Kaiser's Pack - Next Gen

by Bensiamin

Chapter 10

As it turned out, Roger was to Nate's right, and Matt was to his left, leaving Jerrod between Roger and Matt. As they sat cross-legged on Nate's bed, the three older boys could see Nate hardening fast as he eyed the larger cocks now arrayed in front of him.

They had checked each other out as they climbed on the bed, and Matt looked at Nate sympathetically, seeing how his brother's hard on was straining against the cast.

Jerrod spoke first, "Someone's got to start this, and I've got you, Matt, so I'm going to say one thing. This is sex, just sex. Not gay or straight sex, just sex. And it's going to feel good and be fun. That's all there is to it."

He reached for Matt's half-hard cock and added, "Are you good with that?"

Matt shuddered at the warm and sensuous feeling as Jerrod's hand closed around him, but he nodded, and in turn reached for Nate, who had already wrapped his fingers around Roger's cock and was enjoying with wonder the feeling of a foreskin under his fingertips.

"You've got a nice cock, Matt," Jerrod said softly, knowing his friend needed to be made to feel comfortable. He felt the boy's cock swell between his fingers. He heard Nate say something similar to Roger, commenting on how nice his foreskin felt. He had seen Matt being careful to hold Nate's cock so it wouldn't hit his cast, and he focused on stroking Matt and let himself enjoy the feelings that his boyfriend was generating from his own cock.

The silence continued as they all focused on the task at hand, and after a couple of minutes, Nate said, "God, you guys, this is totally unbelievable. Matt, you're making me feel wonderful, and seeing the hard ons you guys have is so hot, I can't believe it." A minute later he looked at his brother and gasped, "Matt, I'm close." His brother nodded and smiled softly.

Nate came first, crying out like he was losing it, but he also recovered quickly and that let him turn his attention to Roger. He didn't even ask but reached up and wet his fingertips with saliva and went back to work. Roger groaned and Jerrod felt him pause momentarily, understanding how that must have felt.

He looked at Matt, who was now focused on the feelings that Jerrod's hand was creating. "Are you good with that?" Matt nodded, and Jerrod likewise wet his fingertips and placed them back on the head of Matt's cock, focusing the small strokes there. Matt groaned and his head rolled back on his shoulders. Jerrod could hear his heavy breathing and could hear Roger's breathing speed up, too. Then he realized his own body was starting to seriously respond and he took pleasure in the comfort he always had when Roger's fingers were on his cock.

Roger came with a high-pitched groan and shot over Nate's legs. Matt had placed both hands behind himself as a brace and leaned back, and Jerrod continued focusing on the head of his cock, carefully making small but intense strokes with his fingertips. When Matt came, it was with a loud 'Naaaahhhh!' sound, most of it shot into the palm of Jerrod's hand and then dribbled down onto the sheet. He saw Matt's head roll back further, his mouth wide open and gasping. Then he heard Roger say softly, "Now it's your turn, liebling ." He looked down and watched his boyfriend's fingers work their magic on his cock, then looked him straight in the eyes with a soft smile that was met by the same. Jerrod started getting close and breathing hard, and Roger mouthed to him, "I love you."

They were all silent as they recovered, and Nate couldn't contain himself and spoke first. "That was the coolest thing ever. Matt, that was so good! Was it good for you?" Then he looked at Jerrod and Roger, "and for you guys, too? I watched the expressions on your faces when you came, and it was some kind of amazing!"

Matt smiled shyly and then said, "I have to say, it was amazing. You two looked like you enjoyed it, too, right?"

"Oh, yeah," Roger said. He looked at Nate and added, "you do good work!" Then he looked at his boyfriend with questioning eyes. Jerrod smiled back and said, "It was wonderful, like always."

He looked at Matt, concerned about what he might be thinking that he wasn't saying, and asked, "You're all right with this? With what we did?"

Matt, still smiling, looked at him and said, "Oh, yeah. You're the first person to ever do that except me, but it was so intense it was like a whole new experience or something!"

They watched Matt walk down the walkway to the Cherokee the next morning, and he had an open but neutral expression on his face. They all said hi to each other as he got in the back seat, then as they heard his seat belt click Jerrod turned and said, "I've got to ask an important question. Did you go to sleep or wake up feeling guilty or embarrassed?"

"Nope. Who had time? I had to wash the sheets and change Nate's bed after you guys left and before Mom got home. Then help her fix dinner, then do homework, and also talk to Nate a couple of times about what a rad experience it was. God, he was trying to get me to sign up to jack him off every day. He could have gone on about it all night."

"But you're okay," Roger asked. "That's what we want to know. That you're all right."

"Yeah, I am. I thought about it awhile last night before I went to sleep, and it felt totally awesome, and it was fun. It was nice, too, that you guys would do that for me and Nate. It helped me get over a hang up between me and my brother, too, so that's a plus."

Jerrod grinned at him, turned forward and shifted into gear and they headed for school.

