good. We'll check with Derrick and Mike at work tonight. Drew and Corey would be with us too, most likely."

"Cool," Ben smiled. "I'll pass that on and check with my mom, then let you know tomorrow at rehearsal." Graham softly reminded Ben about moving day. Ben gasped, "Before I forget again, Prez; my mom's decided to go with a U-Haul rental truck for the move. Would you and Keith be available to help us?"

Prez asked, "What day of the week is it?"

"Tuesday, September first," Ben answered.

"That shouldn't be a problem, but let me check real quick," Prez replied. He lowered the phone from his mouth, but Ben could still hear him asking Keith about it. Moments later, Prez told Ben, "You've got all four of us, Ben. Drew and Corey will lend a hand where they can too." Prez then said, "I'll be seeing Derrick and Mike before you. Would you like me to get them to help?"

Ben giggled, "Yes, please. Thanks so much, Prez."

Prez teased, "You'd better get back to Graham before he starts shaking and frothing at the mouth."

Turning red, Ben softly giggled, "We have some packing to get done." Graham excitedly nodded.

Prez couldn't believe Ben had said that and roared, "You'd best get to it. I'll see ya tomorrow."

Ben nodded and giggled, "See ya tomorrow, Prez. Bye."

Prez chuckled, "Buh-bye," and hung up. Prez turned to Keith, grinning, "Ben's getting some packing done, but I didn't get the impression it had anything to do with the move."

Reaching his hand out for Prez's hand, Keith smiled, "We've got the house to ourselves. Ya wanna do some packing too?"

"In the worst way," Prez giggled. Following Keith back to their room, Prez rambled, "I can barely believe all the good that's come from my mom's one simple suggestion. Ben's got a boyfriend; Corey and Graham are doing so much better, and Danny's had a very positive turn around too."

Closing and locking the bedroom door, Keith nodded, "That's gonna be it for a while, baby. We have to learn what it is we're managing to accomplish. Doug seemed scared when he told us that all four of our auras changed to bright white."

Prez asked, "Does it really matter, Keith?"

"As long as you're safe, Prez," Keith answered. "I know how you feel, and why you're leading us in these things. That's very cool, but I need you happy and safe."

Landing a tender kiss on Keith's lips, Prez softly promised, "Then we'll learn about it, as soon as possible." As they started to undress, Prez asked, "You consider me a leader?"

Keith smiled, "Only in this specific case, yeah, you are. It was your idea from the start."

After talking with Prez, Ben hung up the phone. Graham wrapped Ben in his arms and softly chortled, "You are getting very bad."

"I can't imagine why," Ben giggled. He looked over at his mother and told her about the tentative shopping plans and that they now had four pairs of helping hands on moving day, with two more pair tentative, pending Prez asking Mike and Derrick for help.

Thrilled to have extra help on moving day, Mrs. Healy agreed that would be as good a time as any to get school clothes shopping done. She added, "I took the bag of shirts to Good Will this morning."

Ben nodded and smiled, "Thanks, mom." He led Graham to his room and softly giggled, "Let's get some real packing done."

Wide eyed, Graham leered, "Then packing practice."

Beginning to fold one of the U-Haul boxes, Ben asked, "Turn on the stereo, puddin'?"

Graham went to the stereo, asking, "Got a favorite or just shuffle?"

Ben explained, "Start with Hanson's Weird. Old Habits plays it differently, more bluesy."

Setting about finding the disk and the song, Graham wondered, "What did you think of Shaun's song suggestion today?"

Kneeling down to empty his desk into the box, Ben smiled, "It was awesome. He sang it so easily too."

Dropping the disk in the player, Graham nodded, "He sings a lot, teddy bear," and then played the third track off 'Middle of Nowhere'. Going over near Ben, Graham landed a kiss on the cheek and smiled, "How can I help?"

Ben giggled, "All seven drawers of this desk can be emptied. Ya wanna get another box folded?" Graham nodded and went to work. Ben sighed, "As many things as I'm looking forward to with this move, I'm still nervous."

"It's a big change," Graham offered. "If I were you, I wouldn't worry about it so much. You'll be spending half your time with me at my house. The other half of the time, I'll be with you there."

"I've always lived here; as far back as I can remember. I wasn't even three when we moved here."

"I was born in my house, but ya know what; they say, wherever you eat, sleep and hang your hat is home. This year I need to start thinking long term stuff, after high school. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? What do you want to do with the rest of your life?"

Pushing one full box aside, Ben pulled another over and giggled, "Besides spending it with you?"

Graham mooed then grinned, "That's gonna cost you."

Quickly getting up, Ben closed his bedroom door, giggling "My butt's in the air."

Graham smiled, "Nope, I've got helium heels tonight. You need the practice."

Dropping to his knees by his desk, Ben giggled, "I'm going to junior college after high school, probably for business administration."

"Smooth transition," Graham softly chortled.

Concentrating on emptying desk drawers, Ben giggled, "And I didn't even need lube."

"You're not gonna get too many more boxes filled," Graham playfully warned.

"There's nothing I need in this desk," Ben smiled. "Pens, pencils and a pad of paper stay 'til the last week. Everything else gets packed." He turned to Graham and wondered, "Do you still want to show me stuff on the Internet?"

Graham nodded, "There's a few sites I know you'll love. One is a pictures only message board, young guys, all PG, but mostly shirtless. It's the site where I got most of my collection from."

"You've got no nudes?"

"I didn't say that," Graham evilly grinned.

Ben giggled, "So where do you and I stand in comparison?"

Moving to kneel near Ben, Graham smiled, "In the middle. Some dudes are small limp but grow real nice. On the other end of the spectrum are dudes that hang real nice but don't grow at all; their dickies just get hard. You more than double in length and girth. I don't quite double; going from four inches to seven inches. On the 'net, there was this one really cute dude. We got the whole set, because he was so cute, but when he pushed his skivvies down, there were two inches that barely grew to four. His fist covered his entire cock. I can only hope he's a bottom or straight. The other extreme are dudes totally horse hung, thicker and longer than you and me combined. We thought that the pics were Photo Shopped, but none of us found anything to prove that."

Ben wondered, "Why do you go to the PG message board?"

"It's guaranteed success," Graham answered. "Whatever you might like, you'll find; from Beanie track runners to huge muscle bound hunks and everything in between. Most of my friends never needed to see dicks to be able to say, 'now he's cute'. Rick's the only exception to that rule."

Ben grinned, "My friends are the same."

Graham nodded and smiled, "I think Derrick liked tickling Mike a little too much."

Ben giggled, "I think Mike liked being tickled too much."

"He didn't upset me at all with that joke, teddy bear," Graham softly shared.

Pausing his work, Ben carefully searched Graham's expression. Seeing only a slight grin, Ben smirked, "It was a little too close to the mark, which is why I held him to get tickled."

Graham asked, "Ya know what I saw, several times now?"

Returning to packing his desk, Ben prompted, "What?"

"Last night, with the kazoos, and again this morning, Derrick and Mike are surprised with you."

Ben shrugged, "I guess they have good reason to be. Without a boyfriend, I couldn't get involved in any of that horsing around. I was always tempted though, but would just sit back and laugh at the silliness around me."

"You didn't need me, or a boyfriend, to join in the fun now and then."

"That kind of fun, yeah, I did."

"You still consider yourself separate?"

Taking another break, Ben thought carefully then said, "Less so now, with you. The first times I ever felt comfortable talking were with Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith. I tried being a little more vocal with Gil and Shaun and it worked. It worked with Corey and Drew too. I wasn't trying at all when I met you.

"Two months ago, I never felt comfortable talking to anyone about anything, not even pointless English Lit oral reports. With help, I got better at talking. With you, now I finally feel like if there's anything I need to say, I can say it. To me, the world is mostly out there, beyond us. Today though, I danced with you, while Danny danced with Aaron, and Matt danced with Eddie. For those brief minutes, I felt part of something bigger. When I can get involved, I am trying to, just for those moments when I feel there's something more. I felt that way with Eddie and Matt at your house. In the restaurant with your parents, I felt that way too, even when I wasn't part of the conversation."

Graham smiled, "I truly love the way you are and how you think, Ben. It's a different point of view; one that I've never heard before. Other people, besides me, would love it too. When you trust who you're talking to, you have cool things to say."

Going back to work, Ben giggled, "Really?"

Graham enthusiastically nodded then asked, "Other than your father, has anyone ever gotten annoyed by anything you've said in the last month?"

Thinking about it for a few moments, Ben realized that no one had shown any displeasure of any sort from anything he had said. Shaking his head, Ben sighed, "I guess not. Some people don't make it easy though, ya know? They'd mock me for being quiet, for keeping to myself."

"Ya can't please all the people all the time," Graham smiled. "What I've seen is you being awesome and other people treating you nicely. Not only your friends and mine; Aaron, Craig, Glen, and most especially, Danny think you're awesome."

Ben admitted, "Danny's really nice. He survived stuff I wouldn't have."

Graham nodded, "I can see already, he thinks a lot like you do."

Believing Graham was jealous over hugs that day and the previous day, Ben giggled, "He's only a friend, puddin'."

Graham nodded, "He could be a really close friend, if he and you would let it happen. Danny's only got eyes for Aaron, just like you've got your heart set on me. Because of that, I wasn't the least bit jealous of Danny. I want you to have lots of friends, teddy bear. You missed out and now you're making up for it."

"All at once, without much effort," Ben sighed, and pushed another full box out of the way. Graham pulled an empty box over. Ben started filling it, wondering, "Was it all only me, Graham?"

"I really don't think so," Graham honestly answered. "I think maybe stuff happened when you were very young; things that affected how much trust you'll give people. You probably couldn't ever remember exactly what it was, because it was world shattering to you. I don't think it was your dad, at least I hope it wasn't. I'll bet your mom doesn't even know what it was. It was probably what they call a sandbox trauma. The things I've been seeing for the last four days, with everyone, everywhere, tell me that you're moving past whatever it was." Nodding, Ben stood and went to lock the bedroom door. Graham chuckled, "I didn't mean to press the grizzly bear button."

"You didn't," Ben smiled, and offered Graham a hand up. Graham took Ben's hand and stood. Ben explained, "Very much the opposite. I need to be held."

Nodding and heading to the bed with Ben, Graham wondered, "Did I spark a memory?"

Crawling onto the bed, Ben answered, "No; you just made a lot o' sense." Once comfortable and resting his head on Graham's shoulder, Ben sighed, "You know me very well already. I think you could go to college for something like psychology. You have natural qualities for it."

"The same ways you watch and listen to people, I do too. I think everybody does to one extent or another. I watch and participate. You only observe. Neither way is bad."

"Why?"

"How could I say your way is better or worse than my own, teddy bear? If I felt that way then I might as well go home alone. I love you as you are and refuse to go anywhere without you."

Ben giggled, "That's one."

Graham grinned, "One what?"

"Button press," Ben playfully warned.

Graham chuckled, "I see how you are. I'm wondering why we're in bed with clothes on."

Shifting onto Graham and smiling down, Ben asked, "Do you want to?"

"We could cuddle and talk naked," Graham suggested, and then gave Ben a tender kiss.

Ben softly giggled, "That would let me play with your dickie, ya know?"

Graham grinned, "Whenever you want."

"Do you want me to?"

Graham shrugged, "Could you stay in teddy bear mode for me?"

"I could try."

"Before we do that, let's switch CD's. The only song on this Hanson CD I like is over. I want to hear some of your CD's."

Ben nodded and scooted off Graham and the bed. They took their shirts off then went to the stereo and Ben pressed the drawer eject button. While they were on their knees before the stereo, Ben put the Hanson CD back in its case and Graham browsed Ben's CD's. Ben offered, "I'll have the band play Weird tomorrow. Let's replace Hanson with Journey's Greatest Hits. Old Habit's plays three of those songs."

"Cool," Graham smiled, and handed Ben the disk to be put in the CD drawer. He asked, "Ya wanna replace Pink Floyd too?"

Ben shrugged, "With what?"

"Beethoven?"

"That'll probably put us to sleep," Ben warned.

Taking the disk out and handing it to Ben, Graham grinned, "I need to take a whiz before we get naked, make love or fall asleep."

Inserting the Beethoven Symphony Number 6 disk, Ben nodded. He closed the CD drawer then took Graham's hand and stood, saying "Lemme just quick check where my mom is at. There might be other boxes to move to the garage." Graham nodded and they stepped out of the room. Seeing only one big box, Ben asked, "Just this one, mom?"

Mrs. Healy nodded, "It's got spare sheets, blankets and pillows from the linen closet."

Ben offered, "My desk is mostly emptied and in three boxes." He asked, "What else should I concentrate on?"

She answered, "Any things you won't need until next month. We'll need to organize a garage sale to sell off some of your father's power tools and office furniture."

"Mrs. Healy?" Graham chimed, "Let me check with my folks before you sell the tools. You wouldn't get half of what they're worth. I'm thinking it would be better to hold onto some of them. We could store a few of those things in our garage."

Quietly thinking about it, Mrs. Healy smiled, "Thank you, Graham. I'll let you boys choose what we should keep and what we could try to sell. I also need to know when we could have the garage sale. I'll need Ben here that Saturday and Sunday."

Ben said, "The band's audition is August twenty-second. Let's have it that weekend."

Mrs. Healy nodded and smiled, "That'll be fine."

The boys started for the bathroom and Graham wondered, "What kind of power tools do you have?"

"A circular saw, a jigsaw, a router, two drills, one of which is cordless, and a belt sander," Ben answered. He closed the bathroom door and told Graham, "There's one of those big tool chests out there, filled with all kinds of tools, puddin'."

