Life Goes On

by The Eggman

Chapter 29

Monday morning, August third, siding contractors arrived at the Hundser residence before eight o'clock. Drew was with Corey over at the Seavers', but Keith, Prez and John were still in bed asleep when contractors began tearing the old siding off the house. Rudely awakened, all three staggered out of bed. Intending to let Rush out back for his morning toidy, Prez found contractors in the backyard too. Realizing that they would have to walk Rush, Keith grabbed granola bars and two eight-ounce bottles of Sunny D from the fridge, while Prez got T-shirts and sandals from the bedroom. Soon, they were walking the dog over to the park and eating a light breakfast. Keith and Prez periodically glanced at each other, sharing silent complaints about the siding contractors waking them up.

Finished with their breakfast and roaming the park, Keith grumbled, "We can't deal with this early morning construction another day."

"You're tellin' me," Prez yawned agreement. "We made love until one in the morning and have to work again tonight."

"We're gonna have to go back to Agoura Hills, baby," Keith suggested.

Prez scowled, "Doug and Brian are home too. We can't sleep with Derrick and Mike in the guest bedroom without raising eyebrows."

Keith nodded and sighed, "I'd rather sleep on the floor in the studio than deal with all that noise."

"We'll talk with Mike and Derrick during rehearsal," Prez offered. "I'm sure they won't mind at all."

"Eddie's taking our band pictures today too. We'll have to wear decent shirts."

"Wear that tangerine muscle Tee I got for you, babe."

Keith grinned, "If you'll wear one of the green polo shirts I got for you?"

"Done deal," Prez brightly beamed. They started back home to get their backpacks packed again for another week away from home. Prez wondered, "What are we gonna say if they want to fool around?"

Keith shrugged, "I guess it depends on the circumstances. I sure don't want Doug and Brian to know. Do you?"

"No," Prez replied, and quickly added, "I think it might be kind o' obvious though, just the way the four of us act. Brian and Pete saw it before we had really gone there. A lot of guys at the party last week saw it too. I can't and won't go backwards, babe. If one or the other or both want a hug or a kiss, they'll get it, whether Doug and Brian are around or not."

"That's cool, baby," Keith smiled. "I just don't want two adults knowing for certain we've fooled around together. I don't want to know if they've done anything similar, or if it worked out or didn't. I think the four of us have something special that very few can fully understand."

"Let's tell Mike and Derrick that," Prez suggested.

Keith nodded, and then asked, "What was that song on the radio last night, on the way home from work?"

"Fantasy, by Earth, Wind and Fire," Prez remembered.

"We'll hit the mall to get that disk soon," Keith smiled.

Prez chuckled, "I can't believe how close you came to hitting those high notes. We'd only have to lower the key signature a half step or a full step, at most."

"They're awesome lyrics," Keith grinned, and then sang, "Every man has a place, in his heart there's a space, and the world can't erase his fantasies. Take a ride in the sky, on our ship fantasize, all your dreams will come true right away." Widely smiling, Prez softly growled. Glancing over at his sex-machine, Keith sniggered, "Be good."

"Until we get in the shower," Prez leered.

Immediately upon returning home, Keith told John, "We're spending the next few days over in Agoura Hills, bro."

John nodded, "Yeah, I'll talk with Tommy later. I'll spend tonight there and hopefully tomorrow night too. I spent a few nights there last week, while the roofing dudes were here. Tommy's folks know what's going on here, so it's cool."

Prez grinned, "You spending so many nights there must seem a little strange to them, huh?"

John shrugged and then chuckled, "You've got a dirty mind, Prez." Keith cracked up.

Prez sniggered, "I have to wonder what two straight boys do at night?"

"Not what two gay dudes do, that's for sure," John laughed.

Keith smiled, "So, what do you dudes do before bed?"

John shrugged, "After his parents go to bed, we play Monopoly or Battleship, or if Sammy's awake, we'll play video games. Now that Tommy and Sonia are catching up to me and Kim, we talk about our girlfriends too. It's very cool too, since I couldn't easily tell Tommy much, before he hooked up with Sonia."

Prez smiled at Keith, "The same as us, babe. We don't tell single gay guys much either."

John joked, "They hear it for themselves."

Keith smirked, "No they don't, bro."

Recalling Ben's embarrassment from being greeted at the door by nudists, Prez chuckled, "Ben would've freaked out. All he saw or heard was us being couples, which obviously made enough of an impact."

John wondered, "Who's Ben?"

"A gay dude over in Agoura Hills," Keith shared. "He was single, until last week."

Prez nodded and told John, "Ben met another guy named Graham and they fell for each other."

Heading for the bedroom, Keith softly chortled, "I wonder how long before Graham has dyed his hair red."

Following his teasing lover, Prez giggled, "Never, if I have my way."

Keith joked, "I'll check with Ben later today."

Grabbing his backpack, Prez smirked, "He had a crush on me, but found a boyfriend with brown hair, a muscular chest and abs, like you."

"Graham doesn't look that much like me," Keith sniggered, picking up his backpack and putting it on the bed. "His abs look like yours, actually; a nice four pack."

Loading the backpack with socks and underwear, Prez shrugged, "Shirtless at Mike's pool, it seems he looks more like you than like me."

"I'll chat with Graham too," Keith grinned. "I'll bet you that Ben has turned into a sex machine by now."

Keith walked across the hall to get toiletries. Prez laughed, "I was never anywhere near as shy as Ben."

Returning to the bedroom with the first handfuls, Keith dropped the stuff on the bed and smiled, "You're looking forward to seeing Ben and Graham together as much as I am, admit it."

Prez nodded, "Of course I am. Seeing Ben happy and Graham recovering from Francis means a lot more than I expected." Noticing Keith paused at the bed, Prez softly asked, "What's wrong, babe?"

Keith shrugged, "We just moved back home, now were moving out again."

"Only through Friday night, lover," Prez reminded; "Saturday afternoon, after rehearsal, we're right back home again."

Keith grumbled, "We're suffering and Drew's just staying at Corey's, the weasel," and walked back out of the room.

Retrieving T-shirts from our closet, Prez tried desperately to not laugh and reminded, "We're going to the beach at least once this week, babe. The self defense class is tomorrow night. Derrick and Mike are working Thursday night, and we're at my aunt's for dinner."

"Don't forget to bring your hats, for the beach, baby," Keith loudly said from the bathroom. Prez started rolling the T-shirts and stuffing them in his backpack. With the remaining toiletries, Keith returned to the room, smirking, "The last thing we need is mom on a rampage. After the last few weeks, I want time alone with you, but not forced because we're grounded."

At the Carleton residence, Ben and Graham were sound asleep. Ben was dreaming. A distant male voice called, "Hi Ben."

"Hello? Do I know you?"

Much closer, the same voice answered, "Yeah, you do, better than you realize."

"I don't recognize your voice. It's so dark. I'm getting scared."

"Please don't be afraid. I have a lot to talk to you about."

"Tell me who you are, or at least let me see you."

"First feel me, dude."

A hand gently took Ben's hand in the pitch darkness. Ben felt a thin hand; smaller than his or Graham's or Prez's. With is heart fluttering madly, Ben whimpered, "You won't hurt me?"

"Never, dude. Tell me, who do you trust most in the world?"

"My mom, Graham, Prez and Mike, in that order," Ben answered. "You're not one of those four, I can tell."

"You can still trust me. You could whip my ass on a whim with very little effort. Just slow down a little and breathe with me."

After a few calming breaths, Ben wondered, "Eddie?"

"Nope. I'm going to turn up the light, a little at a time. Stay calm and breathe slow and deep."

From above, a very dim shaft of light enveloped Ben. He could barely identify the outline of the person holding his hand. The light got slightly brighter, but was still barely equal to a single candle. Making out red hair, Ben sighed, "Prez?"

"Nope."

Uncontrollably shivering, Ben muttered, "I don't know anyone else with red hair."

"We both love the same person, dude. That's why I'm visiting you, so you know me."

Shaking, Ben gasped, "Omigod!" and started crying.

"Say my name, Ben."

"Francis Patrick McLoughlin," Ben wept.

"Good. Stay with me, Ben. Don't freak out and wake up. I have so much to share with you, and it's all important."

"What could you possibly want to share with me?"

"My life with Graham and all our friends," Francis replied. "It's gonna be easy too, like watching TV."

"Can I please see you?"

The light got only slightly brighter. Francis grinned, "Better?"

Ben nodded and smiled, "You really are beautiful."

Francis shrugged and smirked, "I sort o' was, when I was alive. I could also be one ugly fuckin' bitch too. Let's walk, dude. You'll see images now and then. I'll describe them as we go." The dim light above followed them as they walked. Ben saw what appeared to be a row several of home movies playing on monitors. At the lines of kids waiting to enter a school on the first video, Francis pointed, "Here's me, starting junior high, the first day of school. There's Graham, Eddie and Shaun. Over there are Matt and Rick. Matt was tall, even then." Moving to the next video, Francis smiled, "Over there, is the gymnasium, and all six of us, scattered around the bleachers."

"Why are you all separate?"

"I didn't know Graham, Eddie or Shaun. They're neighbors, but live several blocks from where I lived, so they're sitting on the bleachers together. Graham, Eddie, and I are starting seventh grade. Matt, Rick and Shaun are starting eighth grade."

"Why aren't you helping Rick? He needs a little help, ya know?"

"I have been visiting Rick. He had the football huddle dream too, and others, but he won't admit it. First, I've gotta get him to stop thinking with his dick and realize who he belongs with. I'm letting him rest to sleep on it tonight. It's your turn."

"I still don't understand why you're visiting me, Francis."

"The short answer is that you're just like me and all my friends were in seventh grade. Back then, a year's difference in age mattered. You know it doesn't matter all that much. Thanks to that year's P.E. class, here's what we looked like by the end of that school year."

At the image of a softball game, Ben smiled, "All mixed up and together."

"It was so much more than what's visible. Matt and Rick were actively seeking out dick. Both of them had Graham, Shaun, Eddie and me, in their hands and in their mouths. That summer, we all mixed and had kid sex together, thirteen-year-olds and twelve-year-olds. You never had those experiences. Truthfully, it wasn't like any of us could have known what we were doing, or where it would lead at the time; it was mostly fun experimentation. The way we wound up by high school, another year later, was even better, as far as friendships are concerned. Now we're gonna zip ahead another year. That's El Camino Real High School's cafeteria, where you'll be going to school next month."

Ben pointed, "There's you and Graham, Shaun, Eddie and Matt, and over there are Mike, Keith and Derrick. Jeez, was Derrick always cute?"

Francis sniggered, "Don't ever say that to him. The same ways you're self conscious, Derrick gets too, only by having too many eyes on him."

"What're you, Graham, Eddie and Matt giggling about?"

"Getting into Derrick's, Keith's and Mike's pants," Francis sniggered. "Eddie and Matt were already a couple, on the verge of admitting what they feel for each other. Just like you and Graham, it was body size concerns holding them back. You need to get over that, by the way. Graham never hurt me, he won't hurt you and you definitely won't hurt him. This was about six months before Graham and I got serious."

"I heard it wasn't too serious," Ben giggled.

Francis laughed, "Oh, he's such a dog! Let me show you what he did." At the next video, Francis pointed and chortled, "Look at him, tickling my ribs, pinchin' my nips and grabbing my ass, following me around his house. I couldn't even sit down without getting another goosing. It got to the point that I always looked down, between my legs, before I sat."

Ben giggled, "You're doing a really poor job of playing hard to get." Watching the Francis on the video crack an evil grin and goose Graham, sending him jumping a foot off the floor, Ben cracked up.

"And let the wrestling begin," Francis chuckled. "See him, kissing my neck to break my concentration? He kissed me first."

"That's not a real kiss!" Ben giggled.

"But look at him," Francis insisted.

Ben laughed, "This is how you two became a couple. I'm watching you both."

Francis sighed and halted the image at the point where he was reaching his head up with puckered lips to kiss Graham. Francis smirked, "I was in a hopeless situation. My family said, no, homosexuality isn't real, it's just hormones running wild, but I wanted Graham every way I could get. Before this day, the time I spent with Graham was always the best. What was great got better after this too. I had a double life, dude; a family telling me queers were only after sex and that wasn't love. I also had Eddie, my best friend, with Matt, telling me love leads to really special sex; the kind of sex that doesn't make you feel guilty; that love doesn't exist without sex and sex can't be good without love. So you can tell Graham that I admitted to kissing him on the mouth first. Before that point, I had been with five other great dudes too. The times with Graham were always the most fun though. Yeah, I was hyper a lot of the time with Graham. I had to be that way, because when I let myself relax, it would always want to be in his arms.

"Graham hurts because of the way things were; he wanted more time alone with me. While that would've been great, I'll tell you that we never wasted any alone time; we said and did all we wanted to. A talented hand or mouth will only get you so far; as I'm sure you've already learned. With Graham, it was love; I was totally involved in him and everything he and I did together. He's being the same with you as he was with me; showing you all the sides of his personality, sometimes in rapid succession."

Before another video screen, Francis sighed, "These images are of me, having a shit fit because Graham was being way too cuddly with me at my house, with my mom only rooms away. It was September 1997; we'd only been a couple a little more than a month. I'll tell you so you can tell him; that angry face you see me wearing was only barely covering how much I needed to cry. If it was easier, I would've been with Graham as much as we both wanted. In my house though, it wasn't possible. I wanted all of him, Ben; every word and every touch lifted me a mile into the air, just like you've felt since you met him. A small part of Graham doesn't know how much I loved him. I'll tell you the truth if you promise to not tell Graham for a while. Save this for when he really needs to hear something special, okay?"

Ben nodded, "Okay."

"If the accident had never happened, I wouldn't have made it through this summer without telling my parents to fuck off, packing my stuff and walking out the door, directly into Graham's house.

"This next part, you can tell only Eddie, okay? Matt will freak out and shake like a leaf for hours."

"Cool," Ben chirped.

"I took the photo of Graham and me that Eddie and Matt found in my room. I had a tantrum and tossed all my stuff all over the place, leaving that photo on my closed poetry notebook, nice and neat, for my parents to find. My folks can toss that picture out; rip it up, burn it to ashes and it will keep popping up again. There will be other pictures they'll look at, but they'll see that image, me and Graham, with our arms wrapped around our shoulders. Right now, my folks are trying their damnedest to forget about me, as the gay son that never existed. With help, I'll remind them over and over again, I was their son, I was gay; I was in love with Graham Carleton. They need to admit that and change their beliefs. I've been told they'll eventually come around and make amends, but I don't know when that might be.

"Last night, I saw my sisters having a major fit with my parents, over the stuff they've been saying and doing regarding me. As well as I hid it, Mandy and Rachael knew and they're still on my side. Tell only Eddie that, Ben. He'll believe it. Let Graham and everyone else find out when my parents finally wake from their delusions."

Ben nodded and repeated, "When Graham needs to hear it, I'll tell him that you were on the verge of moving out and in with him; that you loved him enough to throw away all the pretenses and commit to him. As soon as I can, I'll tell only Eddie, the photo is under your control, to teach your parents a lesson."

"Good enough," Francis smiled, and hugged Ben very tightly, harder than Ben might've expected from such a thin dude.

Still wrapped up in strong arms, Ben asked, "Can I do anything else for you, Francis?"

"You're doing it already, Ben," Francis shared. "I eased his pain and guilt for only one purpose; so he wouldn't be alone; he needs to be with you. Nobody else deserves my Honey Graham more than you. Graham goes to extremes normally. Recovering from me though, he's even worse than ever; going higher with the good times and diving lower with the bad times. Your past suicidal experiences have made you much more temperate. He needs you every bit as much as you need him, believe me. I'll tell you one more thing that's important to only you."

"Okay."

Into Ben's ear, Francis whispered, "Graham's an awesome friend and lover. When I saw him with you, I was told that you were one of the kinder and sweeter dudes; that you and Graham together would be good. Of all the dudes I had sex with; Graham made love to me, like I was special. There are few funnier or kinder dudes around anywhere. He listened and paid attention like nobody else I knew. He's really good on top, but he very much loves being on bottom too. Take the initiative; you won't be disappointed and he'll love it. Make sure you're alone with him the first time you enter him. He gets really loud and crazy, dude. He's an instigator too, wanting you to get just as loud and wild. He might actually cover his mouth or mute himself with a pillow, mostly when his folks are home, but if he holds true to form, you'll both be extremely loud."

Francis pulled back from Ben's ear and then tenderly kissed Ben on the mouth. Francis warmly smiled, "That's for you to pass on to him." Softly kissing Ben again, Francis smiled, "That's for you, for making him so much happier."

Ben nodded and giggled, "I hope to see you again sometime, Francis."

Francis nodded, "You and Graham have direct lines to me, Ben. Every word you say to me, I hear. You've both been very good at hearing me too. We'll get together again, when you or Graham need me." Francis stepped back and the light quickly became blindingly bright.

Shading his eyes with both hands, Ben asked, "Was that you making the wind blow and the trees whisper?"

Still walking backward, Francis giggled, "My idea and some help. I love special effects, dude. Tell Graham in exactly these words, 'good special effects kick butt'."

"I guess that'll mean something to him," Ben giggled.

From a distance, Francis chuckled, "If he remembers. He got a pretty good clunk on the head. I think you deserve a new pet name. I'll share it with Graham. You'll know it when you hear it."

Waking up, Ben glanced around Graham's bedroom. Sunlight from the window behind the bed beamed into the room. The night table digital clock read eight-fifty. Inhaling deeply, he remembered all that Francis had shown and told him. A small part of Ben considered it only a dream, but he knew in his heart that it was real, he had actually been with Francis and seen Graham and Eddie as twelve-year-old boys. He started placing soft kisses along Graham's shoulder.

In a few moments, Graham inhaled deeply and exhaled, "Brrr."

"Grrr," Ben softly growled.

Rolling over to face Ben, Graham sleepily yawned, "No dreams that I can recall."

"I had one," Ben smiled, and then mimicked Francis' kiss.

Graham's eyes shot open. The kiss felt so familiar that he thought he was still asleep and nervously looked around. Facing Ben again, Graham prompted, "Again." Ben obliged and repeated the kiss, causing Graham to softly moan approval. Ben opened his mouth wider for a passionate kiss, hoping Graham hadn't figured anything out. Hiding what he had learned would prove difficult, but Ben rolled back, pulling Graham with and on top of him. When the kiss broke, Graham breathlessly panted, "Omigod, Ben. I so want to make love with you, all the way. We have to make us forever."

"We've waited long enough," Ben softly smiled. "Are you sure we're alone?"

Reaching for the bottle of lube, Graham nodded, "Dad's been gone at least an hour. Mom's gotta be gone by now. I locked the door too."

Noticing Graham was trying to spread his legs, Ben held Graham in place, shaking his head and suggesting, "You first, puddin'. Slide my dickie inside you and show me the way."

Nodding, Graham flipped open the lube bottle top and let a little liquid drip onto Ben's cock. It bounced and they both giggled. Smearing the lube around, Graham checked, "If you want a condom, now's your last chance?"

Shaking his head, Ben smiled, "We're permanent, puddin'. I promise to do my best, all our lives. As much as I like our other friends, I can talk with you like no other person alive."

Shivering, Graham giggled, "Oh dude, I really want forever too; nothing matters more."

Holding Graham's stroking hand still, Ben giggled, "Cumming now would be wrong, wouldn't it?"

"I think so," Graham laughed. He shuffled back toward Ben's hips and poured another little bit of lube onto his fingertips then reached back to prepare his ass. Leaning down, Graham placed a few tender kisses. He was only slightly thoughtful of Ben's girth, so he fingered his hole with two digits, which gave Ben time to chill a little and share a few kisses of his own. Graham whispered, "Ready teddy bear?"

Ben nodded smiled, "Yeah. I really do love you."

"I love you very much too," Graham assured, and then pushed up and reached back for Ben's cock. Once it was pointed up, he adjusted slightly then started lowering down, softly cooing and widely smiling. Even with all the practicing they had done to prepare, including playing with the dong, Graham could barely believe how fantastic Ben's thick cock felt entering his butt. Only about half Ben's bone was inside him, but Graham felt so extraordinary, he uncontrollably groaned. Ben's entire body stiffened to prevent bucking wildly into Graham. With all of Ben deep inside him, Graham wiggled his buns down and made the final adjustments.

Two voices gasped, "Omigod!"

Graham sighed, "I waited far too long for you, my love. You feel so awesome inside me."

"You're really hot inside, puddin'. I didn't think it would be warmer than your mouth, but it is."

"I want to move and ride you, but you're so big, I'm afraid I'll cum too fast."

"Take your time."

Graham only nodded, but he made the first move, sliding slowly up and slower back down again, grinding and wiggling his ass against Ben's groin. Ben groaned and Graham sighed, and then started getting into the ride. Out of control, Graham momentarily went up too high, causing Ben to slip out of his butt. Reaching back and getting Ben's bone pointing up, Graham giggled, "Shit happens," and reinserted Ben's erection. Laughing hysterically at Graham's remark, Ben couldn't say anything. Holding Graham's thighs, Ben watched Graham intently for about another minute, until Graham ground down and wiggled his butt again. Helplessly, Ben thrust up. Graham happily shouted, "Omigod, yes! Gimme!" Ben's hips dropped and Graham lowered down and then Ben pushed up harder. "Oh fuck yeah!" Graham screamed. With every exhaled breath, Graham loudly cheered, "yeah!" Wide-eyed and sporadically thrusting his hips up, Ben couldn't help giggling. No part of Ben ever thought Graham would like intercourse this much or get this loud. This proved beyond any doubt that the dream of Francis was more than Ben's imagination. Graham was almost out of control, yelling Ben's full name, calling Ben's pet name, begging for different speeds, and his hands flew all over Ben's torso, mostly on his chest. Reaching a delirious state, Graham lowered down to passionately kiss Ben. From their practice sessions, Ben knew he was supposed to take over, and did so, with Graham cooing and moaning into Ben's mouth with every powerful thrust into his butt. Breaking the kiss, Graham hung his head besides Ben's, and with each breath, repeatedly muttered, "Omigod-omigod-omigod-omigod!"

Ben always expected to have to ask, "Was I okay?" It was quite clear he wouldn't need to ask. He tried to wiggle a hand between them to get at Graham's cock. The moment Ben's hand touched his bone, Graham whimpered then flung himself upright to bounce more than he ever had with Francis. Trying to stop Ben's hand from moving too much, Graham loudly moaned; "Please cum in me before I shoot, Ben. Oh please, do it before me. Oh God Benjamin!" Losing it, Graham bounced, quaked and shivered, unaware of anything except how wonderful he felt. Starting to regain sentient thought, Graham noticed Ben grimacing and felt expansions inside his ass. Graham smiled and softly encouraged Ben through several more forceful thrusts. Suddenly, Ben grunted and held his hips up. Forcing his butt down against Ben's raised hips, Graham chuckled, "Oh yes, my love. I feel it. You're so wonderful," and then leaned forward to place many tender kisses. Ben collapsed and panted, smiling up at Graham, who was happily finger painting little patterns of semen around Ben's chest and belly. They started giggling; Ben for the wet tickling on his torso and Graham for his sheer pleasure with Ben. Graham reached back and guided Ben's cock out of his ass. Holding Graham firmly in place, Ben shuddered at the sudden coldness on his very sensitive dick.

Hovering over Ben and placing more angel kisses, Graham happily cooed, "The virgin that doesn't act like one just gave me the single best sexual experience of my life. I'm seriously your leech, forever at your side. Anytime you want me, Ben, just signal me and I'm there, anywhere, any way you want me."

"Silly graham cracker," Ben softly giggled. "You're already all I need and want. I knew you'd like it, you told me you would, but I didn't expect you to be so loud."

"I've been loud before, but not like this time," Graham admitted, and then enthusiastically cheered, "I'm so crazy in love with you."

Ben very much wanted to share his dream with Graham, but the warm loving face placing little kisses had his undivided attention. Running his fingers through Graham's wavy brown hair, Ben returned kisses and decided to wait for a more appropriate time.

Graham lowered all the way down onto Ben and contentedly sighed. It was all Ben, for five days, saving Graham's sanity, mending his broken heart, restoring all his dreams and hopes, adding more purpose with every passing day. With his eyes closed, Ben rested his arms around Graham's back and felt his lover's heartbeat slow to normal. Moments later, Ben softly asked, "Should we eat or shower first?" and got the morning's first tickle in.

"Let's eat, I'm starved," Graham cackled and tickled Ben back. "What will we do this afternoon?"

"It's your turn to make me yell," Ben giggled, and let his hands fly to tickle or fake tickles.

Flinching and lurching, unwilling to block Ben's hands, Graham laughed, "I want to, but the question is, will you yell?"

"I have no idea," Ben howled, "but I could try, if ya want."

"I'll race ya to the kitchen," Graham roared, and rolled away from Ben's tickling.

Bouncing up and going after his lover, Ben giggled, "What do I get when I catch you?"

Already down the hall, Graham bounced his eyebrows and teased, "Whatever ya want." He then flew down the stairs two or three steps at a time. At the bottom landing, Graham waited for Ben to appear at the top of the staircase.

"I'm gonna get you," Ben giggled, and hurried down the steps.

Racing away, Graham laughed, "Ya got me already and it's dripping down my legs."

Cracking up, Ben had to slow his descent or risk tripping the rest of the way down.

From the lower level bathroom, Graham hollered, "I'm washing up, teddy bear." Entering the kitchen, Ben went into that bathroom for the first time. He found Graham wetting a washcloth at the sink. This half-bathroom also contained the washer, dryer and water heater. Ben glanced around and Graham pulled him close to the sink, so he could wash Ben's dick. Encasing Ben's chubby in a soapy, warm washcloth, Graham softly offered, "I'm so hungry that I forgot no condom leaves different messes for us to clean up, on you and in me."

"Since you're washing me, I hope I get to wash you?"

"I so want you too," Graham smiled.

Ben didn't know how to say what he wanted to without upsetting Graham. He waited until Graham finished washing his dick and was rinsing the washcloth to softly say, "Francis admitted to kissing you first, Graham. He also said that when you were trying to be cuddly, with his mom only a few rooms away, his angry face only barely hid his need to cry." Dropping the washcloth into the sink, Graham locked eyes with Ben and deeply inhaled. Stepping forward to loosely embrace his partner, Ben whispered, "He showed me that first day, in your living room, you being naughty, him playing hard to get, the wrestling, and him reaching up to kiss you. He also showed me the argument; September last year, only about a month after you two hooked up. It wasn't your bedroom, so it must've been his, since he said that his mom was close by. Francis made the wind blow through the trees last night. He told me to tell you, 'good special effects kick butt'."

Feeling Graham's intense shaking and seeing rivers of tears flow down his lover's smiling face, Ben held on tighter and checked, "Are you alright, puddin'?"

Speechless, Graham nodded and shed happy tears. Clearly, Ben had been visited by Francis. Graham never told Ben when or where the argument had happened, or that Mrs. McLoughlin was nearby, but Ben knew it. Having almost completely forgotten seeing the movie 'Armageddon' with Francis the night of the accident, Graham hadn't told Ben that, or that one of the last things Francis ever said to him was 'good special effects kick butt'. The bond shared with Ben exploded within Graham during the short minutes he cried.

Sniffling and wiping his eyes, Graham pleasantly sighed, "Boyfriend one visited boyfriend two, on equal ground. I should probably be very worried, but I'm not, I'm thrilled. All I feel now is a lot of love from you, some of which was given to you by him."

Ben nodded and smiled, "He knew I'd be scared, so he spoke to me in darkness at first. I didn't recognize the voice, but he eased me into it, eventually allowing me to see him. He was wearing blue and green board shorts with a pale yellow T-shirt. He showed me the first day of junior high school too. All he wanted us to know was how much he loved you, Graham. You told me he could be hard and stubborn, but I didn't see him that way. I saw someone that struggled to make two sets of very different people happy."

Knowing more surely that this was real, because Ben described the exact clothes Francis had worn that last day, Graham giggled, "What else did he say?" and returned to the washcloth, floating in an almost overflowing sink of warm water.

Ben shrugged and smiled, "The best part for me was seeing how you two started. He called you a dog and wanted me to focus on how you were acting." Graham roared laughing and handed Ben the washcloth then leaned over the sink and spread his legs. Beginning to clean Graham's legs and working his way up, Ben giggled, "He said that it got to the point where he always looked down between his legs when sitting, to make sure your hand wasn't there, waiting to goose him."

"That is so true too," Graham laughed, and wiped more happy tears from his eyes. "Being the string bean he was he didn't think that he had a nice ass. His butt was perfect for him and I always proved it."