In a minute Matt said, "Did you guys enjoy it, too?"

Roger looked back at him and said, "You little brother's got a pretty effective touch. That's all I'll say."

Matt chuckled and then added, "I'll tell you that so does your boyfriend. You may have thought it was unfair 'cause you were the only one that's uncut, but another unfair part was we all had a new hand on our cocks but Jerrod had to settle for old reliable."

Jerrod laughed out loud and said, "I can tell you he knows what he's doing. But I got to hold a new cock, too, remember, and it was a pretty nice one, so it was good for me."

"You mean that, that I've got a nice cock?"

"Yeah, it's good looking and a hand full, and you can take it to the bank, coming from a gay boy. Right, Roger?"

Roger chuckled and said, "That's for sure. It looked pretty nice from where I was. What really matters, though, is what Jerrod asked. That you're not feeling guilty or embarrassed about it."

"If you'd asked me about it this time yesterday morning, I probably would have turned beet red and told you no way in hell. But by the time David and Jackson got done with me yesterday, something had changed. It was like a reset or something. Normally I think I would have felt bad about it, now I don't."

They pulled in the parking lot and Jerrod parked in his usual spot at the back of the lot.

"That's good, man. We told David and Jackson before I took Roger home, and that's all they were concerned about… that you weren't feeling guilty or embarrassed."

As they headed for the school building, Jerrod added, "So, mission accomplished. See you at lunch."

Tennis practice went well, and after school they pulled up in front of Matt's house and all went in to see Nate. Jerrod and Roger had the same question for him as they'd asked Matt in the morning.

"What? Yeah, I thought it was great. I didn't feel any guilt or embarrassment. I thought it was amazing. I mean, I got to see three really nice cocks, I got to handle one, everyone got off and looked pretty happy. What's not to like?"

Matt grinned at his little brother. "You're a horny little fucker, aren't you?" Nate just grinned back at him.

The next morning Matt told them that Nate had gotten almost halfway around the block. "Another day or two and I'll bet he can walk around the whole thing. We'll get a read on that tomorrow when we go to PT."

What they learned when they got to the Physical Therapy department at Doernbecher was that the initial physical therapy sessions were part of his surgical recovery regimen. Matt, and Todd, the physical therapist, hit it off immediately, because he'd gone to the same high school as all of them and played football, though he'd graduated nine years earlier. He hadn't met Roger and Jerrod but had good things to say about the dog therapy teams. He was enthusiastic with Nate as he started his evaluation.

"So, here's the deal Nate. You'll be seeing me three or four times here at the hospital. This is part of the assessment for removing your cast because when it comes off, you'll have to very slowly start weight bearing on that leg. So, I'm going to assess your general condition and your left leg strength. That will let us know where you are today, then we'll start working up from there, and that'll be part of the assessment for when the cast comes off. Do you understand?"

Nate nodded and then said, "Jerrod and Roger and their dog Kaiser were my dog therapy team when I was in here. We've become friends and they've worked with me since I went home. A couple weeks ago Matt and them started pushing me to carefully use the walker more. First, in the hallway in our house… kind of like laps. Then when the weather was good, outside, so I'd get better with the walker and get some conditioning back. Matt said it'd be important to show up here in shape instead of just being a vegetable." He grinned.

Todd smiled back at him. "You've got a good therapy team and a smart brother. He's been having you do exactly the right stuff… as long as you haven't been bearing weight on your right leg. Can you confirm that for me?"

"Oh yeah. They were all real clear on that. Especially Jerrod and Roger 'cause they see Ortho patients all the time, and that's what the charge nurse told them. So, no weight on that leg, and we've focused on arm and shoulder strength too, to handle the walker and the walks to strengthen the other leg."

"That's good to hear," Todd replied. He grinned, "It means you know how to follow orders, and that'll be really important for the next few months, too. Okay, now here's what we'll do to start. I want you stripped down to your shorts… and those cut down sweats look like a perfect solution for your situation with that cast. Then I'm going down to the other end of the room and you're going to slowly walk down to me using the walker. I want you looking right over the top of my head, okay? What I'm doing is assessing your gait and overall strength. When you're halfway there I'll squat down, and you keep looking at that imaginary spot over where my head used to be. Got it?"

Nate nodded. "Then when you get to me stop, and you'll turn around and do the same thing, but walking away from me and come back to this spot." First, he took his wrist and measured Nate's heart rate, then he turned to the boys and said, "Why don't you guys take a seat for a few. It'll take ten to fifteen minutes to do this evaluation."

They did, and Todd walked to the other end of the room, which was almost fifty feet away, and signaled Nate to start. When he was halfway there, Todd squatted down like he said he would, and when Nate stopped in front of him, he stood up and smiled, then made some notes in a chart. He helped Nate turn around and aimed him back, so he was facing the boys, and told him to walk back to where he'd started. He followed the boy back, then said, "Good job, Nate," and reached for his pulse to measure his heart rate. "You're not breathing hard, and your pulse rate is hardly elevated at all. Looks to me like the conditioning training you've been doing has worked. How do your arms and shoulders feel?"