Standing at the bowl, Graham said, "You should keep a set of screwdrivers, a hammer and the cordless drill, at the apartment, for quick fixes and stuff."

Standing behind his partner, Ben unbuttoned, unzipped and pushed Graham's shorts and undies down. Pointing Graham's dick at the bowl, Ben smiled, "I love doin' this."

Graham grinned, "Don't love it too much yet. We have boxes to move and a garage to check out first." Resting his chin on Graham's shoulder, Ben sighed and got quiet. Starting to urinate, Graham softly asked, "What're ya doin'?"

"Trying to stay in teddy bear mode," Ben giggled.

"Mister Dickie and all of me are yours, Ben. I'm looking forward to the day you walk up and start undressing me, only because you want to see me naked."

"Tuesday," Ben softly promised. "Our clothes won't go on until your parents get home."

Graham grinned, "That's gonna be a day of crazy, passionate sex. I know I like seeing you naked, without a stiffy. You've got a nice thick dickie that gets even thicker."

"Stop," Ben giggled, "another word and I won't be able to pee."

Finishing at the bowl, Graham evilly snickered, "Only three shakes, teddy bear." Ben sadly whimpered then they both cracked up.

Ben pulled Graham's boxer briefs and shorts up then buttoned and zipped them up. They swapped places at the bowl and Graham worked from behind Ben to get his shorts unzipped. Realizing there was more than usual under the cloth, Graham giggled, stopped at Ben's open fly, and wrapped his arms around Ben's waist, softly prompting, "Relax, my love. Close your eyes and focus on our connection. It's all ours; mine is from you and yours is from me. Let me know when you're ready."

Nodding and closing his eyes, Ben contentedly sighed, "I feel it often, warming my insides."

Graham whispered, "I love you so much. When it swells inside me, like right now, I feel like I might explode."

Ben purred, "Me too, puddin'."

Closing his eyes too, Graham softly shared, "I feel things happening to us and all around us. I can almost see each of our friends. Eddie's with Matt over at the mall, at the camera store getting film."

"Mike and Derrick are getting dressed for work. Prez and Keith just got out of the shower."

Shivering, Graham wondered, "How are we doing this?"

Ben shrugged, "It seems so real. I saw Prez and Keith in a bathroom I've never seen before."

Graham prompted, "Let's focus on Aaron and Danny." Ben nodded and they concentrated.

Ben giggled, "Oops; bad timing."

"They're making love," Graham evilly snickered.

Turning his head slightly and opening his eyes, Ben said, "I'm ready." Graham hummed curiously. Ben giggled, "To pee."

"Oh!" Graham chortled, and reached down to fish Ben's dick out of his boxers.

Ben teased, "Daydreamer." As soon as Graham had Ben's dick pointed at the bowl and the foreskin pulled slightly back, Ben started to leak.

"That was way too real," Graham chuckled.

Pulling his left arm up, Ben checked his watch. He gasped, "It's almost three-thirty. Mike and Derrick probably really are getting ready for work."

"I have no doubt everything we envisioned was real," Graham smiled. "I saw Danny's face smashed against Aaron's. If they weren't making love then they were definitely making out."

"I had the profile view," Ben giggled, "There was a leg there. I think they were in the missionary position." He turned to Graham and scowled, "Your legs don't have to be on my shoulders?"

Graham smiled, "Nope; we could have them up just about anywhere. We might also like one up and one down; whatever's comfy, teddy bear." Moments later, Ben was finished. Graham carefully stuffed Ben's dick back in his boxers then zipped up his shorts. Ben flushed and met Graham at the sink. Noticing Ben watching from the medicine cabinet mirror instead of looking down at their hands, Graham grinned, "What?"

"Bad thoughts," Ben blushed.

Graham prompted, "Yeah; such as?"

Ben giggled, "The short version is, we have to finish what we need to do, and quickly get back to my room."

Grabbing the hand towel and nodding, Graham dried his hands and softly shared, "Anything for you; as long as I won't wind up getting arrested, I'll do whatever you want me to."

Turning the water off, Ben giggled, "Really?"

Graham handed the towel to Ben then softly reminded, "I rimmed your ass, Ben. Beanie wouldn't let me do that. You allowed it and rimmed me too. Just about everything is fair game."

Ben grinned, "I was imagining the impossible."

"Go on."

"I want to play with your limp dickie, but it can't get hard."

"You're right," Graham chuckled, "it's impossible. I do have an alternative idea, just for you, my very special love."

Giggling, Ben quickly folded the towel, hung it back up and told Graham, "Hurry."

Cracking up, Graham opened the bathroom door and led the way down the hall. They picked up the two full boxes in Ben's room and took them to the garage. Ben opened the tool chest and showed Graham the power tools first, then the various drawers of hand tools. "We can probably store this entire thing for you," Graham smiled. "Lemme confirm it with my folks." Blinking fast, Ben sighed and smiled. Graham softly grinned, "Anything I can for my teddy bear," and led Ben back into the house to get the big box from the living room.

Squatting down to lift the box, Ben prompted, "Get the garage door for me, puddin'?" Ben's mom began softly giggling.

Graham paused and grinned at Mrs. Healy, "I like it."

Mrs. Healy giggled, "Ben did tell you that pudding is one of his favorite deserts?" Ben's head sagged onto the box as he turned a hundred shades of red and broke out in a sweat.

Cracking up, Graham laughed, "No, just that he had a weird dream, where my hair was chocolate pudding."

"I don't doubt that for a second," Mrs. Healy giggled.

Without saying a word, Ben lifted the box and carried it to the garage door. Still evilly snickering, Graham opened the door for Ben. Ben walked by and Graham followed, letting the door close and softly teasing, "Brrrute."

"I'm just gonna pack myself in one of these boxes until I can stop blushing," Ben giggled, and squatted down again to release the box. He remained there, leaning on the box and hiding his face.

Graham giggled, "So I'm your favorite desert now?"

"A bit more than that, since my bowls of pudding don't talk to me," Ben helplessly cackled.

"Brrr-rrr-rrr!"

Looking up, Ben queried, "Grrr?"

Holding his hand out, Graham smiled, "Come with me."

Taking Graham's hand and standing, Ben shivered, "What're you planning?"

Graham answered, "The best of everything I can do for you. Then it'll be your turn." He opened the garage door and led Ben back to his bedroom, closing and locking the door behind them. Ben watched Graham check the CD drawer, advance to a disk and then press play. The drawer closed and Graham smiled at his seemingly entranced boyfriend as he pushed his shorts and underwear down. He kicked his clothes aside then started dancing to As Long As You Love Me. Noticing that his boyfriend had incredible rhythm; twisting, turning and clapping his hands in time, Ben pushed his shorts and boxers down and danced with Graham. In moments, Graham sang the best he could and continued his dance.

Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine
I'm leavin' my life in your hands
People say I'm crazy and that I am blind
Risking it all in a glance
And how you got me blind is still a mystery
I can't get you out of my head
Don't care what is written in your history
As long as you're here with me

I don't care who you are
Where you're from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are
Where you're from
Don't care what you did
As long as you love me

Every little thing that you have said and done
Feels like it's deep within me
Doesn't really matter if you're on the run
It seems like we're meant to be

I don't care who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
What you did
As long as you love me (I don't know)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
Don't care what you did
As long as you love me (yeah)

I've tried to hide it so that no one knows
But I guess it shows
When you look into my eyes
What you did and where you're comin' from
I don't care, as long as you love me, baby

I don't care who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
What you did
As long as you love me (as long as you love me)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
Don't care what you did (yeah)
As long as you love me (as long as you love me)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you're from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
As long as you love me
Who you are
As long as you love me
What you did (I don't care)
As long as you love me

Clapping his hands, Ben loudly cheered, "Awesome! I've heard that song before, but the lyrics suddenly mean so much more."

Going to lower the stereo's volume, Graham giggled, "You're a very biased audience."

Ben smiled, "Tell me Francis didn't like it."

Graham chuckled, "Beanie didn't like Backstreet; they were just eye-candy for him. I never once sang or danced for him. I only danced with him. You'll overlook my creaky voice, and that makes you very special."

"Your voice isn't creaky," Ben warmly assured. "What I heard was very good; not pro level like some dudes we know, but it was still something I'll look forward to hearing more of."

Graham hummed then grinned, "I was going to lay back and let you have your way with me, but no. Get on the bed, teddy bear."

Doing as he was told, Ben giggled, "One compliment too many, obviously."

Graham sniggered, "I'm not in grizzly mode. This might take until dinner," and crawled over Ben then lay down on top of him. Ben's arms wrapped Graham up. Desperately, they kissed and started grinding. Twice during their love making they paused to consider intercourse. Ben dissuaded Graham with the dong, and minutes later, Graham deterred Ben by reminding they would need to shower before dinner. Each had two orgasms and were cuddling afterward, with Journey's Greatest Hits playing in the background, when Graham grinned, "We're not gonna make it until Tuesday."

Ben giggled, "It sure doesn't seem that way."

Absently tracing little patterns on Ben's chest, Graham chuckled, "Another change in plans?"

"It's up to you, puddin'," Ben smiled. "Your reasons for waiting are better than any excuses I dream up."

Graham hummed then offered, "Tomorrow after rehearsal we come home to an empty house."

"We'd have about three hours."

"And time to shower before your mom gets home."

"Then we're back at your place tomorrow night."

"Matt and Eddie will be at tomorrow's rehearsal. We could make life easy and get a ride to my place immediately afterward?"

"Call your mom if we're having dinner there."

"And I'll check with Matt to see if he'll give us a ride."

"Gimme a kiss and we can get moving."

Graham gave Ben a tender kiss, and then got a medium playful kiss in return. They finished with a passionate lip lock that left them both gasping, "Omigod."

Rolling out of bed and getting dressed, Ben wondered, "You want to go first tomorrow?"

"We can't really plan that out, teddy bear. I'm pretty sure I'll want to go for a ride on you first, but we could decide otherwise at the last minute. If you're in aggressive grizzly mode, I might not have much say in the matter."

Pulling his shorts up, Ben nodded and giggled, "I might be aggressive, but still sit on your dickie." Graham smiled and whimpered. Ben giggled, "You like that idea?"

With his shirt in his hand, Graham paused and assured, "It's all you, Ben. Maybe I've been scared of mixing names for no point. Once I told myself to stop comparing, I've been really good at accomplishing it, especially during sex."

Ben nodded, took Graham's shirt out of his hand and tossed it on the bed with his own shirt, wondering, "How do you feel right now, Graham?"

Graham checked, "You mean about Francis?"

Gently placing his hands on Graham's hips, Ben added, "And me too."

"There's very little comparison between you and him. After four awesome days with you, I see literally dozens of differences. You're mellower most of the time. Beanie wouldn't be happy at the band's rehearsals; he wouldn't like the music and would want to do something else. I have absolutely no problem with the music, or the band members, or the dudes there hangin' out. I'm with you too, so it's automatically good. Beanie would want to kick a soccer ball around or do something more than hang out and dance. My life is different, which it kind o' has to be, but it's the same too."

"How is it the same?" Ben wondered.

Graham stepped closer and took Ben's hands in his, saying "I'm with a really special dude. That much hasn't changed. Just like before June twenty-fifth, I have places to go and stuff to do with my partner. The places and stuff are different, but I'm just as happy now as I was June twenty-fourth."

Ben smiled, "As long as you have a boyfriend to do things with, the things done don't matter."

Graham nodded, "Mention that tomorrow to Mike and Derrick, Matt and Eddie, Prez and Keith, and Drew and Corey. Each couple has their favorite stuff to do. Once I get a car, we'll have our own favorite stuff to do too. One of those things will be right across the street, roaming around the park." Ben whined then collapsed against Graham in a giggling fit. Graham chuckled, "Come on, teddy bear. I need to make two phone calls."

They went out of the room and Ben handed Graham the phone. Ben went and shared the updated plans with his mom while Graham was talking to Matt. During his conversation with Matt, Graham wondered, "Where were you around three-thirty?"

"At the Promenade Mall," Matt answered. "Eddie needed some film to take band photos tomorrow. Some will be with a digital camera and some will be regular film portraits." Matt wondered, "What made you ask?"

Graham grinned, "Everything's turning around, dude. Life seemed to be in the dumps a week ago. With Ben, it's cruising at thirty-thousand feet." Overhearing his lover, Ben growled from the living room. Mrs. Healy helplessly giggled. Graham turned around and widely grinned at his silly teddy bear.

Matt chuckled, "Eddie and I have some amazing shit to share with you. We've been having similar dreams, of Francis."

A shiver raced through Graham and he grinned, "Of a football huddle and maps on the ground, filling with pink lines linking houses?"

Matt gasped, "Holy shit!"

Graham smiled, "I told you things were flying. We'll talk tomorrow, at rehearsal, bro."

"Yeah," Matt nervously chuckled. "We'll see ya then. Later."

"Take it easy, bro," Graham offered. He disconnected and told Ben, "We've got a ride. Now to see if we'll have dinner." Ben nodded and giggled. Graham called home. Hearing his mother pick up the line, Graham said, "Hi ma."

Faye playfully asked, "Are you having a good time, Binky?"

Graham whined, "Ma, please." Hearing his mother's soft giggling, he sighed, "We've been having a great time."

Faye carefully shared, "Francis paid your father a visit."

Graham smirked, "What did he do this time?"