Working on cleaning the crack of Graham's ass, Ben giggled, "He told me stuff for me, for you, and one other thing that was specifically only for Eddie to know. I don't want to hide it from you, puddin', so I'll say that when the time comes, I'll know it and tell you then."

Graham grinned, "Not another prophecy?"

Shaking his head, Ben smiled, "A promise to be fulfilled."

Cleaned up, Graham took the washcloth from Ben, rinsed it then tossed it into the hamper near the washing machine. Leading Ben out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, Graham suggested things for breakfast. Ben was fine with a toasted bagel and a glass of cranberry juice. Graham had a bowl of Frosted Flakes, a glass of orange juice and a toasted bagel. Ben had finished and loaded his plate and glass in the dishwasher while Graham was still eating. Graham offered Ben more from his plate. Ben shook his head and smiled, "I'm fine, puddin'. I told you I'm a light eater compared to most dudes. If anything, I'm looking forward to doing some leg raises and sit-ups with you, to flatten my belly more, so I like it."

Graham smiled, "You're belly is fine as it is, but I'll help you get it so you like it."

Blushing, Ben nodded and giggled, "This morning was a great workout."

Sputtering around the food in his mouth, Graham nodded and smiled, "Sex is the most fun exercise there is." The phone rang and Graham gestured for Ben to answer it.

"Carleton residence," Ben formally said into the receiver.

"Don't you sound very proper today?" Eddie giggled.

"It's not my house," Ben cackled. "Graham's still eating, so he told me to answer."

"We're ready to leave and pick you two up," Eddie said.

Ben gasped and scanned for the kitchen clock. Finding one on the oven, he told Graham, "It's nine-forty, puddin'. Matt and Eddie are ready to pick us up."

Graham nodded, "Tell them that we still need to shower and to come in through the back door."

Ben passed the message and Eddie began giggling before Ben finished.

"Some things never change," Eddie giggled. "Tell Graham to quit playin' dickie games and get his buns in gear." In the background, Ben heard Matt laughing.

Seeing Ben blushing, Graham rolled his eyes and held his hand out, chuckling, "Gimme the phone, teddy bear." Ben warned Eddie, passed the phone over and Graham grinned, "What did you say to make Ben blush?"

"Just the truth," Eddie cackled. "We know you too well. You were playin' your morning dickie games, don't lie."

Going to unlock the kitchen sliding door, Graham chortled, "Well, we are showering before we go anywhere, so come inside and up to my room."

Checking his wristwatch, Eddie giggled, "Its nine-forty-one and we're timing you."

"Whatever," Graham sniggered, "see ya in a few, bro." When Eddie hung up, Ben watched wide-eyed as Graham went into hyper-speed; hanging the phone up, swallowing the remainder of his juice, stuffing the last bit of bagel into his mouth and loading the dishwasher. Still chewing, Graham took Ben's hand and raced through the house, back upstairs and into his bathroom.

"Wait!" Ben giggled, "Our toothbrushes and stuff are still in our backpacks."

"Shit!" Graham loudly laughed, and pulled Ben back out of the bathroom into his bedroom. "Nobody and nothing is preventing me from playing with your dickie," Graham cackled. The backpacks were retrieved from the walk-in closet, where Ben had put them. Ben giggled his ass off, looking through his backpack for his toiletries. Dumping his backpack on the bed, Graham raved, "Yeah, we already made love, and it was phenomenal, but that was before you told me about your dream with Francis, which was no dream, teddy bear. You knew things you couldn't have known; that nobody except Francis and me know about. All we need is a few extra minutes, before we spend four hours with our clothes on around all our friends." Hurrying to the bathroom again, with Ben trying to keep up, Graham giggled, "This afternoon, we'll have a few hours alone for more awesome sex. I'm so inclined to make you a top only." Dropping handfuls of his stuff on the bathroom vanity, Graham noticed Ben's expression in the mirror and laughed, "What?" Shaking his head, Ben cracked up.

Grinning widely into the mirror, they brushed their teeth. Graham dragged an electric razor around his face, sharing details of how he felt with a longer and thicker bone up his butt. Shaving with a Gillette Trac II disposable razor, Ben tried to stop giggling, so he didn't cut his face to ribbons. Finished shaving first, Graham suggested, "Come right into the shower. Rinse the shaving cream off your face in there." He went to the tub, stepped in and turned the water on. A moment later, the shower turned on and Graham shivered, "Brrr!"

Ben giggled, "Grrr?"

"Cold water," Graham sniggered, "that was a real brrr, not a signal. Since my dickie is shriveling, I'll tell you now, your first time in me was fabulous, Ben. It's not uncommon for dickies to slip out and have to be reinserted. That was my fault, for getting far too into the ride. I know I get loud sometimes, but you were so good, I was much louder and shot way further than usual. That's how much I love it with you."

"I'm gonna slice my throat," Ben softly giggled.

"Sorry," Graham called, "I didn't hear you."

Ben loudly giggled, "I said, I'm glad I didn't slip out."

"It's not a major problem when it happens," Graham assured. Finished shaving, Ben went over and slid open the shower door then stepped into the tub with Graham, who had his head back and eyes closed, rinsing shampoo from his hair. As soon as the water ran clear, Ben stepped closer and wrapped his arms around Graham. "Hey there sexy teddy bear," Graham smiled.

Years of poor self-esteem were being whittled away. Ben sighed, "You were so wonderful this morning too," then gave his lover a soulful kiss. They moaned into the kiss and started a slippery grind. The kiss broke and they held each other tight to finish what they had started, whispering words that strengthened their bond.

For the first time since Friday, Derrick and Mike used the master bathroom shower. With Doug and Brian back from vacation, but working, the couple was able to return to their June pattern. They were glad to have their adult friends back home and enjoyed the silly antics they often pulled. That day, they remained shirtless leaving the house for rehearsal, but brought better looking sport and polo shirts to rehearsal, to look their best for the photos Eddie would take.

At work the prior night with Keith and Prez, Mike and Derrick considered how to prepare a package for the audition. The foursome planned a cover page with the band's name and the band photo. The next page would list the primary songs intended for the concert and the alternates that they might play, if circumstances dictated less ballads and more rock. The last three pages would have photos with short biographies and contact information for each of the six band members.

Arriving at the Gibbons' home first with Corey and Drew, Keith and Prez greeted Lindsay and asked that she open the garage door. Shaun and Gil pulled up to the house next and helped get the gear setup. The 442 pulled into the driveway, leaving abundant space for the mixer table and their friends. All the male band members that had worn their good shirts took them off while moving heavy gear around. Jessy arrived last in normal clothes, but she had better clothes in her car to change into when it was time to take photos.

Since Eddie, Matt, Ben and Graham were running late, the band started their prepared audition rehearsal. Much more comfortably, Derrick thanked the auditioners, introduced the band, and then Prez and Hold My Hand. While they played, neighborhood kids started congregating in the street.

At the end of the song, Prez introduced Jessy and Give Me One Reason. When that song finished to applause, Jessy thanked the audience then introduced Shaun and Sister Golden Hair. Hearing more applause from the street, Shaun also thanked the audience then introduced Keith and Open Arms. During the latter tune, Matt's Maxima pulled up to the curb. Eddie, Matt, Ben and Graham got out of the car. Carrying his photography gear in a large padded gear bag, Eddie jumped on Matt's back and Graham climbed aboard Ben for piggy back rides up the driveway. Gil lost it and howled laughing, pushing Corey into a giggling fit. Drew and all the band members were widely smiling too. Near the mixer table, where Corey, Drew and Gil stood, Eddie and Graham slid down off their lovers.

Glancing between Ben and Graham, Gil loudly asked, "It happened, huh?"

Hanging off Ben and proudly smiling at his teddy bear, Graham nodded, "The sex was awesome, but almost as important, Francis paid Ben a nocturnal visit. I will swear on a stack of Bibles, it was no dream." Corey's, Drew's and Gil's mouths dropped open. Graham held his right hand up and assured, "Ben knew things I never told him and the only other person who knew was Beanie."

Finishing Open Arms, Keith thanked the audience, the auditioners and welcomed their four tardy friends.

Stopping his digital watch, Drew waved the band out to the driveway, smiling, "Seventeen minutes and forty-eight seconds. Good job on the songs, introductions and audience interaction."

Putting their instruments down, all six band members went to the mixer table and warm greetings were passed around. With no music playing to cover what needed to be said, Matt and Graham suggested a short trip around back, away from the younger kids in the street. In the backyard, Graham again made his proud announcement that his first boyfriend had definitely visited his second boyfriend and that there was no chance of there ever being a third boyfriend. Snapping photos of the occasion, Eddie cruised around the group. When congratulations had completed, Shaun and Gil shared that Ben had gone skinny dipping with them, Eddie and Matt at Eddie's pool the prior night. Naturally, Ben was embarrassed, but everybody congratulated him on another big step. Only Jessy denied ever having gone skinny dipping, but under comfortable and safe conditions, she admitted it wasn't out of the question.

Wandering to the front of the house again, Mike and Eddie talked about getting large group skinny dipping parties organized, before school started. Jessy hurried to her car to get her dress clothes then went inside the house to change. Prez and Keith spoke softly with Ben and Graham, learning the more intimate details of the last few days. In the process, Ben and Graham learned exactly what had been going on between Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike. Graham and especially Ben were glad to learn there were limitations, reasons and rules. Nearby, Eddie, Matt, Gil and Shaun heard all of what Ben, Graham, Keith and Prez were talking about. Bringing up the rear, Drew and Corey were also listening in. Keith noticed his younger brother and Corey and could almost hear the gears grinding.

"What?" Corey and Drew giggled.

Shaking his head and grinning, Keith dropped back to pull them aside. Keith softly explained, "You heard what Ben and Graham were saying and what Prez and I said too. There are no set rules. What Prez, Mike, Derrick and I do alone doesn't mean that every gay couple on Earth goes there. As cool as it was, we're thinking it might happen again rarely, like once every couple of months. You've tried stuff with Brian and Pete, so the only question you two have to answer is how you feel. I'm sure Brian and Pete understand that, but do you?"

Corey nodded and Drew softly shared, "We're fine, bro. It was fun and good with Brian and Pete. We've left the topic hanging for now, because we can't say if we'll ever want to have sex with them again, or with anyone else. It happened because we felt something for them. We're not actively looking for it to happen again with anyone, but if we feel something, we'll talk about it, just like you four dudes did, and we did with Brian and Pete."

Keith nodded, "Fair enough. I only wanted to be sure you weren't following in our footsteps."

Prez hollered from the garage, "Keith? It's time to get gussied up, babe."

"I'll be right there," Keith replied, and then locked eyes with Corey.

Corey grinned, "I really don't know, Keith. I used to think things didn't change too much or too quickly. Now I know that they can and they do, sometimes very fast. How will Brian and Pete feel when we see them again? If they want to and we do too, okay, but I saw Drew change in a matter of days, I see myself changing, and today, I see how much Ben has changed too. In the last few days, Drew and I have talked a lot about it. All I care about is being with Drew, for a long time."

Humming thoughtfully, Drew then smiled at Keith, "You dudes are getting pictures taken, right?"

Keith nodded, "For the next couple o' minutes."

Taking Corey's hand, Drew smiled, "We'll be in the pool house if you need us," and started toward the backyard. Whimpering and giggling, Corey followed his hubby.

Helplessly sniggering, Keith went to the garage to get his shirt on.

Putting on one of the polo shirts that Keith gave him for their anniversary, Prez softly asked, "Is everything okay?"

Keith nodded and chortled, "Apparently so," then picked up the tangerine muscle Tee that Prez had given him and pulled it over his head.

Wandering around the group in the garage, Eddie told Mike, "Brush your hair, dude." Glancing at Derrick's shirt and hair, Eddie moved on to Shaun, who was already getting his hair brushed by Gil. Keith and Prez were combing their hair. Eddie paused and asked, "Is that the best shirt you have, Keith?"

Prez smiled, "It's the one I want him to wear, Eddie."

Eddie giggled, "You're showing off his chest and arms."

"Marketing for the masses," Prez chuckled.

"I see," Eddie giggled. "Remind me to get a stud muffin lineup going at one of the pool parties."

Standing outside the garage and hearing every word, Matt chortled, "You don't need any reminding, buttercup. Your perverted cameras make appearances at every pool party any way."

Keith chuckled, "The cameras are perverted?"

Shaun grinned, "Eight great pictures were taken last night, with Ben and Graham there."

Prez called out toward the driveway, "Ben, what are you doing?"

"Showing Graham the mixer, amps and stuff," Ben innocently answered.

"Okay, what were you doing last night?" Prez playfully prompted.

Graham cracked up watching Ben instantly flush red. "No comment," Ben giggled, and rapidly his face on Graham's shoulder.

Counting his fingers, Eddie giggled, "A line up for ten dudes will require a wide angle lens."

"We're not all hung like Keith," Mike teased.

Shaun smiled, "Okay dudes, a show of hands for cut dickies?" and held up a hand. Prez and Mike held up their hands. Seeing Keith holding up two hands, Shaun cackled, "What the hell are you doin', Keith?"

"For me and Drew," Keith smiled.

"Oh," Shaun giggled. "I got scared thinking you were cut twice." The garage seemed to explode in laughter.

Gil chuckled, "A show of hands for uncut dickies?" and held up a hand. Derrick, Matt, Eddie, Ben and Graham held up their hands.

Noticing Prez with a wide smile and a hand held up, Shaun laughed, "Can't you tell if your cut or uncut, Prez?" Again, everybody cracked up.

"For Corey," Prez bellowed over the crowd.

Grasping his heart, Shaun giggled, "Oh, thank God! That's five cut and seven uncut." Turning to Matt, Shaun asked, "What about Jerry and Mack?"

With Eddie turning purple by this point and hanging off him, Matt chuckled, "One of each."

Returning to the garage, looking fantastic, Jessy smiled, "You're all certifiable, you realize this?" Nodding and vocal affirmations assured Jessy that they all knew and were proud of it too.

Staggering out to the center of the garage, Eddie giggled "Can we get organized now?" Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick and Shaun, assured Eddie they were fairly well organized, but they needed two more dudes with cut dickies. Giggling, Jessy made the sign of the cross and silently prayed. Matt, Ben, Graham and Eddie cracked up.

Coming around to the front of the house, Drew grinned, "What's going on? Are the pictures taken?"

Keith sniggered, "We haven't even started that yet. It's Mike's fault, he took the first tangent."

"Tangents on the wing," Mike insanely giggled, "There goes another."

"Omigod," Corey and Drew chorused.

Corey giggled, "If only Brian were here, we'd have a chance of getting something done."

Pulling out his cell phone, Drew dialed Portland. Keith wondered, "What're ya doin', bro?"

Drew grinned and sighed, "Calling Kellam."

"He'll be here in two days," Corey giggled.

Prez chuckled, "We can probably get this done before Wednesday."

Hearing voice mail pickup the call, Drew hung up and smiled, "Lucky for you it's an answering machine."

Derrick grinned, "What do you need us to do, Eddie?"

"Let's start with the three tallest on their knees in front of the three shortest," Eddie giggled. Shaun, Jessy and Mike lined up. Prez, Keith and Derrick knelt down facing Shaun, Jessy and Mike. Everyone out in the driveway howled.

Smiling up at Jessy, Keith teased, "This works how?"

"I'd walk you through it, but we don't have the time," Jessy giggled.

Eddie snapped the photo anyway then giggled, "That'll make a very controversial CD cover. You three in front, face me. Derrick you need to be between Keith and Prez."

They stood and turned around then knelt down. Derrick softly chortled, "This position seems vaguely familiar," causing Keith, Prez, Mike and Shaun to crack up. Eddie snapped another picture.

Matt sniggered, "I suggest getting the single portraits done, buttercup."

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Maybe if they're separated we could get this done. Let's do portraits out in the daylight; ladies first." Unexpectedly, all six started walking out of the garage. Hysterical, Jessy playfully slapped her five silly male band mates, ordering them back. Those out in the driveway cracked up.

Eddie led Jessy to one of the evergreen trees on the front lawn. Mingling around the driveway, Shaun, Gil, Ben, Graham and Matt told the others more about the skinny dipping the prior night. Shaun smiled, "We were told about Francis being heard Wednesday night too."

Shaking his head, Gil nervously grinned, "Suddenly, the breeze picked up and the trees around the yard bent and whispered."

Graham chuckled, "Ben, Eddie and me hollered for Francis to cut the crap and the wind died down."

Ben nodded and grinned, "That was Francis' idea. He said that he got help with the breezes."

Graham sniggered, "I swear, Beanie needs to rest. He's in our dreams and watching everything we do."

"Let's get a touch football game organized," Gil joked. Ben, Graham, Shaun and Matt nervously chortled.

Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Drew and Corey glanced at each other. Prez admitted, "I had a dream about that." One after the other, Keith, Drew, Corey, Mike and Derrick recalled similar dreams.

Completing the first portraits, Eddie and Jessy approached the driveway to hear Drew explain, "It was like I was watching from the sidelines, not in the stands, but right off to the side of the field."

Corey nodded, "I got the impression we were offense and you dudes on the field were defense, or maybe it was the opposite way around; I couldn't really tell."

Keith shivered, "Aaron, Danny, Craig and Glen were with us."

"Yeah," Derrick droned, "I remember that too, and that we were playing in a huge stadium, packed to capacity."

"This is getting too weird," Mike muttered. "Brian and Doug asked us about this last night, after work."

Getting freaked out, Derrick locked eyes with Eddie and asked, "Ready dude?"

Eddie nodded and giggled, "I love this. We need to check with the other four dudes in North Hollywood." Walking over to the evergreen tree with Derrick, Eddie giggled, "You never got to know Francis, but this is so like him, Derrick."

"That's part of what's so weird," Derrick grinned. "I don't feel that I knew him and he couldn't have known me, but here's a shared dream, with four other dudes we recently met."

Gesturing for Derrick to stand before the tree, Eddie giggled, "Maybe we just met the beginning of this summer, but we knew of you, Keith, Mike and Prez too. After all, we do go to the same school." He checked the camera's view finder and prompted, "Say blue balls, blue nose."

"What?" Derrick exclaimed, and cracked up. Eddie snapped three quick photos of Derrick laughing.

"Thank Graham for being a goof," Eddie giggled, and lowered the camera.

"You knew of us?" Derrick smirked.

Snapping another picture, Eddie giggled, "Of course; four of the cutest dudes in the school, all a year older than Francis, Graham and me. We watched and hoped until Mike's birthday. That's when we found out, yeah, you're gay and already hooked up too." Eddie wondered, "When did you and Mike meet?"

"When my family moved into the house behind this one," Derrick fondly recalled, and Eddie snapped another photograph. Derrick giggled, "You're a great photographer, dude. I usually don't like doing this, but you're making it easy."

Eddie giggled, "This is good for you dudes and for me too. I intend to make a living doing this, so I get to add to my portfolio and gain experience. You're done, bro."

Stepping away from the tree, Derrick repeated, "Bro?"

Eddie giggled, "It's how I feel about each of you; gay brothers. Some of us might be really tight and others not so much, but we share something."

"I know what you mean," Derrick smiled. "First it's only personal, and then it's someone special. Two became four and it's growing exponentially now."

"Yup," Eddie giggled. "It was me and Matt, and then Francis and Graham; Shaun and Gil since Mike's party; lastly, Graham and Ben."

At the driveway, Derrick and Eddie heard Matt nervously complain, "I don't understand this and really don't want to understand it. Please don't tell me if it turns out the four in North Hollywood shared the same dream. I'm gonna go forward like this dream never happened."

Prez nodded and patiently smiled, "That's perfect, Matt. Judging by what Mike, Ben and Graham have said, that's what Brian and Doug recommended anyway."

Graham nodded and placed a hand on Matt's shoulder, firmly squeezing it. He reminded, "Beanie was a clown at least half the time. He was happiest dancing. He'd never hurt me, you or any of us."

Standing close to Matt, Eddie interjected, "Don't sweat it, okay? The only thing that makes this freaky is Francis is gone. Let's treat the dream as if he was really here; just one of his weird jokes and drop it." He glanced around at the band members and prompted, "Play somethin', dudes. Mike, it's your turn."

Nodding, Mike suggested, "Play Fire and Rain, Shaun."

"Cool," Shaun smiled. He led Prez, Jessy and Derrick to the garage. Keith remained out in the driveway with Matt, Ben, Gil and Graham. Mike followed Eddie.

Walking across the lawn, Eddie softly asked, "How do you feel, Mike?"

Mike chuckled, "Thrilled more than scared, that's for sure." The band began playing.

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Me too. Francis was my best friend. There were times he wanted to be like me, and times I wished I could be more like him too."

Mike moved before the tree, wondering, "How?"

Eddie shrugged, "Francis could dance better than anyone. I sure can't dance that well. We've always been about the same height and body type, but he could run like a rabbit. Francis' parents aren't accepting of homosexuals, but surprisingly, it turned out that mine are."

Frowning, Mike sighed, "I'm sorry to hear about his folks being that way."

Raising the camera, Eddie prompted, "Say blue balls, blue nose." Sniggering insanely, Mike remembered Graham's honking nose. Eddie caught two good shots and giggled, "Francis might have seemed distant to you at your party, but it was only because of the tightrope he was walking. What do you think of Graham and Ben?"

Mike warmly smiled and Eddie snapped another photo before Mike said a word. "You didn't know Ben from Memorial Day," Mike smiled. "He's improved in a lot of ways. What's most amazing to me is how Graham is clinging to Ben. I thought it would be the other way around."

Eddie snapped another shot and giggled, "Ben looks to Graham for lots of stuff, but they're really attached. They'd both crumble without the other." Wanting another photo, Eddie asked, "How big's your dickie?"

Mike cracked up and Eddie got the shot before Mike laughed, "We talked about this at the beach; three inches now; eight hard."

"I know," Eddie giggled, "but I needed this shot. I'm getting five of each of you. You dudes can choose which to use. We're done. Who should I pull next?"

Stepping away from the tree, Mike suggested, "Shaun, Keith and then Prez last."

Eddie nodded and wondered, "Why is Prez last?"

"We need our bassist and drummer ninety plus percent of the time," Mike replied. "We all get to take breaks during various songs, except Prez and Derrick."

Eddie went to Matt and gave him a hug, softly insuring his partner was less freaked out. Mike waited at the mixer with Corey, Drew and Gil, listening to the last verse and chorus of Fire and Rain. Having given and gotten kisses from Matt, Eddie knelt down to change memory sticks in his digital camera. The last tones rang and the street erupted in loud applause. Clapping enthusiastically, Mike looked around the driveway and street, taking note of the audience that had gathered. Walking around the table, Mike smiled at Shaun, "Awesomeness dude."

"Thanks, Mike," Shaun chuckled.

"Take a time-out with Eddie," Mike suggested.

Taking his guitar off, Shaun nodded, "Cool," and then put his acoustic on a guitar stand.

Picking up his Carvin electric guitar, Mike asked, "What's next?"

Prez suggested, "How about Separate Ways? We can get by without Shaun, I guess." The idea was approved by Jessy and Derrick, so Prez called out, "Keith? You're needed, babe." Excusing himself from Ben, Matt and Graham, Keith went to the garage. Before he crossed over the monitors, Jessy started playing the introduction.

Eddie, Gil and Shaun walked together away from the loud music and toward the evergreen tree. Shaun took Gil's hand, pulled the arm up to his mouth and began playfully mouthing the limb. Eddie cracked up. Gil sniggered, "Happy, bubbala?"

"I cannot wait for this concert," Shaun cheered.

Gil turned to Eddie and explained, "Every time Mike applauds and encourages Shaun, this is the reaction."

"There will be more, later too, I'll bet," Eddie giggled.

Shaun cackled, "Until my parents get home."

Eddie checked, "You two are good with the dream?"

"Shaun is more than me, but I'm okay too," Gil replied. "For me, it sucks just starting to get close to someone, only to have them yanked away."

Eddie nodded and suggested, "Think of him like he's on extended vacation. Really, he is."

Shaun smirked, "If only he'd act like he's on break."

Nodding, Eddie gestured for Shaun to stand before the evergreen tree and giggled, "Is Francis acting differently, Shaun?"

Sounding quite disgusted, Shaun went to the tree, grumbling "No," and turned to face Eddie and Gil. The latter two began softly chortling. Shaun grinned, "I know what he's doin'. He's showin' off again; only now he's not wavin' his dickie around; instead he's saying, 'I'm gonna stick up for all gays and lesbians that have dopey parents like mine'."

"Oh shit," Eddie softly sighed.

Gil and Shaun chorused, "What's wrong?"

"Prez is wearing a green polo shirt," Eddie scowled. "That's gonna make him look like a red headed face floating in front of this tree."

Shaun shrugged, "Have him swap shirts with someone."

Gil nodded, "Keith's his boyfriend, so no problem there."

Eddie nodded, "That'll work," and lifted his camera. He reminded, "Shaun, remember Francis at the first pool party with Gil?"

Widely grinning, Shaun recalled that night. Eddie snapped one photo and Shaun chuckled, "What the hell Beanie was doin' trying to lift Gil, I'll never know."

Eddie giggled, "Accepting him, bro. You're both a year older than me, Graham, and him, but you took the longest to get hitched."

Realizing what Eddie was doing, Gil grinned, "He kept playing grab-tag under water too."

Shaun laughed, "The closeted perv didn't care what he grabbed either." Eddie snapped two more pictures while Shaun was laughing.

Gil grinned and nodded, "Graham was in on it too, as the distracter so Francis could cop feels."

Shaun only nodded and smirked, leaving Eddie with no shot to take. "Say blue balls, blue nose, bro," Eddie prompted.

Smirking, Shaun remarked, "More proof that Graham's got a screw loose."

Eddie sighed, "You're gonna be difficult." Turning to Gil, Eddie giggled, "A little help here?"

Gil nodded and approached Shaun, out of line with the camera, but wearing his devious expression. Shaun nervously cackled, "Honey?" and Eddie snapped another photo. Getting down on his knees before Shaun, Gil looked up and locked eyes with his partner. Loudly laughing, Shaun shifted slightly. Eddie snapped the final photo before Shaun began praying in Yiddish.

Eddie giggled, "That's it, dudes," and started for the driveway.

Gil stood and Shaun jumped his lover, giggling, "Now that I'm getting a stiffy, you're done, but we're just beginning."

Holding Shaun up against him, Gil stole a kiss and reminded, "We're done early today, bubbala."

Rapidly nodding, Shaun giggled, "The house is empty for more than three hours."

Behind the mixer table, Graham was playing air guitar, copying Mike's every move, driving Ben and Corey into giggling fits. Eddie goosed Graham as he passed. Surprised, Graham jumped a foot in the air. Ben, Corey and Drew cracked up. Eddie snapped two photos of the band playing. Glancing at Corey and Drew, Eddie asked, "How long have you two been a couple?" Matt meandered over to be near his partner.

Corey giggled, "It depends on how ya look at it."

Drew nodded and smiled, "Either last Fourth of July, when we first kissed, or maybe last August, when we started messin' around."

"Or last December, when Drew admitted how much he missed me, while I was away in Vermont," Corey finished.

Absorbing those answers, Eddie giggled, "You're invited to the pool party tomorrow night."

Corey sang, "Sweet!"

Drew nodded and smiled, "Thanks, dude."

Eddie giggled, "It's all couples and most will be skinny dippin', so I only needed to check."

Drew asked, "Would it be a problem if we kept our boardies on?"

Shaking his head, Eddie smiled, "Nope, but neither of you need to worry about it. My parents are cool and they'll go to bed soon after the party starts."

Corey asked, "When will it start?"

"Sundown," Eddie replied.

"Awesome," Drew smiled. "We'll be there with Keith and Prez."

Matt wondered, "Just curious, you two are how old?"

"Fourteen," Corey answered.

Drew nodded, "I'll be fifteen the end of the month."

Corey worried, "We're not too young, I hope?"

Shaking his head, Eddie giggled, "Nope. The qualification is met, gay couples only for skinny dippin'. We're all cool with affection and woodies. I've got a sunroom with an attached bathroom for private emergencies."

Corey's jaw dropped. Drew grinned and shook his head. Corey giggled, "Dammit! You've got a sunroom, Mike's got a pool house, and my parents didn't even put up the cabana this year."

Rolling his eyes, Drew chuckled, telling Eddie and Matt, "Corey's got a pool too. The cabana fabric tore during a windy day last autumn."

Corey giggled, "Lucky for you!" Eddie and Matt cracked up.

The band finished playing Separate Ways and Eddie hollered, "Keith, it's your turn, bro."

Jessy said into her microphone, "Drew, join us for Against All Odds, dude."