Nate said they felt fine because that walk was shorter than waking down the block, and Todd smiled at him. He pointed to a therapy table and said, "Now, I need you on your back" He helped him off the walker and lifted the leg cast to get him up on the table. "You manage this cast really well. Most kids are like a sack of rocks, meaning they pretty much can't do anything. Having this surgery at your age screws up your life, I know, but one consolation is that you're more physically developed, and you can handle the bulk and the weight."

Todd then proceeded to do a series of measurements of lateral and lifting strength in his left leg, carefully had him turn over on his stomach and measured his leg's strength with a knee flex. Then he stood Nate back up, slipped him the walker and steered him to a specialized weight machine. "Now, we're going to see what your arm and shoulder strength is like." He had Nate do a series of lifts and presses on the machine and then thanked him for being such a good patient.

They both walked over to the boys and Todd asked if Nate wanted some water? He shook his head and leaned on his walker, a look of anticipation on his face.

Todd grinned at him. "Okay, so here's the deal. You are in quite good shape considering the surgery you had less than six weeks ago. You walk with a smooth gait, even though you're using the walker and swinging the leg in the cast. That's because your left leg is pretty strong and healthy, and that will matter a lot when the cast comes off. It that leg isn't working right, the odds on something happening that could end up with you overweighting or injuring the right leg are pretty high. Your upper body strength is good, too. You can certainly manage the walker instead of it managing you. So, I'm going to write up this exam and all the results and send them over to your surgeon. It'll be his call on when to take off the cast, but I can see no physical reason not to do so when he feels it's time. Then, I'll see you again next week, and we'll do a little more conditioning work."

He looked at Matt. "In the meantime, I'm going to give you a heavy-duty rubber band, for isometric strengthening. You know what I mean?"

Matt nodded.

"You can help him here each day by looping it around is left ankle and standing on his right side. Then he's got to start doing reps with his left leg, flexing it out, away from the other leg. That starts building lateral strength in his upper leg and hip muscles… in fact, all the way into his abdominal muscles. It'll help a lot. Okay?"

Matt nodded again, and Todd went on, "We'll see then when the cast comes off, and I'll see you at least two more times after that to get your conditioning regimen established. Then I'll be handing you off to a PT closer to home, so you don't have to come to the hospital each week. Sound like a plan?"

Nate smiled, and then said, "Can I ask you a question?"

Todd nodded back and Nate said, "We're all going to the beach in the middle of May for the long weekend. Will the cast be off by them? Will I still have to use the walker?"

"Nate, I'm not your surgeon. I'm just your physical therapist. My job's to assess you and work on your recovery and conditioning. That said, you're as fit as any patient I've seen after this surgery. The key part of the decision is going to be the next MRI to confirm that the head of your femur has grown back in the right shape, so that your right hip will work properly, and that the fusion in your femur itself has healed properly so that later they can safely remove the plate and screws. I can only give you a partial answer based on what I've seen today, but I'll tell you that what I see is very favorable. When do you have the next MRI?"

"Next week, on Wednesday."

"Okay, I'll see you Tuesday, we'll do conditioning work to get you ready so you can put on your best performance on Wednesday. In the meantime, keep up the walking and Matt will work with you with the rubber band. How's that?"

He smiled encouragingly and Nate grinned back at him. "Sounds like a plan to me!"

They were all elated as they drove down the hill from Doernbecher and headed back to Sellwood. Jerrod updated Jackson and David over dinner and then asked, "How did your meeting go?"

Jackson grinned at David and said, "See, I told you he'd be patient and at least wait till dinner to ask."

David grinned back and then turned to Jerrod and said, "It went very well. Surprisingly well, in fact. I've dealt with lots of foundations, and the small family ones can be the most difficult because they tend to do things their way. In this case, Mr. Behlen's niece, who runs the foundation, is a very intelligent and very sensitive person. We thought we'd likely have to do a little bit of leveraging about extending their special circumstances language to included children of deceased employees, but we didn't."

"Really? What does that mean?"

"Well, she acknowledged right up front that that was a hole in their educational qualification definition, and that this was the first time they had been approached about it."


"Yeah, interesting, eh? She went on to say she'd had a lengthy discussion with the VP of Human Resources, and he'd pulled the files and spoken to a few upper managers, and it turns out that Matt's dad had stellar performance reviews and was very well thought of. His death on the job was both an eyeopener and a scar for a company that had gone for years with no major employee accidents let alone deaths."

He paused, and Jackson went on. "It seems that his death was a classic accident, and it prompted a huge company-wide response about employee safety, about employee education around safety, all of that kind of stuff. Then, she essentially apologized that the company had been so focused on not letting another employee death happen again, that the employee himself and his family kind of fell by the wayside. Meaning they knew he was insured, and Laurie received the compensation and insurance payouts, but all the company focus was on improved safety and no one was paying attention to the family."