"Friday night, your dad made a mistake working on the Fiery Cross Clipper ship," Faye explained. "Saturday afternoon, he went back out to fix it, but the mistake had already been corrected, by itself, and the forward sail had a Calligraphy 'F' marked on it. He showed it to me, looking white as a ghost."

Shaking his head, Graham chuckled, "I had a dream of him. It sounds like Matt and Eddie had the same dream. Somebody forgot to tell Beanie to rest. He's as busy now as he ever was."

"Did you need something, Graham?" Faye wondered.

Graham grinned, "Yeah, we'll be home for dinner tomorrow, if that's alright?"

"Of course it is," Faye quickly assured. "I'll just take extra chicken out of the freezer now." While she did so, Faye asked, "What do you think about all these little signs from Francis?"

Graham smiled, "I don't know what to think. First the rose petals, then the dreams and now dad's boat too? Have you ever heard of things like this?"

Faye replied, "I've heard of it, but never experienced anything like this. It's all truly remarkable. It gives me hope, for him, in the afterlife, and that our lives aren't quite what they seem to be."

Graham sighed, "All I can think about right now is this life, this day and the next days, with Ben."

"Of course," Faye delightfully chortled, "you're young."

Graham scowled and softly wondered, "What's that got to do with anything? Francis was young too."

Faye gently replied, "You said it yourself in your own way, Graham. Francis was active on this side; it makes sense that he would be active on the other side too. All I can suggest, for you and Francis' friends, is to remember him as he was, and also these things he's apparently doing now."

"I don't think we'll ever forget anything," Graham smiled.

Faye asked, "When do you expect to be home?"

Graham answered, "Band rehearsal will end about two, so probably before three; well before dinner time."

Faye cheerfully said, "Good. I'll look forward to seeing you and Ben when I get home. Your dad would like to speak to you now."

"Okay, see ya tomorrow," Graham said.

A moment later, Robert Carleton said, "Hello, Graham."

"What's up, dad?"

"I checked into the Subaru Outback," Robert explained. "It's got good safety and maintenance records. If that's what you'd like, I could start the ball rolling in the morning."

By his father's tone of voice, Graham asked, "It's not as good as the Volvo V70 though, is it?"

"No, it's not," Robert confirmed.

Graham softly said, "You're footin' the tab, dad. After what happened, I'd be just as happy in the Volvo."

Robert asked, "I'm curious why you're looking for wagons and SUV's and not sedans?"

Graham shrugged, "This car's gotta last and keep us safe. Who knows what I'll need in two years; will I be going to junior college; will I be going to a university? I don't know which right now, but I do know this is the car I'll be driving."

Robert sighed, "The accident changed you, son."

Graham grinned, "Yeah, in more ways than even I know. Somehow, I'll bet Beanie knows though."

Robert chuckled, "It wouldn't surprise me in the least. I'm glad he only corrected that little flub and left me the majority of the work to complete."

"He wouldn't finish it for you," Graham sniggered. "It would take a bunch of angels to do what you do with those boats."

Robert laughed, "I hope they have better things to do than build model ships. I'll start the ball rolling on the Volvo V70 in the morning."

Graham grinned, "Cool, hopefully in white or silver with a CD stereo."

"Right," Robert chuckled. "I'll see you tomorrow night."

"Yup, see then dad. Bye."

"Good bye."

Graham hung up the phone and went to the living room, saying "We're all set; dinner at my place tomorrow, and maybe a new car before we go to bed."

Standing and reaching for Graham's hand, Ben smiled, "Which did you choose, the Subaru or the Volvo?"

"The Volvo," Graham wildly grinned. "Dad's paying and the Volvo is the better car. My folks are happier, and I have to admit, so am I."

At Graham's enthusiastic tone, Ben giggled, "We have an errand to run; over to Safeway for French bread, bleach and laundry detergent. We're having pasta for dinner tonight."

Graham offered, "We need shoes," and led Ben back to the bedroom. The moment they were out of Mrs. Healy's sight, Graham pulled Ben into his arms and giggled, "Brrr-rrr!"

Holding on tight, Ben giggled, "I could feel you were excited as soon as you hung up the phone."

"Not just about the car," Graham giggled. "The dream I had of Francis, Matt and Eddie had too. Francis fixed a problem with one of my dad's model ships too. It's so friggin' weird. He's moved on, but hasn't gone very far at all." He stepped back and smiled, "It all started with you, teddy bear. You walked into my life and suddenly, everything is getting so much better."

Ben smiled, "I'm glad you think so," and then stole a kiss before stepping back to put his sandals on.

Graham slid into his sneakers and raved, "My first morning with you, I had a good dream. The morning you were at my house, my mom got pink rose petals, and I had another good dream. It sounds like Matt and Eddie had the very same dream. My dad slipped and goofed up something on his model ship. He went back to it and found it fixed, with a script 'F' on the forward sail." Pausing to put his shirt on, Graham finished, "Add a new car to all that and everything points to you, Ben."

Giggling and taking Graham's hand, Ben led the way out of his room and out of the house. Once outside, Ben warmly smiled, "What's from Francis is his. I won't take credit for that. What I will take credit for is being the special friend you asked me to be. You feel better so that automatically makes everything around you better too."

They went to the car, with Graham insanely sniggering, because Ben saw things the way Graham might've expected. Once they got in the car and closed the doors, Graham playfully warned, "I'm gonna suck your dickie all night long. I'm gonna sleep that way, so every time I wake for an instant, you get another blowjob."

Starting the car engine, Ben giggled, "That leaves your dickie near my face. Every blowjob you give, you'll get one too."

Graham laughed, "This will make intercourse very interesting tomorrow afternoon." He started pumping his arms and bouncing in his seat, doing his happy dance and Ben cracked up. Continuing his happy dance all the way to Safeway, Graham paid no mind to curious stares from other motorists.

Pulling into a parking space and stopping the car, Ben giggled, "Ya know, other people that don't know you might think terrible things, like you're insane or happy Francis passed on."

Graham cheered, "I'm not happy he's gone, but I am happy that he's making it very clear he hasn't gone far. I have to wonder, how many things like this did I miss, during my weeks of funktification?"

Ben howled, "Funktification?"

Graham rapidly nodded, "Is there a better name for having my head so far up my own ass that I couldn't see daylight?"

Releasing his seat beat, Ben giggled, "Come on, silly graham cracker. The faster we get this done, the quicker I can get you home and sedated." They got out of the car. Graham practically flew around the car, jumped and landed beside Ben. Shaking his head and taking Graham's hand, Ben led the way to the store, giggling, "We're going to Doug's and Brian's after dinner. You're doing bong hits until I have to carry you home."

"That won't help," Graham playfully sang. "I'll only eat you out of house and home then suck your dickie the rest of the night."

Covering his reddening face with his left hand, because Graham practically declared his intentions to everyone in the Safeway parking lot, Ben howled laughing. Graham was no better in the store than he was outside. The supermarket seemed to have turned into Graham's personal playground, especially in the housewares aisle, where Graham stuck feather dusters under his armpits and rode a broom up and down the aisle. Gathering the bleach and detergent his mom asked for, Ben tried to pretend he didn't know Graham, but failed miserably by cracking up with each stunt his silly lover pulled.

Walking down the aisle, Ben warned, "I'm going to get French bread."

Quickly tossing the feather dusters and broom back in the display, Graham called, "You know why they call it French bread, don't you?"

"I really don't want to know," Ben softly giggled.

Graham announced, "They tongue kiss every loaf before they bake it. That's why it's so gooey inside." He asked an old lady passing by, "Didn't know that, did ya?" The lady hurried away.

Shaking his head sadly, Ben giggled, "We'll be having dinner at Metropolitan State Hospital tonight."

"They sent me home already."

"Did you take your meds?"

Graham nodded, "A little orange one and two big pink ones."

Ben sniggered, "You were supposed to take two little orange pills and one big pink pill."

Leaning in close, Graham leered, "I want your big pink pill, ya hunky beefcake."

Ben blushed and giggled, "I'm so glad I'm moving soon. Four more weeks of Safeway trips with you and we'll be on the 'do not service' list."

"That's alright," Graham softly giggled, "I'll service you plenty." Covering his mouth, Ben pretended to repeatedly sneeze, until he had Graham cracking up and had gotten a loaf of French bread. In the express-checkout lane, Graham giggled, "Damn allergic reactions."

Ben nodded, "I'm telling Matt and Eddie all about this."

Graham smiled, "They won't be surprised. They'll be sorry they weren't here for broom stick and feather duster jousting."

Paying the cashier, Ben giggled, "Oh good, you're all insane."

"Mental health is overrated," Graham smiled.

Accepting his change and saying thank you to the cashier, Ben noticed that Graham already had the large box of laundry detergent. He picked up the remaining two sacks with the bleach and French bread and went with Graham toward the exit. Ben grinned, "I've never had so much fun at a supermarket before."

Graham smiled, "The best is yet to come."

Ben giggled, "Mom's probably got dinner cooking. We'll be eating soon after we get home."

Graham nodded, "We'll need our strength tonight."

Absorbing that while they stepped outside into the heat of late afternoon, Ben giggled, "It hasn't been a month since I smelled ladies' perfume and freaked out. Now I feel completely different about spirits."

Graham smiled, "I can relate. Our fourth day together isn't even over yet. The only thought pending is, when will I get the car and what color will it be. I hope I have it by Wednesday."

Ben wondered, "What's special about Wednesday?"

"Matt has the day off and Eddie's home by noon," Graham replied. "We could go to the beach or anywhere we want with them." Noticing Ben shifting the sacks in his hands, Graham took the bleach so Ben could get the car key out, saying "I want to salvage the rest of this summer with you, teddy bear. I've got a few ideas brewing."

With his car key in hand, Ben wondered, "Such as?"

Graham smiled, "We've got a lot already planned this month, but we could spend Wednesday's with Matt and Eddie. There's a park near our homes with basketball and tennis courts. We could check out a few flicks too."

Unlocking the car, Ben grinned, "Whatever you want to do, puddin'."

"Wait a minute," Graham scowled and bent down at the passenger side of the car.

Putting the French bread on the back seat, Ben asked, "What's wrong?" He thought the car might have a flat tire since that's where Graham was looking.

Graham stood up displaying a twenty dollar bill and chuckled, "That takes care of catching a flick." He got in the car with the bleach and detergent, widely smiling, "How's that for proof you're good luck?"

Starting the car, Ben giggled, "You find money and I'm good luck?"

Pocketing the bill, Graham grinned, "It was under your tire."

Buckling up, Ben softly offered, "Doug talks about karma all the time. Could it be that our combined karma is sending good things our way?"

Graham shrugged, "What movie do you want to see?" and snapped his seat belt in place. Hanging his head, Ben giggled. Graham chuckled, "What?"

Dropping his arms off the steering wheel and looking over, Ben smiled and sighed, "I love you, Graham."

Leaning to his left, Graham gestured for Ben to lean closer. When Ben leaned over, Graham whispered, "I love you too, Ben," and then planted a tender kiss. Wearing a contented grin, Ben leaned back in the driver's seat and closed his eyes. Graham assured, "I feel it too, teddy bear. Every time the feeling swells like that, I can't figure out what to do about it."

Ben admitted, "You had the feeling growing in me the whole time we were in the store." Stepping on the brake, he put the car in reverse and looked around for pedestrians and other cars. Beginning to slowly back out, Ben smiled, "The hopes I had last week have doubled, tripled and quadrupled. When I ask myself how anything might get messed up, the only answer I come up with is losing you." Ben put the car in drive and slowly moved forward through the parking lot.

Resting his hand on Ben's on the gear shifter, Graham nodded, "I'm there too, Ben. A week ago, I was in a bad place. Now I'm as happy as ever. I'm right here, where I want to be. These weird things with Francis, I have to really wonder about. Rose petals by themselves weren't too much. Until I talked to Matt, it was just me seeing things differently. Shared dreams though are just too freaky to ignore. By the way, Matt and Eddie were at the mall, just like we envisioned. How and why is all this happening? The only answer I can come up with is us being together."

For a few moments, while they waited at the traffic light, Ben thought about it. The light changed and he drove forward, softly offering, "Francis' best friends in the world were you, Eddie and Matt. It makes sense that he'd share with you three, in ways that couldn't be considered coincidence."

"I can't help wondering why."

"To make his best friends feel better, so you know he's still around in spirit. I'm just going with what Mike and Prez told me. Mike's father and Prez's mother make themselves known to them. Francis is doing it too."

What Ben and Graham didn't know was that Francis' parents had spent time that weekend cleaning out Francis' bedroom. The gut wrenching task was being done a little at a time. Clothes were put aside to be donated to the church. Earlier that very day, they were going through Francis' desk. They found a copy of the photograph with Graham and threw it away. Also in the desk was a spiral bound notebook where Francis had written poetry. Neither of them had any idea that Francis wrote poems. Some were very dark, almost morbid, considering how things had turned out, but others were love sonnets and others seemed to be lyrical. The two adults were crying over their loss and the new knowledge of their departed son when they heard a loud bang that caused the whole house to shake. It was too brief to be an earthquake, so they hurried out of the room to find out what had happened. They searched the entire house, inside and out, but nothing was out of place. Returning to Francis' room, they found the bags of clothes dumped all over the floor, the garbage can overturned, and the notebook they had been leafing through closed, with the photo of Francis and Graham sitting on top of it. Francis' mother broke down wailing and hurried out of the room. Francis' father closed the bedroom door and went to console his wife.

Ben, Graham and Mrs. Healy were cleaning up after dinner when there was a knock at the front door. Ben went to answer it and was surprised to find Eddie there with Matt. Parked at the curb was Matt's Nissan Maxima. Ben giggled, "Come on in."

