Kaiser's Pack

by Bensiamin

Chapter 3

Jerrod was surprised to see Matt jogging toward him, and didn't know if he should expect the worst, because this had never happened before. "Yeah, Hi, Matt."

Matt pulled up in front of him, caught his breath, and said, "Thanks for stopping. I want to tell you, I mean… I want you to know that… I'm talking about Saturday and what you did. What you did for me."

"Go on."

"I mean… I meant it about thanking you. I guess I didn't realize it was so bad and stuff, but I wanted to tell you to your face."

Jerrod was processing. He appreciated the sentiment Matt was trying to express, but something else was going on. "You mean tell me to my face, but you couldn't do that in front of your buddies at lunch."

"Well, you know how it is. I mean how would it look and stuff."

"You mean how would it look if you thanked a faggot for saving your life?"

"Well, no, I mean… no, that's not what I mean."

"What do you mean then?"

"Well, you know, we've all got our image to hold up. But I mean it, I thank you."

"You mean the image as a tough guy bully, who harasses gay kids, and can't let the other jocks see that there's a streak of humanity in you. Is that what you mean?"

Matt wasn't stupid, and the last comment hit home. He was silent, looking at the floor, then out the glass in the door, then finally back at Jerrod.

"Yeah, I guess. I mean they all look up to me and stuff."

"Matt, more people in this world look up to Mahatma Gandhi than look up to Hitler. You don't have to be the tough guy to have people look up to you."

"Yeah, I guess."

"Enough said. I appreciate you stopping me and telling me. I don't have anything against you, really. Will you shake my hand?" He lifted his right hand and extended it towards Matt.

Matt hesitated for an instant, then said, "Yeah, okay," and shook.

As Jerrod turned to leave, Matt said quietly, "Was it for real, what Eric said? That I was an asshole and why bother going back to look for me?"

"Yeah, it was, but it wasn't what he really meant. He's a good guy, Matt. He's just tired of us being harassed for being who we are. It took all four of us to dig you out, so I may have said we have to go do it, but without Roger and Eric and Kim I don't know if I'd have gotten you out in time."

"Okay, got it."

"I've got to go, Matt. Roger's waiting for me in the parking lot. See you tomorrow."

As he approached the Jeep, he could see the 'what happened to you?' expression on Roger's face. He grinned at his boyfriend and said, "You won't fucking believe what just happened. Get in the car, and I'll tell you on the way."

After Jerrod described it to him, Roger just said, "No fucking way. Is that for real?"

"Scout's honor! All I can say is that there's a brain, and maybe a conscience, hiding in there somewhere."

"Too much, that's all I can say. What are we doing?"

"Going home to take Kaiser for a short walk. I was going to go by GI Joes and get some new long underwear for skiing, but it's too late today. I'll do it tomorrow after school."

When Jerrod called Roger later, they mainly talked about how to search for and decide on the contemporary poets to consider for their assignment. Roger suggested starting with the librarian at school. That made Jerrod think of something. "I'll go ask David if I can talk to the librarian at Lewis & Clark. Or who knows what else. They've got a college English program that has to include poetry. Maybe that'll help."

The next day, Roger decided he didn't care about going to the sporting goods store, so Jerrod dropped him home and then headed for GI Joes. He came out half an hour later with a lascivious smile on his face, already starting to work out in his mind how to get the most mileage out of his discovery.

GSA the next day was led by the teacher who sponsored the organization, discussing the legal rights of LGB youth, the school's policy against bullying and sexual harassment and related subjects. Most of the students already knew what he was telling them, but it was good to have it reinforced.

On the way home they talked about David starting the next meeting about identity and agreed that would be way more interesting. When Jerrod pulled up to the curb in front of Roger's house, he leaned over to kiss his boyfriend, and then reached into the console and pulled out a tightly folded bag that said GI Joes on it.

"I got you something because I love you so much," he said teasingly.

"Yeah? What's up with that?"

"You'll have to wait and see, but you have to promise."

"Promise what?"

"Promise that you won't open the bag and look inside until nine o'clock. Or maybe a little before. That's when I'm going to call you, after we do our homework, and I want to have a real talk about what's in the bag."

"This is weird."

"But it sounds like fun too, right?" Jerrod was grinning now.

"Yes, liebling , it does sound like fun. Okay, for you I won't look."

"I'll call at 9:00. Love you."

Jerrod was home in time to help with dinner, which was going to be a chicken pot-au-feu, so he washed and chopped the onions, carrots, celery and potatoes, and then helped David position them around the whole chicken in a large roasting pan, add salt, pepper, white wine and chicken broth and put it in the oven.

"We'll make Jackson do the salad when he gets home. You have time to take Kaiser for a walk. I've got a couple of phone calls to make or I'd join you."