"That feels like a major fuck up," Jerrod said.

Jackson grinned. "She didn't say it that way, but she admitted it was an oversight they feel badly about. She was very curious about how we came into the picture, and we explained that David is your guardian, you live with us and you're one of Matt's best friends. In David's position as Dean of Students we understand how the educational system works and more about scholarships than his mother. That's why we were there representing the best interests of the eldest son."

"Wow! How'd she handle that?"

"Very well, actually," David said. "She has an MBA, plenty of experience in business, so she understood completely. I don't think she saw it as a threat or any kind of leverage, like we told you we thought we might have to play. She was open and responsive, and she assured us that Matt's application would be accepted and seriously considered just like other children of employees."

"Is that all?"

"You didn't expect we'd come back from that meeting with a scholarship in hand did you?" Jackson asked, with a wry grin.

"No, but you know."

"Look, you know how to read people, and you weren't there," David said. "She made no commitments, but all the signs were this is very liable to happen. So, here's the deal. The application is on the table in the hall. Jackson has already talked to Laurie, so tomorrow you give Matt the application for them to fill out and then we'll send it in."

"Actually," Jackson said, "my suggestion is that after it's complete, give it to me and I'll hand deliver it. That'll provide just a little extra… shall we call it 'motivation,' for them to do the right thing."

"Matt will be pretty excited, that's for sure."

Matt was more than excited when they explained it to him the next day. He took the application home and had it back to Jerrod the following day. Jackson said he'd hand deliver it on Friday. Which was the day of the next tennis tournament, against an admittedly weaker team from a high school in east Portland. It was on their home courts, and both Jerrod and Roger and his partner won their matches. Roger was elated, and Jerrod was thrilled for him. Winning your first team competition generates a unique feeling of accomplishment.

It seemed like all of their focus was on school and prepping Nate for his next PT appointment. Matt worked with him daily on the walking, and by Saturday he was able to make it around the block. At the beginning he was only able to do three lateral leg extensions with the isometric rubber bands, but by Saturday it was up to five, and he felt like progress was happening.

The plan was for Jerrod to sleep over at Roger's that night, and after his chores, he walked Kaiser before driving over. David and Jackson were meeting Dieter and Robert for dinner at a restaurant downtown. Roger's mom had suggested to his dad that they take the boys out to dinner, and when she quizzed her son, she decided she liked the sound of the Italian restaurant in Lake Oswego where Jerrod had taken Roger for Valentine's Day. It proved to be a great choice. They all had a great evening together, and the boys followed it with an amorous session together before they fell asleep.

In the morning on the way to the hospital, they picked up Kaiser, and when they got to the dog therapy room Suzanne and Rufus were already there with a lady introduced as the Director of the Dog Therapy Association. She asked them to put Kaiser through his paces, and they did the standard drill, alternating who was acting as trainer. They then chatted a while longer about their motivation and what they'd found to be most challenging so far. The lady listened intently, then said she was holding them up from seeing patients, and that they had better get working!

The therapy sessions passed normally with yet another set of new patients in need of comfort. Matt wasn't meeting with David because Sam had called the night before and told him she'd set up an impromptu meeting with the football coach at Portland State the next day, and that she'd secured a house to rent for the long weekend only a hundred yards or so away in Gearhart. The meeting would be in the Athletics Department at one o'clock, so she was picking him up at noon.

Team Kaiser went from the hospital to Nate's house and settled in to eat cookies and catch up with him. He had big news. He and Michael had been talking by phone two or three times per week, but the night before he's said that he could go to the beach with all of them in May.

"How did that happen?"

"Well, it turns out that his mom had the choice of doing that teacher certification in Pendleton, or, coming down to Portland for some kind of advanced certification. That's what she chose, so they're driving down on Thursday, she's staying with an old friend who's also a school teacher, and Michael gets to spend the weekend and take the train home on Sunday. Is that wild or what? I'm so excited, I get to see my boyfr…" He paused, embarrassed.

"Nate, give it up," Roger said. "We get it. We know it's been long distance, but he tells us he has a huge crush on you, too. You guys will have a great time. Just relax, okay?"

Nate grinned. "Is it that obvious?" Then he answered his own question. "I guess it is if I'm talking about him like he's my boyfriend. I mean we haven't even had a date or anything."

"Chill out, man," Jerrod said. "You've got one coming up, and a long weekend date. You think you're bi, he knows he's gay. You both need boyfriends, so it looks like it's coming together. We're all here for you."

About that time Matt came home. He leaned in the door and said, "Let me go change and take a piss and I'll come join you."

When he did, he was in jeans and a T-shirt and Jerrod said, "What took so long? Did the coach have you running wind sprints or something? I mean the meeting was at one o'clock, and it's three thirty now."

Matt grinned, his eyes twinkling, which was something Jerrod hadn't seen before. "It was a kind of a set up."

"Sounds like fun and we've missed the details," Roger said.