Stepping inside, Matt smiled, "I know we should've called first, but things happened."

Ben giggled, "Don't worry about it. I'm glad you're here."

Hearing his friend's voice, Graham came from the kitchen and chuckled, "Dudes! What's goin' on?"

Eddie grinned, "Francis is more out of control now than he ever was."

Matt nodded, "Right after you hung up, Mrs. McLoughlin called. They wanted us to finish what they started. Can you come outside?"

Ben and Graham nodded and followed their friends outside. Eddie asked, "Remember what Francis said, about dealing with his parents?"

"I'll never forget it," Graham smiled.

Matt nodded and chuckled, "He's doin it, dude." He and Eddie relayed the story that the McLoughlins had told them, about a loud noise, the house shaking and returning to find Francis' room a shambles.

Eddie giggled, "So they gave me a key and told me to take anything I wanted from Francis' room. They went out and said they wouldn't be back until late.

Matt popped his trunk and chuckled, "We took all his T-shirts, his CD's, his photos off his computer and this too." He reached in to pick up a spiral bound notebook, prompting Graham to "check out the drawing on the inside cover."

Watching Ben, Matt and Eddie, Graham opened the notebook. They found a penciled sketch of a graham cracker with one corner bitten off. All of them started laughing and shed tears. Eddie asked Ben, "Are there any bits of Graham missing?"

Shaking his head, Ben blushed and giggled, "All his parts are accounted for."

Matt asked Graham, "Did you know he wrote poetry?"

Graham wiped his eyes and replied, "Yeah, but he wouldn't show me though."

"Understandable," Eddie giggled, "Judging by the little I've read, a lot of what's in there is about you, about being in love, or about feeling like a misfit. Now look at the back page."

Nodding, Graham closed the notebook then flipped it over and opened the back cover. He quickly closed it again, flushed red and cracked up. Matt and Eddie roared laughing.

"Wait a minute," Ben giggled, "Lemme see that again." Graham blushed and handed over the notebook to Ben. Closely looking at the drawing, it was obvious to Ben that Francis had taken time and care when he drew it. The penciled lines were softened where necessary and shades gave the rendering of Graham's chubby penis and scrotum depth.

Matt teased, "Did you pose for that or what, bro?"

"Not that I know of," Graham giggled.

Ben looked up from the drawing of Graham's private parts and smiled, "He did this from memory?"

Graham shrugged and grinned, "He must've. I never saw him drawing that. Maybe it was done while I slept."

"It's very obviously your dickie," Ben giggled.

Eddie howled, "I wonder if his parents saw that?" Matt, Ben and Graham cracked up.

For the next few minutes, they reviewed the contents of Matt's car trunk. Eddie could fit into all of Francis' shorts and some of the T-shirts. A few of the T-shirts were men's medium size that Graham had bought, so he wanted those. The CD's they split; Ben and Graham each took one, and the remainder, Eddie and Matt would keep. Eddie said, "This is all the stuff we took. We bagged up most of his clothes that could be donated. I took his portable stereo." Eddie passed the stereo to Ben, smiling, "I have one, Matt does and so does Graham, now you do too." Looking around the trunk, Eddie scowled, "We took the photo, didn't we?"

Nodding, Matt hummed affirmatively and pointed, "It's gotta be in that bag somewhere."

Turning to Ben, Eddie prompted, "Check that notebook. If Graham sees it again, he'll get all kinds of freaked out." Eddie looked at Graham and explained, "It's his copy of the one we just packed away for you." Graham nodded understandingly.

Flipping through the notebook, forward and backward, Ben said, "It's not here."

Matt grumbled, "It's gotta be in that trunk somewhere. I know we took it."

Searching the trunk, Eddie groused, "We made a trip to the car with this stuff then went back inside to make sure we didn't leave anything behind." Holding the notebook by the spiral binding, Ben shook it to be certain the photo wasn't in there. Nothing fell out and Matt growled then helped Eddie search the trunk. Coming up empty, Eddie sighed and told Matt, "We must've dropped it in the house. Let's make a quick trip back there before we go home."

"We didn't drop it," Matt griped, "it's the one thing we know they wouldn't want to see."

Ben mumbled, "Maybe Francis wants them to see it?" Eddie and Matt looked up from the trunk at Ben. Graham grinned at Ben then helplessly chortled. Ben shrugged, "Would it be any stranger than rose petals, or shared dreams, or a fixed model ship, or house rattling noises that scared his parents, enough to turn over the key to his friends?" Grinning slightly, Eddie, Graham and Matt slowly shook their heads. Ben smiled, "Every shirt, pair of shorts, the notebook and the CD's are accounted for. These are the things Francis wanted you dudes to have. Eddie, you said that his parents were reading the poetry when they heard the noise, right?" Eddie nodded and Ben explained, "That's his heart in words meant for Graham. Of course he didn't want them reading it. It's also very possible he didn't want them to see the drawing of Graham's dickie." Matt, Eddie and Graham nodded and sniggered.

Matt droned, "This is really getting very strange."

Ben nodded, "I was taught that love never dies. It seems very clear that Francis loved you three dudes. What he's given isn't as important as the fact that he gave it." Displaying the notebook, Ben smiled, "I'll copy every word he wrote and save them as computer files. We'll each get copies and this notebook will be stored away safe."

Enthusiastically nodding, Eddie giggled, "Graham's dad has a scanner. Scan every page, especially the drawings."

Graham chuckled, "What do you dudes want with a sketch of my dickie?"

Eddie cracked up. Matt chuckled, "It's Francis' interpretation of your dickie that we want, as cover art for the poems. The real McCoy belongs to Ben."

Ben smiled, "Can you dudes stay for a while?"

Nodding agreement, Graham offered, "We'll be walkin' around the park at sunset."

Matt and Eddie agreed to hang out for a while. Matt closed the trunk lid and Ben led the way back into the house then introduced Matt and Eddie to his mom. Ben and Graham got glasses of soda poured then the four boys went to Ben's room. Immediately upon entering, Matt hummed then said, "This is the master bedroom at the other house."

Ben nodded and explained, "Doug and Brian remodeled their house. The studio was once the master bedroom." Pointing at the back wall where his bed was, Ben said, "They knocked that wall down, extended the bedroom and built a new master bathroom there."

For the next hour and half, while Ben's stereo played in the background, they talked about the dreams they had shared, about the Healy move, during which Matt and Eddie said they would help, since they intended to quit their jobs before school started in September. Graham told his friends about the new car he was sure to have in a few days then prompted Ben to play guitar. Ben played both Bach pieces as well as he had for Graham.

Afterward, Eddie was checking out Ben's CD collection and asked Ben, "Why'd you choose this Sarah McLachlin disk?"

"Two reasons," Ben answered, "because I'm sure I've heard some on the radio and liked it, and because her last name resembles Francis' last name. I'll always remember where it came from."

Matt smiled, "I got it for Francis last Christmas."

"Put it on," Graham prompted.

Ben worried, "Are you sure, puddin'?"

Nodding, Graham replied, "I like her voice. Beanie and I only danced to it once, that I can recall. Getting Francis to slow dance wasn't too easy."

Matt nodded and grinned, "He liked to bop and bounce, the louder the beat, the better."

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Francis couldn't take slow dancin' with Graham. He'd get horny and they'd forget to dance."

"Shush!" Graham laughed. Ben giggled. Matt and Eddie cracked up.

Giggling at them, Ben stopped the player. He took out The Backstreet Boys and replaced it with Sarah McLachlin's 'Surfacing'. Eddie was up off his knees and pulling Matt off the bed as soon as Ben hit the play button. In a few moments, both couples were slow dancing to Building a Mystery. After the first verse, the couples separated and picked up the pace slightly with the music. They danced to almost the whole disk, stopping only to take a walk around the park.

Graham proudly told his friends more about what he could recall of his first night with Ben. To get even, Ben told Matt and Eddie about Graham's sneezing fit, supposedly caused by an allergic reaction to erections, which strangely hadn't been repeated the last four days. Ben continued about Graham's Safeway store broomstick and feather duster jousting, caused by extreme happiness over the shared dreams and a new car. Sniggering insanely, Matt and Eddie playfully denied any knowledge of broomstick jousting. Graham remembered Ben's faked sneezing fit in the store and playfully wondered exactly how much Ben enjoyed his silly grocery store antics.

On the return trip across the park, Matt asked, "Do you dudes want to go back to Woodland Hills tonight? I'm only offering because we're here now, it's totally up to you."

Graham shrugged and turned to Ben asking, "What do you think, teddy bear? It doesn't matter to me."

Ben smiled, "Let me check with my mom. I don't think she'll have any problem. We should probably tell Doug and Brian too, that way Mike and Derrick don't wait for us in the morning."

"Cool!" Eddie excitedly sang. "We're going swimming tonight. You dudes can join us."

Graham chuckled and told Ben, "Eddie's got a pool at his place. It's walking distance, over on Baza Avenue."

Matt nodded, "It's quickest from Graham's house if you take Darro then cut across the hill wash out and down to Baza."

Turning to Matt and Eddie, Graham said, "We're planning a trip to the beach Wednesday."

Eddie nodded, "Cool. We'll hit Zuma. The last time we were there, we ran into Derrick and Mike."

Passing the playground, Graham chortled, "Ya wanna play at the jungle gym, teddy bear?"

"No," Ben laughed.

Pulling Ben close, Graham shared the story of their jungle gym escapades. While Eddie and Matt laughed over crusty underwear and gunked up foreskin, Graham held on tightly to Ben and excitedly gushed, "That's one of many things that makes Ben very special. Beanie wouldn't chance public affection like that. Most times it was hard getting him to hold hands. Ben has no problem with it. We hold hands all the time, here in the park or out in supermarkets."

"I waited seventeen years for a boyfriend," Ben giggled. "I won't ever say no to hand holding."

Eddie asked Ben, "You're not afraid of homophobes?"

Ben shrugged, "Ya know what I've witnessed, Eddie? At Agoura High, I've seen jocks mocking other jocks for a moment's compassion and sincerity. I thought, jeez how dumb can ya get? The dude gave an excellent oral report, prob'ly got an excellent grade, but his jock buddies called him a fag, for having more brains than the rest of them combined could scrape up. I don't care about name calling, probably because I've already been called every name in the book."

Matt grinned, "Very cool, dude. Not many would bust your balls in the first place."

Ben muttered, "Some have, some haven't."

Matt checked, "Dudes much bigger than you, right?"

Ben nodded, "Yep."

Graham grinned, "They don't know you like I do. Carry me, teddy bear." Ben blushed and giggled, but Graham persisted and told Matt and Eddie how he had pushed the grizzly bear button and been carried across three quarters the length of the park. He then giggled, "I'll suck your dickie. I'll suck it in Matt's car. I'll suck it again in Eddie's pool. And I'm still sleeping with my face down there so I can suck you all… night… long." Only to appease his teasing boyfriend, Ben grabbed Graham's arm and hoisted him over his shoulder. Graham, Matt and Eddie howled laughing. Ben carried Graham toward his house. "He's a brrrute!" Graham giggled.

Matt nodded and chuckled, "Ya know what, Ben? You'll have nothing to worry about at El Camino Real High."

Eddie nodded and giggled, "If you can pick up Graham that easily, you could lift half our varsity football team."

Graham tried to look up at his friends and smiled, "This is what happens when I push the grizzly bear button." He stuffed his hands into Ben's back pockets.

"Graham!" Ben incredulously giggled, "Do you want to make it home or to Eddie's pool?" Graham replied by removing his hands from Ben's back pockets and wrapping his arms around Ben's belly.

In the kitchen making herself a cup of tea, Margaret Healy saw her son carrying his boyfriend across the park. Beside herself, she put the cup down and hurried to the front door, opened it and yelled, "Benjamin Healy, put him down now!"

Eddie, Graham and Matt cracked up. Stopping in his tracks, Ben softly giggled, "Yes, mother," and put Graham down.

Graham loudly laughed, "I made him pick me up, Mrs. Healy. It's my fault."

Shaking her head, Mrs. Healy sighed and closed the door; softly muttering about boys being boys no matter what their sexuality happens to be. To get Ben off the hook and butter up Mrs. Healy, Eddie had Matt give him a piggyback ride across the remaining bit of the park, across the street and into the house. Ben sent Graham, Matt and Eddie into his room to start packing while he talked to his mother.

Several minutes later, with permission to leave for Graham's that night instead of the next afternoon, Ben returned to his room, where he found Matt face down across his bed and Eddie on top of his partner, poking the dong into Matt's clothed ass. Giggling, Ben closed his door and locked eyes with Graham.

"They're quiet and happy," Graham grinned, and stuffed four pair of boxers into Ben's backpack. He told Ben, "I've got shorts, boardies, T-shirts, skivvies and socks. Get your stuff from the bathroom, and I'll make sure they keep their clothes on."

Ben nodded and giggled, "Pack the CD's too, puddin'. I'll finally get to hear your stereo."

Graham asked, "Ya want me to leave the Hanson disk here, teddy bear?"

Shaking his head, Ben answered, "No, let's bring it with us. Don't forget Francis' poetry notebook."

"Never," Graham smiled.

Ben left his room and made a quick phone call to let Doug know that he and Graham wouldn't need a ride to rehearsal the next morning. Doug promised to pass along the message and asked Ben to stop by with his friends. Ben thanked him then hurried to get his toiletries from the bathroom. By the time Ben returned to his room, everything was packed except what he had in his hands and his guitar case was out too.