After a delicious and filling dinner, over which Jerrod asked David his contemporary poetry question and about the librarian at Lewis & Clark, he washed the dishes. David said he'd talk first to one of the English profs he knew quite well and get back to him. Jerrod then got to work on his homework.

At 8:50 he put away his textbooks and got organized for the next day. Then he stripped naked. As he walked to his dresser, he stopped in front of the mirror on his closet door. He looked pretty good, he thought. No fat. The weightlifting for skiing had given him more defined pecs and thighs. He didn't have a real six pack, but who cared. Most of the guys who did spent their time in the gym and couldn't ski a GS course if they were paid money. He was happy with himself and how he looked. He liked the way his cock hung over his balls, and was already thinking about what was going to happen next and what that would do to his cock.

He opened his GI Joes bag and took out the package of Helly Hansen under garments, that he now knew were technically called a base layer. Just the feel of the smooth polypropylene on his fingertips got him excited. He remembered how it felt in the changing room when he pulled them on. The sales guy told him they didn't allow customers to try on underwear and socks and stuff. But he'd responded back, "Why should I buy it if they're too short or don't fit?"

The guy grinned and said, "Hey, man, I'm with you but I don't make the rules." He wasn't much older than Jerrod, maybe a year or two, and for a second Jerrod wondered if he was gay. Either way, he finally finagled his way by kind of promising that even if they didn't fit, he'd pay for them. The guy said, "Right!" and after rolling his eyes pointed at the changing room.

When he came out, Jerrod was beaming, and the guy was waiting and watching. "Well?" he asked.

"They fit great, and they feel amazing. I'm sure they'll be warm, but the way they fit is pretty outrageous. You should try them on." He wiggled his eyebrows for emphasis and the guy's eyes lit up and he grinned back.


"I'm telling you, man. The way they feel on your skin, and the way they hold your equipment. I bet if you try them, you'll never go back!"

"Whoa! Okay, I hear you. Do you only want one pair?"

"No, I need two, I'm getting one set for my boyfriend. Same size."

"Same size base layer or same size boyfriend?"

Jerrod paused and grinned back. "Yes! Lucky me!"

The guy had given him a knowing smile as he rang up the sale.

Now Jerrod was pulling the top over his head and rubbing the fabric around on his pecs, then he pulled the front down and wiggled his hips to rub his cock against it. He could feel himself chubbing up as he cupped the fabric under his balls. Then he slipped into the long underwear, feeling the soft and stretchy poly slide up his skin, and also feeling that extra something else. He stopped to admire himself in front of the mirror. They fit snugly and looked good. No love handles hanging over the waist, and he liked the modest taper of his waist and how the stretchy garments showed off his body and his bulge. As he walked over to his bed, he felt it again, and grinned to himself, anticipating his call with Roger.

He plopped on the bed, picked up his phone and called his boyfriend.

"Hi, liebling . You're right on time."

"That's not the only thing I'm on. I'm nice and warm over here. How about you?"

"Yeah, me too."

"You don't sound too excited. Are you naked? You can open the bag now."

"No, but that's easy to fix." Roger paused, and then came back on. "Okay, I'm naked now. What's the deal? I opened the bag and can see it's a set of long underwear. I've already got some."

"On no, selle , you're missing the point. You don't have a set like this. Now, here's what you have to do. First, pull the top on and tell me how it feels."

He heard the package open and a kind of swoosh sound as Roger pulled to top on, then he came back on the phone. "Feels good. Nice and soft."

"More than soft, selle , soft and stretchy. Rub your palms over your nipples, and down over your belly."

"Oh! That is nice."

"More than nice. It's sexy! Now, pull the bottom down and cup your balls in them and rub."

"Yeah, that feels really nice."

"It should feel nice enough that you're starting to get hard, right?"

"Well, yeah, a little. You are talking to me about my cock, you know."

"I know! I wish I was there in person so I could watch. Anyway, now you know how sexy the top feels, you can put the bottoms on." Roger did and came back on the phone. "They feel nice too."

"More than nice. You know how much I love your cock and balls, and want them to be treated well. How do you like the way they feel right now?"

"Jerrod, what are we doing? This sounds a little kinky."

"Is kinky bad?"

He heard Roger giggle. "Well, I guess we'll have to see where this goes."

"Now, you have to walk around your room, feeling how it feels?"

"I'm not sure I know what that means."

"I'm talking about sexy. How sexy they feel. Now, walk around your room."

Roger said he would and started.

"Are you paying attention to how they feel?"

"Well, yeah. They feel really nice, soft and warm. Am I missing something?"

"You're missing the sexy."

"What do you mean?"