Matt was still grinning, clearly happy about the turn of events, even though he was playing it for all it was worth.

"So, what gives?" prompted Jerrod.

"We got there early, and had a good meeting with the Viking's football coach. It went really well. Coach Sam had all her stuff with her. The letter from our football coach confirming I qualified for a scholarship at Oregon State, a copy of the letter about no budget, a summary of my rankings and awards, all that stuff. I didn't even know some of it existed. Anyway, we guessed right, that because of the conference Portland State plays in they're basically choosing from second or third tier players. The tier one and tier two players are trying for the schools in the major conferences."

"So, what does that mean," Nate asked.

"It means they want me at Portland State."

"But you haven't even been accepted yet."

"Yeah, I know, and Coach Sam raised that problem and their coach said that I had good enough grades, and they always leave some admission slots open for late opportunities like this. How about that? I'm a late opportunity!"

"If that's the kind of set up you were complaining about," Jerrod said, 'it sounds to me like you could take one of those every week."

"Well, that was all good, but that wasn't the only one."

"No, what's the deal then?"

"After the meeting with the coach, we had another meeting. In the student cafeteria. With a student. With a high school student who's going to PSU next year. A high school senior who's doing a kind of athletic internship there."

"What's the problem with that. Sounds like a good guy to know."

That's where Matt's expression changed.

"It wasn't a dude. It was a girl. Coach Sam set up this second meeting to introduce me to one of the students from her high school who's on a track to be an athletics major."


"Whoa is right! I mean, it was cool, but can you believe it?"

"Somehow, knowing Sam like I do," Jerrod said, "I can believe it. Maybe it was just coincidence, and that girl was at PSU today."

"This definitely had the feeling to it like trying to hook two people up."

"And that's a problem," Nate responded, "seems like you said something about not dating or whatever."

"Well, yeah, but that's my deal. I mean I don't know this girl, and she goes to another school. Coach Sam is getting me connected with the football program at PSU and that's great. But what's with the matchmaking? Is she trying to take over my life or something?"

"Matt, it seems like you're overreacting," Jerrod said softly, "you know she's trying to help you out."

"Maybe I don't need help in the romance department! Maybe I can do a few things for myself."

"Well, I hope you weren't rude to her," Jerrod responded.

"No, I was nice and all that. But, it was like 'why's this even happening?' I mean we were there about a football scholarship."

Roger had been just listening to the interchange between Matt and his brother and Jerrod. He'd said nothing, and finally Matt looked at him and said, "Well, what do you think?"

"You really want to know?"

Matt nodded.

"I think Sam loves you so much she'd go out of her way to introduce you to someone she considers to be special and a terrific person. You don't think she'd try and hook someone like that up with any fly-by-nighter, do you?"

Matt was brought up short, but then said, "Well, no. And I didn't mean to sound ungrateful, just that it caught me off guard."

"Matt," Roger said.

They looked at each other and Roger continued, "You're getting over those sexual hang ups, remember? One of the most important adults in your life just did something amazing for you. I know Sam. She's not only a wonderful person and a great coach. You all know that from the time you've spent with her, right?"

Matt looked at Nate and then nodded.

"She's also a great mom and incredibly protective. If she arranged it for you to meet this girl, then guess what? She thinks you two go together, and she trusts you implicitly. She and Will were with Eric when they found Kim after he'd been slapped around by some skaters at the Burnside skate park a couple of summers ago. Kim lived with his dad and his mom died. Guess who wrapped Kim in her arms like a mom and took care of him? Guess who was the first person to figure out that Eric and Kim were a match, and who went out of her way to make it happen?"


"Yeah, man. Seriously."

"I didn't know."

"She's paying you the highest honor she could. Get serious. Don't blow it off. Don't fuck this up."

Matt was chagrined. "I'm sorry, I love her. I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I was trying to make a kind of joke out of it, you know, be funny, but I guess the old me came out after that. I've never had someone set me up before, I guess I don't know how to handle it."

Roger just said, "Be cool, man."

"I think that instead of set up," Jerrod added, "the preferred way to describe it is that Sam is trying to connect two people she believes to be compatible."

Matt looked crushed, almost like he was going to cry. "I'm sorry you guys. I know she's part of your family. I didn't mean to sound like an asshole or not appreciate what she's doing, or… or…oh fuck, I don't know what I mean. I can't believe I even fucked this up."

"Matt, can I say something personal?" Jerrod asked."

Matt just nodded, still looking crestfallen.

"You're kind of hung up about getting close to people. Look what it took for the three of us to get close. When you have good friends, and especially when you love people, you have to be willing to be open with them. I learned that the hard way last summer, and it was part of my problem with my parents. We were all kind of distant from each other, but I was afraid to open up and tell them about me, about being gay and the problems I was having." He paused, and saw Matt was still staring down at Nate's bed. He continued, "Matt, did you react this way because you're afraid of getting close to girls and having to open up to them?"

Matt was silent initially, then finally said, "I don't know. I feel really bad now. I don't know why I was thinking like that. Maybe you're right."