"You've got to play for my parents too, teddy bear," Graham smiled.

Putting his toiletries in his backpack, Ben giggled, "If you say so." Taking Graham's hand, Ben faced Eddie and Matt, saying "Doug and Brian would like to meet you two. They want to know who else was with Graham when we heard Francis Wednesday night."

Matt shrugged, "We met them before, at Mike's birthday party."

Graham grinned, "They're probably gonna read your auras. They did that with us the other night. Ben and I got to try it out too. It's very cool, I have to admit."

"It won't take more than a few minutes, just to say hello," Ben offered. "I already told them where we're going and that we're planning on going swimming."

Eddie giggled, "I don't know about anyone else, but I'd like to know how we heard Francis that night."

Picking up the guitar case, Matt nodded, "Given what's been happening the last few days, let's see what they have to say."

Ben and Graham grabbed their backpacks and led the way out of the room. Turning into the living room, Ben, Graham, Eddie and Matt said goodbye to Mrs. Healy. Matt led the way out the front door. Everything was stowed in Matt's car, and then they walked up the block to Doug's and Brian's house, chattering about auras.

Ben knocked on the door. Brian answered in moments, smiling, "Welcome gentlemen; please come in."

Entering first, Ben smiled, "How're you doin', Brian?"

Brian grinned, "It's our last day of vacation, so everything's well."

Approaching from the living room, Doug smirked, "Tomorrow is the return to madness."

Ben giggled and Graham introduced his two friends with pats on the back. "This is Matt Morales and this is Eddie Chan. I've known Eddie since first grade and Matt since third grade. They both knew Francis for as long as I did, since junior high."

Shaking Matt's hand, Brian smiled, "Red, light red and pink."

"Aye," Doug briefly agreed while shaking Eddie's hand. "Here we have soft yellow, royal blue and more pink."

Eddie giggled, "What's that mean?"

The two men moved so that Brian could shake Eddie's hand and Doug could shake hands with Matt. Brian explained "Matt is energetic, competitive, grounded, passionate and sexual and has strong will-power. Large bouncing pink bubbles tell us he's madly in love with you, Eddie."

"I've known him for eight years and couldn't have said it better myself," Graham chortled at Matt's shocked expression.

Doug smiled, "Eddie is a large force in a small package. Yellow is the color of awakening, inspiration, creativity, optimism, psychic and spiritual awareness. Add the royal blue and you're clairvoyant, generous and highly spiritual. More large pink bouncing bubbles say you're in love with Matt, I'd guess for about two years or more."

Matt grinned, "He likes ghost stories and all that paranormal stuff; not because it scares him, but just because it's fun."

"Rightly so," Brian chuckled.

Doug smiled, "Here's what we know so far, in a nutshell; Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick are doing something with instruction from Prez's mother. Generally, what they've done for Ben, Corey and Danny is cleansing. We've witnessed that with Danny yesterday."

"In Graham's case," Brian continued, "there were at least two clairvoyants with royal blue auras; Corey and Eddie. Add in Eddie's pale yellow psychic and spiritual awareness, and his direct knowledge of Francis, and you have a beacon to the other side."

Doug nodded, "Being recently departed, Francis is probably keeping a close watch on his loved ones."

Graham nodded, "Jerry, Mack, Matt, Eddie and me all knew Francis very well."

Laying a hand on Graham's shoulder, Doug warmly smiled, "So five were here that Francis cared for. Contacting the departed is almost always a very risky business. Ouija boards are marketed as a game, but they are extremely dangerous, because any evil entity could masquerade as a loved one; they open doors that shouldn't be opened. Preston's mother was very likely the protector of everyone gathered here and of Francis too."

Graham wondered, "How did Francis know what to say to me?"

Brian grinned, "Love. He cared enough to know your concerns and fears, Graham."

Doug nodded, "It wouldn't surprise me to learn Francis was sharing a lot, probably through Eddie."

Matt wiped his eyes and softly asked, "Can I sit down, please?"

Leading Matt by the shoulder, Brian hurried to get him seated at a dining room chair. Eddie followed and worried, "Are you okay?" Matt mutely nodded.

Brian assured, "It's Matt's nature; being grounded in this life and passionate too, there's some conflict."

Graham stood before Matt and confirmed, "It's the dreams, isn't it?" Matt nodded.

Scowling, Brian and Doug chorused, "What dreams?"

Graham shrugged, "It's actually a single dream that the three of us had, of Francis."

Doug asked, "Please, tell us more."

Eddie shared, "I had a dream, Friday morning. When I woke, with Matt, he told me almost the very same things were in his dream."

Graham nodded, "I called Matt earlier this afternoon and told him I had the same dream, but he didn't tell me it was Friday."

Ben shivered, "The three of them had the same dream the same night." Also feeling weak, Ben sat on another dining room chair.

"It was all of us," Matt carefully explained. "All of Francis' friends in a football huddle. Francis was the quarterback, which he never would've been in real life."

"Call the play, Beanie," Graham recalled.

"The play is already in motion," Matt sighed.

Eddie smiled, "There were maps on the ground, showing all our homes flashing in white, green and blue. Pink lines began connecting all the homes of gays and lesbians, here and across the country. Francis said, 'the closet doors won't only be opened; they'll be blown to smithereens. There will be equality for everyone, of every gender, of every orientation, of every race, around the world.'"

Glancing at the two men, Graham shared, "He said that one will cause all of us to take a stand. Another will strengthen our position, even he doesn't know it yet, and he's old, thirty seven."

Wide-eyed, Doug softly said, "I'm thirty-seven."

"Omigod," the four boys gasped.

Brian paled and repeated, "One will cause all of us to take a stand."

"It's a prophecy of something that's going to happen," Doug sighed.

Ben loudly asked, "So what do we do?"

Brian shrugged, "There's nothing we can do except what we would do anyway, regardless of this knowledge."

Eddie muttered, "We have to go. Who else had this dream? We've gotta call Shaun, Gil, Jerry, Mack and Rick. They were all in the dream huddle too."

Doug pointed at the phone on the wall and prompted, "Go ahead and call your friends."

Eddie went to the phone and started placing the calls. After calling Shaun's house, Eddie confirmed, "Shaun and Gil had it too." He called Rick's house, but Rick was working. He called Jerry's house next, but he was at Mack's house, so Eddie called there. In a few moments, it was apparent that Jerry and Mack had the same dream.

Doug sighed, "Seven had the dream."

Brian nodded, "And God created the Heavens and the Earth in seven days."

"Fucking great," Matt groaned.

Doug cheerfully said, "Listen guys, this isn't a forewarning of doom and gloom. It is what Francis said it is, an opportunity to change things for the better for everyone."

"But we're on the front lines," Matt reminded.

Brian shrugged, "You still would've been had you not had the dream. All this proves is that the dream wasn't coincidence. Francis wanted you to know something good would come of this. We don't know who will cause us to take a stand or when that will happen. Life will go on and we'll do what we feel we need to do."

"Relax," Doug firmly commanded. "Francis was your friend," Doug reminded. "He presented this information to you in the form of a game. There is nothing to fear. Change is a natural part of life. We know that Ben has changed, that Graham has changed and that your plans for this evening have changed. Treat what you know now as another part of life's changes. Remember that setbacks are fleeting. All you need to do is choose to be who you already are; gay couples in love. Make your future each day, with choices based on what and whom you truly love."

Glancing around at the four teenage boys, Brian asked, "Is anyone still afraid?"

The boys checked with each other then shrugged. Graham said, "I feel more anxious, because I'm not sure what will happen or when."

Eddie nodded, "I'm worried about the one Francis said would cause all of us to take a stand."

"Understandable," Brian smiled. "Who was directly mentioned in the dream?"

"All of us," Matt recalled, "even Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith."

Graham offered, "The four in North Hollywood too; Aaron, Danny, Craig and Glen."

Doug smiled, "I'm counting sixteen that are safe; you four and everyone closest to you. We'll talk with Mike and Derrick when they get home tonight. If there's something more to be said, it can be discussed during tomorrow's rehearsal."

"Until then, please enjoy your night and time together," Brian peacefully suggested.

Shaking his head, Ben giggled, "I should've known you two would be weird."

Innocently blinking, Doug chuckled, "Reality is weird sometimes."

Locking eyes with Doug, Graham asked, "It's you, the thirty-seven year old that Francis told us would be like our coach, isn't it?"

Doug shrugged, "I have no idea. It could be any thirty-seven year old. I will say this though; if something happens that causes me to act like a coach for all of you, I couldn't be happier or prouder."

"I guess that makes me assistant coach," Brian grinned.

"Ooo!" Doug softly chuckled.

Together, Brian and Doug loudly cheered, "Come on, kids! We'll give 'em the old rickety-rack! Bricka bracka, firecracka, sis boom ba! Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, rah rah rah!"

Covering his eyes, Ben giggled, "See, now they're just gonna get weirder. We should leave." Eddie cracked up. Graham softly chortled and Matt only smiled.

"The lad knows us too well," Doug playfully muttered.

Standing up, Ben nodded then went to give Doug and Brian tight hugs. Eddie, Graham and Matt all stood and shook hands with Doug and Brian. The former three left the house and Ben reminded, "I won't be around Thursday for my lesson."

"There's little more that I could teach you," Doug smiled. "Soon, you'll realize that. Let's think about changing to twice a month. I'll talk with Mike too. Maybe he could teach you after you move?"

Ben nodded and smiled, "Thanks again. I'll see you Friday night."

"Take care," Doug warmly said, and waved to the departing group. They all waved back and chanted various farewells then started walking down the street. When they were out of sight, Doug closed the door.

Leaning against the entryway wall, Brian wondered, "What do you think?"

Doug shrugged, "Seven boys all having the same dream is far more than coincidence. We've got to step up the lessons."

Taking Doug's hand and leading the way to the studio, Brian nodded, "And check with Derrick and Mike later."

Doug sighed, "I wish we had met Francis."

Brian nodded, "It would clear up a few remaining mysteries."

Piling into Matt's car, Ben shared what he knew of Doug and Brian from two years of guitar lessons. "They always said more than was necessary for guitar teachers. It was centered on guitar and music, but they'd present it like karate lessons. The studio was their dojo. Their goal, from day one, was to take me from a white belt learner to a black belt expert." Matt pulled away from the curb and Ben sighed, "Lemme see if I can remember this correctly. There were twelve points of focus; spirit; rhythm; technique; feel; perfection; mistakes; stages and plateaus; discipline; limits; follow-through; taste and collaboration."

Matt nodded, "I can easily see how some of that applies to baseball. Without spirit to want to play, everything else is pointless. I need rhythm to throw the ball and swing a bat. Technique, that's how to accomplish a short throw versus a long one, or swing to bunt versus a swing for a home run, or anything in between."

Eddie offered, "Everything learned comes in stages and plateaus; that's the learning curve. For photography, I had to learn all about light and shadow to compose a good picture."

Lying down with his head resting on Ben's lap, Graham wondered, "What else did they teach you, teddy bear?"

Running his fingers through Graham's hair, Ben smiled, "There were twelve common missteps, most of which I think I stumbled across at one time or another."

Eddie giggled, "Yeah, knowing something doesn't count until you do it successfully. I wasted rolls of film trying stuff out."

"That would be over-thinking," Ben said.

"Okay, cool," Matt chuckled. "It's the same in baseball too. When you're in a play to get the ball from the outfield to the basemen, to get a man out, you can over think it and choke under the gun."

Ben meekly offered, "Self-doubt is one of my biggest hurdles."

Turning in the front passenger seat, Eddie frowned, "Why dude? You play really good."

Ben shrugged. Matt said, "There's a difference, buttercup. Let's say you take three photos of the same landscape using different lenses and settings; two look like crap so you don't show those to anyone. In baseball and in music, we're playing for people in the moment. If I make an error or Ben misses a note, we can't simply toss it out as if it didn't happen; it's there for everybody to see or hear."

"That's why I still take notes about settings and lenses," Eddie explained. "If something looks shitty, I can learn from the mistake. I see the difference in music and baseball though."

Glancing in the rearview mirror, Matt recommended, "You get over self-doubt by repetition and learning from your mistakes, Ben."

Graham smiled, "You said that you played those two tunes better for me than ever before. You played them just as well for Matt and Eddie earlier."

Eddie asked, "What's that breathing thing you do, Ben?"

Ben replied, "Preparing the mind and centering myself, so I'm focused, but not obsessing."

"Yup, I do that in the batter's box, taking practice swings," Matt nodded. "Obsess about it and you'll strike out."

Graham thought aloud, "What I'm hearing is all three of you do similar things. The applications are different, but the method is pretty much the same."

Matt chuckled, "You do the same things too, bro. I sat beside you in our Mechanical Drawing class last year. I got C's and B's; you got straight A's. It's easier for you to see and draw than it is for me. I sat beside you all year, took your suggestions and did virtually the same things that you did, but your drawings looked awesome; mine were a smudged mess."

"I never thought about that," Graham softly muttered.

Ben looked down and grinned, "Think about this, puddin'. Why are Prez, Mike, Derrick, Keith and even Drew so good at what they do in the band? Mike told me he's been playing for over five years. Prez has been playing almost five years. I've got two years and two songs under my fingers. What's the difference between me and them?"

"Not much, as far as I can tell," Graham chuckled.

Ben asked, "Eddie, how long have you been taking photos?"

"About four years," Eddie replied.

Ben asked, "How long have you been playing baseball, Matt?"

"Since first grade," Matt replied, "nine years."