Nodding, Drew went to the garage. Keith stepped between the monitors coming out of the garage. Shaun went into the garage and over to Jessy, near the keyboards. Drew lowered Keith's mic stand about two inches. Corey and Gil adjusted settings on the mixer for the drums and keyboards. Eddie, Matt and Keith waited for the song to start. After Derrick's soft count, the song opened with Jessy, Shaun and Prez. Drew began singing.

Eddie giggled, "He's so damn good."

Matt checked with Keith, "Does your whole family sing?"

Nodding, Keith answered, "Both my parents have favorites that they always sing."

Leading the way across the yard, Eddie pointed at the evergreen tree where he had been taking photos and giggled, "Prez is gonna look like a floating red head with that green shirt he has on." Keith started softly chuckling and broke into loud laughter. Glancing at Keith and Matt, Eddie giggled, "What did I say?"

"You reminded me of something," Keith sniggered.

Eddie giggled, "Will you swap shirts with Prez?"

Nodding, Keith howled, "Sure, we'll love it!"

Eddie laughed, "Ah ha! I've worn Matt's T-shirts and know exactly what you're saying. Matt's shirts hang on me like a tent though. I wear a men's small and he's a large, so I look like I'm wearing a dress. He likes it."

"Easy access," Matt chuckled.

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Your parents keep wondering why you come home shirtless too."

Stopped at the tree, Keith turned and smiled, "Thanks for taking these pictures, Eddie."

Snapping the first shot, Eddie giggled, "This is my future and I'll get to add to my portfolio." He wondered, "How're you feeling about the dream, Keith?"

"Personally, I'm confused," Keith replied. "Prez and I have had similar dreams before, but nothing like this. Prez and Mike have had weird experiences too. We didn't even really get to know Francis, and didn't recognize him in the dream. We recognized everybody else though, since you were all at the party last week. It helps knowing that Francis is keeping to his personality too."

Eddie giggled, "Say blue balls, blue nose."

Keith cracked up and Eddie got the shot. "That was so funny," Keith laughed. "When Ben said that it was an erection reaction, I almost fell over."

Nodding, Eddie giggled, "I've known Graham all my life. He has extremes of happiness and sadness. I was really worried he'd be stuck sad, but Ben fixed all that."

Keith nodded and smiled, giving Eddie another good photo. "Ben's obviously thrilled with Graham," Keith said. "I have to admit, we're all so shocked Ben was the one Graham turned to and hooked up with."

Eddie nodded, "You didn't know Francis. Alone and in safe company, Francis was cuddlier. You dudes didn't get to see that side of him at Mike's party, because he wasn't sure how safe he was. All he worried about was word getting back to his parents that he hung around a group of gay dudes somehow."

Matt explained, "All of us went into straight boy mode any time we were at his house."

Eddie giggled, "I need two more shots, Keith. Tell me why Prez floating was so funny."

Keith sniggered and Eddie grabbed a photo before Keith explained, "One morning I woke to find Prez floating about two feet off the mattress. I'll swear it wasn't a dream, even though I know it had to be. It was a great morning and day for us."

Needing one more shot, Eddie giggled, "How big is your dickie?"

Keith roared laughing and Eddie snapped the photo. "About four inches long at the moment," Keith cackled.

Holding up his camera, Eddie giggled, "That's all I needed."

Shaking his head, Matt chuckled, "You're so bad, buttercup."

Shrugging, Eddie giggled, "The trick is to never allow the subject to feel self conscious."

Stepping away from the tree, Keith giggled, "So ask how big my dick is."

Picking up his lover, Matt warned Keith, "Joe Photo here will have the camera out at the pool party tomorrow night."

Happily holding on to Matt, Eddie giggled, "No faces are included in any dickie shots and all are shared."

Stepping up closer to Matt and Eddie, Keith smiled, "We have a self defense class at Bally's Fitness Center, from seven to nine. We'll leave there, drop off Drew and Corey at home, and then be right over."

Matt put Eddie down and shook his head, saying "Drew and Corey are invited too."

"Cool," Keith chuckled. "We'll be right over after class then. 5225 Baza Avenue, right?"

Eddie nodded, "That's the one. Come around back. Ben, Graham, Gil and Shaun will probably already be there with us. Take your shirt off for Prez, Keith."

Doing so, Keith chuckled, "Make sure you tell Prez this was your idea."

Nodding, Eddie giggled, "I can't wait to see his reaction."

"Rehearsal might have to end even earlier," Keith sniggered. The band finished Against All Odds to more loud applause and cheering. Drew and Prez came out of the garage. Drew returned to the mixer and Prez went toward the lawn. In the garage, Derrick came out from behind his drums and went to the center microphone.

Prez wickedly grinned, "Why's your shirt off, babe?"

Eddie giggled, "Your green shirt against the green tree won't work, Prez. You need to put Keith's shirt on."

Locking eyes with Keith, Prez chuckled, "This was your idea," and reached down to pull his polo shirt over his head while Eddie, Keith and Matt cracked up. The band played As Tears Go By, with Derrick singing lead vocals.

"Sex machine," Keith sniggered, "it really was Eddie's idea. How would I know the pictures would be taken at a tree?"

Prez grinned, "I know you love green, but we'll have to find alternatives when we go school clothes shopping." Prez and Keith swapped shirts. Prez put Keith's tangerine muscle Tee on and adjusted it. Seeing Keith holding his green polo shirt, Prez prompted, "Put it on."

Shaking his head, Keith sniggered, "Lemme check with Mike, Derrick, Jess and Shaun."

"You can check," Prez grinned, "but rehearsal is over early, no matter what."

Matt grinned, "That shirt looks great on you, Prez."

Heading for the tree, Prez smiled, "Thanks, Matt. I'll probably have it on until we go to work tonight."

Suspiciously glaring at Matt, Eddie smirked, "You didn't tell Keith it looked good on him."

Matt chuckled, "Didn't I? I meant to."

"Sure ya did," Eddie giggled.

Walking away, Matt softly told Keith, "I'm in trouble again."

Heading for the garage, Keith sniggered, "If they could see their rear ends, they'd understand."

Eddie and Prez shouted, "HEY!" and broke into gales of laughter.

Painting on their innocent expressions, Keith and Matt swung around. Keith playfully prompted, "You two need to check out what we see every day."

Matt nodded and smiled, "We're not trying to be bad, just honest." Holding his clenched fist out, Matt grinned at Keith, "More cushion for the pushin', right?"

Knocking knuckles with Matt, Keith nodded and laughed, "You know it as well as I do." They walked away, leaving Eddie and Prez helplessly giggling.

Eddie started to raise his camera, but lowered it again until he stopped giggling. Prez grinned, "We have to get them later."

Nodding, Eddie giggled, "Matt's getting his bare butt spanked."

"Good idea," Prez chuckled. "I'll see how Keith likes working with toasted buns tonight."

Inhaling deeply, Eddie raised the camera, snapped the first photo while Prez was still smiling, and then asked, "What're your thoughts about the dream?"

Prez smiled, "I love it. Since my mom passed, I've had these feelings, on and off, that she's really not gone. Francis can do whatever he likes where he's at. Right now, he's choosing to be with us."

Eddie snapped another picture then shared, "He's been home too. We got a lot of his stuff yesterday afternoon, after he scared his parents. Ben dreamed of Francis this morning. He said that he has something more to share with me too."

"It's wonderful," Prez warmly smiled. "Keith and I were so surprised, sharing that dream in the shower and finishing ideas for each other. We all have proof that life doesn't end, it only changes."

Eddie nodded, "I've always loved books, movies and TV shows about the paranormal. To me, scary ghost stories are either funny or stupid."

Prez smiled, "We've got that in common, Eddie."

Eddie grabbed another photo then asked, "How're you feeling about Ben and Graham?"

"Relieved," Prez chuckled. Eddie lowered the camera, tilted his head and scowled. Prez sighed, "Ben had a crush on me. I'm surprised nobody told you." Eddie shook his head then raised the camera. Prez offered, "Ben's turned into a really good friend this summer. I wish we were still around Agoura Hills, like last month, to see him with Graham more. They seem to have completely bonded, like I am with Keith, Derrick is with Mike and you are with Matt."

Taking another photo, Eddie shared, "Ben's not only important to Graham, but somehow, he's becoming my best friend too. What's weird is, Francis was my best friend, but Ben's a lot different. Francis would strip and go skinny dipping without a problem. Ben's so darn cuddly though. It took me, Matt and Graham a while to get Ben to understand it's cool."

"I was that way too," Prez pleasantly recalled. "It took Keith, Derrick and Mike awhile to get me to relax about it."

Eddie took the final photo of Prez then approached him asking, "I have a personal question, about you, Keith, Mike and Derrick?"

Prez grinned, "Why and how, right?" Eddie nodded and Prez shrugged, "How is easy to answer. We want to live together next year. Derrick's a best friend and big brother rolled into one. Mike's a talented guitarist, a good friend and funny as hell sometimes. He's been Keith's best friend for ten years. Putting ourselves into a place where we could live together, admissions were made all around. We have rules and limitations too. Intercourse is for partners only. None of us can see that ever changing. None of us want to be separated either. Friends you can really count on and trust aren't easy to find. When you have them, all you want to do is keep them. Losing someone close; like my mom, or Mike's dad, or Francis, is world shattering. We learned that the hard way. As a result, I'm showing Derrick and Mike that my world would change without them. We're all showing each other the same thing."

Eddie nodded, "I guess what I don't understand is how you can get past the intimate part without any problems?"

Prez grinned, "Just like skinny dippin', Eddie. After ya see a few erections, it's no problem. The rest is a result of trust. We gained the trust the hard way during a fight at school." Lifting his shirt, Prez showed Eddie the scar and explained, "It was me and Mike against three guys, until Keith and Derrick came to the rescue. What we said to each other, that night and over the next days, was more important than any kiss, hand-job or blowjob. Alone, the four of us joke about things we say while couples are having anal sex."

Eddie giggled, "What about the squishy noises and accidental farting?"

Prez chuckled, "The squishy noises are nothing compared to what Keith and I are saying, or what Derrick and Mike are saying. Farting in bed is something we all deal with, every night, with our partners anyway. It's just funnier."

Eddie shared, "Matt and me wish we had done something with Francis and Graham." He scowled and sighed, "It's not like we didn't spend a lot of time together, but somehow we're wishing something more was said or done."

Prez nodded, "I'd imagine so. Since I barely knew him, I obviously don't feel that way, but I was devastated when I learned about the accident. You saw me, last week, fighting back tears when Matt told us Francis had died. All I'll ever know about him is what I learn from his friends."

Eddie sighed, "I kissed Francis and he kissed me. We both knew where we were at, I guess. At first, it was Shaun, my best friend and big brother. During junior high, when Francis and I met, he became my best friend."

Prez smiled, "Be certain of where you and Francis were at, Eddie. Regrets suck. My best friends and I were on the sidelines. Francis' best friends were in the huddle. All that remains to be seen now is how everything works out. The GSA club at school will make a big difference."

Starting to walk back to the driveway with Prez, Eddie giggled, "That's gonna be so cool."

"Don't kid yourself. It's gonna be scary at times too," Prez reminded. "What I hope to accomplish is separating the real radical homophobes from the rest of the student body. Keith, Derrick, Mike and I firmly believe that they're more of a minority than gays and lesbians are. The difference being, they would hurt or kill us, where all we want is to choose who we love."

Matt silently joined Eddie and Prez. Ben, Graham and Gil moved closer to listen to what Prez was saying. "I've gotten a few e-mails about the GSA. We need a teacher to sponsor the club. With school support, we have the upper hand. Expect some homophobic cretins the first meeting or two. They'll be surprised when they get a week's principals detention for being jerks. Anything less than that and I'll tell the GSA organization, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, PFLAG and my foster father, who happens to be a lawyer. Every gay, lesbian and straight supporter will be protected, I'll guarantee that. The radicals will be punished, and if necessary, expelled and arrested; just like the guy that started our fight and knifed me."

The band finished playing Wonderful Tonight. Since Prez wasn't joining them and had everyone's attention, the band members came out of the garage. Eddie grinned, "You're intense about it."

Prez nodded and sighed, "I had to deal with Keith thinking my guts would pour out of a three inch slice on my side. I still have to deal with my best friend, Derrick, freaking out and wanting Jake executed for assault and attempted murder." Taking hold of Drew and Corey, Prez smiled, "My foster brother, friends and every supporter will be safe. If I can't insure that, then I'm not the right person to preside over the meetings, which is what Keith, Derrick and Mike want me to do. I intend to share that responsibility with them. Near the end of the school year, we'll vote for replacements to take over the job next year. That's been the major problem at a lot of schools, ours included; the clubs starts, but falls apart and doesn't get restarted again the next year. It's got to be a permanent fixture, every school year, so we don't have to be so scared of homophobes."

Eddie smiled, "I'm gonna be a junior and so is Graham."

Graham nodded, "I already talked with Ben about it, Prez. We're there for every meeting."

Nodding, Ben giggled, "Now I know more about what it means."

Gil said, "Shaun and I will be at all the meetings too."

"Very cool," Prez brightly smiled. "We'll be participating in all sorts of activities, locally and nationwide, like the National Coming-Out Day, No Name-Calling Week and whatever happens to come up here in L.A."

Jessy interjected, "I can promise you at least two straight supporters, Nelson and me."

Keith nodded, "We'll have more than that; I'd bet on Greg Kovac and others like him."

"Anyone that has a gay, lesbian or transgendered friend or family member," Mike offered.

Glancing around, Derrick checked, "Are we done for today?"

Eddie said, "Play another song or two and let me get a few more band photos."

Returning to the garage, the band members started bouncing song ideas around. Eddie grabbed his Canon camera to take digital and film photos. The band decided to play Mary Jane's Last Dance, with Derrick singing lead vocals and Shaun playing guitar and harmonica, and Bringin' on the Heartbreak, because Shaun wanted to practice his guitar part. Eddie roamed around taking pictures, from the left side of the garage to the center and then to the right side. He stepped back, nearer to the mixer, and got some full band photos from the same three perspectives.

While they got the gear stored away, Eddie shared, "I took a total of thirty portraits of the band members, and another twenty-four of the band, including the two funny ones from the start of the rehearsal. I'll e-mail all the digital pictures as soon as I get home. I'll have prints and digital versions of the others by next weekend's rehearsal."

Prez asked, "What's it gonna cost for the prints, Eddie?"

"About twenty-five bucks for five-by-sevens," Eddie answered. The next thing he knew, Prez, Derrick and Mike handed over ten bucks a piece.

Mike smiled, "You've got the gig as our official band photographer, dude."

Eddie giggled, "You haven't even seen the photos yet!"

Keith smirked at Eddie then loudly said, "If anyone doesn't think Eddie did an awesome job just dealing with us, speak up." Almost at once Jessy, Prez, Derrick and Mike agreed; not one of them ever had a chance to feel anxious about having their photographs taken.

Shaun added, "Eddie's taken thousands of pictures the last few years. I can easily promise that every picture will look really good, given the subjects he dealt with."

Graham nodded and smiled, "Shaun lives right behind Eddie. If there's anyone that knows Eddie better than I do, it's Shaun."

Shaun grunted then smirked, "I know him, alright. He knows me too." Ben, Eddie, Gil, Graham and Matt chuckled and giggled.

Drew grinned, "I worked on the school newspaper and know sneaky photographers. What've you been doin', Eddie?"

"Nothing anyone could identify as you, except Corey," Eddie giggled.

Corey loudly giggled, "Yippee!"

Jessy laughed, "Okay boys, I'm outta here! See ya Saturday," and then grabbed her other clothes. She started for her car while everyone else said goodbye.

Moving off to the side, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick had a separate, soft conversation. Keith and Prez wanted to spend a few nights in Agoura Hills, since the siding contractors were waking them up. Mike and Derrick agreed, and then asked if Keith and Prez wanted to talk with Graham about his recent loss.

Drew grinned at Corey and wondered, "What do you want pictures for?"

Corey shrugged and giggled, "Ya never know."

Matt chuckled, "All dickie shots from Eddie's perverted cameras are faceless."

"That's right," Eddie giggled, "it's always the equipment."

Taking Gil's hand, Shaun said, "Later dudes," and started for his car. Everyone said goodbye to Gil and Shaun. Walking past Drew, Shaun chuckled, "It's really the photographer that's perverted." Eddie cracked up.

Drew nodded, "Yeah, I figured." He told Corey, "You make sure that no one except you and I ever see any dick pics." Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick went over to where Corey, Drew, Ben, Graham, Eddie and Matt were gathered.

Eddie giggled, "Zip 'em up and password protect the compressed file. That's the best you can do under Windows."

Graham added, "It's always a good idea for anything private anyway."

Mike asked Graham, "How're ya feelin', dude?"

"I'm really good," Graham smiled, and shifted closer to Ben, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Wrapping an arm around Graham's waist, Ben blushed and giggled.

Prez smiled, "Regarding Francis and the dream, we mean."

"I couldn't be happier," Graham gushed. "How something so awful turned into something so hopeful so fast, I'll never figure out."

Keith nodded, "That's why we brought it up."

Derrick softly told Graham, "What you just said is sort o' what Mike and Prez figured out from their losses."

Mike assured, "You'll learn that there is nothin' to fear in life or in death. Passing over is exactly that; another change, from one existence to another. The love never dies."

Ben smiled at his four friends and offered, "I told Graham exactly what happened that led to you dudes encircling me. Believe me, if it weren't for that, I wouldn't have known what to say or how to act with Graham, in the park last week."

Graham prodded, "So you dudes believe in spirit visitations?"

"Abso-tively," Mike chuckled.

Prez nodded, "Definitely."

Keith chuckled, "I have to, because it's been apparent a few times."

"Same here," Derrick grinned.

Graham sighed, "All the time Francis was in Intensive Care in a coma, I think he was stuck; not quite alive or dead."

Matt nodded, "You were stuck too, bro. A couple of times you wished that you could swap places with Francis. Do you remember what we did each time you said that?"

Graham blushed and grinned, "I'll never forget it. Thanks for that too. I regret saying it, obviously."

Locking eyes with Eddie, Ben softly reminded, "We need to have a private chat yet too. I don't want to forget anything."

Graham assured, "As soon as we get home, teddy bear. Matt and I will go upstairs and let you two dudes talk." Noticing uncertain glances between Derrick, Mike, Keith and Prez, Graham proudly beamed, "Part of Ben's one-on-one chat with Francis this morning was something meant specifically for Eddie. The things Ben told me make me sure it wasn't a dream. Ben's told me it's not a secret; it's more like another present I'm anxious to open."

"I've had a few of those with my mom," Prez smiled.

Mike nodded, "Me too, with my dad."

Matt asked, "How can there be nothing to fear?"

Prez replied, "When you've lost someone close, nothing is worse, so what's left to be afraid of?"

Mike added, "There are tons of things to worry about, but when you put it in perspective, the worst things are losses of other people. Everything else really doesn't amount to a whole hell of a lot."

Matt checked, "None of you are freaked over the dream, or Ben being visited by Francis?" Everyone shook their heads, even Drew and Corey.

Derrick offered, "What makes it freaky is how we've been raised; with Halloween and ghost stories that are nothing like the real thing. The last time Mike dreamed of his dad, he was so happy, there was no containing him."

Keith agreed, "The worst things in life are losses of life."

Drew piped up, "Even a dog's life matters. After we lost our first dog, our family kept seeing him around the house, out the corner of our eyes. We'd look again, and gone."

Eddie smiled at Graham and reminded, "Did Matt or I argue about putting pictures away last week?" Graham shook his head and Eddie giggled, "You're here with us, bro. You can't live in the past and present at the same time."

Prez shared, "Trying to manage both is really where the brain gets all screwed up. I lived that way for about a month too, Graham, so don't think you're any different than anyone else."

Slowly shaking his head, Graham chuckled, "Ya know, when Francis was around, we didn't know what to make of the four of you. Because of that and a year's difference in ages, we didn't make efforts I can see we should've made."

"Don't feel guilty about it, dude," Mike quickly said.

Ben nodded and giggled, "I told you not to use the word 'should'."

Derrick chuckled, "Bonus points for the teddy bear," and Ben blushed, causing everyone to snigger.

"My bad," Graham chuckled.

Eddie checked with Mike, "You and Derrick are off work tonight?" Mike and Derrick nodded. Eddie smiled, "Come over tonight then, around nine and bring a guitar."

Ben asked Graham, "Will we be there?"

"Maybe," Graham shrugged, and then reminded, "If dad gets the car today, we'll be out driving around." Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick all excitedly wondered which car Graham was going to get. Graham grinned, "We're most concerned with safety, and it's gotta last into college, so a Volvo V70 wagon."

"That's cool, dude," Derrick chuckled. "We knew you weren't getting a Firebird."

"In my dreams," Graham smiled.

Backing away, Eddie giggled, "Don't let Beanie drive."

Mooing erupted and Eddie was quickly captured by Ben and Graham. Eddie was easily lifted off the ground. Since they were outside, Eddie got to keep his shorts and underwear on. Witnessing their first tickle torture, Corey, Drew, Keith and Prez roared as Matt abused his partner then carried the hysterical remains to his car. Gathering Eddie's camera gear, Ben and Graham waved then got in the backseat of the Maxima. In moments, the car pulled away.

It wasn't yet one o'clock when Corey, Drew, Keith and Prez gave goodbye hugs to Mike and Derrick. Getting in the 4Runner and closing the back door, Corey immediately giggled, "What was all that dickie talk? I've heard dick, cock, pud and a dozen other variations, but never so much dickie, until today."

Keith chuckled, "It's gotta be Eddie, Matt and Graham. Even Shaun was saying it in the garage."

Starting the engine, Prez looked into the rearview mirror and grinned, "Are you gonna take your clothes off and let Eddie get pics of your dickie, Drew?" Keith evilly sniggered and Corey cracked up. Prez pulled away from the curb.

Drew smirked, "If I have to see Keith's for the three-hundred-and-twentieth time, I guess so."

"You're exaggerating, bro," Keith sniggered.

Drew hummed and then figured, "Four years, at least twice a week for a while, and almost every day the last week of July. I'll bet I'm not far off."

"It must be like looking in a mirror," Corey giggled.

Drew grinned and nodded, "Now that Keith's got pubes again." Prez and Corey cracked up.

Sadly shaking his head, Keith grumbled, "Now you're talkin' about dickies and pubes. Two months ago, I never heard a word about either."

Drew grinned, "After the last week at Agoura Hills, I'll generally have to be very careful where I am, how I act and what I say."

Turning in his seat slightly, Keith told Drew, "We're heading back to Agoura Hills after we drop you off at Corey's. The siding contractors woke us at eight this morning. John's gonna try and spend a few nights at Tommy's too."

Drew nodded, "Cool. Remember the self defense class starts at seven tomorrow night."

Prez said, "We'll pick you guys up after supper, around six-thirty."

Corey asked, "Should we bother bringing boardies?"

Prez answered, "Only if you want to. From what Eddie and Matt were saying, I don't think anyone will be wearing anything."

Corey wordlessly checked with Drew. Drew shrugged, "It doesn't matter, Cor. I'm not worried about it; you don't need to be either."

Corey hummed then giggled, "What do you want for lunch, stud?"

"Don't start, Cor," Drew sniggered.

Corey playfully rambled, "Salads with carrots and cucumbers, followed by fettuccini Alfredo, and then ice cream with chocolate syrup…" Drew unbuckled his safety belt and dove for Corey's belly.

While Drew and Corey played in the backseat, Keith wondered, "What are we doing for lunch, baby?"

Prez shrugged, "Let's see what Derrick and Mike are planning. Or we can just stop at Burger King?"

A few moments later, Prez pulled along the curb in front of Corey's house. Keith looked back and grinned, "You're home, dudes."

Prez teased, "Go get your carrots and cucumbers ready for the salad." Corey cracked up. Drew grinned at Prez. "What?" Prez chuckled, "Did you think that would get past me without a remark?"

"You're not the only ones who've had fun making salads," Keith smiled.

Drew huffed and got out of the 4Runner. Corey giggled, "We'll see ya tomorrow night," and then followed Drew out of the car.

Rolling down his window, Prez joked, "Don't forget, lots of ranch dressing on the cucumbers and carrots."

Spinning around and seeing Prez's cheeky grin, Drew groaned through his giggles, "We never should've had sex around them." Corey howled laughing.

Prez pulled away from the curb and started for home, to pick up their backpacks and Rush before heading to Agoura Hills.

At the Carleton residence, Graham and Matt went inside, leaving Ben and Eddie outside. Ben grinned, "Francis wanted me to tell you about the missing picture. It's not missing; he's got it, to continually show his parents that they did have a gay son, who had a boyfriend."

Eddie loudly laughed, "Omigod! He's still the same as ever."

Ben nodded and giggled, "According to him, that photo's been touched. He said that his parents can shred it or burn it to ashes, but it will keep popping up. There will be other times, where it's not that specific photo, but his parents will see Francis with Graham."

"That answers so much," Eddie giggled. "I knew we took that friggin' thing out of the house. That's gonna drive his folks nuts."

Ben sighed and smiled, "He showed me a lot, Eddie. I got to see Francis, you, Graham, Rick, Matt and Shaun, the first day of Junior high school. I thought you and Matt were the same age."

Shaking his head, Eddie grinned, "There's about seven months between us. I was born January twelfth, 1982. Matt was born May twentieth, 1981. My mom and Graham's mom were pregnant at the same time. I'm five days older than Graham."

Ben offered, "There's eight months between Graham and me. My birthday's April 4, 1981. So I'm about a month older than Matt."

Eddie giggled, "We have a lot in common, at least as far as our boyfriends are concerned."

Ben nodded, "More than that. I love music, you love photographs; they're both arts. Considering the poems and drawings Francis did, I guess he and I would likely have been friendly too."

Eddie smiled, "Maybe those two things are part of why we hit it off so well from the start."

Ben wondered, "Did you and Graham… ya know… alone?"

Shaking his head, Eddie giggled, "I think because we practically grew up together, there's never been sexual attraction. I've seen his dickie hundreds of times and never had the urge to touch it, never mind play with it. He's never touched me either. We've kissed, but not French kissed. You don't need to worry about me or Matt, bro. We've both looked around, tried it with others before we committed, but for over a year and a half, we're together."

Ben confirmed, "Valentine's Day, right?"

Eddie nodded and giggled, "That's Matt. He's so romantic alone with me. I can look past stuff that makes us different, because he's so sweet."

Ben giggled, "I haven't found a side of Graham that I don't like. I think I've seen a lot of different emotions from him already; anger, sadness, seriousness, playfulness…"

Eddie interrupted, "When did he get angry?"

"Yesterday morning," Ben answered, "from a nightmare about the funeral. He's disgusted with his own imagination. I love his imagination, so I reminded him it wasn't real, and that everything worked out the way it was supposed to."

"I went to the wake and funeral," Eddie softly admitted. "They sucked. Everybody was in shock, I think. It was a closed casket, because of the accident. Francis' sisters cried the most."

Remembering the sisters from his dream, Ben softly recalled, "Mandy and Rachael?"

Wide-eyed because Ben knew the names, Eddie nodded, "One a few years older, Amanda, that graduated in June, and one a little more than year younger, Rachael. He has an older brother too." Eddie wondered, "Is there anything more Francis wanted you to tell me?"

Ben shrugged, "The wind through the trees last night was him," and then smiled, "He really loved Graham."

Eddie smiled, "I know it, but Graham's just as good now with you, bro. He's still pulling himself back together, but don't ever allow yourself to believe Graham doesn't love you. When I see you two together, I see two dudes that need and want each other, like every other couple."

Ben smiled, "Francis loved you too, Eddie. I can't figure out why he wanted me to pass a message to you."

"That's easy," Eddie giggled. "You wouldn't know the McLoughlins if you tripped over them, but I do. Your dream was more than imagination. Francis told you things you couldn't possibly know or imagine. Now I know you were visited, like Graham knows."

"What I said about the picture is for only you," Ben giggled. "He said Matt would flip and that Graham will find out when Francis' parents make amends."

"Perfect!" Eddie giggled. "Matt definitely would freak over an indestructible photograph. He believes in a different way than me. For me, everything alive is a miracle; from leaves on trees to the birds in the sky to the bugs on the ground. It's a miracle when any two people find and choose to love each other too."

Ben nodded and giggled, "Let's go inside."

"I need smooches," Eddie giggled, and started for the house. He and Ben walked inside to hear Graham's and Matt's voices from the kitchen. They followed the sound.

Ben went to Graham asking, "I thought you were going upstairs?"

"It's lunch time, teddy bear," Graham smiled, and stole a quick kiss.

After sharing two tender kisses with Eddie, Matt added, "And we needed to piss."