Matt had been standing next to Nate's bed the whole time, and Nate reached over and took his hand and pulled him toward the bed, saying, "Come here." Matt complied and the next thing he knew he was lying next to his little brother with his head on Nate's shoulder.

"It's okay, bro. There's a lot going on and a lot of this is new. I think you're just reacting or something. Like Roger said, just be cool. Everyone's trying to help you, you know?"

Matt mumbled "I know," and then they heard him say, "Why am I such a fuck up?" as they realized he was crying into Nate's shoulder.

Nate did a good job of soothing him, looking at Roger and Jerrod with wide eyes that asked the question 'What do I do?"

They just smiled at him and nodded encouragement to keep doing what he was doing. In a couple of minutes when Matt had calmed down, Roger walked around the bed and put his hands on Matt's shoulders and said softly, "I'm going to say something to you and I don't want you to get pissed or think you were betrayed, okay? David told us that at one point last Sunday you described yourself as pathetic. You just asked us 'why am I such a fuck up?' Here's the deal, Matt. You're not pathetic and you're not a fuck up. You're a great guy and you're our friend. We love you. You're just sorting out some really deep personal stuff right now, and every once in a while it feels like everything's upside down. Okay? Quit beating yourself up. Will you do that for us? Will you do that for yourself?"

Matt was quiet. Finally, Nate gave him a hug and said, "Matt. That was a question. Will you do it?"

Slowly he said, "Yeah, I will. You're right, Roger. Everything's seems to be upside down some times, and I can't keep track of what's what. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say stupid shit, and I didn't mean to diss Coach Sam."

Roger smiled at Nate and then at Jerrod, and said to Matt, "What was that? Did I hear you say something about what you did? Some stupid shit? I don't remember anything happening at all. We were sitting here talking to Nate about what's been going on and you came in from being at PSU with Sam. What happened."

Matt was initially quiet, then looked up from Nate's shoulder, smiled, wiped his face and sat up. Finally, he said, "We had a great meeting with the PSU football coach, and he wants me to play for him. Then Coach Sam did one of the most amazing things an adult has ever done for me, she introduced me to this cute and really cool girl from her high school. She thinks we'd be good together."

"Wow! Matt, you are one lucky dude," Jerrod exclaimed. "And you say she's cute, too?"

Matt smiled weakly and nodded his head. "Yeah, she is."

When Jerrod got home, Jackson said Sam had called and told him about the meeting at PSU. "She was pumped. Sounds like it all went really well."

"Yeah, Matt said, the PSU coach wants Matt to play for him, and they have some student slots they don't fill with regular applicants just for things like this." He decided not to say anything about Sam introducing Matt to Sam's student and how he reacted until he was sure Matt had it sorted out.

Jerrod needn't have worried. The next week was mid-terms, so it was heads down for everyone, even Nate, who had his test delivered by Team Kaiser. Matt was quiet Monday morning, and didn't say much beyond being okay… just thinking about mid-terms. It was the same at noon, and on the ride home after school.

"Matt, what's up," Jerrod pressed.

"Nothing, really. Just thinking. It is mid-terms, you know. Lot's going on."

Jerrod felt like he was being put off, but also decided Matt just might need space to sort out what he was processing. Tuesday was more of the same, but it changed in the afternoon with Nate's second PT session. It was much like the first one with Todd, mainly focused on light weight and isometric stretching to strengthen Nate's left leg.

After dinner the phone rang, and it was Matt for David. Jerrod was in his room studying and David came to tell him. "Matt's on his way over. He says he needs to talk, and his mom is letting him drive her car. Is there anything I need to know?"

Jerrod swallowed and then said, "Something else happened at PSU on Sunday, and I decided to wait and see how it sorted itself out before saying anything. After they met with the football coach, Sam introduced Matt to one of her students, a girl who's a senior and going to go to PSU next year. When he got home and was telling us about it, he kind of went sideways or something… like he didn't know how to handle it. He started out saying he could handle his own romance stuff, which was kind of like 'why's Coach Sam butting in?' but in the end it sounded more like he was afraid of getting close to someone."

"Good to know. Thanks. He sounded quite worked up, so we'll be in the office. I'll let you know how it goes."

Jerrod heard David let Matt in, both of them walked into the office and the door closed. He decided that since Matt had called David, not him, he should leave them alone. An hour later he heard them leave the office and then minutes after the front door opened and closed. He decided to give David five minutes to pour a glass of wine and join Jackson in the living room. Then he walked down.

"Everything go okay?" He'd tried to be cool about it but was worried.

"I think so in terms of where it ended up. Actually, I think so in terms of where it started, too. He was transparent from start to finish. I know he expects me to tell you a lot of it and I also know he'll tell you most of the details, too."

"So, he's okay?"

"Yes, I'm pretty sure he is. I think it's fair to say he frightened himself."

Jerrod's eyes widened, and Jackson looked a little quizzical, too.