Ben said, "Some things come easier and some things take more practice and repetition. For the dudes in the band, what they do comes more naturally. Drew can sing every bit as well as Keith and they do that naturally. I might be where they are in two more years or I might take longer. Your drawings come more naturally than Matt's. You can visualize that stuff, which isn't too surprising, daydreamer." Matt and Eddie cracked up. Graham grinned and rolled his head to gently munch on Ben's belly. Giggling his ass off, Ben retaliated by tickling Graham's armpits.

Nearing Graham's house, Matt chuckled, "Okay dudes, what's the scoop; are you changing into boardies, swimming in what you're wearing, or in the buff?"

Ben giggled, "In the buff is out of the question."

"Why?" Matt and Eddie chimed.

"We would if you two do," Matt offered.

Eddie nodded, "My parents have been in bed about an hour. As long as we're relatively quiet, it's no problem. Their bedroom is upstairs and in the front of the house."

"It's up to you, teddy bear," Graham softly smiled.

Glancing around, Ben blushed, "This is normal too?"

Eddie nodded, "At night, when it's just us, often."

Matt said, "The worst that would happen is Shaun and Gil would hear us and jump the fence." He turned to Eddie and suggested, "We should just invite them over." Eddie rapidly nodded.

"Shaun lives behind Eddie," Graham told Ben. Matt stopped the car in front of Graham's house. Sitting up and leaning forward, Graham told Matt and Eddie, "Let us take our stuff inside. We'll be right back out." Matt popped the trunk and all four got out of the car. While at the trunk getting Ben's guitar, the backpacks and Francis' T-shirts, Graham softly assured, "It's totally cool, teddy bear. I know you're nervous and why."

Eddie tapped Ben on the shoulder. When Ben looked over, Eddie assured, "Don't worry about gettin' a stiffy. We have a sunroom with an attached bathroom for couples to take care of emergency situations. My parents are very cool about it, and since they're asleep, it's even cooler."

Standing up with the T-shirts, Graham grinned and softly asked Ben, "Can I share with them?"

"I wish you would," Ben giggled. "I don't know what to say or how to say it."

Wrapping an arm around Ben, Graham told Matt and Eddie, "First of all, we have a very shy teddy bear on our hands. Secondly, we all know the likelihood of wood popping is high. Lastly, Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith are a lot closer than we guessed."

"Oh that!" Matt chuckled. "We know; they made that obvious at the party, while you two were making time in the park."

Eddie nodded and shared, "We're not there, Ben. Making out and skinny dipping is completely different. We've never shared a room for sex of any kind. Not with Graham and Francis, not with Gil and Shaun, and definitely not with Jerry and Mack."

Graham warmly smiled at his two friends, saying "We'll just take this stuff inside and be right back." He picked up his backpack and led Ben to the front door, softly asking, "Can I be really blunt, Ben?"

Nodding, Ben smiled, "I'm more nervous now than when I first got naked with you."

"For good reason," Graham chuckled. "We'll take this stuff upstairs to my room. I'll tell you exactly what makes your four friends so special. Then we'll come back outside."

"Cool," Ben chirped.

Graham unlocked the door and they stepped inside. Seeing the house dark, Graham knew his parents had gone to bed. He led Ben upstairs and into his room then closed the door behind them and turned on the lights. They put the backpacks and guitar case down. Graham took Ben in his arms. He whispered, "It's about intercourse, teddy bear."

"I kind o' figured," Ben softly shared.

Graham whispered, "It's very beautiful, but it's also kind o' funny at times too. There are the things we'll say and the way we'll say them. The squishy noises from a lubed dickie in your hand are quiet in comparison to a lubed dickie in a lubed butt."

Ben quietly giggled, "I'd imagine so. The dong makes noise and so do we."

"Now keep that image in your mind," Graham grinned. "Think about what could happen if we had a little too much soda and spicy food that day."

Ben giggled, "Omigod!"

"That's what makes your four friends so special," Graham sniggered. "It's one thing for the two of us to deal with those very rare occasions, now add a second couple in the same room. Mike and Derrick getting busy, saying things they would usually say, while a few feet away, Prez and Keith are busy too. A couple being intimate, in the bedroom, following each other to the bathroom, sharing everything like we have been is one thing. Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith sharing as much as they are, is a whole different thing. How they manage it, is a question I can't find an answer to."

Muting his laughter on Graham's shoulder, Ben mumbled, "That's too funny. I can so easily imagine them doing that too. I have to admit, I know them well enough to say, they absolutely trust each other; they show it in everything they do."

"That's why we won't, Matt and Eddie won't, and Shaun and Gil won't either," Graham giggled. "Forget about that for me now, teddy bear. As much as I love my friends, the most we'll ever do is make out with our partners around each other."

Ben giggled, "Graham?"

"I know. Me too, Ben," Graham widely smiled. "Don't worry about stiff dickies. You already know what Matt and Eddie are packing. They know us too, so it's really no major problem. Seeing other dudes erect is fun for all of us. If we need a few minutes alone, I'll show you the way."

Ben incredulously giggled, "If?"

"Okay," Graham sniggered, "when."

Ben planted a kiss to say 'thank you,' and then prompted, "Let's go. They've waited for us long enough."

Graham nodded, opened the door then turned off his bedroom light. They quietly walked back downstairs and went outside. Ben waited for Graham to lock the door. As soon as all four were near Matt's car and saw the expressions on their faces, they helplessly busted up laughing and quickly got in the car. Sticking a hand under the opposite armpit, Eddie made loud farting noises. Graham countered by putting both hands to his mouth and made louder farting sounds. Ben and Matt were hysterical the entire short trip down Medina Road and Baza Avenue.

Stopped in front of Eddie's house, the four friends tried to get their laughter under control. Covering his blushing face with both hands, Ben softly giggled, "And I was worried about showing off," causing more loud laughter.

Eddie giggled, "You two haven't yet?"

"Tomorrow," Graham sniggered. "Regardless of what I dream, we're going all the way at some point."

Nodding, Ben helplessly giggled, "No soda or tacos tonight." A final round of loud laughter broke loose. Eddie and Matt promised to leave Ben and Graham alone until after dinner the next day. Down to mere soft sniggering, they got out of the car and emptied Matt's trunk of everything. The three CD's Matt was keeping were put in the front seat. Eddie and Matt led the way around the house to the backyard. Eddie and Matt disappeared into the house with all of Francis' stuff for about two minutes. Moments after they went inside, the outside garden and pool lights were turned on.

Graham led the way to the back fence and trees encompassing the yards. He softly called, "Shaun?" Getting no reply, Graham prompted Ben to also call over the fence with him.

Shaun quietly replied, "Give us a minute to cleanup and we'll be over."

Graham took his T-shirt off and Ben followed suit. Both shirts were put on a patio chair. Graham took hold of Ben's shorts and carefully searched his lover's expression.

Ben nodded, "Let's get in the pool fast."

Unbuttoning and unzipping Ben's shorts, Graham widely smiled, "I'm so in love with you. You're being totally awesome."

Ben shrugged, "It's another first for me. How often I do this, remains to be seen."

Pushing Ben's shorts and boxers down, Graham shared, "Skinny dipping is awesome, teddy bear. You'll wish you could do it all the time, everywhere." Seeing Ben flaccid, Graham nodded, "You'll relax soon enough. Don't worry about anything." While Ben worked on Graham's shorts, Graham smiled, "You and I are average. In this group, you'll see Matt's hung best, limp and erect. Gil's about as thick as you and about as long as me. Shaun and Eddie are about the same when limp, but Shaun's bone is a little longer and thicker. Shaun's also the only one with a cut dickie. He's Jewish though, so it's common. None of these dudes will care too much about being naked."

Ben pushed Graham's shorts and boxer-briefs down. Seeing Graham with an obvious chubby, Ben giggled, "You're not the least bit nervous."

Graham shook his head and grinned, "I'm naked with my sexy teddy bear." Graham leaned over to pick up his and Ben's clothes. He put them on a patio chair then took Ben's hand and walked to the edge of the pool. They jumped into the deep end feet first and, once in the water, released each other. Rising to the surface, they saw Eddie and Matt walking through the sunroom already naked.

Eddie put a pile of towels down on the patio table. Matt asked, "Did you call over the fence for Shaun and Gil."

Graham nodded and cheekily grinned, "They had to cleanup."

From beyond the fence, Shaun cackled, "No sunroom visits for us tonight."

A moment later, while tree branches shifted, Gil laughed, "Shaun!"

"It wasn't me," Shaun giggled, "it was the tree."

"Yeah, right," Gil chuckled. "The tree grew fingers." Shaking his head and smiling widely, Matt jumped in the pool. Eddie was having a giggling fit and had to wait before jumping in the pool. "You dudes need to prune these trees," Gil groused, and landed on Eddie's side of the fence. Stepping out from the greenery in shorts but shirtless, Gil waved then turned around and told Shaun, "Ben and Graham are here."

Shaun grunted as he climbed the fence then shared, "It's about time they emerged from the bedrooms." Eddie cracked up and decided to just sit at the pool edge, dangling his feet in the water.

Matt swam over near Eddie. Graham chuckled, "It's our first days together. If I recall correctly, we didn't see you and Gil much for about two weeks after you hooked up."

Landing in Eddie's yard, Shaun emerged from the trees, also in shorts but shirtless, giggling, "Three weeks, but I don't expect you'd know that, unless you were spying from your bedroom window again."

Graham laughed, "Beanie had the binoculars, but there's not a clear line of sight."

Kicking off his sandals, Gil grinned, "The sad thing is, he's got the advantage now and can spy all he wants."

Ben checked with Graham, "Was he really a peeping tom?"

Graham nodded and chuckled, "He tried to be." He pointed northeast and smiled, "My house is that way, on top of the hill."

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Graham's room looks out in this general direction." Standing, Matt took hold of Eddie by the armpits, lifted and pulled him into the pool.

Naked, Gil jogged onto the diving board. Shaun grinned, "Shake that thing, hon!" Giggling, Gil shook his hips and his dick flopped around. Matt picked Eddie up again and tossed him to the deep end of the pool.

Not expecting a show from Gil, Ben cackled, "Omigod!"

Gil grinned, "I give you a month before you're doing stupid shit for Graham."

Graham giggled, "It won't take that long, believe me."

Ben nodded, "I wouldn't be naked at all without encouragement."

Flashing a thumb up gesture, Gil smiled, "Good work, both of you," and then dove in.

Shaun took his boyfriend's place on the diving board. While waiting for Gil to swim away, Shaun grinned at Ben and Graham, "How're you two doin'?"

Ben smiled, "You saw us together the last two days."

Shaun nodded, "But I'm in the garage with the band. I only get a few minutes out of hours to say anything. The rest is what Gil tells me after the fact."

Rising to the surface at the far end of the pool, Gil spluttered, "What did I say?"

Shaun smiled, "Just a second, hon," and then dove in.

While Shaun was under water, Ben giggled, "Shaun was only telling us that he feels a little out of the loop, since he's in the garage most of the time."

Walking toward Ben and Graham, Gil smirked, "I told him plenty; everything I know."

Shaun popped to the surface, wiped water off his face and chuckled, "Okay, there seems to be a wood shortage in this pool."

Eddie giggled, "It's early, and it's been a weird night."

"All of us having the same dream is way too freaky," Gil grinned.

Ben raised an arm and said, "I didn't, but I didn't know Francis."

Matt smirked, "But Jerry and Mack did, plus the five of us for a grand total of seven."

Eddie giggled, "It all started earlier tonight, with the two men reading our auras. They don't know us well enough to pick us from a crowd, but they told us a lot."

Ben giggled, "Doug and Brian are bizarre most of the time. Tonight, they set new levels of weirdness."

Graham smiled, "Circumstances dictated it though, teddy bear."

Climbing up on Gil's back, Shaun wondered, "So what's the deal?"

Matt shrugged, "According to Doug and Brian, there really is nothing to fear or worry about."

Eddie nodded, "Francis clued us in on something that we have to believe is real, but there's nothing we can do to prepare."

Holding Shaun's legs and keeping his boyfriend on his back, Gil frowned, "That's hard to believe."

Graham shared, "The ball is already in play, supposedly. We'll do what we do, regardless of the dream. Believe me, that's just like Beanie too; he'd share a secret seven times and then float off, laughing about it."

Matt shivered and grinned, "Don't say that shit, dude. It's right from the dream."

Eddie nodded, "It was me, Matt, Ben and Graham telling him to get his skinny ass back down on the ground."

"Stop," Matt frowned. Eddie cuddled up close to Matt.

Ben gasped, "I spoke to Francis?"

Graham nodded and smiled, "I told you that you were in the dream. He likes you a lot, teddy bear. He includes you with all his closest friends, simply because of what you mean to me."

Matt moved closer to Ben and laid a hand on his shoulder, softly reminding, "Thursday night, Eddie and I spent a little time with you and Graham. When I first woke the next morning, and shared the dream with Eddie, we thought the dream was because of that time we spent with you two."

Eddie nodded, "Only tonight did two become three, then five and then seven."

Still on Gil's back, Shaun smiled, "Gil and me liked you a lot before you hooked up with Graham. Remember our poolside chat about Mike, Derrick, Prez and Keith?" Ben nodded and smiled.

Gil giggled, "We told you it was boyfriend time about two weeks before you met Graham."

Shaun fondly recalled, "I took a break from jamming Wednesday night, and we saw you two roaming the park. When we left about midnight, we had to search a minute or two before we realized it was you and Graham sitting at a picnic table." Eddie, Matt, Shaun, Gil and Graham began evilly snickering.

Ben giggled, "You missed one of the best parts. Someone had a sneezing fit."