Stealing another kiss from Matt, Eddie nodded and went into the lower level bathroom, only partially closing the door.

Ben asked, "What's for lunch?"

Graham replied, "There are burgers in the broiler," and quickly asked, "Do you like cheese on your burgers?"

Ben nodded, "I like all kinds of cheese."

Going to the fridge, Graham hunted around then said, "We've got American, cheddar and Swiss. What's your favorite, Ben?"

Ben smiled, "Cheddar's my favorite, but I think Swiss would be good this time."

Matt said, "Cheddar for me, dude."

From the bathroom, Eddie shouted, "Swiss for me too."

Pulling two packages of cheeses out and putting them on the counter, Graham then peeked in the broiler. He closed the broiler door then snuggled up to Ben and shivered, "Brrr!"

"Grrr?" Ben giggled.

Into Ben's ear, Graham whispered, "It's almost your turn."

Ben giggled and watched a wide grin spread across Matt's face. "Turn me into a grizzly and it might be your turn again," Ben whispered into Graham's ear.

Quickly pulling back, Graham searched Ben's expression and eyes before evilly snickering and nodding; proof that if it worked out that way, Graham wouldn't mind in the least.

Matt chuckled, "You two are bad."

Graham sniggered, "We're very, very good."

Matt teased, "Who's better?"

Ben blushed and giggled. Graham smiled, "My teddy bear."

"We'll have to see about that," Ben giggled and flushed redder.

"Eddie, get your bubble butt out here," Matt loudly laughed.

Eddie giggled, "Just washin' my hands. Ben, you need to silence your boyfriend."

Graham bounced his eyebrows, enticing Ben to land a deep, passionate kiss. They were still kissing moments later when Eddie stepped out of the bathroom, giggling "Let the making out begin." Matt picked Eddie up, parked his butt on the island counter and moved in closer. Through dime-slot eyes, Graham pushed Ben against a pantry door, knowing that his lover was an awesome kisser and knew just how to play the tongue teasing games. He knew he had to check the burgers again, but didn't want to break the kiss because he could feel Ben's erection against his own. Graham held the kiss many more moments, until Ben whimpered because his cock was uncomfortably trapped, pointing over his right hip.

Breaking the kiss, Graham gasped, "Omigod, Ben. What awesome kisses." Behind him, Matt and Eddie softly chortled into their lip lock. Watching Ben closely, Graham dizzily stepped back.

"The burgers," Ben softly giggled.

Shaking off the wooziness, Graham nodded and chuckled, "I'm glad I didn't decide to make hot dogs or sausages." Ben giggled. Eddie and Matt were forced to break away from each other and laugh. Opening the broiler door, Graham quickly slid his left hand into an oven mitt and grabbed a spatula to flip the burgers. Graham chortled, "Well done, I'd say."

Matt teased, "Are you serving hockey pucks again?"

"Not intentionally," Graham sniggered.

Pushing off the pantry door, Ben looked in and smiled, "They're not black, puddin'."

"Dark brown," Graham grinned. "It's Ben's fault."

Surprised, Ben's mouth dropped open then he giggled, "That's one."

Eddie wondered, "One of what?"

Closing the broiler door and setting the timer for three minutes, Graham chuckled, "Grizzly button presses."

"Get him, bro," Eddie giggled, but was quickly silenced by Matt's mouth.

Ben waited until Graham put the spatula down and took the oven mitt off then swung Graham against the pantry door and resumed making out. Ben's fingers ran through Graham's hair and traced the edges of his ears. Shivering, Graham slid both hands into the back pockets of Ben's shorts, pulling Ben against him. Not wanting to make another mess, Ben softly grunted negatively.

Graham hummed and gently closed his mouth. Ben pulled back and curiously tilted his head. Graham smiled, "Wait here for a minute? I'll be right back." Ben nodded and stepped back. Graham took off through the house and raced upstairs.

Matt broke away from Eddie, asking, "What's goin' on?"

Ben shrugged, "I'm not sure what he's doing."

Flying back down the stairs, Graham quickly returned to the kitchen, chuckling "Close your eyes, Ben." Nodding, Ben did as he was told. With Eddie and Matt watching, Graham moved behind Ben and showed his friends the necklace he had concealed in his hand. Dangling off a silver chain were two silver medallions; one was a spiral shape and the other the Carleton Family crest. Graham opened the clasp and then put it on his partner, softly saying, "One says you're mine and the other signifies infinite turns, as in our lives together."

Reaching a hand up to feel the chain and two medallions hanging off his neck, Ben smiled and turned to face Graham. Ben pulled Graham with him into the bathroom to see in the mirror and wept happy tears. Graham held Ben close against him and assured, "I'm done searching, Ben. There's no point. I could never find anyone better."

Through his tears, Ben softly asked, "Did this belong to Francis?"

Shaking his head, Graham answered, "Nope, they were mine, gifts from my grandparents, but now they're yours." The oven alarm began beeping. Graham placed a soft kiss on Ben's neck then softly prompted, "Today's a very happy day. Wash the tears off your face, my love." Ben nodded and turned the water on.

Graham stepped into the kitchen. Matt chuckled, "You never stop surprising us."

Heading for the broiler, Graham shrugged, "I have to admit, all the best parts of Beanie, Ben has in abundance, plus so much more, some of which only he and I will know about."

From the bathroom, Ben heard and loudly growled. Eddie, Graham and Matt cracked up. Heading around the counter, Matt went to help Graham with lunch. Eddie hopped off the counter and went to the open bathroom door, watching Ben dry off his face and hands. "It looks awesome on you, bro," Eddie giggled.

Ben smiled, "I'll never take this off."

"I know the feeling," Eddie giggled, and moved closer to Ben. Pulling his T-shirt collar down slightly, Eddie showed Ben his gold chain and whispered, "It was my first anniversary present. I lost it in my pool once. I almost had a heart attack finding it. Will that slip over your head?"

Frightened, Ben quickly checked, trying several ways to pull the chain up, but it always stopped at his ears or chin. He leaned forward to have Eddie try, softly explaining, "I could never replace his family crest medal."

Not able to get the chain over Ben's head, Eddie shared, "Never wear it at the beach, bro. Leave it in the car or home. Lost in the ocean is gone forever."

Wide-eyed, Ben nodded and gave Eddie a hug. They stepped out of the bathroom.

Standing at the island counter across from Graham and dowsing his cheeseburger in ketchup, Matt smirked, "Just in time."

Graham looked over his shoulder to watch Ben approach his side, where a plate was already set with a cheeseburger and a pile of potato chips. All of a sudden, Ben wasn't the slightest bit hungry. He rested his forehead on Graham's shoulder, contentedly sighing.

Matt checked with Eddie, "What were you two saying in there?"

Preparing his burger with an over abundance of sliced pickle chips, Eddie grinned, "Remember when I lost the chain you gave me?"

"Yeah," Matt chuckled, "you were still blue from all the diving when I got there."

Nodding, Eddie giggled, "I reminded Ben to take his chain off at the beach. Searching the bottom of a pool for an hour is one thing; the ocean is lost forever."

Graham grinned, "Teddy bear?" Ben curiously hummed. "Eat, my love, before your burger gets cold," Graham smiled.

Lifting his head, Ben only covered his burger with the bun top and took a bite. On the counter, between the four plates, were four cans of soda, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, Thousand Island dressing and the jar of pickle chips. Noticing three grinning faces, Ben raised his eyebrows and continued chewing.

Gesturing at all the condiments, Eddie wondered, "You don't want anything on it, bro?"

Shaking his head, Ben soon swallowed and smiled, "I asked for Swiss cheese and don't want to drown it out. A plain burger or with American cheese, I'll doctor with a little ketchup." He chomped another big bite out of his burger.

Graham grinned, "You're a really light eater." Ben nodded and had another wicked thought cross his mind.

Matt and Eddie saw Ben blushing, and they chuckled around the food in their mouths. Locking eyes with Ben, Matt swallowed and laughed, "What're you thinking that's got your face ketchup red?"

"Secrets are generally not allowed," Eddie giggled.

With his mouth full, Graham took one look at Ben and sputtered. Ben moved behind Graham to hide his blush, swallowed and then giggled, "This is only an appetizer for the main course." Eddie, Graham and Matt roared.

Turning to face Ben, Graham chuckled, "I already clued Matt in. We've got stuff to do and so do they. We're having lunch here and now to keep our strength for this afternoon."

Eddie giggled, "Why do you think rehearsal ended early today, Ben?"

Ben shrugged, "Not for us, I hope."

Shaking his head, Eddie giggled, "Prez was wearing a green shirt. I had all of them standing in front of that evergreen tree, so Keith gave his shirt to Prez. Before Prez even put the shirt on, they were horny and getting naughty."

Matt smiled, "We do all the same stuff, dude. With empty houses, we're free to have as much fun alone as we want. Don't be embarrassed about wanting alone time. The reason is hanging from your neck. We're gonna make love, so are you, so are all of the other dudes that were there."

Returning to his burger, Ben muttered, "So much for eating slow." Eddie and Matt cracked up. Graham hung off Ben in muffled hysterics. Slightly less embarrassed, Ben helplessly giggled. As soon as they composed themselves, burgers and potato chips were inhaled, cans of soda downed and the four of them raced around the kitchen to clean up the mess. The broiler pan was the only thing left in the sink soaking when Eddie and then Matt hugged Ben and Graham. Eddie and Matt left through the backdoor. Graham closed and locked it behind them. When he turned around, Ben was already racing through the house, giggling his ass off, to get to Graham's bedroom first.

Taking off, Graham mooed then laughed, "I'm gonna getchya!"

"Hooray!" Ben giggled, already halfway up the flight of stairs. Ben stopped at the top of the staircase, took his shirt off then threw it at Graham as he flew up two steps at a time. Hurrying down the hall and unbuttoning his shorts, Ben cheered, "I can't believe you gave me a family heirloom, and in front of Eddie and Matt."

Not quite catching up, Graham cackled, "I love you, teddy bear. Now I get to show you."

Running up onto the bed, Ben pushed his shorts and boxers down then kicked them toward the doorway at Graham, giggling "I don't want to be a total virgin another day."

Tossing Ben's clothes aside and taking his own shirt off, Graham promised, "Not another hour, my love." He closed and locked his door then advanced and stepped up on his bed. Ben wrapped Graham in his arms and gave away tender kisses, then knelt down to take Graham's shorts and boxer-briefs off. Unbelievably to Graham, his lover was taking his sweet time getting only the shorts pushed down, feeling up Graham's butt and legs, like they were wondrous and Ben had never touched those body parts before. Ben then took longer, mouthing Graham's growing erection through cotton cloth while caressing Graham's legs. A little at a time, Ben tugged the underwear down until he had no other choice except to stop munching to pull the elastic waistband forward and let Graham's stiffy spring free.

Graham's hard penis was beautiful to Ben. At that moment, the foreskin covered only the glans ridge. At the tip there was a shiny droplet of precum waiting to be savored. Ben gently brought his tongue forth for a taste. Smiling down, Graham saw a thin string of fluid stretch between his cock and Ben's tongue. Before it broke, Ben moved forward and lapped it up then gently sucked the tip, pulling foreskin forward with his hand, covering the head.

Thinking of that morning's frantic sex, Graham felt a little sad that he had hurried everything along. Now Ben was reminding Graham, with actions alone, that making love often needed to be slow and fun; it had been that way for the last five days. Graham realized his teddy bear was showing him how he wanted his first time to be. Becoming delirious, Graham sighed, "You're so awesome, teddy bear."

Holding on tightly to Graham and smiling up, Ben softly admitted, "I've never wanted anything more than you. This, what we're about to do, will seal what we've been feeling for days."

Nodding, Graham gently reminded, "You need to be relaxed, my love."

"I think I am. I can't help being anxious and excited though."

Graham softly encouraged, "Let me lay down with you." Ben nodded and shuffled back then lay down on the bed so that there was space to his right side for Graham. Kicking his shorts and undies off to the floor, Graham took his position.

Ben nervously giggled, "What're you planning?"

Searching for the lube under the pillow, Graham grinned, "I'm gonna get you nice and calm, so you can ride my dickie and it feels good." He displayed the lube and reminded, "Just like our first time fingering each other, only this time, I won't touch your dickie at all. It's best when you cum during the ride."

Spreading his legs, Ben smiled, "Like you did this morning. Why'd you want me to cum first?"

"Because you were so awesome," Graham chuckled, and reached two lubed fingers down between Ben's legs. Placing angel kisses around Ben's torso while his fingers massaged and rubbed, Graham shared, "You felt wonderful inside me, teddy bear. Your first time in me was incredible. We lasted pretty long, considering it was our first time. It'll get better with time and practice."

Ben giggled, "More practice? Somehow I don't see this like guitar lessons."

Graham chuckled, "I hope not. We've got three hours of practice ahead of us, with a few short breaks in between. If we're lucky, we can each get through all four positions I showed you."

Ben giggled, "When do we reach virtuoso level?"

"I have no idea," Graham loudly laughed. "We'd have to check with Eddie and Matt or Mike and Derrick; they've been practicing the longest." Certain it would be a long damn time before he asked either couple, Ben cracked up. Feeling a loosening, Graham inserted a fingertip.

Gasping and then cooing, Ben concentrated and loosened up more. Graham only went as far as the second knuckle and then remained still. Ben softly prompted, "More puddin'." Wiggling a second finger in beside the first, Graham checked Ben's expression. Locking eyes with his lover, Ben smiled and nodded. Always watching Ben, Graham slowly slid both fingers all the way in then twisted his wrist and fingers. Ben purred, "So nice."

Resting his head on Ben's belly, Graham sighed, "Always for you, my love." For a few moments, Graham moved his fingers only slightly in and out. Soon, Ben's hips started bucking. Before losing control and sucking Ben to orgasm, Graham asked, "Do you feel ready to try?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure," Ben smiled.

Carefully removing his fingers, Graham instructed, "Remember to adjust your position and take me slow. You have all the control until you lower down on me and give me control."

Ben reached for the lube. Graham gave Ben a relatively short passionate kiss then lay down. Rolling to one side, Ben got Graham's bone prepared. Those talented fingers soon had Graham giggling and holding Ben's hand motionless. Wide-eyed, Ben giggled and released Graham's stiffy then gave Graham a playful medium kiss. Moving into position over Graham, Ben reached back and down, pointing Graham's bone at the ceiling. He shifted back a little at a time as Graham had done that morning. Feeling his lover's erection between his cheeks and just outside his hole, Ben checked with Graham.

Nodding, Graham smiled, "I think we're good."

Lowering down, Ben felt only the head penetrate. It was so big and hot, Ben thought, nothing at all like the cold dong. Quicker than Graham expected, Ben lowered all the way down, closing his eyes and softly whimpering. Graham worried, "Are you okay?" Arching his back and raising his arms, as if he was stretching, Ben opened his eyes and warmly smiled down at his lover, then wiggled his butt further down. Rising up for the first time, Ben felt emptiness and slammed down, wiggling his tush around Graham's pelvis. Graham checked, "Ben, are you okay?"

Smiling widely, Ben rapidly nodded, "Grr-rrr-rrr!"

"Ooo-migod!" Graham sniggered. Now knowing what this was all about, Ben began riding Graham, writhing around, and speeding up. After about two incredible minutes, during which time Ben only whimpered and moaned, Graham tried to slow Ben down by taking hold of Ben's cock.

Ben gasped, "Yeah!" and went berserk, riding up and down, thrusting his hips forward and back then grinding down to feel all of Graham deep inside him. Ben now knew that there was a connection between his butt and dick. As good as the play time with Graham and the dong had been, Graham's cock was so much better. Barely a minute later, Ben came hard, spraying all over Graham's chest and torso, but barely slowed his ride at all.

Firmly holding Ben's thighs, Graham tried to slow his crazed grizzly and prompted him to lean forward. Not hearing his lover, Ben discovered leaning back was so good too. Getting nowhere except closer to orgasm, Graham madly snickered, planted his feet on the mattress and began thrusting up.

With the first bounce, Ben whimpered then sighed, "Omigod, yes Graham."

Gesturing with his finger for Ben to lower down, Graham loudly laughed "Come here."

Ben started to comply, but only got as far as resting on his arms, hovering over Graham and chanting "Yeah! I want it!" with every hard thrust into his butt. At first, Ben thought he was imagining the feeling of expansion in his ass, but the more Graham drove in and out, the more Ben was certain it wasn't his imagination. Moments later, Graham grunted and pushed up with every ounce of strength he had. At the warm wetness inside him, Ben cooed and straightened up, pushing Graham's hips down with the intention to keep every possible millimeter of hot flesh inside him for as long as possible. The phone rang, however neither heard it.

Incredibly to Graham, Ben leaned backward onto his arms and continued his ride. Thrashing at the sensations overwhelming his sensitive organ, Graham tried to focus and speak. However, Ben was completely delirious, loudly telling Graham how awesome and alive he felt. Quite unexpectedly, Ben's hips convulsed and he whimpered, "It's gonna happen. It's beautiful. Please… more… oh please?" Doing the only thing he could think of during this experience, Graham thrust up. Ben cried, "Yeah puddin', more." Graham dizzily thrust up again and again and again. It was bordering on painful, his dickie was so spent and sensitive, but what he was giving was more than enough for Ben. A second orgasm surged through Ben. Graham watched in quiet amazement as it pulsed out and landed on his belly. This had never happened with Francis. Ben leaned all the way down and repeatedly kissed Graham. More incredibly, Graham couldn't control his own lurching body and continued long enough to have a second dizzying orgasm. Feeling the expansions and more warmth inside him, Ben breathlessly cooed until Graham's hips dropped to the mattress.

Regaining consciousness, Ben felt Graham's tuckered out wiener slip out of him and panted, "That was way better than any toy, puddin'." Blinking fast and trying to focus, Graham began chuckling. Lifting his head, Ben smiled down at Graham, giggling, "That was fun. Let's do it again."

Cracking up, Graham pulled Ben down again and held on tight. There were so many thoughts racing through his mind. Neither he nor Francis had ever had a complete prostate orgasm, but Ben just did. Neither Graham nor Francis had ever kept going after they each had had orgasms, but Ben did and seemed to enjoy the second more than the first. Graham also thought, 'These are our first times. Earlier today, I probably would've had a prostate orgasm if Ben hadn't started beating my meat. If we keep up like this, one or both of us will likely die very happy.' He said none of that to Ben though. He simply smiled, "You're my love, forever, Ben."

Running his fingers through Graham's hair, Ben giggled, "You must know I'll always stay with you, puddin'. The decision was made Thursday morning before we showered. Each day since, we've gotten closer."

Nodding agreement, Graham grinned, "You surprised me again, ya know?"

Ben blushed, hid his face and giggled, "I know, but I couldn't make myself stop, and you stayed hard too, so I had no reason to stop."

Graham chortled, "Oh no, teddy bear; you put that blush back in your past. I had the best sex in my life twice today, with you. I know what it means to me, but what does it mean to you?"

Ben shrugged, "We're good together, but we always have been, Graham. You talk and I listen. I talk and you listen. If one of us wants to rest or play or dance or make love, that'll always be enough."

Satisfied with that answer, Graham grinned, "You know what we need to do now?"

Ben snarled, "We're stuck together and have to wash up a little."

Graham nodded and evilly snickered, "Then we come back here and fill my heels with helium."

"If that's what you want," Ben giggled, and tried to push up slowly.

For a few moments, Graham grunted and Ben squeaked as skin and hair broke free of each splotch of dried semen. Giggling at their own foolishness, they went to Graham's bathroom for a quick sponge bath. During that little bit of intimacy, Graham told Ben that he had not only found a good lover, but the best ever; an enthusiastic one that could keep up with and surpass Graham's every expectation. Ben reminded Graham of almost every sexual experience they had shared over five days and turned the table, insisting that Graham was the patient teacher almost all the time.

Arriving at Doug's and Brian's house in Agoura Hills, Keith carried their lunch from Burger King while Prez got Rush and their backpacks. Having forgotten to ask Mike for the spare key, Keith knocked on the door. A moment later, Derrick opened the door and waved Keith inside asking, "Do you dudes want to jam or have sex before going to work?"

Keith shrugged, "We've got two hours. We can probably do both." Rush galloped inside with Prez not far behind.

Derrick told Prez, "Mike figured out Zeppelin's Dancing Days, bro."

"Cool," Prez smiled, "that's the tune Keith likes."

Coming down the hall from the studio, Mike said, "All the gear's powered up. Dee and I will get the drums and rhythm guitar tracks started while you dudes eat."

Pulling food out of the sack and onto the table, Keith asked, "I'll need to hear it a couple more times before I attempt the vocals."

Heading to the living room, Mike nodded, "Cool. You can listen to it low while you eat and we record the tracks." Mike stopped at the entertainment center, pulled the CD out of the rack and put it in the player. In moments the tune was softly playing. Mike went to the table, grinning, "It's set to repeat the track until you get sick of it."

Already eating, Keith and Prez nodded. Mike and Derrick went down the hall and closed the studio door.

Prez said to Keith, "Ya know, someone's eventually gonna ask us to play Stairway to Heaven. Would you consider learning it, babe?"

Keith shrugged and swallowed then answered, "I like the first three-quarters of the song, but that last hard rock bit blows the whole tune to hell. It's like a nice dream suddenly turning into a nightmare."

Prez nodded, "It's that switch up that most people love. After twenty-five years, that song still makes top ten lists."

Keith remembered, "We only tried it that one time, with Derrick singing," and then asked, "Do you think our band could do it justice?"

Prez rambled, "Jessy could handle the opening flute part on her synthesizer. Shaun could play the acoustic guitar part. Yeah, I think our band could easily play it."

"If the band as a whole wants to," Keith mumbled past some French fries.

"Mike gets pretty bored with it, but it is what people will want to hear," Prez muttered. Music from the studio drowned out the sound from the stereo almost completely. Keith rolled his eyes and grinned. Prez loudly giggled, "I'll see if there's a pair of headphones so you can hear the stereo."

Keith smirked, "What gets me is that as loud as a drum set and amplifier is, we still need a P.A. system that makes everything even louder. At John's party, we had everything adjusted so the drums and vocals were generally loudest. At the frolics, we had the old P.A. system cranked, but Jerry said he could barely hear us."

"A two-hundred-fifty watt P.A. system compared to one thousand watts feeding only the sub-woofers of our new system," Prez mumbled around his food. Prez swallowed then grinned, "Plus another seven-hundred-fifty watts for the two main cabinets and two two-hundred watt amps for the four monitors. If we wanted to play for about two thousand people, we'd need to double the amps and speakers running as mains. We can do a fair amount of expansion with the system we have. First, we have to get the things Doug and Brian recommended."

"Mike's got the old P.A. system up for sale in the L.A. Times," Keith reminded.

"It'll sell, babe," Prez assured.

"The quicker the better," Keith sighed.

Reaching across the table to take Keith's hand, Prez smiled, "Don't worry about it. Derrick will pay me back well before we need to worry about income taxes. Selling the old P.A. will just make it happen faster. Derrick's not forgotten and neither has Mike, and we're set for the school dances. The goal now is to play well and keep getting better with each performance. I have another idea, you might like to hear."

Grinning mischievously, Keith chuckled, "If we do that first, before recording…"

"Not that!" Prez laughed.

"What then?"

"Well, at M.I., you can concentrate primarily on engineering, but there will be other people we'll meet that can help you and all of us learn to sing better. It's matter of sharing what we learn with new friends."

Keith nodded, "Effectively killing two birds with one stone."

"It's an idea easily executed," Prez mumbled around some fries. "I expect that stuff we learn will be shared between the four of us. Shaun still hasn't said whether he'll join us. Jessy's considering M.I. too, but while she's attending college, so her time will be split. It would be great if all six of us were on the same track for another year or two beyond high school."

Music from the studio ended. Keith could again hear the original Led Zeppelin recording playing in the living room. Finished eating, Keith and Prez tossed their trash then went to the living room to concentrate on the song.

Mike and Derrick walked out of the studio, down the hall and into the living room. Since Keith was concentrating on the lyrics and the song, Prez softly explained, "Once you two started recording, we couldn't hear the stereo at all."

Nodding, Derrick and Mike went to the kitchen to get something to drink. At the end of the second time listening to the track, Keith stood and went to the stereo. He turned it up slightly so he could hear himself singing. The song restarted on the CD player. Holding the page of lyrics, Keith started swaying with the music then sang;

Dancing days are here again as the summer evenings grow
I got my flower, I got my power, I got a woman who knows.

I said it's alright. You know it's alright - I guess it's all in my heart
You'll be my only, my one and only. Is that the way it should start?

Crazy ways are evident, in the way that you're wearing your clothes
Sippin' booze is precedent as the evening starts to glow.

You know it's alright. I said it's alright - You know it's all in my heart
You'll be my only, my one and only. Is that the way it should start? Dig

You told your mamma I'd get you home but you didn't say that I got no car
I saw a lion he was standing alone with a tadpole in a jar.

You know it's alright. I said it's alright - I guess it's all in my heart, heart, heart
You'll be my only, my one and only. Is that the way it should start?

So Dancing days are here again as the summer evenings grow
You are my flower, you are my power, you are my woman who knows.

I said it's alright. You know it's alright - I know it's all in my heart
You'll be my only, my one and only. Is that the way it should start?
I know it isn't

Derrick, Mike and Prez clapped enthusiastically. Keith wanted to run through it one more time with the stereo and did so. Then they went back to the studio. Already recorded were drums and a guitar part. Prez picked up Doug's Warwick 5-string bass and Keith went into the vocal booth. In about four minutes, the bass and vocals parts were recorded. Mike added two more guitar parts, using a Telecaster and a Stratocaster. The four of them spent a little time mixing. All they would need is a keyboard part added.

Knowing that Doug and Brian wouldn't be home until four the earliest, they went to the guest bedroom and made love as couples. Mike and Prez admitted to being the bottom all weekend. Derrick and Keith were more than ready to switch positions. About half an hour later, all four went to the master bedroom to shower. Mike and Derrick returned to the studio to jam. Keith and Prez got ready for work then said goodbye to Mike and Derrick. They raced out of the house to get to Black Angus before four that afternoon.

Returning to the bedroom, Ben and Graham laughed at the wrecked state of the bed. Ben knelt down to gather CD's from their backpacks. Graham powered up his Mac to show Ben the nudie pictures he had and the websites he had previously mentioned. Spinning the chair around, he sat and asked Ben, "If you were to keep pictures like these on your computer, what would you call it?"

Ben thought for a moment before answering, "It wouldn't be anything obvious, like nudies or triple 'X', it would be something only I would know; maybe something like reversing 'treble' to 'e-l-b-e-r-t'."

"Good," Graham chuckled, "I did something similar. In Mechanical Drawing, I use a T-square every day. My naughty pics are in a hidden file named '.squaret'. You have to type in the file name under the Finder Go To dialogue, which is like Windows File Manager search. Hidden files and folders always start with a single dot. Then it'll ask you for the password. You'll remember this password easily; it's 'honeygrambeanie', all one string."

Ben looked over and giggled, "How many characters is that?"

Graham grinned, "Fifteen. Apple wants to increase it to thirty-two. Creating these encrypted disk images is a pain, but for security, it's worth going through all the steps. I'm probably gonna go through that pretty soon. I want to change from honeygram to puddin and from beanie to teddybear. Once I do that, I'll share the new password with Eddie and Matt."

"Why?" Ben wondered.

Graham explained, "When I was learning to do this, I thought, well what if I had amnesia and couldn't remember these details. As long as I'm not totally John Doe, I would remember my best friends and my partner. Little did I know how close I'd come to losing my memory. You three will always have access to my computer, this one and in the future." Suddenly, the computer said, "Incoming Mail," and an instant later, the phone rang. Standing up, Graham grinned, "The mail is probably Eddie's pictures from last night. I'll get the phone." He hurried to his parents' bedroom to catch the phone.

Ben got up to check the e-mail. It took him a while to find the application, but then he saw a string of e-mails from Eddie. Opening the first e-mail, Ben softly gasped at the size of the attachment and mumbled, "No wonder there's only one photo per e-mail," then clicked to open it. The file opened quickly and Ben smiled at the image of him with Graham, forehead-to-forehead, taken the prior night. He left that open for Graham to see then opened the next e-mail and its attachment. The second picture of him with Graham loaded. Their expressions actually looked funny on the large monitor and Ben giggled.