"You haven't figured out that there's like a pouch and it holds your cock and balls in a way so when you walk that soft and stretchy fabric rubs on them? When I tried them on at the store, I almost got a hard on. Of course, I was thinking of you at the time too."

"Oh, I get it. Yeah, that's super nice."

"It's more than nice, selle . It's plain sexy. It's probably not quite as nice as when I hold your balls, right? Are you getting hard?"


"You mean you don't know?"

"Well, I don't have a hard on yet. Do you want me to look and give you a report?"

"Yeah, cause when I tried them on and started getting hard, you know what I thought? I thought 'Roger's going to love these too. They're so sexy he'll love the way they feel on his skin. And his cock head is so sensitive when it comes out of his foreskin, he'll go wild when this fabric is rubbing softly on his cock head.' Is that's what happening?"

"Uh, yeah. And it does feel different now that I'm getting hard. Course, a lot of that is listening to you tell me about my cock!"

Jerrod continued, "And then the thing that really got me hard was imaging that beautiful uncut cock of yours in that pouch, starting to get hard, and that lovely foreskin starting to pull back, and Little Roger starting to expand in that pouch and pushing out against the fabric. You know, straining to get out. And, of course, I imagined that I was right there so that I could finally reach inside and pull him out and tell him how sexy and brave he was, right before I kissed him and took him in my mouth…"

Jerrod paused and he heard Roger's breathing.

"Okay, I get it now. I'm pretty hard and the feeling on my cock head is something else. These are pretty great long johns."

"Not long johns, Sexy Base Layer."

"Right, but now I see it's not about another pair of long johns at all."

"Right, lover. It's about sexy. About the sexy feeling. So, guess what I'm doing right now?"

"Tell me."

"I'm totally hard and I just pulled my cock out of that pouch and through the front and I'm slowly stroking it and telling myself that it's your hand stroking my cock because I'm talking to you on the phone and you're hard in your base layer.

"You're really jacking off?"

"Yes, and that's what you're supposed to be doing by now too. Sexy, right?"

"Okay, I'm lying on my bed now, and I've got my cock out and I'm stroking too. Now I understand what you're up to."

"Is it feeling as good over there as it is over here?"

"Yeah, I'm cupping my balls with my other hand, like you do, and that feels even better."

"Sexy! That's the word. Sexy. I just slid my finger down into my crack and I'm rubbing my hole like you do. Oh, wow! That feels good. Not as good as when you do, but good. I mean sexy."

"If you keep talking like this, I'm going to shoot, and it'll be all over this base layer."

"That's the idea. Sexy! I'm picturing you leaning down where my cock is sticking out of my base layer, and you're kissing the head of my cock, you know how you do, and, and… Ahh." He paused, then said, "I going to cum soon, thinking of you."

Jerrod got quiet, then said, "I'm going to shoot. Thinking about your mouth was all it took."

He groaned and came, and after he caught his breath, he softly said, " Selle , are you there?"

"Yeah, I just came too. This was incredible." He stopped to catch his breath.

"Did you enjoy it?"

"For sure, it was great. Last thing I thought we'd be doing when I saw what was in the bag. I guess this is called phone sex, right?"

"For sure. And you know I think about you and your body every night when I jack off. It's just a different and fun way to get there, don't you think?"

"Totally, as in totally outrageous. So, does this mean we're going to be putting on our base layer and having a phone call every night we're not sleeping over?"

"Maybe. Sexy, eh?"

"After we do it a few times, how are we going to wear this stuff skiing and not be popping hard-ons all day long?"

They both fell into fits of giggles but appreciated the great sexual release they'd just had. When things got back to normal, they agreed they'd speak to the school librarian about contemporary poets at lunch time because they were eating lunch at school, and then Jerrod reminded Roger they were meeting Sean and his Mom after school.

"Not to worry. I wouldn't forget that meeting. See you tomorrow, liebling . I love you, and love that you're so kinky you cooked up this little interlude for us!"

When they finished meeting with the librarian the next day, they realized all they had was a list, and it would take a lot of reading to decide who they liked and didn't and make a selection for their project.

Roger looked at Jerrod as they walked to class. "What we need is someone knowledgeable to point us in the right direction, or make some recommendations. Has David talked to that English prof yet?" Jerrod said he didn't know, but that he'd check at dinner.

They met Sean and his Mom at the park after school for another fun session. As Jerrod drove Roger home, they talked about the fact that Sean, in spite of his condition, always arrived happy, acting like what was about to take place was going to be the most exciting thing in his life, not a repeat of what he'd done just a week ago. His enthusiasm and positive attitude were infectious, and struck the boys about appreciating the lives they had.