Graham nodded and chuckled, "Who knows what tickles the nose. I could've said it was a big snot rock, instead I told Ben that I'm allergic to erections." Ben roared laughing and all their friends sniggered while Graham recited, "That's how I knew I was gay; I'd sneeze because I had a bone and couldn't spank it. I sneeze a lot in school and other public places, like parks. Some dudes get blue balls, I get blue nose." At that, all Graham's friends howled. Satisfied, Graham pulled Ben close and whispered, "I wanted you then, teddy bear." Eddie raced from the pool.

Whimpering, Ben locked eyes with his silly graham cracker. Their connection swelled and they stopped laughing long enough to share a very passionate kiss. Eddie, Gil, Matt and Shaun mooed through their giggles at their friends attached at the mouth then started applauding. Shaun slipped off Gil's back and fell into the water. Releasing Shaun's legs, Gil turned around, still laughing. Ben and Graham broke their kiss and giggled at their applauding friends. Eddie snapped photos of Shaun floundering and of Ben and Graham, forehead-to-forehead and still giggling.

Eddie giggled, "Before anybody bitches, everyone's getting copies of these, so shush."

Matt sighed then smiled, "The price we pay to have a photographer around."

Graham grinned, "I have to admit, this is an important night."

On his feet, Shaun wondered, "How so?"

Gil smirked, "The dream."

Eddie added, "The McLoughlins freaking out and letting us have Francis' stuff."

"Aura readings and dream interpretations," Matt chanted.

"And it's my first night here with Ben," Graham finished.

Shaun squinted at Eddie, "Is that a digital or film camera?"

Backing away toward the sunroom, Eddie giggled, "Digital."

Starting toward the pool ladder, Shaun prodded, "You got my dick too, didn't ya?"

Hysterical, Eddie nodded and cackled, "Got two of you and your cute dickie!"

Shaun flew out of the pool and Eddie raced into the house. Dripping wet, Shaun followed his neighbor inside the house. Ben, Gil and Graham cracked up. Matt sniggered, "They're just putting on a show. Eddie has plenty of revealing pics of me. What's ours is ours; what's yours is yours. Eddie won't keep incriminating pics."

Gil nodded, "I'd bet bucks they're putting them on Eddie's computer now."

Ben softly giggled, "My first time skinny dipping and there's my dickie, all over the Internet."

Graham shook his head and sniggered, "Your dickie's safe from Internet exposure."

Matt nodded and assured, "Eddie's got dozens of my dickie in all states, and all are faceless, so nobody could identify me. They're for him only, so he can look back ten or twenty years from now and compare them to my real thing."

Leaning close to Graham, Ben whispered "Do you have pool nudes of Francis?"

Graham nodded and whispered, "Taken only a week or so before the accident. I haven't seen them since they were taken. Now they're archived with your password." Matt and Gil climbed out of the pool and went to a first floor lit window. Graham softly giggled, "Matt and Gil are looking into Eddie's room."

Ben smiled, "Should we go look too?"

Graham shrugged, "It's up to you. I thought you'd like to keep your dickie under water."

Ben thought for a moment then suggested, "Let's go look. I'm curious enough."

Smiling widely, Graham inhaled deeply then shared, "I'm so proud of you." Ben gave Graham a tender kiss then they hopped out of the pool and went to Eddie's bedroom window. Matt tapped on the glass. Eddie and Shaun turned to the window to find four faces peering in. Eddie turned the monitor toward the window. Shaun held up four fingers and stepped aside. Graham scowled, "I could've sworn I saw five flashes of light."

Matt nodded, "Obviously one was a shitty shot."

Seeing a photo of his half submerged partner, Gil began giggling. Widely smiling, Shaun signaled Eddie to advance to the next shot. Seeing Shaun's dick above water, Gil laughed, "That's a good one." Shaun nodded and smiled at Gil then tapped Eddie to advance.

The next shot was of Ben and Graham, still forehead-to-forehead. "Aww," Gil and Matt sang, causing Ben and Graham to blush and giggle. Inside, Shaun made kissy faces at the window. Eddie advanced to the fourth photo. Ben and Graham were starting to turn toward the camera, but were still close together. Tapping on the window, Matt held up five fingers. Eddie made a crooked face and reluctantly showed the fifth photo, which was basically an out of focus white and blue blur that seemed to have Gil's shoulder on one side and Matt's arm on the opposite side. Matt then waved Eddie and Shaun out of the room.

Ben smiled, "Eddie took four great shots in about five seconds."

Matt nodded, "He's taken some awesome snaps, dude. Eddie's a perfectionist though. You saw the face he made before showing the fifth picture. If that was film wasted, we'd hear him bitchin' until I kissed him quiet." A moment later, Shaun and then Eddie stepped out of the house, still armed with his camera. Matt asked, "What was the intended subject of the last pic, buttercup?"

Eddie sighed, "It was supposed to be you and Gil, but you both moved in opposite directions."

Ben lavishly praised Eddie for all four shots, taken in the dark and spur of the moment. Ben smiled, "I saw three photos on Graham's computer, from April 1996."

Smirking, Eddie locked eyes with Graham and griped, "You showed Ben those?"

Shaking his head, Graham chuckled, "I was locked out of my room at the time."

Eddie giggled, "We were tossing a Frisbee around. Did you see a Frisbee in any of those shots?"

Ben grinned, "No, but the pictures of Matt, Francis and Graham were really good. Each of the three photos had at least one of the subjects in motion."

Backing away, Graham giggled, "Ben was lookin' for my nudies while I was locked out of the room." Blushing and giggling, Ben shrugged.

Gil, Matt and Shaun softly chortled. Eddie giggled, "Those are encrypted and hidden."

Ben squinted at Graham and growled, "Grrr!"

Graham giggled, "Brrr?" and then flung himself into the pool, before he was attacked by a grizzly bear and popped major wood.

Shaun sniggered, "What are those sound effects for?"

Ben giggled, "Benjamin Robert and Graham Robert. We use them as signals for just about anything."

Smiling, Gil and Shaun groaned, "Oh."

Eddie giggled, "Okay, all five of you, line up by the fence." Matt grinned and suspiciously eyed his lover. "From the waist up, I promise," Eddie giggled.

Nodding, Matt moved toward the fence and reminded, "If it wasn't for Eddie, we'd have very little to remember Francis by; just a few shirts and CD's."

Graham climbed out of the pool while Matt, Shaun and Gil lined up by the white fence at the side of the yard. Ben and Graham joined the lineup. Eddie asked, "Gil and Shaun, swap places, dudes. With Shaun in the center, it'll look a little better."

Shaun giggled, "Why?"

"You're the shortest, bro," Eddie replied. "Matt, Gil, you, Graham and Ben will look good, and I can be sure I haven't cut anyone's head off, or accidentally included pubes."

Moving around, Shaun grinned, "I thought it was because I was circumcised."

Eddie giggled, "I'm not taking dickie shots here, unless Ben specifically says I can."

Ben giggled, "Why me?"

Matt smiled, "It's our second night together, dude. We'd like you to return, without worrying about Eddie's perverted camera."

"That's right, blame it on the equipment," Eddie cackled.

Shaun laughed, "It's my equipment that's altered in this group. With Francis, my dickie didn't stand out so much."

Gil teased, "I'm not doin' anything to make your dickie stand out." All six evilly snickered.

Eddie checked the view through the camera and prompted, "Closer, dudes." Matt shuffled closer to Gil. Shaun wrapped an arm around Gil. Graham moved closer to Shaun and wrapped an arm around Ben's shoulder to pull him close. Eddie sang, "Closer."

Wrapping an arm around Gil's shoulders, Matt grinned, "Is it just me or does Eddie sound like Hannibal Lecter when he says that?"

Shaun giggled, "This sounds like a very personal issue, if ya ask me."

Ben cackled, "No parts of Matt seem to have been cannibalized."

Graham sniggered, "I'm surprised you were looking, teddy bear."

"It's not like I could miss him, even under water," Ben giggled. Turning to Matt, Ben wondered, "How tall are you?"

"Just short of six feet," Matt replied, "five-eleven-and-three-quarters."

Eddie knelt down and Matt laughed, "Don't you do it, Eddie."

"You're all yappin' up a storm," Eddie giggled, and stood up again.

Ben smiled, "Go for it, Eddie; just one though, with no faces."

Graham quickly planted a kiss on Ben's cheek then softly wondered, "Why?"

Ben shrugged, "It's been done before, hasn't it?"

Graham, Gil, Shaun and Matt all admitted that it had. Eddie giggled, "Are you sure, Ben?"

Ben nodded and giggled, "It's either this or a six foot tall by eight foot wide mirror."

"Okay," Eddie giggled, and knelt down again. He composed the shot then giggled, "Say dick cheese." Ben, Graham, Gil and Matt repeated as they were told.

Eddie snapped the photo and Shaun cackled, "Again, something I know nothing about."

Standing again, Eddie giggled, "I hear there's corrective surgery to restore foreskin, bro."

"That'll go over real well," Shaun playfully sang.

Graham smiled, "It's your dickie, dude. Whatever you and Gil are happy with, no one else has any say at all."

"Your dickie's perfectly fine, bubbala," Gil softly assured Shaun.

Matt moved from the lineup, took the camera from Eddie and Eddie joined the group, smiling at Ben, "One more, for comparison purposes for you, bro."

Ben nodded and giggled, "I can barely believe we're doing this."

Weaseling between Shaun and Graham, Eddie checked, "Can I e-mail you the ones with Francis, for Ben?"

Graham nodded, "Sure. I probably won't look. It would seem like cheating now."

Ben squealed, "Really?"

Graham nodded and pulled Ben tighter, gently reminding, "You're really here, teddy bear. The next nightmare I have will cause a temper tantrum and I'll get out of bed."

"You know I'll follow you," Ben smiled. Graham nodded.

A little red light shone from the camera at five mid-sections. Matt confirmed, "Flash is set. Say dickie."

Five voices chorused, "Dickie,' and Matt took the picture.

Standing, Matt prepared to take another shot, from the waist up this time. "Okay," Matt grinned from behind the camera. Matt sniggered, "Say blue balls, blue nose," and all five cracked up. Matt snapped a great picture of his five friends withering and laughing hysterically.

Eddie and Matt swapped places again. Eddie giggled, "That saying goes in my book for all future gay events."

Leaning against Graham, Ben giggled, "Who started using the word dickie?"

"I'm not sure," Graham sniggered.

Raising his hand, Eddie giggled, "I think I did."

Matt nodded, "I think so too. Around eighth grade I first heard it."

Ben admitted, "I never heard it before Graham."

Eddie giggled, "Graham calls his Mister Dickie, I heard."

While Ben, Shaun, Gil and Matt cracked up, Graham incredulously cackled, "Dude!"

Lowering the camera, Eddie giggled, "Your ex-lover, my ex-best friend."

Five voices repeated, "Ex-best friend?"

Snagged in a slip of the tongue, Eddie hung the camera off his neck and walked over to the group. He stopped before Ben, hugged him tight and placed a kiss on his cheek.

Stunned on several levels, not the least of which was another warm, naked body pressed against his that wasn't Graham's, Ben smiled and stammered, "How? Why?"

Eddie giggled, "From tonight, from Thursday night, it's happening." He stepped back and went back to his place to take the next photograph.

Graham smiled, "I had an idea this would happen."

Matt nodded, "Me too, but I'm the one hearing Eddie's remarks."

Ben giggled, "I'm so tempted to say thank you." Mooing erupted and Ben quickly moved away from the group, cackling "Don't tickle me!"

Shaun checked with Graham, "You've warned him about niceties?"

Nodding, Graham chuckled, "It's the first nicety I've heard in at least two days."

Gil sniggered, "This is your last warning, Ben," and waved him back to the group. Ben approached and Gil admitted, "I was tickle tortured twice before learning the lesson."

Shaun nodded, "Eddie on one arm, Francis holding the other, Graham and Matt took a leg each and I had fun."

Ben giggled, "I get tickled every morning, before I can wipe the sleep from my eyes."

Gil nodded, "We get crazy after we shower, while toweling off."

"We get silly after we make love," Matt grinned.

Lowering the camera, Eddie sighed then giggled, "If I didn't see five dickies over there, I'd swear you were a bunch of old ladies. Now shush and say, blue balls, blue nose."

Everyone lined up chanted, "Blue balls, blue nose," and Eddie snapped the picture.

Eddie giggled, "One more, for posterior's sake; five moons by the moonlight." The lineup turned around and Eddie took his last photo of the night. "Awesome," Eddie giggled, and then asked, "What's your e-mail address, Ben?"

"Healy-forty-four-eighty-one at hotmail," Ben answered.

Graham confirmed, "Forty-four-eighty-one, that's your birthday?" Ben rapidly nodded.

Eddie nodded, "The pic Graham doesn't want to see goes to you. All these others from tonight will go to each of you."

Three couples gathered in the shallow end of the pool, partners shared some affection and all six were chatting. Ben asked Eddie, Matt, Gil and Shaun if they wanted to join the large group going school clothes shopping. Depending on when it happened, they would want to go, as long as they weren't working. Shaun said he would check with Prez or Keith the next day, at rehearsal. For Shaun's benefit, Ben and Graham shared the story of their first night together, including brief mention of their first daybreak sex. Gil and Shaun shared stories of their first days together as did Eddie and Matt. Under water and barely concealed, six erections proudly reached for the surface. When intercourse was mentioned, all six spoke of body size differences. Eddie was the shortest and lightest. The tallest and heaviest was Matt. Eddie admitted his favorite position with Matt was doggie-style, but he had managed other positions without too much difficulty. Gil was only an inch shorter and a few pounds lighter than Matt, but two inches taller and twenty pounds heavier than Shaun. It was almost always Shaun who instigated sex. Graham happily shared that Ben had two personalities and how he had been carried across Chumash Park twice. Gil and Shaun were pleasantly surprised and tried to ease Ben's obvious embarrassment.