The third e-mail and its attachment soon opened. Five faceless and flaccid dickies filled the screen. From the left was Matt, with the heftiest slab of meat, then Gil, who seemed slightly smaller in length and width, then Shaun, who seemed very similar to Ben's size the prior night, but the photo showed differently; the length was the same, but Ben's limp dick was visibly thicker than Shaun's. Then Ben concentrated on Graham's beautiful dick beside his own. Sitting there making comparisons, Ben realized his belly wasn't that bad looking compared to the four other dudes. Matt's dark skin and muscle stood out, but truthfully, Ben could now see what Graham had been saying for days; his belly was fine and their dicks were in the middle of their group of friends. Scrotums were varied across the lineup. Only by belly button height could any comparison be made about which pair of nads hung lowest. Ben's belly was virtually the same as Shaun's and Gil's, not only in size but in the quantity of hair around their navels. Eddie's, Graham's and Matt's bellies were most toned and muscular, with Matt clearly winning that contest. Startlingly, Graham's hands slid down Ben's chest. Gasping, Ben jumped in the chair.

Graham smiled, "I'm sorry, teddy bear; I didn't mean to scare you."

Gesturing to the screen, Ben giggled, "We're all very much the same and our dickies are in the middle of the group."

Still feeling up Ben's chest, Graham nodded, "I'd never knowingly lie to you. That's one sure fire way to screw up a partnership. Eddie's limp dickie is slightly smaller than Shaun's. Erect, their proportions stay about the same. You see your belly too now?"

Ben nodded, "Matt wins with an awesome eight pack, you're in second place, me, Gil and Shaun in a tie for third. Shaun's got the definition down the middle, making a two pack, I guess."

Graham nodded, "Load the one with Eddie. You'll see he's pretty damn well proportioned and has really nice abs."

Going back to the e-mail, Ben wondered, "Was the phone call important, puddin'?"

Graham grinned, "Turn around, my love."

Loading the next picture, Ben giggled, "You're hands on my chest are giving me a woody," and then turned the chair seat. Graham backed up a step. Spying Graham's erection, Ben looked up, giggling "Again? We just made love maybe fifteen minutes ago. Who was on the phone?"

Graham laughed, "The Volvo dealer looking for my dad. I gave the dealer dad's office number then immediately dialed it. I'll have a white Volvo V70 with a CD stereo and a moon roof tonight."

Bouncing up and into Graham's arms, Ben and Graham kissed and laughed then soon fell to the bed. Round two began orally, with blowjobs and rimming. Graham pulled his legs up and Ben mounted his lover. After each climaxed, they swapped positions and went for it again. Folded in half, neither was loud, in comparison to their prior riding efforts, but they both reveled in the experience, being eye-to-eye, face-to-face and hearing every muttered word.

Cuddling up to Ben afterward, Graham asked, "Did you like your first times, teddy bear?"

Ben giggled, "I absolutely loved them. You were fantastic every time. I see what you mean now. Jacking off is nothing compared to what happens with someone special. Oral is so much better and anal is out of this world."

"Does your butt hurt?"

"No. Does yours?"

"No. We both finished kind o' wild, so I needed to check."

Squeezing Graham tight for a moment, Ben giggled, "I'm so much more than awesome. I've got you."

Graham laughed, "Brrr!"

Ben giggled, "Grrr!

Graham chuckled, "Once more, before dinner and a trip to get the car, my love; doggie-style."

"What's the deal with the car trip?"

"Dad has to sign the paperwork. I might need to sign the title and registration, dad said, but he's thinking about that. Once everything is signed, we're going for a ride, to get used to the new wheels. Then we'll go to Eddie's and get naked."

Ben reminded, "Same group as last night, plus Mike and Derrick."

"Maybe they'll play and sing for us."

"With Shaun there too, we can count on it."

"I like all your friends a lot, teddy bear. What they said today mattered a lot to me."

Ben giggled, "Watch Mike tonight for weirdness on par with Doug and Brian. In the future, we both need to keep an eye on Corey. He might be short now, but I give him a year and he'll be about our height. Another year later and Matt might be looking up into Corey's eyes."

"Really?"

"Corey's dad is very tall, from what I've been told."

Graham smiled and sang, "Your dickie is hard again."

"It's your fault," Ben giggled.

Graham laughed, "I haven't touched it. I'm just lying here, watching it." He looked up and smiled, "If you're ready, I am."

Pushing Graham over, Ben reached down to Graham's chubbie, giggling, "You were first the last two times. I want to be bottom first the next two." Without even looking down, Ben had Graham's dickie between two fingers; the one on top moved the foreskin forward and back then remained still while the one underneath did the same thing.

Shivering and squirming, Graham whimpered, "Kiss me." Leaning down, Ben tried new kisses while he had the time to experiment. Some kisses made Graham giggle while others made him sigh. Stiff as steel, Graham whispered, "I want to feel all of you on my back, teddy bear. I'll get into a position so you can do that." Knowing that wasn't what was planned, Ben nodded and smiled. Graham stole a tender kiss then shared, "This is uniquely us, Ben. During sex, Francis and I never talked like the two of us have been."

Ben smiled, "Isn't it my job to fulfill your fantasies? I sure won't ever say no to any bedroom games. If I did that then I'd be giving you reasons to look for someone else."

Graham chortled, "I think I learned that under a jungle-gym."

"That was an accident," Ben giggled, "probably from being outside, where we could get caught."

Graham chuckled, "For intensity like that, I'd deal with crusty underwear again," and then rolled over to get on his hands and knees.

Looking around for the lube, Ben giggled, "So would I," and picked up the bottle.

Noticing Ben with the lube, Graham offered, "Just a little on your dickie, my love. I think I'm still plenty wet down there."

Humming uncertainly, Ben went around to Graham's rear end to check for himself with a finger.

Not expecting the gentle fingertip insertion and slight wiggle, Graham loudly shivered, "BRRR-RRR!"

Wide-eyed and grinning, Ben wondered, "Good or bad, puddin'?"

"Oh God help me, you've got fingers that make my skin crawl."

Since that wasn't an answer, Ben could only assume Graham's butt was sufficiently lubed and wet his cock. Graham's legs weren't very close, but close enough where Ben had to squat. He slowly guided his bone between Graham's cheeks then carefully lowered down. With most of his weight against Graham's back, Ben adjusted his feet slightly so he could move. Just that little bit of motion made Graham's eyes spin. More quietly than the previous two times, Graham encouraged Ben and told his lover everything he was feeling. After a minute or two, Ben began kissing, licking and gently nibbling Graham's shoulders. Never knowing what his teddy bear would do next had Graham rapidly shifting from coos to giggles.

The position allowed Ben to last longer than he ever expected. He had noticed the time when he climbed aboard and they were nearing ten minutes. Graham went berserk, softly calling "Omigod-omigod-omigod" with each exhaled breath. Holding himself and Ben up, Graham couldn't get at his bouncing cock. Ten minutes, Ben noticed and a digit flipped before he looked away, making it about eleven minutes. Graham's tight, warm and wet ass was so wonderful; Ben couldn't believe he was only just beginning to feel like he would climax soon. Graham suddenly gasped then loudly announced, "Oh fuck yes! I'm cumming! I love you, my wild teddy bear, so fucking much. I'm really cumming!"

Ben couldn't believe it either and it drove him to hump away like mad, which only served to cause Graham to demand it. To finish, Ben pushed up off Graham's back. Three forceful thrusts and grunts later, Ben convulsed as he climaxed and barely controlled lowering down onto Graham. Dizzily recovering, Ben heard Graham's soft confession. "I'll never ever leave you, Ben. Where in the world would I find someone cuddlier, or more sincere, or more wonderful than you? Forget it dude. I'm your leech. I'd do anything you said for lovin' like this. My dickie's still bouncing and throbbing, wondering what the hell just happened." Ben started giggling. "Jesus!" Graham chortled, "Did we take fifteen minutes?"

"Eleven or twelve, I think," Ben giggled, and started to move to get off his lover.

"No," Graham quickly insisted, "stay right where you are, holding me." Ben lowered down again and wrapped his arms around Graham's torso. Graham assured, "I'm perfect, Ben. You stay until your dickie softens and falls out of me on its own."

"We could be here a while," Ben giggled.

"Lucky us," Graham chuckled.

Placing a few soft kisses along Graham's shoulder, Ben asked, "You really came?"

Graham laughed, "Like a friggin' geyser, with every pump into me, you awesome hunk. These sheets are laundry now."

Ben confessed, "It was the position. Every time I thought I was getting close, I'd adjust or you would, and I'd be back to square one."

"Maybe it was the other times too," Graham offered. "Sex is awesome exercise and we've had a couple really intense orgasms."

Squeezing Graham tightly for a moment, Ben sighed, "You're so awesome. Here we are, with you holding me up, like I'm a featherweight."

Feeling Ben's cock slipping out of his ass, Graham only grinned and waited a few more moments. When all he could feel was the head of Ben's deflated bone still inside him, Graham pushed up into a kneeling position with Ben still attached. Looking over his shoulder and holding Ben's arms in place, Graham smiled, "You are not too heavy for me. I loved this position a little more than the other two, because I could feel more of you against me. We could hear each other perfectly. I could feel your hairy sack, every time you pushed in hard. If only I could see your eyes and you could see mine, it would be my preferred position from now on. We'll just have to keep practicing, teddy bear."

Ben giggled, "I know, it's too sad." Graham cracked up and Ben moved away only to collapse onto the mattress in muffled hysterics.

Crawling onto Ben's back, Graham lay down, sniggering "I loved the licking, kissing and nibbling you did too," and snuck in a soft bite.

Ben bounced and giggled, "Silly graham cracker. Take me now, like this."

Humming provocatively, Graham started grinding until he was hard enough for entry. He held onto Ben and pounded away. The best part for Graham was when Ben pushed his butt up and matched his thrusts. The best part for Ben was learning why Graham was cooing and giggling through all the shoulder kissing, licking and nibbling. When Graham lost it after only five minutes, Ben was on the verge too and prompted his lover to keep pounding away until friction with the sheet created more jizz on the soiled sheets. Afterward, they cuddled, planning to wash the sheets, clean themselves up and return to the Mac.

Contentedly, Ben helped Graham strip his bed, helplessly giggling because they had only slept on the sheets one night. Pushing his lover into hysterics, Graham reminded Ben that eight loads of semen had either leaked out of them or been shot across the sheets since they woke that morning. Breathlessly giggling, Ben followed Graham downstairs and into the bathroom, listening to playful rants about Beanie power shooting onto the pillow cases. Once the washing machine was started, Graham paused in the kitchen for a glass of milk that he shared with Ben, and some chocolate chip cookies. Ben had only one cookie. Graham couldn't believe Ben wasn't hungry after all that sex.

Climbing the stairs after their kitchen raid, Graham said, "We're taking a bath, teddy bear."

Ben giggled, "We can't fit in your tub together silly graham cracker."

"Not my tub," Graham grinned, "my parents have a nice big whirlpool tub, for their old, aching bones."

Ben gasped, "You are rich."

"We are not!" Graham laughed. "If we were, they wouldn't have to work and we couldn't have had hours of awesome sex."

"We can't use their tub," Ben balked, and stopped short at the top of the stairs.

"Sure we can," Graham insisted, and pulled Ben into the Carleton's master bedroom. "Beanie and I used that tub more than a few times. It's awesome, Ben. We can fit in there easily, wash our dickies and our butts, and when they get home, we're clean as a whistle and totally innocent." He let go of Ben's hands inside the master bathroom and pointed at the whirlpool tub. As Graham had described, the tub was definitely large enough for both of them.

Shaking his head, Ben giggled, "You are not innocent, puddin'."

Graham turned on the water to allow the tub to fill, cackling "Neither are you now." Standing up and facing Ben again, Graham teased, "I'm debating on new tickle torture rules, just for you. Every time you blush, you'll get tickled to tears."

"I can't help it," Ben giggled, "I feel so wrong just standing here naked with you."

Graham smiled and sighed. He reached into the vanity cupboard and pulled out a bottle of Mister Bubble. Displaying it proudly, Graham grinned, "This is for me, not for my mom or my dad. I don't even have to buy it. Mom gets it when she goes shopping. She knows I'm not a virgin, that Beanie wasn't, and soon she'll figure out you aren't either. That means my dad will know too, and let me tell you, he can be a real teaser. He's got forty years more experience than I do at it. You won't even realize he's gotten in a shot until minutes later."

"Omigod, I'm really screwed now," Ben giggled.

Pouring some Mister Bubble into the tub, Graham chuckled, "See, I know you, teddy bear. You've been hiding in the closet; never letting on that your mind is full of dickie thoughts." Returning the bottle from whence it came, he faced Ben and continued, "I know when you stepped out of the closet. I know what you're able to do with those talented guitar player fingers. I know that I loved the pounding you were giving my butt, and then suddenly realized I was going to lose it, without you or me touching my dickie."

Moving closer to Ben and holding him close, Graham smiled, "I told you days ago to be proud and hold your head up. I expected to give you plenty of reasons, but not like what happened. I'm so glad I gave you that necklace before having the prostate orgasm of the century. It would've seemed weird if I gave it to you afterward. Thankfully, I remembered." He reached to the necklace and softly explained, "When I turned thirteen, my grandfather gave me the crest and my grandmother gave me the spiral, telling me about the same thing I told you; it's life's infinite circles. Grandpa was over eighty and grandma was almost eighty. They're gone now too. I get to remember them by looking at you wearing those gifts. When I wore it, I could never see them without looking in a mirror, so I stopped wearing them after they passed."

Ben lowered his face onto Graham's shoulder and helplessly cried, not certain if he was shedding happy or sad tears. Graham sighed then whispered, "Don't cry, my love. Maybe what you said about karma is right. On this one day, I got your love inside me, you got mine in you, I get to remember my grandparents every time I see that necklace, and in a few hours, we'll be driving around the valley in a new car."

Glancing over his shoulder, Graham checked the whirlpool and saw the jets still weren't covered with water, so he shared, "Here's another one of my pointless daydreams. What if Francis hadn't passed and I had gone to that party with him? I really have to wonder how I would've reacted to you; to you being with Rick or Howard. It's another silly thought, I know, but I also know that I would've noticed you, Ben. Beanie would notice me noticing you."

"No," Ben softly wept, "please don't go there, Graham. It changes so much. There would've been no reason for you to cry, no reason for me to hold you or watch that sunset, no hours walking around the park, no need for a special friend. The alternatives aren't good, so please don't say any more about that."

Graham gently prompted, "Tell me why you're crying?"

Ben shrugged, "Because I love you that much. Hearing about your grandparents, and this necklace makes it, you and us so much more important."

Into Ben's ear, Graham whispered, "That's why I told you about it, them and an alternative reality. The necklace, medallions, you, and the two of us together are important to me."

Shivering and feeling like he was in a dream state, Ben wondered, "Who are you, really?"

Squeezing Ben tight, Graham answered, "Your friend, lover, partner and attached leech, Ben; right where I need and want to be." Whimpering, Ben raised his face off Graham's neck and passionately kissed him. Countless moments later, the kiss broke and Graham wiped the remaining tears away before diving for another passionate kiss. Many moments later, Ben felt Graham's growing erection and giggled into their kiss. Graham started chuckling too, because his excitement led directly to Ben's.

Stepping back from each other, they helplessly laughed. Ben waved a disapproving finger at Graham's crotch and giggled, "Bad dickie!"

Graham shrugged and chuckled, "It's how I feel, teddy bear. The timing might be less than perfect, but I really do love you. Since you're as hard as I am, the feeling must be mutual."

"It always will be," Ben smiled. He tapped his own chest, and then Graham's, reminding, "It's right inside us."

Graham nodded, took Ben's hand and led him to the whirlpool tub. He pushed bubbles aside, checking that the lower four jets were covered with water. Seeing that they were, he flipped the switch to turn them on. They got in the tub, sat down side-by-side and enjoyed the jets pulsing warm water all around them. It was a long, virtually wordless bath. Graham switched to the other side of the tub and washed Ben's feet with his hands and a washcloth. Once both feet and all ten toes were clean, Graham placed the foot on his chest to wash that leg and sucked on Ben's big toe, causing them to break into fits of giggling and laughter. When that leg was done, the process was repeated on the other leg. Graham bathed every inch of Ben, prompting him to stand, kneel or sit as necessary. When Graham finished, Ben returned every favor he had received. Finished, they sat back and relaxed for a few more minutes, softly giggling as hidden hands toyed with hard dickies under the remaining bubbles. Before either climaxed, Graham opened the drain and then stepped out of the tub to get towels from the linen closet that separated the toilet from the sinks and vanity. They toweled each other dry and then dried out the tub with the towels. Graham even wiped up puddles of water on the floor, making it seem like the bathroom had never been used.

Sneakily, Graham brought both towels downstairs with them and tossed them in the downstairs hamper, so his parents wouldn't know what had happened or when. Ben lost it and howled laughing. They tossed the cleaned bed sheets into the dryer.

In the kitchen, the broiler pan from lunch was quickly cleaned, dried and returned to the broiler. They padded through the house and back upstairs to Graham's room. The stereo was turned on and CD's shuffle played.

At last, Graham showed Ben his collection of X rated pictures. Minutes and several photos passed. At a photo of a cute twenty-something year old with a tremendously long and thick cock, Ben gasped, "That cannot be real!"

Graham chuckled at Ben's reaction and instructed, "Zoom in on it, Ben." Clicking the zoom button several times, Ben squinted at the screen. Graham pointed and grinned, "No tell tale signs of editing; pubes, dickie veins and texture all matches, so either someone's an incredible artist, with the patience of a saint, or it's real."

Ben exclaimed, "What the hell does he or anyone do with that? I couldn't get him in my mouth, and sure wouldn't allow him anywhere near my ass." Shaking his head and holding his hands up, Graham roared laughing. Ben turned in the chair, giggling "My chubby dickie's gone into hiding. Your dickie isn't hard either."

"It's him, not us, teddy bear," Graham sniggered. "Beanie, Eddie, Matt and Rick all said pretty much the same things you did when they saw that picture." He leaned over, closed the X rated folder and opened the folder of PG photos. Graham opened three pictures; a teenage water-polo player, a teenage gymnast and a shirtless teenage baseball player, all of which were incredibly handsome and had great bodies. Graham smiled, "If you could choose to be with one, which would be the one?"

Ben giggled, "You're not on the screen, puddin'."

Graham smirked, "That'll cost you. Of only those three, choose one."

Scanning the monitor, Ben grinned, "The water polo player is wearing a Speedo, which is unfair, because the other two have way more on. The gymnast has the cutest face. The baseball player is really cute too." Turning to scan his still naked partner, Ben then looked at the screen again and admitted, "I can't really choose one." Looking at Graham, he giggled, "If any of the three walked by me in real life, I'd notice, sigh, and get smacked by my boyfriend."

Graham grinned, "I wouldn't smack you for looking, but if you told me you were at the library, instead of telling me you were at a diner with one of them, then yeah, we'd have a lot to talk about."

"A diner is really innocent," Ben smiled.

"You lying to me isn't innocent," Graham grinned. "You haven't ever lied to me, and I don't want you to. For discussion, you're in a college class with all three of them and there's a project you need to work on with them."

Ben giggled, "First of all, they'd better be as cool with gays as they are handsome. Either way, wherever I am, I'll want you there. I have to be in class with them. After class, when I can be with you, that's where I'll be. They can come to the apartment or over here, to work with me on the school project. If they're not cool with gays and show that to you or me, then they're out the door, one at a time or as a group."

Loving that answer, Graham's eyebrows rose and he warmly smiled, "You're seeing them as unknowns, potentially straight and homophobic?"

Ben nodded, "I can't see anything more in the photos. None of 'em has little gay flags anywhere on them."

Graham reminded, "Neither would you. There was nothing that made you obviously gay when we met. I had to ask the question."

Ben nodded and was about to remind Graham that he had answered the question truthfully, but noticed something about Graham's expression and stance. Ben softly wondered, "You're jealous of the idea of me with them?"

Nodding, Graham chuckled, "You could be in that Speedo, Ben. My jaw would drop and major wood pop. There's nothing wrong with my vision. I've got a sexy teddy bear to share my bed with, to skinny dip with, and chillin' naked with me now. If you haven't asked yourself already, think about why we're undressed and lookin' at pictures of other dudes."

Ben smiled, "So the reaction is obvious."

Graham chuckled, "You admitted how you felt about Prez; medium build, red hair and taller than you. This whole time, I've been watchin' your dickie to see what makes it grow. Every thin or medium framed dude that had a cute face started the magic."

Ben giggled, "You've got a chubby."

Graham grinned and nodded, "From the pictures and looking at them with you. I saved the ones I found attractive. Beanie, Eddie and Matt had some input, depending on who was here at the time, but they're all cute in my opinion."

"Why was Mister Monster Cock saved?"

"As a wonder of the world," Graham laughed.

Rolling the chair to Graham, Ben wrapped his arms around his lover, rested his head on Graham's belly, closed his eyes and held on tight, purring "I love you, Graham."

Gently holding Ben's head in place, Graham sighed, "I love you too, Ben, as my dickie is making very clear." Ben took hold of Graham's erection and smiled up. Graham chortled, "We'll have to shower again." Shaking his head, Ben opened his mouth and took only the hooded head. Holding onto Ben's shoulders, Graham groaned, "Thank goodness we found each other." Ben hummed affirmatively and took his time, stroking and sucking, enjoying every minute, hoping he could drag out the experience. To accomplish that extension, Ben occasionally stopped oral action to simply look at his lover's private parts. Graham suggested, "We could move onto the bed?" Ben hummed negatively. Feeling dizzy and his muscles tightening, Graham smiled, "I'm doing you next." Ben provocatively hummed affirmatively then slowly slid down all seven inches. He backed off quickly before gagging then tried again, determined to learn how to take all Graham had. Graham whispered, "First inhale and hold your breath, teddy bear. That's how I do you deep." Trying and succeeding, Ben was thrilled, at least as much as Graham. Setting a rhythm, Ben alternated foreskin teasing, tongue twirls around the exposed head and taking Graham's bone deep. In another minute, Graham began cooing and whimpering. Holding back his orgasm, Graham instructed, "Don't go deep, my love. I'm so close." Ben moved his arms under Graham's butt cheeks and sped up his bobbing head. He could feel Graham's cock throbbing against his tongue. Firmly grasping Ben's strong shoulders, Graham moaned a final warning, "Omigod, get ready," and seconds later grunted. Swallowing fast, Ben happily took it all and held his quaking lover upright then made sure Graham's bone was clean. Graham giggled and whimpered through the final phase. Before he leapt out of his skin and cracked up, Graham pulled Ben up by the armpits and deeply kissed his giggling partner.

Breaking the kiss and holding Ben tightly against him, Graham chuckled, "I was thinking, six orgasms each was pretty good. You went for seven."

Ben nodded and giggled, "Your parents will be home soon, then dinner, and then we go get the new car. You'll be more excited than me and I can't take care of that at the Volvo dealership."

"Then we'll go for a spin around the valley and over to Eddies for a while. You wanted insurance."

Ben hummed affirmatively. Graham squatted down and picked up Ben, turned and went to his bed. He lowered Ben down to the mattress then knelt down and took care of Ben's very wet chubby. Lying back on the mattress, Ben moaned, "Oh, Graham, I don't think I'll last very long." Chortling, Graham switched his focus from Ben's cock to his scrotum. Ben growled loud and long then giggled, "When will I learn to watch what I say with you?" Evilly snickering, Graham lifted Ben's legs onto his shoulders and drenched Ben's crotch with spit, occasionally sneaking in unexpected thigh nibbles. Ben giggled himself purple and was delirious before Graham swallowed his erection. Closing his eyes and trying to prevent bucking wildly, Ben realized his right hand was holding his new necklace. For a brief moment, Ben saw externally; himself writhing on the bed and Graham on his knees working his magic. The vision was too much for Ben to take. He whined, "Oh puddin', you love me so nice. I can't hold back." Wanting it, Graham wiggled his index finger between Ben's cheeks, as a reminder they had shared each other in the best ways. Ben gasped at the anal tickling and pushed his butt down to take the finger in. That's when Ben climaxed. Swallowing, Graham felt Ben's sphincter spasms and wondered if Ben really wanted to be bottom more. He meticulously cleaned up and chuckled at his thrashing teddy bear. Crawling over Ben, Graham was pulled down and repeatedly kissed.

Between kisses, Graham chuckled, "I've got a question to ask."

"Yes!" Ben giggled, "Whatever it is, yes!"

Graham laughed, "Seriously, do you like bottom more than top?"

Nodding, Ben giggled, "I think so."

Graham smiled, "Then that's the way it'll be. If you need me on bottom, let me know. I'll have no problem letting you know when I need it."

Happier than words could describe, Ben giggled, "GRRR!"

Graham sniggered, "BRRR!" Waiting for their bond to deflate in their chests, Graham gave Ben a kiss and got one in return. Graham reminded, "The sheets are done by now. We have to put on our clothes and innocent act in less than an hour." Ben nodded and then rolled off the bed. Taking Ben's hand, Graham led the way from the room.

Ben giggled, "How innocent will we seem when your parents see your necklace on me?"

Graham joked, "Keep it under your T-shirt tonight and try not to touch it so much."

Ben laughed, "Have I been doing that a lot?"

Nodding, Graham chortled, "When your hands haven't been busy with me, they're reaching up to either the chain or the medallions." Ben giggled the whole way down stairs. In the bathroom, Graham pulled bedding out of the dryer and handed each item to Ben. "If you can't wipe that glowing smile off your face, the innocent act will fail," Graham teased.

Ben giggled, "Why are we doing it then?"

"For you mostly," Graham smiled, "to delay my dad's jokes and teasing remarks."

Humming uncertainly for a few moments, Ben followed Graham back through the house. Climbing the stairs, Ben said, "Ya know what, puddin'; I don't care about any jokes or teasing from anyone."

Stopped at the top of the stairs, Graham checked, "You won't be embarrassed?"

Ben shrugged, "It doesn't matter. Seventeen years of blushing will eventually stop; it has to now."

Tapping the necklace, Graham smiled, "It's your choice; leave it out and I'll tell my folks where we're at; in love and committed. Keep it hidden under your shirt, and I'll keep the secret until I see it out."

Shaking his head, Ben said, "It's done, Graham. You want me as much as I want you, right?" Graham nodded and Ben giggled, "Then hiding it is pointless."

Stepping around Ben, Graham placed both hands on his shoulders and guided him toward his bedroom, loudly shivering, "BRRR! I cannot wait for dinner! By the end of this week, everybody will know. We'll tell your mom as soon as possible. With a car, we can drive over there whenever ya want, teddy bear."

"Maybe Wednesday night," Ben giggled. They started making Graham's bed. The bottom fitted sheet hadn't been completed yet when Ben giggled, "What're you lookin' at?"

From the opposite side of the bed, Graham leered, "Silver on a beefy chest. What've you been looking at?"

"Your chest and shoulders," Ben giggled.

Shaking open the top sheet, Graham sighed, "We're gonna have to dress. I'm not looking forward to it."

Catching the sheet, Ben confirmed, "You don't want this sheet or the blanket tucked under the mattress?"

"Nope," Graham answered, "I never did it that way. It's easier to straighten it out in the morning if it's not tucked. I'll only kick it all out while I sleep anyway. My mom used to tuck it under until she realized it was wasting her time." While they got the sheet adjusted, Graham grinned, "I think you'd like your sheet and blanket left un-tucked too. You could roll up in a cocoon easier."

"A cocoon for two," Ben giggled, "With you behind me, drillin' my butt."

Laughing, Graham warned, "I'm gonna jump over this bed, teddy bear."

Ben giggled, "You want more?"

Tossing a light summer blanket over the bed, Graham nodded, "I warned you the first day, I like sex a lot. Our connection makes it even better."

Helping adjust the blanket, Ben smiled, "What surprises me is how much I like suckin' your dickie. Now I can take all of you and it's even better." Giving up on making the bed, Graham stepped up onto it and walked over to Ben. Amazingly to Ben, Graham's dickie was growing fast and pointing at his face. Ben smiled up at his silly graham cracker.

Graham smiled down and suggested, "Once more, sixty-nine? We have enough time before mom gets home." Ben wrapped one arm behind Graham's lower legs. Graham was about to protest, wanting it together, at the same time. Unexpectedly, Ben simultaneously shoved Graham's chest and pulled at his legs. Falling back onto the mattress, Graham cracked up. Ben crawled onto the bed and round eight began.

Minutes later, they padded into Graham's bathroom to swish mouthwash and wipe deodorant under their pits. Returning to the bedroom to dress, Ben watched Graham taking too long at the dresser and softly wondered, "What's wrong, puddin'?"

"Nothing," Graham answered, "I'm rearranging, to make some room for your stuff. Hopefully, we'll have time to stop and get a few things while we're out."

Ben grinned, "What sort of things?"