"He couldn't understand why he reacted the way he did. So, start out with a young man who's hardly dated, and not had any serious or long-term relationships. He's just sorted out some major stuff in his life, that's compounded by the threat of no college without a football scholarship… the roller coaster ride which finally begins to look like it fortunately might be resolved, about which he's positive and excited."

David paused. "Are you with me so far?"

Jerrod nodded, and David continued, "But what hasn't changed in that picture."

"I don't know what you mean?"

"The twelve year-old who pulled away from most intimate relationships to protect himself is still the one that's inside that larger and more mature body. Yes, he's sorting a lot of the issues out intellectually, and he's started down the path of getting over sexual shame and embarrassment thanks to the therapy session you guys all had ten days ago, but suddenly out of the blue, someone that he likes and respects thrusts him into a position he initially sees as threatening."

"But Sam didn't do anything to threaten him."

"We know that, Jerrod, and what she did was positively motivated, and what happened was unintentional. Still, he had a subconscious reaction to something he perceived as a threat to his being."

"Really? Meeting a girl?"

"Not quite. Being introduced to a new girl, in a prearranged meeting he didn't know about, by someone he actually respects and cares about, which made him feel trapped and obligated."

"I guess I'm beginning to understand. Kind of like he got scared by something he thought was there but really wasn't."

"Kind of like that. He feels really bad that he reacted the way he did, even though he was nice at the meeting, because he thinks it confirms what he said before about being pathetic and a fuck up."

"But, we told him that… " David waved him off.

"This isn't logical, this is emotional and subconscious. Intellectually he feels bad that he went off the way he did, what you called going sideways. He understands what you said, but he's still trying to sort out why it happened. He can't understand why he'd do that. Especially after you guys had that jack off session. He thought that kind of proved that he was over the shame and embarrassment stuff."

"Isn't he?"

"It was certainly a good start. But this wasn't about shame and embarrassment. This was about something else."

"You mean fear of intimacy," Jackson asked?

David nodded. "Yes. That's what I tried to get him to understand. Resolving shame hang ups about sex is one thing. Maybe that means you're not embarrassed to talk about having sex or walking around naked, or jacking off with your friends. But being willing and able to be intimate with another person is something else." He looked at Jerrod, "He said you told him something like that on Sunday."

"Yeah, I said something about getting close to people means being willing to open up. I didn't just mean girls, you know, but getting close to people, to friends, to those you love."

"I think that's where he actually started to understand that this is something different for him. So, he's had five years of living in this emotional shell where he hasn't been open, let alone intimate, with anyone. Fortunately for him, you and Roger came along and cracked the shell and wiggled your way in there and started changing his life. Now he's realizing that what really has to happen is that he has to step up and get rid of the shell. Like you told him, he has to be willing to open his heart and soul to other people. In a way it's been relatively easy to do with you and Roger because you're all guys. You've got a bunch of stuff in common that you can build the relationship on, like sports and school and helping Nate. This was a different test: a completely new person, no common bonds, and the subconscious pressure that comes along with someone he respects setting it up."

"Wow. Life can be complicated, eh?"

"It can. Like I said, I think he understands intellectually that he has to come to grips with the fear of intimacy. There's something else that goes along with it that's a risk. I described it to him, and we talked about it, but I don't think he understood it. I think he'll get there, but he has to work on it, and here's the point. It's one thing to get past the shame and embarrassment about sex, but if you can't get to the point of being open and honest about yourself, of getting past the fear of intimacy, then you're at risk of objectifying people so they're seen only as sex objects. In his case, let's say this young woman has all the right elements and attributes to become his soulmate. If it happened, then it would be magic, but it will never happen if he can't or won't open up and the woman is only seen as a sex object. It happens with plenty of men in gay relationships, too. People need to be able to be open and honest about themselves, to share and receive, to give and take. Otherwise, it's not a two-way relationship."

"So, what happens now."

"We hope he keeps working on it, and you and Roger continue to be there for him. I told him we no longer needed to meet weekly, because I don't think it's healthy for him to develop the mindset that he's in therapy. I was going to tell him that last Sunday, but then we didn't meet because of the PSU meeting. I did tell him he can call me anytime and I'm here, like tonight. I also told him to keep talking to you and Roger and Jackson. I think the most important thing he needs is a sounding board, and also close friends that can say something like, 'why would you want to do that?' or 'do you realize what you just did?' You three can do that without it being threatening."

Tuesday evening the Director of the Dog Therapy Association called Jerrod to let him know that Team Kaiser had been selected and they would have the summer paid position. Jerrod was ecstatic, and they both agreed that they'd meet in early June to work out the schedule and hospital rotation. After hanging up, Jerrod immediately called Roger, and then went into the living room to let David and Jackson know.