Eddie, Matt, Gil and Shaun told Ben and Graham about some of what they had missed of Wednesday night's party. There were two parties, one in the studio and one in the living room that everyone moved between. In the living room they played Bel Ami porn and the 'Rate A Cum Shot' game. Getting silly and tired, all six shared more personal information, as had been done at the party. As best as they could tell, there was no rhyme or reason to how dudes shot their loads. Height, body type and dick size obviously had nothing to do with it. Jerry, Matt and Mike were dribblers. Mack, Eddie, Gil, Ben, Graham and Keith averaged about a foot or a little more, while Shaun, Derrick and Prez were power shooters. The night of the party, Aaron, Danny, Craig and Glen were hysterical listening to the others and never revealed their status.

Ben wanted to know which tunes the band had played at the party. Eddie, Matt, Shaun and Gil rattled off about twenty song titles, ranging from Baba O'Riley and Back In Black to Wonderful Tonight and You're My Best Friend. Everyone told Shaun how much they liked the new cover tune he had suggested earlier that day. Shaun simply smiled, "After what happened with Danny, it seemed appropriate."

Ben shared with his new friends how he was encircled. Graham, Eddie and Matt told Gil and Shaun what had happened when Graham was encircled. It was the first time Shaun and Gil were told about Francis' voice coming from Prez's open mouth. Making the tale more peculiar, light summer breezes suddenly changed to more forceful winds that whispered through the trees. Graham, Eddie and Ben looked up at the starry night sky and laughed, "Knock it off, Francis!"

The winds died down and Shaun nervously cackled, "Okay. It's time to go home, I think."

Gil nodded and grinned, "It's after midnight and there's rehearsal in the morning."

Ben softly asked Graham, "Are you ready too, puddin'?"

Graham nodded and smiled, "You know we're not to going right to sleep."

Slightly out of sync, Matt and Shaun sniggered, "None of us are."

By the nearest ladder or stairs, all six climbed out of the pool and toweled off. Matt would drive Ben and Graham around the corner. While Matt was gone, Eddie would upload all the photos taken and get them e-mailed. They would all meet again the next morning at Mike's house and hugs traveled around. Getting warm hugs and kisses on the cheek from four naked dudes had Ben a blushing and giggling wreck. They weren't simple friendly hugs either; Ben had Matt, Eddie, Shaun and Gil momentarily pressed against his body. Each hug, from the two larger than Ben to the two shorter, felt incredibly good. Ben made sure he tightly returned Eddie's hug, causing both to loudly giggle. It dawned on Ben that now he might get these kinds of hugs from his other four friends.

Matt hurried inside to get his shorts on and his car keys. Ben, Graham, Shaun and Gil slipped back into their clothes. Gil insisted that Shaun climb over the fence first, to return the goosing he had received. A play argument erupted between the two lovers. Eddie, Ben and Graham cracked up when Gil picked up Shaun and carried him to the fence. A moment later, Shaun loudly yelped. From the other side of the fence, Shaun giggled, "Your ass is mine, in the yard."

Gil chuckled, "Dream on, bubbala," and then climbed over the fence.

Matt walked out of the sunroom. Eddie asked Ben, "How was your first night of skinny dippin', bro?"

"Awesome," Ben giggled.

Graham smiled, "We all popped wood, but none were touched, only seen."

Matt snuck up behind Eddie and cupped his lover's goods with both hands. Eddie nodded and giggled, "That's the way it's always been; as friends only two years ago, and when we started hookin' up with partners last year."

Matt smiled, "Here at Eddie's pool, at first, it was Eddie, Shaun and Graham then me; then Francis, Jerry, Mack and Rick."

Locking eyes with Graham, Eddie smiled, "Have I said before how surprised I am with you?"

Graham nodded and grinned, "You've said it and I understand why. Alone with me, Beanie was a little like my teddy bear; a side he rarely ever showed anyone else. Ben's almost the polar opposite; quiet and cuddly most of the time, until I press his grizzly bear button." Ben softly growled past his giggles. Pulling his lover close, Graham chuckled, "You both must see all my reasons more clearly now."

Matt nodded, "Something very special is happening, not only with you two, or all of us, as in the dream, but more. I can't really put a finger on why, but it seems every one of us has gotten so much closer since the accident."

Eddie sighed, "For a few days there, we thought we might lose two very important friends. I think it shook all of us up. Now that you're back, bro, and with Ben, things are returning to normal, but we'll never forget what we learned."

Graham thoughtfully scowled and wondered, "Since the accident, do you two occasionally feel very peaceful?"

Nodding, Matt smiled, "Since the day you got out of the hospital, bro."

"I thought it was just me, crying myself to exhaustion," Graham shared. "Then it started happening with Ben and without tears."

Ben asked, "Do you two feel major chest swellings, where it almost hurts to breathe?"

Eddie nodded and giggled, "From Matt, a couple o' times a day." Looking up over his shoulder at Matt, Eddie sniggered, "Even when he isn't holding my dickie." Ben and Graham softly chortled.

Matt chuckled, "You're the only one still naked, buttercup. I'm keepin' you warm."

"A little too warm," Eddie giggled, and quickly stole a tender kiss.

Matt smiled at Ben and Graham, "Ready dudes?"

Ben nodded, "We'll see you in the morning, Eddie."

Eddie smiled, "Have a good night." Glancing back at Matt, Eddie giggled, "Release me for five minutes?"

Nodding, Matt planted a kiss, gently squeezed Eddie's goods and softly promised, "We'll pick up where we left off when I get back."

Matt released Eddie and started for the gate with Ben and Graham in tow. Eddie quickly gathered the towels and his camera then went inside. Matt, Ben and Graham walked around the house to the street, remaining quiet until they got in Matt's car. They ducked inside the Maxima and closed the doors. Matt started the engine and shared, "Eddie and me can't understand what's happening this summer. It's not only about the accident or the dream. It actually started simply enough, at Mike's birthday party. Since then, we feel different, and since the accident, it's getting more intense. Shaun and Gil feel it too, but they think it's partially because of the band." Putting the transmission in drive, Matt wondered, "What do you two feel?"

Graham softly prompted, "Tell him, teddy bear."

Ben sighed then softly told Matt how and when he met Mike and Derrick, and then Prez and Keith. "In June, Derrick and Mike started spending half of every week in Agoura Hills. That meant Prez and Keith were coming over too. I started spending more time there. Those four dudes and the two adult men cared more about me than anybody else ever did. Sure, my mom cared and even my dad did, in his own way, I guess. In early July, Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike encircled me, just like they did with Graham and Danny. Two or three minutes later, it was like a dense fog had lifted and everything was clear. My dad tried to kill me for admitting I'm gay. My mom and I fought him, so he's in jail now. Even that bad scene didn't change me as much as those few minutes had. A lot was changing before the party last week. Not only could I go over there and spend time with four great friends, they also wanted me to tag along with them. They started rehearsing for the concert. I got to meet Gil and Shaun, and Drew and Corey too. I felt… valuable, I guess is the best word. Then Brian and Pete showed up, and again, I felt safe around two more great dudes. It's not even been a full week with Graham, and I feel even more connected, thanks to you, Eddie, Gil and Shaun.

"This weekend and tonight, we learned so much from Doug and Brian, but even the dream doesn't matter as much as what seems to be happening around me. For the first time in seventeen years, I have a boyfriend and ten other friends too. Since I'm almost always at a loss, I check with Graham to learn what's cool and what isn't. I feel this summer is a big change for all those reasons. For me, and maybe for all of us, it's not over yet. I want to move from a house to an apartment, to be closer to Graham and all our friends, to finish high school with all of you. For the first time in my life, I'm not looking down a dark, endless tunnel, where things jump out at me. There's light now, but maybe I'm still blinded by it. I never foresaw two friends becoming four, or six, or eight, or ten, or twelve, which is I where I stand now. Only Brian and Pete have left for home, so it's ten total friends plus an awesome boyfriend. So you see that I know everything's changed too, but from my point of view, it's different than it is for Graham, you or Eddie."

By this time, Matt had stopped the car in front of Graham's home. Matt turned and locked eyes with Graham, prompting, "How do you feel?"

Graham smirked, "I got hit with three major changes already this summer. Mike's party was first. Beanie saw that too. The last week of school, we watched Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike, wondering what the deal was with those four. They seemed to be inseparable couples and friends. After school let out, we didn't think about them much; we were happy enough with you and Eddie, and Shaun and Gil too, when they were around. I remember asking if you and Eddie wanted to come to Huntington Beach with us, the night before we took the trip. I recall almost the whole day, right up until we got in the car. We spent the whole day on the beach and in the sun, then went to have supper, then went to the movies. As tired as I was, I should've known Beanie was just as tired. Ya know I don't even know for sure where the accident happened? I think I regained consciousness at least five times that first day, but had to be told over and over what happened. Change number two was happening, but I don't recall most of it. Five days later, I see Francis in Intensive Care. Later that day, I'm back home and wondering what the fuck happened.

"From that point and for the whole month of July, I was like Ben described; in a dark endless tunnel that I couldn't go forward in or back out of. I remember you, Eddie and Rick telling me to get my ass out of bed and forcibly dressing me to go to the party." Graham paused and warmly smiled at Ben, saying, "Half an hour later, I'm in tears and wrapped in warm arms. Change three, dropped before me, ready or not. The tunnel is lit and I can see where I'm going again. Wherever the tunnel leads, I'm going there with Ben. It's the best now, from my perspective, because Ben's special enough on his own, and the best parts of Francis, you and Eddie combined. Tonight, when Eddie told Ben how he felt, I almost cried happy tears."

Matt smiled, "I think we all did bro." Locking eyes with Ben, Matt said, "You mattered to us before you ever said a word, the night of the party. We heard what was happening, checked it out for ourselves, and learned what you're like from Keith, Mike, Prez and Derrick."

Wiping tears of joy from his eyes, Ben wondered, "I have no idea why you're so accepting. I mean, here I am, with Graham, a week after the funeral, and nobody is the slightest bit angry."

Matt chuckled, "Okay, I get it." He seriously asked, "So what should Eddie and I do; bitch out Graham; bitch out you; choose to turn good memories of a good friend into a shit storm, losing Graham and you almost as certainly as we lost Francis?" Matt sighed, "Rick's the one doing that. He still refuses to apologize. He's mostly alone, except for when he works. Until we learn from you and Graham that he's grown a pair and apologized to both of you, that's where he'll stay. Gil, Shaun, Jerry and Mack all feel the same way. Shaun started having problems with Rick when he hooked up with Gil. There are reasons to be glad and reasons to be sad. We're sad enough for the obvious reason. None of us will ever forget Francis. Thanks to Eddie, we all have dozens if not a hundred or more pictures of him. When we're all old and gray, we'll look at those pictures and remember him exactly as he was. All Graham's friends are glad that he's with you, Ben. Those reasons are obvious in how happy you two are." Matt smiled, "So go make love and let me get back to my buttercup, before he comes up the hill really bitchin' us all out." Ben giggled and leaned forward to kiss Matt on the cheek then opened the rear passenger side door.

When Ben slid out of the car, Graham smiled, "Thanks bro," and gave Matt a second kiss before shuffling out and closing the car door. Matt pulled away and saw Ben wrap his arms around Graham.

Happy tears that had been contained most of the night flowed out of Ben's eyes and down his cheeks. Feeling Ben shaking again, Graham held him tight and softly shushed him. Neither felt the need to explain anything and quietly stood outside for a short while, until Ben pulled himself together.

Graham had an idea during that time. Ben never had friends before simply because he never felt comfortable or safe to seek out friends. If anyone had ever asked him to simply hang out, Ben wouldn't do it out of fear. Ben had counted out ten local friends and two from Portland, Oregon. All the changes and the ease of acquiring friends threw Ben for a loop.

Graham knew exactly what to do. He led his lover into the house and upstairs. They used the bathroom then went to Graham's room. While Ben organized the room, putting his guitar case and the backpacks into the walk-in closet, Graham turned on his stereo and scanned the FM dial until he found something really mellow they could slow dance to. The black light was turned on and the overhead light turned off. Graham went to Ben and started slowly undressing his teddy bear.

Ben softly giggled, "Graham?"

Graham smiled, "Not tonight, my love; tomorrow, probably after rehearsal. Tonight, I'm gonna make love to you every way except anally, for me and all twelve of your friends. My hands and mouth will prove how wonderful and worthy you really are."

Ben shivered, "And you?"

"I'm yours, but I intend to keep you in teddy bear mode. I'm also gonna make good on my promise; your dickie is in or near my mouth until we wake and make love again."

Graham did as he had intended for over an hour. For the first time in his life, he gave a full body massage, starting at Ben's toes and feet and working his way up. Very relaxed, Ben's first orgasm snuck up on him soon after Graham took him in his mouth. Ben tried to keep Graham equally satisfied with anal finger action and oral pleasuring, but Graham was trying his very best for Ben's sake. Only a minute or so after Graham had his first orgasm, Ben had his second. At two in the morning, at Ben's insistence after four orgasms, Graham lay down beside his teddy bear, wrapped an arm over his waist and they peacefully drifted off to sleep.

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