"For you and me, to live at two places," Graham replied. "We both need extra deodorant, toothbrushes, hair brushes; maybe an extra T-shirt or two for you. That way we're not carrying everything back and forth." Finished at the dresser, Graham turned and smiled, "C'mere, teddy bear." Wearing only his boxers, Ben went to check it out. Graham gestured to the open top drawer and explained, "My undies on the right, yours on the left." Pulling a pair of red boxer-briefs out, he closed the top drawer then opened the next drawer, saying, "My socks on the right, and yours on the left." He closed the drawer and bent over to put his undies on, saying "I'll do a little more, later or tomorrow, so you can have a drawer for shorts and boardies. The closet is next. I'll move my stuff to the right and you can have the left side."

Before Ben knew it, Graham had him wrapped up and was mouthing his left nipple. The best part for Graham was Ben howling and wrapping an arm around his head. More often than not, Beanie would've laughed, but tried to push Graham's head away. Graham's head popped up and replaced a nipple with Ben's mouth.

Whimpering into the kiss, Ben held Graham's ass in place and ground his growing chubby against Graham's. Breaking the kiss, Graham smiled, "I'd really love to, Ben, but we don't have the time. Mom could be home any minute and she might come upstairs."

Nodding, Ben giggled, "I can barely believe you're moving me in."

Stepping back, Graham nodded and smiled, "This is phase one. Phase two happens at your apartment. There's not much sense in me moving into your house while you're moving out." He asked, "What're you wearing, shorts or boardies?"

Pointing at the board shorts he left on the edge of the bed, Ben giggled, "Boardies, for Eddie's pool later, not that it makes any difference." Graham nodded and opened a drawer to pull out a pair of board shorts. Going to the bed to put his boardies on, Ben giggled, "We'll match."

Ben leaned over and Graham warned, "Point that fine ass at me again tonight and I'll grab it."

"Grab it all ya want, whenever ya want," Ben giggled.

Trying to comprehend all the differences between Ben and Francis made Graham woozy. He saw Ben had on his grey and navy blue striped board shorts. Graham's boardies were plaid greens and blues. Ben slid a red T-shirt over his head. Graham went into his closet to choose a shirt and started moving hangers from the left side to the right side. Before Graham had made a choice, they heard the front door open down stairs. Hurrying, Graham chose a powder blue T-shirt and put it on. He stepped out of the closet, but Ben wasn't in his room. He called, "Teddy bear?"

"In the bathroom, puddin'," Ben replied. Graham walked in to find Ben brushing his hair. They made some soft plans to keep their stories straight. In moments, their hair was brushed and they were hurrying downstairs.

Faye Carleton already had an apron on and was beginning dinner preparations when both boys chorused, "Hi mom."

Hearing Ben refer to her as 'mom', Faye spun around. All questions were answered when she saw Graham's necklace and medallions hanging off Ben's neck. Faye smiled, "How was your day?"

"Busy," Ben answered.

Graham fibbed, "We were at band rehearsal from ten until three. We came back with Matt and Eddie then had cheeseburgers for lunch here."

"Graham showed me how to use his Mac," Ben smiled. "It's way different from Windows."

"Then I did some rearranging in my room, to make room for Ben's clothes," Graham explained.

Almost certainly that routine was prepared in advance, Faye thought, and helplessly giggled. Confused, Ben glanced at Graham. Grinning widely, Graham bounced his eyebrows at Ben, and then turned to his mother chuckling, "What?"

Shaking her head sadly, Faye giggled, "I spoke with your father and know you were home before three. Care to try again?" Ben giggled and hurried to hide his first blush of the evening on Graham's shoulder. Graham cracked up. Faye grinned, "So rehearsal ended early and you two have been home alone all afternoon. Something special must've happened or Ben wouldn't be wearing that necklace."

Graham nodded and chuckled, "I didn't remember to give it to him last week, but wanted to." Noticing his mom slicing mozzarella cheese, Graham instructed, "Put the knife down for a moment, mom." When his mother did so and faced them, Graham smiled, "Francis visited Ben last night. Ben told me so much more than what I told him, it couldn't have been a dream. I told you and dad that I wouldn't leave Ben. I feel kind o' strange admitting it aloud, but in five days I've fallen so fast and hard for Ben, it makes me wonder if I ever loved Beanie at all."

Ben's head popped off Graham's shoulder and he assured, "Yes you did. I saw you with him in the dream. Our love is different, not better or worse, only different." Ben looked up at the ceiling and loudly said, "Graham's love drunk, Francis. He did not mean that."

With tears pooling in his eyes, Graham looked up and choked out, "I didn't mean it, Beanie." He locked eyes with Ben and softly sobbed, "I'm sorry. Excuse me, teddy bear." Releasing Ben, Graham hurried into the nearby bathroom and closed the door.

Faye stepped up to Ben and took him in her arms. Comfortingly, she softly said, "If you hadn't said something, I would've."

Ben frowned, "It hurts him so much. He loved Francis, but now he loves me. I know I'd be all sorts of twisted inside, so Graham has to be."

"I know," Faye sighed. "Believe it or not, as bad as what Graham said sounded, it'll probably help him. Can you understand that?"

Ben nodded, "I think so, but I have to wonder if I said it wrong."

Faye gently smiled, "There's no right way to say it, Ben." She ran her fingers over the necklace and told Ben, "Graham considered giving this to Francis once. He didn't because he couldn't be sure they'd last through the McLoughlins' homophobia. That's why Graham hurts so much; he and Francis wanted more time together, but that couldn't happen and then the accident cut everything short. The fact is that Graham wanted you to have this necklace several days ago. He knew last Thursday or Friday, but forgot. He remembered when?"

"This afternoon," Ben smiled. "Right after we got home, while Eddie and Matt were here and watching, he put it on me."

Faye nodded, "He's healing and you're the one he loves now. The past is fighting the present to a vicious stalemate in his mind and heart."

Ben nodded, "I think I can fix this. Pardon me?" Faye released Ben and watched him go to the bathroom door then softly knock. Ben asked, "Can I come in?" The door knob lock rattled. Ben twisted the knob, opened the door and stepped into the combined bathroom and utility room. He closed the door behind him and locked it.

Leaning over the sink and washing tears that were still falling off his face, Graham softly wept, "I'm really sorry, Ben. I don't know what to say or do sometimes."

Rubbing Graham's back, Ben said, "Your mom told me that you wanted to give this necklace to Francis. You didn't because of the problems with Francis' parents."

Graham nodded and sniffled, "I gave it to you because we won't have any problems like that. I'm the problem. The harder I try to separate you from him, the more stupid shit flies through my brain and lands in my mouth."

Ben nodded, "You don't have to worry about it. Francis is in the same place on the other side. He told me that he knew he wouldn't have made it through this summer without telling his parents off, packing up and moving in with you."

Graham looked up, gasping "He told you that?"

Ben nodded and smirked, "His exact words were, 'I'd tell them to fuck off'. We can guess what kind of shit storm that would've caused."

"Yeah," Graham weakly chuckled, "It would've been ugly."

"Leaving you and Francis caught in the middle."

Graham wondered, "Where do we stand?"

Ben shrugged and grinned, "In love, together, working through our shit, in a bathroom."

Smiling through more tears, Graham sobbed, "I really do love you. I want us to be together a long time, Ben, really I do."

Ben assured, "I want that too. This necklace that you couldn't give to Francis, you gave to me, to say we're forever. As long as we both want that, we'll deal with everything else."

Sighing, Graham checked, "You can deal with me saying dumb shit?"

Ben nodded and giggled, "You can deal with me blushing over every little thing?"

"I can help you get over that."

"Thanks to Francis, I can help you stop saying dumb shit, at least about you and him."

"I'm glad Matt and Eddie didn't hear me say that. They would've gotten pissed and ranted for an hour; but not you though, huh?"

Shaking his head, Ben confirmed, "Never about a simple slip. I'm sure Francis isn't angry either." Ben helplessly giggled, "He called you a dog and a louse, so he obviously knows plenty."

Hanging his face over the sink and washing up the last of the tears, Graham chuckled, "I'm so screwed."

Shaking his head, Ben leaned over and softly giggled, "Nope, I will be, bedtime tonight, when my helium heels float toward the ceiling."

"That's my teddy bear, throw my own words back at me," Graham sniggered, and then toweled his face and hands dry.

Ben shrugged and giggled, "Only practicin', puddin'."

Graham nodded and smiled, "I need to check with my mom about something, but I'd like your opinion first."

"Okay."

Hanging the towel, Graham sighed, "Like a few minutes ago, when I said that about me and Francis, what did you really think?"

Ben sighed, "That you were trying to tell your mom how you felt about me. You complimented me in the most awesome way, but you and I aren't you and Francis. At least that's what you've told me before."

"There's very little in common between you and Francis," Graham nodded, but then scowled, "That's why I think I'm cracking up. I know there's no comparison, but I keep doing it. The only thing that feels close to the same is after sex cuddling and chatting. Every other moment, it's like night and day, completely different."

Ben wondered, "Is that what you want to ask your mom, if you're cracking up?"

Graham nodded, "If I am, then let's do something about it before I really fuck up and lose you. If I'm not, then what can I do to make things better faster?"

"Let me take care of one thing before we get out of here," Ben softly said, and then reached for the necklace explaining, "This gift means you and me are together forever. I'll reluctantly take it off to keep it safe, but the rest of the time, it's on. If for some future reason, you tell me, enough, go away, I'll do that knowing that you'll come back again. If you tell me to give this back and go away, I'll assume we're over."

"I won't ever ask for it back, Ben."

"I'm only saying what I feel, Graham. There's a difference between needing a break from each other and wanting this back. All afternoon I've been thinking of what I could give you and drawing a blank. Nothing I could buy will match this gift. My heart went to you before you gave this to me. If you tell me you want it back then it's not a short break, it's a breakup."

Graham nodded, "Got it."

"You aren't going totally insane, Graham. You're split in half. I knew that, five nights ago, and I think you knew it too. Honestly, you're being impatient with yourself. I'll be the special friend you asked me to be, and your constant companion, and your lover, and whatever else you need me to be. You need to give yourself a little slack, to take the time to heal. If I were in your shoes, I'd be locked away worthless for months. You're coming back into the world at your own pace, and here I am, with you."

Understandingly, Graham nodded and smiled, "I correct your mess ups, and you'll correct mine; simple."

They stepped out of the bathroom. Faye was stir frying rice at the stove. Ben hungrily hummed, "That smells great."

Graham smiled, "Courtesy of Eddie's mom, teaching the Anglo how to cook authentic Chinese food, not that stuff from Panda."

Faye sighed and turned around, saying "I know when I'm being buttered up. What's on your mind?"

Grinning at Ben and causing a giggling fit, Graham then faced his mother and bluntly asked, "Am I cracking up?"

"No!" Faye loudly proclaimed. "You're recovering from a horrible accident and a more horrible death. What do you expect, Graham, to simply flip a switch, forget four years of friendship and almost a year as a couple? Look how long it took your father and me to get over your grandparents. They were my in-laws and I took weeks. Your father took at least two months, I think closer to three, to stop picking up the phone, intending to call them."

"So I am rushing myself?"

"To an extent, yes," Faye replied. "You took a step last week, not only with Ben, but by putting the photos aside. The second step you took today. It's hanging off Ben's neck. You discussed it with us during spring break, so we know what that means. You took the third step…"

Rapidly shaking his head, Graham interrupted, "You're way over my head, mom. What steps?"

"Recovering from grief is a process," Faye explained, and returned to her dinner preparation. "Step one is numbness and denial. In your case, weeks locked in your room looking at photos. Step two is yearning and anger. Yearning is what your father and I warned you of last week. It's what Ben's mother warned him of. However, we know now that Ben is not a substitute for Francis. In appearance and in action, Ben is not Francis. What you just said, asking if you ever really loved Francis in the first place was anger. Step three is sadness and withdrawal, which you've likely also done alone in your room. Now you're in step four; reorganizing your life. The final step is letting go and moving on. When that happens, you'll have Francis in your memories and heart with far less sadness. His time with us will integrate itself in us. No one that knew him will forget how he was or how he was lost. The overwhelming emotions do fade."

Graham wondered, "So what do I do now?"

"What you've been doing is fine," Faye smiled. "You said you were rearranging your room?"

Graham nodded, "Making space for Ben's stuff in my dresser and closet. Ben's stuff is always on the left, mine is on the right."

"I'll try to remember that when I'm putting laundry away."

Graham grinned, "It won't be too hard. Ben's shirts are mens' large, mine are usually medium. Ben wears boxers, I wear boxer briefs."

Ben giggled, "Why is your mother putting your laundry away for you?"

"Because I'm a slob," Graham laughed. Faye only nodded her head in agreement.

"Not anymore, puddin'," Ben grinned.

"Go get him, Ben," Faye playfully cheered.

Ben suggested, "Why not leave the laundry basket in the laundry room or at the bottom of the stairs?"

Faye turned and smiled, "That's an excellent idea."

"More reorganizing," Graham smirked.

"The situation is different now," Faye reminded. "Francis was here a weekend a month. Ben has spent two nights here in less than a week. You were at Ben's three nights, Graham; that's something you never did with Francis. From what was said last week, Graham's dad and I expect to see Ben more than we saw Francis; with more nights spent here than Francis could manage. Believe it or not, we're reorganizing our lives too. Part of that you two are doing; another part we're doing later tonight, with a new safe car instead of another used car. This reminds me; go find your insurance check, Graham. Sign it over to your father and put it on his desk. He'll be home any minute. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes."

Graham nodded and asked, "What's for dinner?"

"Mozzarella sticks, sweet and sour chicken, and chicken fried rice," Faye answered.

Taking Ben's hand, Graham led the way back upstairs. Passing the dining room, Graham prompted, "While I take care of the check, clear up the pictures on the Mac, teddy bear; dump it all in the trash, but leave the disk image file where it is."

Ben nodded, "I'll shut it down when I'm finished and turn the stereo off too." Rounding the staircase landing, Graham let Ben go up the stairs first. Ben hadn't gotten three steps up before he was stopped and his cloth covered butt bitten. Rolling his eyes, Ben softly giggled, "Grrr."

Graham sniggered, "Brrr, sexy teddy bear."

Racing up the stairs, Ben giggled, "I didn't blush too much."

At the top of the stairs, Graham smiled, "Show me your dickie."

"Graham!" Ben giggled, "It hasn't been an hour since you last saw it."

"I'll show you mine?"

"And we'll miss dinner," Ben cackled.

"Just a quick confirmation," Graham sniggered.

Ben laughed, "Confirming what?"

"They like to see each other."

If Graham hadn't been worried about being insane minutes earlier, Ben would've said he most certainly was. Instead, Ben cracked up, walked into Graham's room untying his boardies drawstring and turned around. Seconds later, Ben was whipping out his chubby dickie. Graham turned the stereo off as he followed Ben into the room.

Speaking in squeaky voices, Graham pulled out full wood and moved closer to Ben, so their dickies would touch. His one-eyed snake squeaked, "Hey there dickie."

For Ben, who was laughing himself almost to tears, Graham squeaked, "I missed you, dickie."

Graham squeaked, "I can't wait to be alone with you again, dickie." Ben whimpered through giggles.

"I can't wait either, but we have to hide now, dickie," Graham squeaked for Ben's unit.

Graham bounced his cock, as if nodding, and squeaked, "See ya later." Before Graham could put his meat away, Ben jumped him. Giggling between kisses, they soon heard the front door open. In his normal voice, Graham softly chuckled, "Dad'll be up here to change clothes." They gave two last kisses away and stuffed their dickies in their shorts. Graham opened up one of his desk drawers and took out the envelope with the insurance check, saying "I'll be right back," and then hurried to his parents' room.

Still grinning slightly, Ben sat down and selected the folder the pictures had expanded into then dragged them to the desktop trash can. He confirmed the original image file was still where Graham had showed him then emptied the trash. Selecting the shutdown command, Ben heard footsteps coming up stairs. A few moments later, while Ben was straightening out the bed sheet and blanket, he heard Graham talking with his father about the car then both began chuckling. Then the master bedroom door closed and Graham called, "Are you finished, teddy bear?"

Heading for the door, Ben answered, "All set, puddin'."

Beyond the closed master bedroom door, both boys heard Robert Carleton sniggering, "It's better than Honey Graham, but still food."

Turning to the door, Graham grinned and rolled his eyes, because his dad had never before admitted to knowing that pet name. Facing Ben again, Graham saw his lover's flushed red cheeks and gently reminded, "Put that blush in your past."

"I'm trying," Ben giggled.

Walking downstairs with Ben, Graham waited until they were near the bottom of the steps before grinning, "Dad's just warming up. The more he says the better he feels about you. Try to remember that when he gets goofy and you start blushing. He'd go round and round with me and Beanie. I know you'll get there too, teddy bear. You're relatively safe during dinner."

Entering the dining room, Ben saw settings only at the side chairs and not at the ends of the tables. He softly asked, "Your parents don't take the opposite table ends?"

Stopping in the dining room, Graham answered, "When the table is fuller, yeah. When it's just the three of us, I'd sit at one end and they'd sit across from each other. This is normal for four, so we can sit across from each other and so can they."

Leaning close to Graham, Ben giggled, "Rich boy."

Graham grinned, "You'll regret that when I take you to Nordstrom's for T-shirts and shorts."

Ben gasped then giggled, "Don't you dare."

Graham chuckled, "A brief test; what's the label on my boxer-briefs say?"

"I've never looked at the label," Ben giggled.

Graham sniggered, "Some say The Gap, and others say Old Navy. That's where most of my clothes come from. There's a table for eight because we're a family of five. Including my brother's wife and my sister's boyfriend and you makes eight." Leading Ben to the kitchen, Graham grinned, "Mom, can I borrow a credit card? Ben and I need a few odds and ends to live at two places."

Busily putting sweet and sour chicken into a bowl, Faye nodded, "Take the mozzarella sticks and rice into the dining room. I'll give you my MasterCard before you leave to get the car. Keep the charge under two hundred dollars, Graham."

Gesturing to the plate of mozzarella sticks for Ben to take, Graham picked up the bowl of fried rice and assured, "No problem, mom. We just need extra toiletries, a few T-shirts and pairs of shorts."

Ben and Graham started for the dining room. Faye scowled, "You need more T-shirts like a hole in the head."

"For Ben," Graham chuckled. He and Ben placed the plate and bowl down on the table. Pulling a chair out for Ben to sit, Graham softly chortled, "Unlike you, focused on my ass and dickie, I noticed a Stafford label on your boxers. That's JC Penney's brand. The shorts I put in your backpack last night were from Old Navy." Taking the chair across from Ben, Graham smiled, "We're just like you, teddy bear. Only my family is larger and my parents are older. I've overheard them talking about selling this house after I move out. They'll probably get a small condo or townhouse, with one extra bedroom for visitors."

Ben nodded and grinned, "You've gotta admit, this house is larger than mine. It's fun teasing you too."

Raising his eyebrows, Graham slid a foot over to gently rub Ben's foot and lower leg. He playfully bounced his eyebrows and Ben started giggling.

Entering the room, Robert Carleton said, "Signing all the paperwork will probably take an hour or more. Bring magazines or something with you to keep you occupied while I get writer's cramp signing my name a hundred times."

Graham assured, "I'll bring the car magazines. We'll probably wait outside." When his dad sat down, Graham asked, "Have you decided whether to sign the title or have me sign it?"

"I think I'll sign it, to get the sales tax write-off," Robert answered. "Next year or when you turn eighteen, I'll sell it to you used for a dollar. That way we're both avoiding more state taxes."

Entering the room with the bowl of sweet-and-sour chicken, Faye prompted, "Dig in boys."

During dinner, the topics of conversation were Ben's dream visit with Francis, the car, the band's rehearsal that day with Eddie taking pictures, and Graham asking if Mrs. Healy could store the tool chest in their garage. Mr. and Mrs. Carleton both assured Ben that would be no problem. As they were clearing the table, Graham told his parents that he intended to take the new car for a drive around the valley. Learning that the dealership was in Calabasas, only a short drive away, Graham suggested, "I'll take the 101 to the 23, up to the 118, back down the 405 to the 101, and back home. If it's not too late, we might stop at a mall for a few things. We'll probably go over Eddie's later tonight too."

Faye opened her handbag and gave Graham her credit card, reminding him of the limit. After checking with his wife and hearing that she wasn't interested in coming along, Robert told Ben and Graham, "As soon as you're ready. Let's try to get this done before sundown."

Graham nodded, "Let me get the magazines from my room and we'll meet you out in the car, dad." He and Ben raced through the house, leaving the two older adults chuckling and wishing they had that kind of energy to be so enthusiastic. Moments later, Ben and Graham were in the backseat of Robert's Mercedes with magazines and a handful of CD's.

Only minutes later, they were at Volvo of Calabasas. Robert went inside the dealership, leaving Ben and Graham at an outdoor patio table with the magazines. Too excited to sit for very long, Graham suggested they wander around the lot, checking out the various new cars. Within another few minutes, salesmen saw the two boys wandering around. They didn't seem to be trouble makers, but a younger salesman went to ask, "Can I help you?"

Graham grinned, "My dad's inside, dude. He's getting me a V70 and signing the paperwork."

Extending his hand to Graham, the salesman said, "I'm Ryan Baum. Since you're indirectly a customer, let me get the keys for a V70 and introduce you to the vehicle you'll be driving. It'll save us time when your father is finished."

Graham shook the man's hand and smiled, "I'm Graham Carleton and this is my partner, Ben Healy." While Ryan and Ben shook hands, Graham chuckled, "Thanks bunches for this, dude. I was beginning to think that I'd be getting used to a new car in the dark."

Ryan nodded and smiled, "Let me go inside and get the keys for one of our V70 models."

Before Ryan walked away, Graham quickly said, "Mine will have a CD stereo and a moon roof. I won't know how to work either of 'em."

Ryan smiled, "Cool. I'll be back in only a few minutes, so hang out here." He then started for the building.

Ben giggled, "And this is my partner…"

Graham grinned, "You are."

Ben giggled, "He didn't look twice or anything, so he's not homophobic."

Graham teased, "You were checking out an older man, you horny devil."

Shaking his head, Ben giggled, "Only noticing you being awesome and him still being nice."

Graham teased, "I'll bet you he's almost thirty."

"No older than twenty-five," Ben giggled. "What's the bet?"

Glancing around to make sure the coast was clear, Graham smiled, "Winner is bottom first tonight." Nodding, Ben extended a hand. Graham took it and pulled Ben into his embrace, softly chortling, "Either way, I win. He's older than twenty-five, teddy bear."

"We'll soon find out," Ben giggled. Leading Graham to a nearby price tag, Ben pointed and teased, "Rich boy." Howling with laughter, Graham tickled Ben. Running away in hysterics, Ben kept a safe distance from Graham. He soon started singing; "You're a rich boy, and you've gone too far, 'cause you know it don't matter anyway. You can rely on the old man's money. You can rely on the old man's money. It's a bitch boy, but it's gone too far, 'cause you know it don't matter anyway."

They chased each other around cars in the lot until Ryan loudly laughed at the two of them, "Okay, dudes. Follow me."

Hurrying over toward the man with Ben only steps behind, Graham chuckled, "How old are you, Ryan?"

"Twenty-four," Ryan grinned.

Stopping abruptly, Graham turned to Ben, chuckling, "How'd you guess?"

Shrugging, Ben giggled, "Look at the other salesmen. Three piece suits and bellies. Ryan's got a real sharp jacket, matching slacks and no belly."

Huffing at Ben, Graham asked Ryan, "Are you gay, dude?"

Continuing the walk to the V70 model, Ryan smiled, "No, I've got an older cousin and friends who are. In sales, we can't really show any bias or preference to any customer. That'll break a sale before the first dollar is mentioned."

Ben wondered, "Why'd you come over to us?"

"I'm the youngest salesperson here at the moment," Ryan answered. "We saw the two of you wandering the lot. I got sent out to find out what was going on. Now everyone knows you're customers." Pausing at the rear of a silver Volvo V70, Ryan pressed the button on the key in his hand and the car chirped. Ryan smiled, "Take the driver's seat, Graham. I'll take the passenger side and introduce you to your new car."

Nodding, Graham went to the driver's side, chuckling, "I asked my dad for white or silver with a CD player." He ducked into the car. Ben followed and got in the backseat behind Graham.

Ryan got in, saying, "Your father chose the white over the silver. On a foggy road, white is seen before silver. Your white model and this silver one have the same option package; moon roof, an Alpine five CD changer with AM/FM radio, air conditioning with climate control, electric remote fuel hatch release, electric remote rear hatch release, anti-theft system, cruise control, remote power door locks, power steering, power windows and anti-lock braking system."

Blown away, Graham gasped, "Holy crap. I was driving an old Chevy that was nothing like this."

Ryan grinned, "I forgot the computer system. It'll tell you your average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption and the estimated range for the remaining fuel. It'll tell you the internal and external temperature on the dashboard, and of course, a digital clock. The driver's seat is motorized and has up to three memorized seat positions. The rear seats fold down for a total of one-thousand-eight-hundred-ninety-seven liters of space. With the seats up, there's one-thousand-fifty-one liters of space."

Sitting back on plush grey leather, Ben began giggling, certain that there was little chance of them getting any sleep that night. Graham would be swapping between reading the owner's manual and jumping back into bed for more sex until dawn.

Ryan hung the key before Graham and had him start the engine. He spent another thirty minutes reviewing every operation and how to access various computerized fuel and temperature readings.

In the backseat and paying attention because he would someday be driving the car, Ben noticed adjustable vents, door pockets and bins for maps and other small items, like wallets and necklaces stowed before hitting the beach. His mom's Mazda 929 was nice, but this car was universes nicer. The Carleton's might not be wealthy, but they certainly had no problem affording priority items, like the safest vehicle available for their sixteen-year-old son.

Completing the paperwork, Robert Carleton stepped up beside the open car doors, leaned over and smiled in at his dumbfounded son, saying, "Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday."

"For the next two years," Graham laughed, "it'll take me that long to memorize everything this car can do."

Robert grinned, "I had an in-dash GPS system installed in your car. They'll be driving it around front any minute now." Graham and Ben cracked up. Robert teased, "You'll have to leave the country to use the excuse, 'we got lost, dad'." Ryan loudly laughed and shook his head, apparently recalling using that excuse during his teenage years.

Turning to Ryan, Graham chuckled, "Is there anything more; phasers, photon torpedoes or shields?"

Shaking his head, Ryan cheekily grinned, "Planned for the 2000 model year."

Looking up at his father, Graham laughed, "In time for graduation, dad!" and then turned the key, shutting the engine off. The car chimed, warning that the key was still in the ignition. Ryan pulled the key out. Graham and Ben thanked Ryan for taking care of them.

Standing up, Robert joked, "I am not getting offensive weapons on any car for you."

Ben, Graham and Ryan got out of the car. Without the boys seeing, Robert slipped Ryan two twenty dollar bills for expediting the introduction, allowing all of them to get on with their night. Ben and Graham hurried to the Mercedes to get the CD's left in the backseat then returned to Graham's dad. At the front of the dealership, Ben, Graham and Robert waited only a few more minutes, during which time Graham told his dad, "It'll take me five minutes to get the seat adjusted and stored in memory. Then I'll have to check the mirrors and warp drive dilithium crystals."

Softly chortling, Robert handed Graham a slip of paper. Seeing it was a temporary insurance certificate, Graham nodded, "Yep, I'll need that too."

Graham's sparkling white Volvo V70 stopped before them. The salesman strode around the car with Robert, checking for any last minute exterior defects. Ben and Graham followed and heard that the temporary registration slip was in the glove box with the owner's manuals. With the last inspection complete, Robert shook the salesman's hand then turned to Graham and Ben. He asked, "You'll be taking her for a spin around?"

Graham nodded, "And stopping at a mall while we're out."

Robert seriously said, "Pay attention to the steering and handling for possible alignment or balance issues. I don't expect any problems at all, but for the cost, I demand perfection. When I get home tomorrow night, that's the first thing I'll be doing, taking it and checking out the performance and handling."

Graham nodded and hugged his dad, happily thanking him.

"You're very welcome," Robert smiled, and reminded, "The car is safe. The rest is up to the driver."

"I'll be safe and home in about two hours," Graham assured.

Releasing his son, Robert smiled, "I may or may not be in bed. Have a good night boys." Graham's father went to the parking lot to get in his car.

Ben and Graham got in the Volvo, still running at the curb. Wearing the widest face-splitting smile, Graham glanced around his new car, leaned back and chuckled, "It's a space station. There's only four miles on it."

Ben giggled, "I know. I'm afraid to even put CD's in the player."

Beginning to adjust the driver's seat, Graham wondered, "What'd you bring teddy bear?"