Because of mid-terms, there was no tennis tournament on Friday, so getting out of tennis practice on Wednesday to take Nate for his MRI was easy to accomplish. Just like the previous time, after they loaded Nate in the cargo area of the Cherokee, they swung by home to pick up Kaiser with his vest, and then headed up to the hospital. Again, they took a chance and parked in the spots for dog therapy teams, and after dropping Nate off at Radiology, Matt was up for joining them in seeing patients. They headed for the Ortho floor, but only had time to see two since dinner was about to be served. They were back down in the Radiology waiting room before Nate's scan was complete.

"That girl who's having the scoliosis surgery tomorrow was pretty worried, wasn't she?" Jerrod asked out loud.

"Yeah, but she seemed a lot happier," Roger replied, "or more relaxed, anyway, after she spent some time rubbing Kaiser's ears and letting him lick her cheek."

"That's the way I felt on Sunday," Matt said out of the blue," when I went sideways with you guys."

"What do you mean, Matt?"

"Overreacting. David said he thought I was afraid of being intimate, just like that girl is afraid of having surgery, I guess."

Roger put his hand on Matt's forearm and said softly, "There's at least one big difference. You can choose how you deal with it. She doesn't have any choice."

"You're right. I've just got to sort it out. Will you guys help me. I mean the idea of what you guys and David and Jackson have, you know 'no secrets' sounds cool, but it's always made me nervous. Now I know why. I've been afraid to be open about myself. I know that's changing, but it won't be easy, and I'll probably screw up, and I'll need my team."

"We'll be there, and so will Kaiser. Don't you know by now, that he's a pro at keeping you honest. Just ask him. Right, Kaiser?"

Kaiser sat up and turned, looking toward the voice, but Matt was closer, and he leaned over and licked the back of Matt's hand, the tip of his tail wagging.

"There you go!"

From the previous scan they knew that the results would be read overnight and sent to Nate's surgeon in the morning, and he or his mom would get a call the next afternoon. On the drive home after school the following day, Jerrod caught Matt's eye in the rearview mirror.

"Yeah, what is it? Something's ticking away in there, I can see it in your eyes," Matt said.

"That girl you met Sunday, you said she was cute, right?"


"Does she have a name?"

"Yes, her name is Jessica."

"What sports does she play?"

"Basketball and volleyball. She was all-state in volleyball this year. She also skis. She's a real athlete. Who knows, she may even play tennis!"

Jerrod had seen Roger looking at him, wondering where he was going with the questions, and wiggled his eyebrows and just flashed him a smile.

"Very cool," Jerrod continued. "Did you get her phone number?"

"What does that have to do with the price of beer?"

"Nothing, really. It just seems like it would be a normal part of meeting someone if you had any intention of staying in touch."

Matt paused. "You know how I reacted. 'Staying in touch' wasn't part of my thinking."

"Have you had any second thoughts about that?"

"Truth? Yeah, I have, but I kind of blew it."

Roger realized what Jerrod was up to and turned in his seat. "Wait. You said you were nice, and you weren't rude. So, how did you blow it"

"What do you mean? You heard me when I got home. All the shit I said, the way I was, how emotional I got. Then I had to go see David to get it all sorted out. I'd call that blowing it, wouldn't you?"

Roger grinned at him. "No, Matt. I wouldn't call that blowing it. I call that head tripping. As in you went on some downer trip in your head, and she doesn't know anything about it. This is something you're doing to yourself."

"Yeah," Jerrod added, "she probably thinks of you as the cool football player who Coach Sam thinks is a good enough person that she went to bat for you, you're going to get a scholarship, and who knows… maybe she thinks you're cute too."

He glanced at Roger. "Although, I wouldn't know why, would you? Do you think Matt's cute?"

"That's not the term that comes immediately to mind when I think of Matt. It's other terms, kind of like hulky, but fortunately strong enough to pick up and carry his little brother with a full body cast on. But cute, no, I don't think so. Although I now do know that he has a good looking cock, but that's another story!"

"Geez, you guys. Give me a break!"

Roger continued on, "So, Jerrod, you don't think he's cute?"

"Well actually, I always thought cute was for girls! Well, actually some boys too… like Michael. Nah, Matt's okay looking, but definitely not cute!"

"Well, Matt," Roger said, "maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Jessica doesn't think you're cute after all."

"What are you guys talking about, anyway. Like I said, I blew it, so that's that."

"No, Big Guy, "Jerrod said, "it seems to me you think you blew it, but I think it's all in your head. But you never answered my question. Did you get her phone number?"

"No. So, that's another problem."

"No, it's not. All you have to do is call Coach Sam and I bet you will magically be provided with Jessica's phone number."

"Why would I want to do that? Why would she want to talk to me?"

"Because the problem is in your head, not in hers" Roger added. "She's probably got hurt feelings because you haven't followed up with her. Have you thought about that? Maybe you've hurt her feelings, and you need to do something about that?"

"No, I didn't think about that. But any way, I don't have her number. Why would I want it anyway? What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about how you're going to need her number so you can call her tonight and ask her if she wants to go out with you on a double date to the movies tomorrow night… you know, to celebrate the end of mid-terms."

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