"I tried to keep it all upbeat driving music," Ben answered. As he slid disks into the player, Ben rattled off, "The Alarm, Standards; The Beatles, Abbey Road; Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape; Journey's Greatest Hits and Tesla, Five Man Acoustical Jam."

Adjusting the mirrors, Graham nodded, "Two of yours and three of mine."

Ben reminded, "Easy on the anti-lock brakes, puddin'. They take very little pressure in my mom's Mazda."

Checking the emergency brake was released; Graham nodded and chortled, "Set impulse power, Mister Healy."

Using one of Doug's Scottish accents, Ben giggled, "Aye, impulse engines engaged, Captain."

Pulling the stick down into drive, Graham smiled, "And we're off." Only moments later, needing to stop at the dealership exit, Graham gently tapped the brakes, the car lurched, and Graham groaned, "Jeez! It's so different."

Ben nodded, "They take getting used to. You'll be fine in no time, Graham."

Checking for oncoming traffic, Graham sighed, "I'm a little nervous, mostly about the new car, but a little because of the accident."

Understandingly, Ben smiled, "Relax, breathe deep and concentrate on the road."

Graham nodded and drove out onto Calabasas Road then down to Parkway Calabasas so he could get onto the 101 northbound. The second stop at Parkway Calabasas was smoother than the first. The GPS system that neither had messed with turned itself into a street map. The third stop for the left turn onto the 101 onramp was perfect and Ben told Graham so. Moments later, they were at sixty-five-miles-an-hour and Graham set the cruise control then turned it on. Taking his foot off the accelerator, Graham sniggered insanely as the car practically drove on its own. Ben giggled and turned on the stereo then played copilot for his boyfriend, explaining that the Janns Mall was one exit past highway 23. While Ben fiddled with the GPS, Graham agreed it was probably a good idea to get the little bit of shopping done before malls and shopping centers closed. Figuring out the user interface, Ben had the GPS set for their destination. It was about twelve miles to Moorpark Road. Three times Graham had opportunities to check the alignment and balancing, as his father had asked. Each time, the car remained perfectly centered in the lane and didn't drift. A mile before the exit, Graham turned the cruise control off and moved over to the right, onto the exit ramp. Graham pulled into the mall parking lot, found a parking space with Ben's help and parked the car then turned the CD player off.

Ben giggled, "Grrr!"

Pulling the key out of the ignition, Graham grinned, "Brrr?"

"You're a good driver," Ben smiled and leaned over to give a kiss away and get another in return. Ben grinned, "I had an idea while Ryan was explaining things."

"Uh oh," Graham chuckled.

Ben giggled, "The back seats fold down. We might be able to fit back there, open the moon roof…"

"And make love without steaming up the windows," Graham happily finished. "That goes on our list of things to do. We'll have to find a cool place to do it." They got out of the car and met at the rear. Graham pressed the lock button on his key, the locks engaged and the car chirped. He stuffed the key into his pocket, took Ben's hand, started for the mall entrance and smiled, "My shy boyfriend just suggested sex in the back of my new car, and barely blushed."

Nodding, Ben giggled, "It's safer than under a jungle-gym."

Laughing, Graham wondered, "What's in this mall?"

Ben smiled, "A Rite Aid for the toiletries and an Old Navy for clothes."

"Lead the way," Graham prompted.

Ben checked, "You've never been here?"

Shaking his head, Graham answered, "Nope. There are two malls much closer to home, the Promenade and Topanga Plaza."

Ben shared, "This one's okay. The only big department stores are Marshalls and Burlington. There's a Toys R Us, Regency theaters and some decent restaurants." Ben giggled, "Prez got lost getting from Doug's house to TGI Fridays here, I heard."

Graham chuckled, "He moved here from Texas when?"

"Over a year ago," Ben giggled.

Graham laughed, "Omigod!"

They stepped inside the mall. Ben first led the way to Rite Aid. Graham grabbed a hand basket for the few small things they needed. Ben tossed Right Guard deodorant into the basket. Graham dropped in Arrid Extra Dry. They found two-packs of Oral B toothbrushes on sale and got two packages. Finding little plastic travel toothbrush protectors, Graham picked up a package of four. They stopped at disposable razors, got their favorite brands and more shaving cream then moved on. Selecting hair brushes took the longest time. At the display of lubricants, they stopped again.

"We're both getting low," Graham grinned.

"I've been using Wet brand for two years, but I like the ID brand you use," Ben admitted.

Graham explained, "I don't get just one brand; I alternate and try different ones. Ya wanna try Astro-Glide?"

Ben shrugged, "Whatever you want, puddin'." Watching Graham pickup the large bottles of Wet and Astro-Glide and drop them in the basket, Ben broke into a fit of giggles.

Graham chuckled, "What?" Speechless, Ben only shook his head. Graham softly chortled, "We have a lot of totally awesome sex, and there's a whole month before school starts. Bet ya we need more by then; maybe before then, assuming we don't slow down."

Shaking his head, Ben turned redder as he became hysterical and staggered dizzily. With Graham evilly snickering and Ben helplessly giggling, they got into the checkout lane. A few minutes later, they walked out of the store. Pulling Graham aside to a quiet place, Ben giggled, "I lost track of how many times we made love and how many orgasms we had today."

Graham softly chuckled, "Once this morning, and one each. After lunch, you went for a ride that caused two each. Then missionary, once each, you got me doggie style and I got you on your belly. Add in the after bath blowjobs for six times and eight orgasms each, before dinner. And the day's not over yet."

Ben laughed, "I shouldn't be surprised."

Graham warmly smiled, "You're an awesome lover, teddy bear. I couldn't be happier."

Taking Graham's hand, Ben led the way to Old Navy wondering, "More tonight?"

Graham nodded, "As soon as we get home or maybe at Eddie's, if you're cool with it?"

Envisioning walking into and out of Eddie's sunroom, Ben giggled, "What will they say?"

Graham chuckled, "The usual bad jokes and teasing from Matt and Eddie." He then wondered, "What would Mike or Derrick say?"

"I haven't a clue," Ben giggled. "It's never been a worry before."

Graham nodded, "Well, don't worry about it now. We'll probably go orally. Anal takes longer, and means we have to clean up, before getting back into the pool." Pulling Ben aside, Graham waited for some patrons to pass then leaned closer and whispered, "I want you to always remember, I had a prostate orgasm from you and you had one from me. That's never happened to me before. Francis and I had heard of it, but never managed it. After four awesome days of sex, on the fifth day, we went all the way and thrilled each other that much. Even if it doesn't happen again for days or weeks, we did that Ben. That means we can do it again. Hold that handsome face up proud, because I am very proud of you and us. At some point, I know my pride is gonna make me ask Eddie or Matt if they've ever done it. If they say yes, I'll definitely share what we did. If they say no, I probably won't share and keep it a secret for only us. Cool?"

Ben nodded, "Very cool." Filled to overflowing with love and pride, Ben took Graham into Old Navy. Graham spent less than sixty bucks at Rite Aid, so he had a hundred and forty he could spend at Old Navy. He got Ben three pair of cargo shorts, two pair of boardies and three T-shirts. Graham watched Ben try everything on and confirmed the clothes looked great. Both were very pleased as they walked out of the store and the mall. Now Ben didn't have to worry about packing his backpack every week. All the boxers, two of the T-shirts and two pair of shorts Ben had brought to the Carletons' this trip could easily stay there. Giddy, they got back in the new car and pleasantly commented on the new car scent. Since the sun was setting, Graham opened the moon roof for the ride.

Soon, they were back on the 101 and quickly made the turn onto the 23. About six miles later, highway 23 dumped them onto the 118. According to the GPS, they had twenty-six miles before the intersection with the 405, so Graham turned on the cruise control. With only the stereo playing, Graham loudly cheered, "This is awesome! How could I possibly get a speeding ticket with cruise control? All I have to do is watch other cars, stay in the lane and let the car do the rest."

Ben giggled, "It's so beautiful too, inside and out. The dashboard is like an airplane's. The GPS is loaded with shopping, dining, and points of interest, where I found Magic Mountain, Disneyland and Universal Studios. We can enter our own addresses and save them too."

Graham grinned, "Not even Prez could get lost."

Ben giggled, "From what I've heard, I wouldn't be too sure of that."

Graham chuckled, "I'll have to talk to him tomorrow night. If anyone needs a GPS, he does."

Ben nodded, "Maybe he can have one installed in his 4Runner."

Graham grinned, "I wonder why he didn't get one in the first place. It's obviously new. Maybe the dealership didn't offer it as an option. If he can't get one installed, he could get one of the small GPS units to sit on top of the dashboard."

"We'll bring it up when we see him," Ben agreed.

After only a few minutes of listening to music, Graham called, "Teddy bear?"

Looking over, Ben smiled, "Yeah, puddin'?"

"I've got major wood," Graham helplessly giggled.

Ben cracked up laughing, "Are you trying to get into an accident?"

Graham laughed, "I'm so friggin' excited! I've got you, with me, in this car, and clothes in the back for you, to be with me in my room." He paused then softly chortled, "I hope I don't shoot in my shorts." Sliding down in the passenger seat, Ben lost it and howled. Graham rambled, "What would be the best is if I could park the car in my room too. Then we could fuck like bunnies in the back without any worries." Ben started sneezing between bouts of laughter. Graham chuckled, "Great, now we're both allergic to erections. We'll be the only two gay teenagers in SoCal with no nads or noses. What will people say? They'll laugh loudly, but whisper softly, 'There they go, trying to make love without the tools to do anything except shiver and quake in frustration.' Without noses we can't even give each other head, for cryin' out loud!"

Breathlessly, Ben gasped and giggled, "Please stop."

Graham grinned, "Hold my hand, so I don't spank my dickie and cause a twenty car pileup?"

Ben gave Graham his hand and tried desperately to stop laughing. Soon, he started hiccupping and Graham sniggered, "Sorry teddy bear."

Shaking his head, Ben tried to explain, "Our first day of intercourse and we had eight orgasms each. I never would've guessed, in my wildest dreams."

Graham grinned, "We could make fourteen easily. Tomorrow, Matt's working all day and Eddie's working from ten until four, I think. Let's try for fifteen or sixteen tomorrow."

"We could try," Ben giggled, "or we could go for a spin around town; maybe catch a movie?"

"Are you sore from sex?"

"I'm not sore, but I know I'm not a virgin any more. My butt twinges now and then, reminding me how we spent the afternoon."

"Mine too," Graham smiled, "it's an awesome feeling, that I haven't felt in a very long time."

Noticing Graham quietly reflecting, Ben softly prompted; "Do you want to tell me?"

"I do and I don't," Graham sighed. "The only reason I don't is because you aren't Beanie and I'm tired of comparing."

Understandingly, Ben nodded, "I don't see it as comparisons, Graham. In my dream, I was really scared at first, seeing a dude with red hair that wasn't as tall as Prez, and sounded completely different. His hand seemed so small in mine, compared to yours and Prez's. I'd like to suggest that we treat Francis like he's moved far away. He's not gone, he's in China; sharing his love for us long distance. He treated me like a friend, puddin'; like he knew I was scared, and then I started to feel comfortable, like he was my friend. Your old boyfriend gave me the keys to your heart."

Graham smiled, "I figured that out when you corrected me, before dinner. You were considerate of his feelings, Ben. That matters, so much more than I can say."

Ben asked, "Can you talk to me like Francis is in China?"

Shrugging, Graham tried it out. "There were days with Francis like we had today. Every one of 'em was during vacation; last summer, during Christmas and Spring break, and again earlier this summer. The bedroom similarities between you and Beanie are that you both like to play and have sex too."

Ben giggled, "That's because of you, puddin'. Francis had to hide his feelings, sort o' like me, but for different reasons. Now that the hiding is over, I go for it, just like he did. You're the playful instigator. When I get the chance to start something, I do and Francis did too."

"Holy shit," Graham gasped, "you're right."

"I know I am," Ben giggled. "Our first night and first time, I was going slowly only partly because I was nervous. The rest of what I did was so you could stop it, if you felt you needed to. You wrapped my hand around your hard dickie. That gave me permission to do what I wanted."

"So you're catching up on seventeen years and Beanie was catching up on lost opportunities."

Ben nodded, "I can easily imagine him, after an afternoon at home, going back to your place, the instant he was alone in your room either he'd rip his own clothes off or yours."

"Omigod," Graham laughed, "you were peeping or he told you that."

Shaking his head, Ben giggled, "He didn't tell me and I didn't peek into your window. I know how I am and how I'd be in his shoes."

Graham chortled, "It's amazing because he actually did rip a pair of boxer briefs off me." Ben cracked up and Graham sniggered, "It was during Christmas break and a brand new pair wound up in the trash. He couldn't get at my dickie fast enough. With two hands, he ripped open the fly and tore right down the crotch."

Ben laughed, "I promise to not destroy your clothes."

Graham smiled, "Can you tell me why…" and then shook his head, choosing not to finish the question.

Ben wondered, "Why what?"

Graham sighed, "There were times he'd stop me, in my room, when no one was home, and we could've done anything we wanted."

Ben shrugged, "Judging only by what I know, what Francis showed me of your first time, what you've said, and what little Eddie's said; I'll bet he was challenging you."

Graham incredulously exclaimed, "Challenging me?"

"To turn on the charm," Ben warmly smiled. Graham glanced over briefly, obviously confused. Ben giggled, "Let me give you a few examples. In the first hour, you asked me to be your special friend. During all our time in the park that night, you described yourself in a fog from grief, yet you noticed that I'm right handed and the scars on my wrists. You waited for me to explain the scars. Sitting at the picnic table, you told me how much you wanted to have sex, but warned me you might not be able to. I had already figured that out, but you said it sadly, like it made a difference. There were so many things you said in the park that were nothing less than charming and some were completely hysterical."

Grinning and nodding, Graham teased, "Erection allergy."

Ben smiled, "I'll bet that's what Francis wanted more than your dickie; just those kinds of words. I have to wonder, how many times he attacked you after a simple comment."

Graham shrugged, "He told me of a few, indirectly, usually by suggesting we go right to my house instead of his."

Ben nodded, "You took me from being a nervous wreck over a sleepover to sex by dawn. Since then, you've been awesome, making every single sexual experience easy and fun. Now you've got me spending entire afternoons naked with you, and anxiously anticipating the next day we spend that way."

"Whenever you want," Graham smiled.

"Is tomorrow our only full day alone, without friends around?"

Graham nodded, "I think so. Eddie works Thursday and Friday mornings and Matt works full days, from nine 'til five. Shaun and Gil are working full days Tuesday through Friday."

"Then we're back to the weekend," Ben smiled. "Tomorrow we'll make love all day. Wednesday we'll go to the beach with Eddie and Matt. Thursday or Friday we'll catch a movie."

Graham prompted, "I need to see you swimming before we go to the beach, teddy bear. Pools don't have currents like the ocean. That's why I want Matt and Eddie with us our first trip to the beach, to keep you safe."

Ben nodded and smiled, "You're driving very safe; passing on the left and moving back to the right, allowing faster traffic to pass to the left. How'd did you do on your written and behind the wheel tests?"

"I aced both," Graham admitted. "On highways, I never go more than five miles an hour over the speed limit. My dad warned me that cops look for teenagers doing that. On side streets, I never go over the speed limit. Little kids playing have already popped into the street and scared the shit out of me."

Ben smirked, "Living near a park, I know the feeling too well."

Graham asked, "How'd you do on your driver's tests?"

"I aced the written, but had to retake behind the wheel," Ben giggled.

Graham wondered, "Because you were nervous?"

Ben sighed, "Of course."

Squeezing Ben's hand tighter for a moment, Graham shared, "You can't get nervous at the beach, teddy bear. If you get that way, let me know, or just get out of the water. There are rip currents that'll grab you and take you for a sightseeing tour. The last thing you want to do is fight it. Just go with it and save your strength."

Ben checked, "That's why you want Matt and Eddie there with us?"

Graham nodded, "As much as I would try to watch you constantly, I couldn't. For you especially, having never been, you need eyes watching and strong swimmers to help. Any one of the three of us could help rescue you."

Ben nodded, "I was surprised the first time I saw Eddie with his shirt off. He's more muscular than I imagined." Graham evilly sniggered. Ben giggled, "I guess he has to be with Matt."

"You'll have to ask Eddie," Graham chuckled.

"Right," Ben giggled. "Hey Eddie, since Matt's four inches taller and at least thirty pounds heavier, how does that work?"

Graham smiled, "Ask him."

Ben grinned, "You obviously haven't."

Shaking his head, Graham warmly offered, "I haven't always paid attention to stuff, teddy bear. Eddie wasn't in my kindergarten class, but we've known each other since we were infants. I was actually very happy when he and I were in the same first grade class. For me, it was like, hey, I know you, but didn't know you went to this school."

Ben nodded, "Common kid stuff, not catching on to what should be obvious."

Graham smiled, "Suddenly, here's this kid I've seen countless times before, whenever our mom's got together, and he's in my class at school. He was the exact same way, surprised I was there. That's why we say we've been friends since first grade, because before that, we weren't catching on to simple shit. There are things I don't ask Eddie about, especially sexual things. He tells me a lot, I've told him a lot and Francis did too. You've already shared something with Eddie that I'll find out about in time."

"Does it worry you, puddin'?"

"Not at all," Graham quickly answered. "I know it has something to do with Francis and your dream visit, so that's enough and totally cool. How Eddie and Matt manage sex is more than I need to know. It would be like asking a twin brother the question. To further complicate things, way before they got serious, Matt was with me on a few occasions. The important thing is, Matt completely loves Eddie and Eddie is madly in love with Matt. Eddie wasn't a big giggler until he and Matt made the commitments. Now he's happy all the time and shows it."

Ben hummed thoughtfully.

Graham chortled, "What're you thinkin' teddy bear?"

"You and me," Ben smiled. "I made you happy Wednesday night. By three in the morning, you had me laughing so hard, and I haven't stopped giggling since."

"We make each other very happy, my love," Graham assured.

They approached the intersection with the 405 freeway. Moving to the right and onto the interchange ramp, Ben noticed Graham's right leg shift to the accelerator and his right hand disengaged the cruise control, like the car wasn't new and everything was simple. Graham matched the ramp speed limit. Ben started giggling.

"What did I do?" Graham grinned.

Ben giggled, "You're piloting the star ship very well, Captain."

"This car practically drives itself," Graham smiled.

Ben giggled, "Shall I set our destination coordinates?"

Graham nodded, "5225 Baza Avenue, Mister Healy."

Leaning forward, Ben operated the GPS; selecting the city, which auto-filled for him, entering the house number and then the street name, which also auto-filled. Ben saved it as 'Eddie's house'. Surprising the boys, a female voice said, "Recalculating." In moments, the display changed to show the route and the female voice announced, "Turn right at exit 63B to state highway 101 northbound onramp."

Ben and Graham loudly laughed, "OMIGOD!"

Graham sniggered, "Mister Dickie says we have to go directly to Eddie's sunroom, Mister Healy."

"Let's show them the car first," Ben giggled. "Then they'll understand why we're playin' with our dickies."

"When we get there, stay close to me. I might have major wood or a big wet spot," Graham chuckled.

Nodding, Ben teased, "I'm telling everyone that a woman's voice gave you a stiffy."

"There's a first time for everything," Graham laughed, and then rambled, "It took me a while to set the damn driver's seat. It took you a while to get the CD's loaded, which by the way, is totally awesome too. With our music playing, we haven't had to reach for the station select button once. That's about five hours worth of music, so we could go all the way down to San Diego and back again on the same disks. Cruise control simplifies driving to watching other cars on the road." He paused to press buttons on the dashboard then grinned, "We've gone over thirty-five miles, gotten twenty-two miles per gallon and we can get another two-hundred-eighty miles on this tank of gas. The moon roof is killer too. We got to see the sunset above us while driving. This is the kind of car that's a pleasure to drive. We might have to take a break tomorrow simply to drive around."

"You love the car more than me," Ben frowned.

Graham chuckled, "No, I don't think so. If they added a new option package, lifelike anal stimulators and a blowjob tube, you've still got the car beat, my love."

Ben giggled, "Talk about your distracted drivers, with anal stimulators and automated fellatio, they'd have to develop shields and phasers."

Bouncing in his seat, Graham shouted, "I'm cumming," and then pressed an imaginary button, making a loud 'fzzzzt' sound to fire his phasers. Ben howled laughing. Pretending to be in the throes of multiple orgasms, Graham repeatedly bounced, announced and fired.

Minutes later, Graham had stopped his bouncing and phaser fire. Ben had mostly recovered too when the GPS lady announced, "One mile to exit 63B. Merge right onto highway 101 northbound." Moaning, Graham pretended to beat off. Sliding down in his seat, Ben cracked up.

Only to instigate Ben, Graham playfully wondered, "Do you think she'll talk dirty to us?"

"Make a wrong turn and find out," Ben breathlessly laughed.

Knowing where he was, Graham took the first exit off the 101onto Haskell Avenue. Roaring hysterically, Ben didn't hear the GPS system announce, "Recalculating."

"Re-ejaculating?" Graham loudly exclaimed. "She's gonna blow us now, dude."

Gasping and wheezing, Ben shook his head and covered his crotch with both hands. Widely smiling at his breathless lover, Graham turned his directional on, to make the right turn onto Ventura Boulevard. At White Oak Avenue, Graham turned right again and soon was getting back onto the 101. Noticing Ben grinning at him, Graham sighed, "I love you so much, Ben. Everything's gotten so much better in such a short time, thanks to you."

Ben shivered and smiled, "I love you very much too, Graham. Seeing you happy and being silly have made my days. Tell me something, seriously."

Graham nodded, "Anything, teddy bear."

Ben softly asked, "Do you still think you're cracking up?"

Humming for a moment, Graham thought about the question. He offered, "What my mom made sense. Without realizing it, I was helping myself by reorganizing a little. I wouldn't have been doing that without you though. It was your suggestion to put the pictures away too."

Accepting that, Ben nodded, "Tomorrow's another new day, puddin'. It'll be just you and me until dinner. We can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. Nothing is written in stone."

Graham wondered, "You're leading someplace, aren't you?"

Ben smiled, "You know me as well as I know you. I'm only saying that this has been a great week, for me and especially for you. The days are what we make of them, Graham. Tomorrow, there's no new car, no new boyfriend, no first times in the bedroom. From here onward, it's us, making the days as much as they can be."

"Those days will be so much more than I expected," Graham gushed. "Since we sat with Ryan in that other car, I've been thinking, holy shit, my dad didn't only get a safe car, he got one with more than I asked for or expected. I asked for white with a CD player. I got a CD changer and a moon roof in a space station. I've got you sitting at my side, playing navigator and making all this so much more fun. As far as tomorrow is concerned, what else could I need or want other than time with you. I showed you four basic positions, teddy bear. There are other ways we can make love; so many more that we couldn't possibly try them all out in one day, even if we did manage to set a new record. What I'm looking forward to is experiencing each of them with you. Wednesday we'll hit the beach for a few hours. That'll be just as much fun as a day alone with you, because it's your first time doing that. In a few minutes, when we get to Eddie's, we'll have another new first time; the two of us with my friends and two of yours there too. I'm looking forward to everything again, Ben. Even catching a flick will be exciting, because it'll be our first time doing that. Until we see a couple of flicks in various genres, it'll be new and very cool.

"Here's another little difference between you and Francis, right now. Beanie wouldn't be too thrilled just driving for an hour without a destination. Not once have you asked to stop anywhere and we've been driving almost an hour. You're perfectly happy copiloting and talking though. That makes you the special friend I wanted you to be; it made this drive fun and totally about us." Graham took the Canoga Avenue exit off the 101 freeway.

Relieved, Ben sighed, "I was really worried that I've been boring this whole time."

"No way, teddy bear," Graham grinned. He stopped for the red light at the intersection with Ventura Boulevard, and then explained, "Beanie liked to be entertained. I'm very happy with you because you don't need that same level of activity." He paused then asked, "Tell me truthfully, would you be happier staying home tomorrow or going out?"

Ben shrugged, "What we do doesn't matter. Since we can't plan on another day to be totally alone, then that's what I'm fine with. That's all I want, is to be with you."

"That's all I want too," Graham smiled. The light at Ventura Boulevard turned green and Graham turned right, softly chortling, "You aren't boring, my love. Quiet times are allowed in my life. After the accident, I very much appreciate the change. Don't think for a second that I'm not completely attracted to you just the way you are. I loved every part of today and sharing it all with you."

Taking the left turn down Baza Avenue, Graham smirked, "I'm just gonna run into my house real quick, to let my folks know we're still alive and very happy. I know at least one of them is awake and nervously waiting for us to get home."

Since they didn't go directly to Eddie's, the GPS warned "Recalculating."

Ben nodded, "They'll be that way for a while, puddin'."

Graham sighed, "I know it, probably a very long while." He stopped in front of his house a few moments later, turned and grinned, "I'll leave the thrusters idling. Watch the Enterprise for a minute?"

Nodding, Ben giggled, "I'll fiddle with the navigation system some more."

Leaning over, Graham gave Ben a kiss then opened his car door, softly muttering "A damn fine kisser for a copilot." Helplessly blushing, Ben giggled as Graham got out and hurried to the house. It was only ten minutes before ten, Ben noticed as he leaned forward to try various controls on the GPS.

Not too surprisingly, Graham found both his parents in the living room, barely awake and watching the ten o'clock news. He excitedly told his parents that he was thrilled with the car, adding that he had checked the alignment and balancing and it stayed perfectly centered in the lane. Faye wondered where Ben was and Graham told her "He's waiting in the Enterprise, programming the navigation system for nearby star systems."

At his confused wife's stare, Robert softly chortled, "I added a GPS. He can't possibly get lost."

Faye nodded and Graham smiled, "Ben used it too, to get to a mall in Thousand Oaks and to get us back home again. We're going over to Eddie's for another few hours, so off to bed with you, before I call AARP."

Suspiciously squinting, Faye grinned, "You're grounded."

Graham shrugged and sniggered, "We weren't planning on leaving the house tomorrow anyway."

Closing her eyes and shaking her head, Faye softly asked, "Please call my cell if your plans change?"

Graham nodded, "No problem. With cruise control, speeding tickets are a worry of the past."

Faye stood and gave her son a kiss goodnight. She climbed the stairs. Turning the television off and standing, Robert asked, "You tested everything?"

Graham nodded, "Pretty much; computer systems, seating controls, moon roof, CD changer, climate control, headlights and the directionals. It's awesome dad, more than I expected. When you give it a test drive tomorrow, you'll be just as happy."

Robert nodded and sighed, "We just don't want another middle of the night call from a policeman at a hospital, Graham. I think the three of us aged ten years this last month. The son I thought I knew would've argued about my preferred car choices. You didn't argue. That's why you got more than you asked for. I'll also say that your mom is considering getting you a cell phone, so she can get calls whenever you go anywhere. I'm on the fence about it, because cell phone use while driving is dangerous. I don't ever take calls when I'm driving for that reason."

Gesturing outside, Graham reminded, "I've got a constant companion and copilot. Whatever makes mom happy, we'll make it work safely. I'll be honest and say I didn't expect to find both of you awake and waiting."

Robert shrugged, "When she's nervous, I get to keep her from climbing the walls."

"There wasn't a single problem out on the road all night," Graham assured.

Robert smiled, "I can barely believe that."

Graham grinned, "There were the usual speed demons, but nothing surprising; not even an accident on the road to slow us down."

Robert nodded, "Go get back to Ben. Park in the driveway beside your mom's car when you get home tonight; that's your car's home."

Giving his dad a hug, Graham promised, "We're only going to Eddie's. We'll be home around midnight."

Squeezing his son tightly, Robert nodded, "Have a good time. I'll see you and Ben tomorrow night." He released his youngest son and started up the stairs.

Graham walked outside, locked the door behind him and sighed, wondering when his parents might relax. He hurried back to the car and got in groaning, "My folks are so freaked out. Mom's even thinking of a cell phone, so she can track my every movement."

Ben asked, "Both of them were awake?"

Buckling up, Graham nodded, "That's what's bummin' me out; they're too old to be that nervous so often. Dad even brought up the emergency call from the police." He leaned over for a kiss which Ben happily provided, and then put the car in gear, grinning "Maybe my new boyfriend will keep me home more often, so they don't need sedation." He pulled away and started the short trip to Eddie's.

Ben giggled, "I think I can manage something. I've already thought about hiding your clothes."

Graham laughed, "Have you?"

"At both houses," Ben evilly grinned. With Graham sniggering, Ben thought aloud, "A trip to the Promenade Mall is necessary."

Graham chuckled, "For what?"

"One pair of Calvin Klein low rise briefs," Ben giggled. "That's the only clothing you're allowed to wear, and only when I say so."

"We're going out to the desert," Graham chortled. "If all I get is one pair of briefs then all you get is a loin cloth."

Ben asked, "Would you wear CK briefs?"

Graham nodded, "If that's what you want, sure. I only changed to boxer briefs two years ago, when pubes started getting ripped out by the roots."

Ben squealed, "OW!" Graham cracked up. Ben smirked, "Okay, no CK's for you. We'll get two loin cloths."

"Easy access, teddy bear," Graham sniggered.

"Omigod," Ben giggled.

Stopping in front of Eddie's house, Graham smiled, "What?"

Ben pressed the power button on the CD changer then sighed, "I can't wait to be alone with you later."

Turning off the engine, Graham reminded, "We don't have to wait very long, my love. Give me the signal and I'll lead you to the bathroom off the sunroom."

Shrugging, Ben smirked, "I don't know if I can do that." He then giggled, "I don't think I'd be satisfied with blowjobs."

Graham mooed through his snickering then prompted, "Let's get the new car stuff out of the way, quickly. So you know; I won't be acting very happy. I need you alone real quick too." Ben reached over to give away a tender kiss that started to become very passionate. With knowing grins, they both put it on hold then got out of the car. Graham pressed the key button to lock the doors. Two hands found one another and they walked around to the backyard. As they approached, they could hear guitars and singing. At the gate, they could see their six friends out of the pool, naked on patio chairs and gathered around Mike and Shaun.

Seeing Ben and Graham enter the yard, Eddie hurried to them, excitedly asking, "Well, did you get the car?"

Ben and Graham nodded. Graham grinned, "It's around front."

Abruptly, Mike and Shaun stopped playing and singing. Derrick got up and prompted, "Let's see it, dude."

Also standing, Matt tilted his head and wondered, "What's up, bro? You don't seem very enthused."

Graham shrugged, "It's real nice, but it's not a Firebird or 442."

Derrick chuckled, "Good luck finding a 442 in good condition like mine."

Leading the way out of the yard, Eddie grinned, "It's probably awesome. Ben's being way too quiet."

Ben giggled, "You're all naked and walking to the front of the house?"

Graham chortled, "No skid marks on my leather seats, dudes."

Shaun shoved Graham, sniggering, "We took two showers and were in the pool."

Glancing around, Ben and Graham saw the other five cheekily smiling and nodding. Graham pressed the keychain unlock button again, the car chirped and the doors unlocked.

Eddie's mouth dropped open. Locking eyes with Graham, Matt chuckled, "You bastard." Graham bared a toothy smile and Ben giggled.

Gil gushed, "It's beautiful!"

Soon all eight were opening doors and surrounding the car. Graham got in, put the key in the ignition and turned it. Ben stood beside Graham at the open driver's side door, so their friends could check out the car. Looking in from the passenger side, Mike smirked, "A CD changer and GPS? Jesus, Graham."

Derrick prompted, "Look up, Lick."

Mike, Eddie, Matt, Shaun and Gil looked up. Gil chuckled, "And an open sun roof."

Shaun chuckled, "It sucks. Take it back, fucker, so I can get it tomorrow, for ten grand less." Ben and Graham cracked up.

Eddie giggled, "How many miles are on it?"

"Just under fifty," Graham chuckled. "It had a little over four when I drove off the lot. We took it for a ride…"

"There are sacks in the back cargo area," Derrick interrupted, and started going through the contents.

Joining his partner, Mike grinned, "Did they go fetish shopping, already?" The other six roared laughing.

Derrick grumbled, "It doesn't seem that way; there's only clothes and basic toiletries…" He paused then sniggered, "And two large bottles of lube." Mooing, laughter and giggling erupted.

Blushing, Ben giggled his ass off. "Okay," Graham chortled, "Have you dudes seen enough?"

"For now," Matt chuckled. "You're driving to the beach Wednesday, bro."

Eddie nodded and giggled, "We'll meet Mike and Derrick there."

Derrick added, "Keith and Prez too. The Hundsers are having new siding put on the house, so they're back in Agoura Hills with us this week."

Turning the ignition off, Graham smiled, "That would be great." Getting out of the car, Graham wordlessly checked with Ben. Ben nodded as all the car doors were closed. Walking around the car with Ben, Graham softly reminded, "Ben's never been to the beach dudes. I need him safe and would like it if he wanted to go back often."

On their way to the backyard, Mike squinted at Ben and prodded, "Are you confident?"

Ben nodded and giggled, "As much as I can be, but I'm clueless about waves and currents."

While the other six discussed beach plans and keeping Ben safe, Shaun and Gil were refining their resignation plans for later that month. Shaun told Gil, "We went right to work at the start of the summer. I'd like the last two weeks without that responsibility."

Gil nodded, "I can do that if you can. It'll free us up for the Magic Mountain trip too."

Shaun suggested, "How does Friday the fourteenth sound to you?"

Gil grinned, "Excellent. Happy birthday to me."

Ben asked Gil, "Your birthday is the fourteenth?"

Rapidly nodding, Gil smiled, "I turn seventeen."

Ben widely smiled, "Many happy returns, in advance."

Nudging Mike, Shaun teased, "We're going for seventeen times that night." Shaking his head, Gil evilly snickered.

"I'll get you canes so you can walk the next day," Derrick joked.

Ben gently tapped Eddie then whispered, "I need your bathroom."

Eddie giggled, "Alone?"

Nodding, Ben giggled, "This time."

Eddie led Ben inside the sunroom, but Graham never left Ben's side. As they stepped into the small bathroom, Eddie giggled, "Five minutes, dudes."

"I promise to be good," Ben giggled.

Closing the bathroom door, Graham silently mouthed, "He's really good, bro."

Walking away in a giggling fit, Eddie heard Ben laugh, "You're not being good, puddin'. Dinner was four hours ago, I really do have to go." Covering his mouth, Eddie cracked up.

Watching his partner stagger out of the sunroom, Matt went to Eddie asking, "Already?"

Eddie nodded and giggled, "Ben needs to go and Graham's being bad."

Stunned at what they overheard, Derrick's and Mike's jaws dropped. Picking up his guitar, Shaun smiled at his two band mates, wondering "You didn't expect it?"

"Not from Ben, immediately upon arrival," Derrick grinned.

Gil chuckled, "He was here last night too. Watch them together, dudes."

Shaun sat with his guitar and smiled, "What we see from the garage is only half the picture. Which is more infatuated is a coin toss. What gets me is Graham going from a skinny extrovert like Francis to a beefy introvert like Ben." Noticing Gil grinning madly, Shaun cackled, "What? I always preferred big dudes like you, honey. I'm not shedding light on any guarded secret."

Shaking his head, Mike grinned, "It's not the same dude we met Memorial Day. He wouldn't even talk to us."

"He ran inside, totally bam-foozled," Derrick smiled.

"A little at a time, he started speaking," Mike added.

Derrick nodded, "Even after we encircled him, the change wasn't this drastic."

Eddie and Matt cracked up, causing Derrick, Gil, Mike and Shaun to smile widely at them. Matt chuckled, "You dudes are way over analyzing. Sure, I love my buttercup and his photos. He comes to every ballgame and takes ten pictures of me for each one he takes of the rest of the game."

Eddie giggled, "What are the very best times though?"

"Making love is not the answer, so think again," Matt grinned.

Gil checked, "The absolute best times are before we fall asleep.

Nodding, Shaun agreed, "When there's nothing left to say or do and we're simply together."

Derrick smiled, "Yeah, when we're not asleep; just cuddled up together."

Mike rapidly nodded and added, "Waking easy in the morning too, before we do anything else."

Eddie suggested, "Try it more often, dudes. Take five or ten minutes to simply be, any time you feel like it."

"That's why I'm with Eddie," Matt shared. "A couple of times a day we practice just being; lying down together, standing and holding each other close, or even sitting at the table."

Eddie sighed, "There's nothing finer than a few quiet minutes together, not concerned about anything; listening to birds chirp or rain falling or the wind blowing."

Before another word was said, Gil took two towels off the table and carefully spread them out on the concrete deck. He lay down and looked up at the stars. Shaun put his guitar back in its case then went and lay down with Gil. Derrick took Mike's hand and led him into the shallow end of the pool where they took hold of each other to simply be. Eddie got up and sat on Matt's lap. Gazing deeply into one another's eyes, they carelessly let time pass.

Many minutes later, Ben had finished on the toilet and finished off Graham. Taking the spot on the porcelain throne, Graham took care of business and Ben too. They walked outside, surprised that there was no guitar playing, no singing, and no talking. Recognizing what was going on, Graham led Ben to the diving board. They took their clothes off and Graham prompted Ben to lie down on the board, with his head over the concrete and his feet over the water. Graham then carefully lay down on Ben. For many more minutes, there was only the sound of the crickets and the pool filter pumping water.

Shaun and Gil got up from the towels and went into the shallow end of pool near Derrick and Mike. Not a minute later, Matt and Eddie joined them in the pool. Softly whispering about how nice those minutes felt, they gave Ben and Graham some time to be. Then they stealthily paddled across the pool to the diving board. Matt and Gil held Graham down on top of Ben while the other four tickled four feet, shattering the minutes of serenity with loud laughter.

As soon as he was released, Graham bounded up and dove in. Ben followed to cannon-ball his friends, making a huge splash. Graham went on the attack, throwing himself at Shaun, Gil, Derrick and Mike. Before anyone could get to Ben, Eddie prompted, "Follow me inside for a minute, bro? I need to show you something."

Nodding, Ben didn't ask questions, but simply followed Eddie out of the pool. Moments later, alone in Eddie's first floor bedroom, Eddie smiled, "Remember that shitty white blur photo from last night?"

"Sure," Ben grinned, and added, "it really wasn't too bad, considering you took five pictures so fast, dude."

"It's what I found in that white blur that's amazing," Eddie giggled. He pulled up the original photograph, and then zoomed in on an area near the top center, between Gil's and Matt's out of focus arms.

Seeing something on the monitor, but not certain what it was; Ben scowled, "It almost looks like a face. What is that?"

Eddie giggled, "That's pretty much what I said." He then applied a filter effect that took a while to render.

Recognizing the face as it was still being rendered, Ben shivered, "Oh my God."

Eddie looked up at Ben and smiled, "You know who that is?"

Ben nodded, "It's the face from my dream; it's Francis."

"Now check this out," Eddie giggled, and went to work loading another photograph. "I took this June twenty-third, two days before the accident. Francis was floating around the pool."

A moment later, after the picture had loaded and Eddie moved the filtered pool view beside the earlier photo of Francis, Ben wiped his eyes then nodded, "That's him, just like he was in my dream." Ben asked, "Who else knows about this?"

"No one," Eddie smiled. "Matt was in the kitchen when I found it this afternoon."

Ben hummed then asked, "Do you think Graham should see it?"

Eddie shrugged, "Do you?"

Blown away, Ben sighed, "I'm not sure. I think he'd like to, but it will probably make him a little sad too. I finally got him to talk about Francis, like he was away on extended vacation in China, earlier tonight, in the car. I think he's really seeing it that way. It's good for him and for me too. We were talking to Graham's mom about phases of grief before dinner…"

Eddie suddenly cracked up and pointed at the window, where Matt and Graham were suspiciously peeking in.

Ben giggled, "Can I open the window? I'll call Graham in." Still giggling, Eddie rapidly nodded. Ben went around the bed and slid open the window.

"My teddy bear, bro," Graham chuckled.

From the pool, Derrick, Mike, Gil and Shaun sang, "Busted!"

"Come inside, puddin'," Ben giggled.

Graham prompted, "For?"

Carefully watching Graham and his own tone of voice, Ben answered, "A very surprising photo, of Francis."

After thinking about it a few moments, Graham shook his head, saying "He's in China. It's you and me now, and for the foreseeable future, Ben."

Ben whimpered then nodded, "We'll be right out."

"With the camera," Eddie giggled.

Turning and going near the pool, Matt chuckled, "Out of the pool, dudes. Un-shrivel your dickies and nads for Eddie's perverted camera." Ben slid the window closed then he and Eddie cracked up.

Climbing out of the pool, Shaun cackled, "At least Mike's here, so my dickie isn't as unique as it was last night."

Close behind Shaun and rubbing his lover's wet buns, Gil smiled, "It's still unique to me, bubbala."

"Our first ever erection line-up," Shaun sniggered.

Climbing out via the stairs with Derrick, Mike repeated, "The first ever, really?"

"That's just wrong," Derrick chortled.

Handing out towels, Graham chuckled, "Hold that thought, dudes. Lemme see if I can get Ben to go along with it."

Matt nodded and grinned, "Getting 'em up doesn't take as long as getting 'em back down again, so let's get limp dickies first."

Walking out of the sunroom with Eddie following, Ben went directly to Graham. Handing the last towel to Mike, Graham guided Ben aside and whispered the suggestion in his partner's ear. Ben started giggling before Graham finished speaking. Wide-eyed, Graham watched Ben stagger then loudly laugh, "Mike!"

Jumping at the sudden loud calling from Ben, of all people, Mike hollered, "What!" Also momentarily stunned, Derrick chortled, causing Shaun to crack up at the expressions of his two band mates.

Ben giggled, "An erection line-up, dude?" Eddie, Graham and Matt broke into muffled hysterics.

Shrugging, Mike sniggered, "It was only a thought. Shaun's idea, backed by me and Derrick, but whatever, dude."

Matt chuckled, "Limp dickies first, bro; then couples make the magic happen for another set of pictures."

Ben giggled, "What about you and Eddie? You're the ones taking the pictures, and joining the lineup, one at a time."

"It's a warm night," Eddie giggled, "no problem here, bro."

Hoping for backup from someone, Ben turned to Gil. "We were hard in the pool last night, dude," Gil grinned. "Really, it's you, Derrick and Mike that are newcomers."

Shaun playfully muttered "Don't say 'comers', hon." Mike, Derrick and Gil cracked up.

In a fit of giggles, Ben turned to Graham, who smiled, "Whatever you say, teddy bear; limp dickies only and we're the ones taking the pictures. Then we get to watch the rest of 'em dash into the sunroom."

Shaking his head and hoping to calm Ben's fears, Mike pointed at his crotch, grinning, "Three inches now to eight. You're bigger than me right now, Ben."

Matt smiled, "Another to eight."

"Seven and a half," Gil admitted.

"Seven," Derrick grinned.

"Seven here too," Graham smiled.

"Six and three-eighths," Shaun shared.

"Exactly six," Eddie giggled.

Since Ben couldn't speak, Graham enthusiastically said, "Ben's never measured and it hasn't been a priority for us. I'll guess at least six and half inches and much thicker than I am."

"Oh Christ, another one," Mike grumbled.

Noticing the others curiously grinning, Derrick chuckled, "Keith and Prez, dudes. Both of 'em have thick cocks."

Eddie giggled, "Tomorrow the wide angle lens gets snapped on."

Gil chuckled, "I heard Corey has seven inches, but nothing about thickness."

Shaun wondered, "What about Drew, honey?"

"Dunno," Gil shrugged.

Rolling his eyes, Mike sighed, "Drew is Keith's brother. They're about the same, almost seven by almost six."

Gil asked, "What about Prez?"

"Six and three eighths by five and a half," Derrick grinned.

Matt and Eddie led the others to the fence, to allow Graham and Ben to talk.

Graham checked with Ben, smiling, "It's all out in the open, literally." He leaned close to whisper, "Be proud 'cos I sure as hell am. We can get each other rock hard with a single deep kiss. If you want payback, my ass is yours, very willingly."

Nodding, Ben giggled, "What the hell."

Ben and Graham went over to join the lineup. Ben locked eyes with Mike. "It's not my fault," Mike laughed.

Shaun sniggered, "I only mentioned it because Gil was teasing. Another word and wood would've popped anyway."

Gil playfully wondered, "Which word is this?"

"Helium," Shaun giggled. Matt, Eddie, Gil, Graham and Ben lost it and cracked up.

Mike grinned, "Why helium?"

"As in my floating feet," Shaun giggled, and then flashed Mike and Derrick the lickity-split signal. The three of them cracked up.

Eddie giggled, "What the hell was that, Shaun?"

Shaun gestured to Mike, who gestured to Derrick, who chuckled, "Prez and his Texas sayings led to a series of tangents." With his left hand, Derrick demonstrated and explained, "Get your legs in the air and flick your tongue over the fleshy bit." All eight howled laughing and the lineup fell apart.

Turning to Ben, Graham sniggered, "You never told me that."

Ben giggled, "They never told me or even showed me. I was the only one around without a partner."

Mike chuckled, "Don't feel too left out, Ben. We haven't taught Corey or Drew that either."

Derrick nodded and chortled, "We're not sure if they've gone there or not. If we flash it tomorrow night and Corey falls into the pool laughing, the question is answered." Eddie was trying to line up the shot, but lowered his camera and cracked up.

Reorganizing themselves into a lineup, seven out-of-sync voices laughed "Hurry up, Eddie."

Breathlessly, Eddie flashed them the lickity-split signal, with extra tongue action between his fingers. Softly sniggering, Matt went to his hysterical lover. He took the camera hanging off Eddie's neck then led Eddie to the lineup, in between Shaun and Mike. Wrapping his arms around Mike's and Shaun's shoulders, Eddie pulled them closer and hung off them.

Backed up to the pool, Matt instructed, "Stop acting like straight dudes. Grab a shoulder or waist and pull together."

Doing as he was told, Derrick grinned, "I thought you said limp dickies first?"

Looking down both sides of the lineup, Mike grinned, "One Eddie sandwich, comin' up."

The view finder showed Gil's right hip and Ben's left hip would still be chopped off, so Matt shuffled back until he had the entire group. Kneeling down on the pool edge, with his legs hanging over the water, Matt grinned, "Okay, say dick cheese, dudes," and snapped the picture.

Mike smiled at Eddie, wondering, "How much do you weigh?"

"About one-thirty," Eddie giggled.

Derrick grinned, "You're thin as a rail, dude. If it weren't for muscle, I'd start shoveling food into your mouth."

Approaching the lineup, Matt assured, "He eats almost as much as I do, three meals a day plus between meal snacks. It's just Eddie's metabolism burns every calorie." Matt gave Eddie the camera. Eddie got out of the lineup and Matt went down to the end by Gil.

Mike said, "While we're on the subject, who here doesn't know Corey's anorexic?"

"Me," Shaun, Matt, Eddie and Graham chirped.

Mike nodded, "Just don't say anything about it tomorrow, unless Corey or Drew brings it up."

Shaun nodded and Derrick explained, "Corey's doing so much better, but he's still got some more weight to gain. Eddie's only an inch taller than Corey. I'd expect Corey to talk to you directly, Eddie. All you have to say is positive, encouraging stuff."

"Cool," Eddie grinned, and started lining up the next photograph.

"That'll be bonus material for Corey tomorrow night," Mike suggested. "Between me, Matt, Gil and Ben, Corey will see four large framed dudes, all different heights. If you catch Corey staring and whispering to Drew, assume that's what's goin' on."

Only to poke fun, Ben and Graham sang, "Drew's our hero." Smirking, Derrick and Mike turned to Graham and Ben, causing the latter two to crack up.

Shaking his head sadly, Mike warned Ben, "You're so lucky you've got a boyfriend and that Doug and Brian are back."

"I know I'm lucky," Ben giggled.

"Brrr," Graham shivered.

Ben giggled, "Grrr."

"Wait," Eddie giggled, "don't you two start yet!" He knelt down and giggled, "Say dick cheese." The all chanted the phrase and Eddie snapped the photo.

Turning to Mike, Shaun grinned and rolled his eyes. Mike smiled, "I know, dude."

Eddie hurried to Matt and was quickly lifted off the ground and kissed hard. Without instruction, the remaining three couples began locking lips. Less than a minute later, Eddie giggled, "Raise your... whatever, when you're ready, dudes," and then reattached his mouth to Matt's. Arms raised a couple at a time, beginning with Ben and Graham. Seeing that everyone was ready, Matt let Eddie down. Eddie smiled, "Let's make this quick and get back to makin' out," and went to take the first two pictures of erections and smiling faces. The lineup reorganized and all seven wrapped arms around each other. Eddie's eyes flashed across seven bones, barely believing that Ben, Derrick and Mike seemed almost as thick as his much larger partner. On his knees, Eddie snapped the first photo then stood. Almost immediately, Eddie giggled, "Okay dudes, only Matt and Shaun are looking into the camera." All seven evilly snickered.

Matt chortled, "Your dickie's amazing, buttercup." Glancing down the line, Matt smiled, "Three times his limp state."

"Look at the camera!" Eddie laughed. A moment later, he giggled, "Say blue balls…"

"Blue nose," all eight finished, and Eddie snapped the photo. He and Matt approached and the camera was handed off. After kissing Matt, Eddie quickly joined the lineup.

Preparing to take the photo, Matt chuckled, "None of you are looking into the camera!"

"You're huge, bro," Shaun chuckled, "Jerry's the only dude we know that's larger."

Matt chuckled, "So damn large his stiffy points out instead of up." He waved his left arm near the camera and called, "Ben and Gil, over here, dudes." All seven giggled and sniggered. Matt quickly snapped the picture before attention wavered below his waist again.

Gil grinned, "I know why, but I'll still never fully understand Matt and Eddie as a couple."

Kneeling down, Matt reminded, "Eddie's hunky little muscular body can keep up with me. All you dudes know that I did more than my share of searching. If you think of us as mismatched, like the tortoise and the hare, it's actually Eddie who's the rabbit."

"Put that camera down as soon as you take the photo," Eddie giggled. "I'm gonna jump you right after the flash and we'll fall into the pool."

Shaun sniggered, "I'm getting the feeling this party might end after this picture."

Eddie giggled, "It doesn't have to; only if you dudes want to finish what we've started."

Derrick reminded, "It's almost midnight anyway, Eddie."

Matt took the picture, put the camera down and quickly stood, just barely ready for Eddie's leap into his arms.

As the lineup broke apart, Mike said, "We'll be back tomorrow night anyway."

Picking up his own and Mike's clothes, Derrick then went to Eddie and Matt. "Thanks for the reminder to just be, dudes," Derrick warmly smiled. "Life tends to lead us to forget simplicity."

Eddie smiled, "You've heard it before?"

Derrick and Mike nodded. Mike offered, "We get so busy doing stuff that we forget to spend time doing nothing."

Shaun smiled, "We're all perfect as we are. If any individual sees themselves as less than perfect then it's up to them to correct that imperfection; God won't do it for you."

Pulling his shorts up, Gil nodded, "It's a problem us Christians are fed all our lives. Worse, a lot become arrogant about their beliefs and wallow in that sin. Being with Shaun and hanging with Eddie has taught me more in the last two months than I've learned in almost seventeen years."

Derrick nodded, "I started getting interested in Eastern philosophies about two years ago. Doug and Brian have added to those ideas and lessons."

Off to the side, where they had left their clothes and were dressing, Ben asked Graham, "Do you understand this stuff?"

Graham shrugged, "To a certain level, I guess. What's wrong, teddy bear?"

Pulling his shorts up over his boxers, Ben scowled, "How can I, or anyone, be perfect as we are?"

"Cause and effect," Graham simply replied.

With his shorts on and his shirt in his hand, Derrick went nearer to Ben, smiling, "Ask yourself, 'Is the world the same as it was in May; is it the same as it was a week ago, before you met Graham?'"

"No, to both questions," Ben replied.

Following Derrick, Mike grinned, "Assuming the world hasn't changed and you have, the difference between May, late July and right now is only your perception of it."

Still attached to Matt, Eddie asked, "Which world was an illusion, bro?"

Ben frowned, "I don't understand. How can any world perception be an illusion?"

Derrick smiled, "Okay, was a boyfriend possible in May?" Ben shook his head. Derrick asked, "How about in July?"

"More possible, but still a dream," Ben answered.

Mike asked, "And now that you have a boyfriend, how has that vision changed?"

Ben giggled, "Every moment of every day is a dream come true."

Graham softly shivered, "Brrr."

Matt smiled, "So since the world is the same and your view of it has changed, then all your perceptions have been illusions, based on where you were at."

Eddie nodded, "We all reflect our own personality on the world around us. Naturally, what we see is dictated by how we think and feel. It's a matter of training your mind, bro. The more you understand cause and effect, the more you'll realize that what's around you is only an illusion."

Rapidly shaking his head, Ben giggled, "Then we all just shared an illusion of eight bones?"

Shaun chuckled, "No, dude. The reality for each of us was the same. How we got those stiffies is the illusion. If all eight of us swapped partners, we'd still be working on getting those erections. Get it?"

"Sort of, I guess," Ben giggled.

Gil smiled, "It's what separates us from all other animals, Ben. Imagine holding close and kissing any one of us, except Graham. No quickening heartbeat, no excitement, no bone, right?" Ben rapidly nodded. Gil shared, "So Shaun is more to me than he is to you. So Graham is more to you than he is to me. So the asshole calling us fags is only what we allow ourselves to imagine. So when Francis and Graham got into an accident, it meant nothing to you until you got to know Graham. For each of us that knew Francis, even a little bit, like me, it affected us differently than it did Graham. The reality was the same; our perception and reaction to it was the illusion."

Shaun tapped Mike and asked, "In early July, when we first started rehearsing, how was my playing and singing, compared to earlier today?"

Mike thought for a few moments then smiled, "Worlds apart."

Shaun told Mike and Ben, "Due to my preoccupation. As the sadness and fear dwindled, I was more in the moment, where I need to be to play and sing."

Graham nodded then told Ben, "Knowing some of this didn't change my suddenly altered reality. That was the mind fuck that kept me in a funk for a month. You're the very sudden counter shock that pulled me out of the funk. The photos last week, you easily saw and understood for me. Who knows when I would've figured that out on my own? We had the same reality; I was still in my own illusion; your clearer perception solved a problem. Earlier tonight, I didn't want to see whatever picture you wanted me to see, because I choose this reality, this moment, with you."

Understanding, Ben smiled, "Eddie e-mailed me the pictures. When you want to see, I can show you."

Slowly shaking his head, Graham assured, "It'll be a long time, teddy bear. Being with you is the reality I want. Our shared illusion is what I choose to perceive. The alternative is to continue missing Beanie, leaving you wanting, but not getting."

Derrick smiled at Mike, muttering "Nights in White Satin."

Mike nodded and mysteriously recited, "Breathe deep, the gathering gloom. Watch lights fade from every room. Bedsitter people look back and lament; another day's useless energy spent."

Shaun and Derrick joined Mike, reciting, "Impassioned lovers wrestle as one. Lonely man cries for love and has none. New mother picks up and suckles her son. Senior citizens wish they were young. Cold hearted orb that rules the night removes the colors from our sight; red is grey and yellow white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion."

Ben, Eddie, Gil, Graham and Matt enthusiastically clapped.

Locking eyes with Ben, Mike chuckled, "Are you getting it yet?"

Ben nodded and giggled, "I feel like I just spent an hour with Doug and Brian."

Derrick smiled, "We're not there; maybe in twenty more years."

Graham wondered, "What's it going to be like tomorrow, with Keith and Prez here?"

"Better harmonies, not only in the music," Shaun grinned.

Rolling his eyes, Mike grinned, "Don't forget your wide angle lens, Eddie," and went to get his guitar.

"No problem," Eddie giggled. "That was one of my goals for working this summer."

Derrick began hugging his friends. Getting to Graham, he said that he would tell Keith and Prez about the Wednesday beach plans. He told Shaun that he would remind Prez to bring his acoustic bass and that he would bring some percussion instruments along. Eddie and Matt got warm thanks and promises that they would be back often.

Soon, everyone was saying goodnight. Gil climbed the fence. Shaun passed over his guitar then jumped up and over. Ben, Graham, Derrick and Mike walked around front to their cars. Eddie and Matt went inside, turned off the pool and yard lights then went back to Eddie's room to call it a night.

As soon as they were alone in the car, Graham smiled, "How do you feel teddy bear?"

Ben giggled, "Fine. Why wouldn't I be?"

Pulling away from the curb, Graham nodded, "I was just checking. You know if you decided not to show your bone, I would've been perfectly fine with that, right?"

Ben nodded, "I know. It's just me, puddin'. Not that long ago, I wouldn't let strangers see me in a locker room. I guess that's just my illusion."

Graham nodded, "That's exactly what it is, a figment of your imagination. I'm really so proud of you too."

Ben giggled, "How proud?"

"As proud as you need me to be," Graham chuckled.

"I won the bet," Ben reminded.

Remembering Ryan at the car dealership, Graham sniggered, "Fine." Giggling gleefully, Ben lowered his seatback to recline, pulled his knees up to his chest and pumped his arms, doing a little happy dance. Graham howled laughing.

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