When Jerrod asked David about the English prof over dinner, he said he'd left a message and suggested that meeting the prof might go nicely with visiting campus with the view of developing a short list of colleges and universities to apply to. Jerrod grinned in response. "Unless I'm not going to be welcome here, that's a no brainer. I want to go to Lewis & Clark and live here." As the impact of the implications of his statement sunk in, he grew quiet and blinked and then said, "If that's okay with you guys. I mean, you know… I don't want to be presumptuous, but…" and the sentence died.

David had already made eye contact with Jackson and David reached for his hand. "We've already talked about it, and if your choice is to continue to live with us and go to college in Portland, whether at Lewis & Clark or elsewhere, we'd be honored."

"So, know that we want you to keep living here," Jackson added, "but that and where you go to college has to be your decision. Of course, your parents have to approve, and you have to be accepted into a college here for that to happen. That might be a stretch."

"Stretch?" Jerrod responded with mock indignity. "You guys know I've kept my GPA high, so I think I can pull acceptance off." The two men grinned at him, nodding in agreement, and David suggested he open that conversation with his parents sooner rather than later. After dinner Jerrod called Roger and filled him in on the dinner conversation. "I guess it's time to start getting real about college," Roger said softly, "instead of just assuming it'll take care of itself! I'm impressed Jackson played that song for you the other night, but not really surprised. That's their MO, isn't it?"

"You mean playing songs? Yeah, and as we both know now, it has emotional impact. "

Later that night Michael called, excited to be coming down to Portland and thankful to be able to stay with Jerrod.

"No worries, man. David told me your mother called and they worked it out. We've got a spare bed in the study, so you'll be in there. It'll be like being part of the family."

"It's really cool of you, Jerrod. This is my first scan after the last chemo I had before Christmas. Remember, when I met you guys? This is to see if I'm still cancer free. It's kind of weird, but the reason I was staying at the hospital wasn't just because I'm coming down from Pendleton, but also so that if the scan was positive, they'd be able to do another chemo treatment while I was there. That might still happen, just so you know."

"Michael, thanks for telling me. Just so you know, I'm doing nothing but positive thinking about you and your condition for the next twenty-four hours. I'm betting you'll be getting a scan and they'll find you're still clear. You've got to think positive too! Roger and I will pick you up at Union Station when the train gets in, and we'll be out front in my Jeep Cherokee. It's dark green. He's got to be home tomorrow night, but he's sleeping over on Saturday. We'll have a great time."

"Okay, man. I'll quit worrying and be positive."

"Good deal. As soon as we hang up, I'm going to go have a talk with Kaiser, since he's a therapy dog, and put him on the case too. We're all working down here on total positivity. Got it?"

"Got it. See you Friday."

Jerrod walked into the living room to find David and Jackson and fill them in. "Michael just called me, and thanks for setting it up with his Mom, Uncle David. He's really happy he's not having to stay up at the hospital."

"That makes sense, even at fifteen, traveling down and then staying over alone wouldn't be fun."

"Yeah, and on top of that I just found something else out. He told us when we saw him the second time that he had Hodgkin lymphoma and was cancer free when he was discharged. This is his first follow up scan, but if it doesn't come back clear, then he's got to get another chemo treatment. No wonder he's been uptight."

"That does explain a lot. His Mom said he got a medical leave from school for Friday, but she can't take any more leave so that's why he's traveling alone. She said he's a real trooper, and did say something about a possible treatment after the test, but she didn't make it sound so serious."

"We're talking CT scan, and then a chemotherapy treatment if he's not clear."

"When you put it that way it sounds a lot more ominous, doesn't it?"

"Sure does, but I told him we're all thinking positive thoughts, including Kaiser, and to plan on being clear. It'd be kind of scary being in his shoes right now!"

Jackson had pulled him down on the couch next to him and put an arm around his shoulder. "It does sound scary. All cancer is scary. My Mom died of liver cancer. But if Michael's was found early and he was clear when he was discharged, then it sounds positive. I think we're all just reacting to the unknows. Anyway, it'll be much better for him to be here with you, instead of at that family place at the hospital, where all he'd be thinking about is other sick kids and worrying about his situation. What are your plans?"

"Well, Roger and I had talked about doing some stuff with him in the afternoon. We were going to work with Kaiser in the training room during his scan, and come back here for lunch, and then take him some places in Portland he'd never been before. Roger's Dad suggested going to OMSI 'cause they've got a bunch of cool displays. But, if he has to get a treatment, that could screw up everything."

"I thought you were thinking positive thoughts! Is he into science? It is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry."

"I don't know. What kid doesn't like science and cool displays?"

Before Jackson could reply, David said, "He'll love it. You know they have a submarine, don't you?"

"Really? I didn't know. I haven't been, but that's cool."

"Full disclosure: I haven't been there either, but we've had presentations to students on campus. The location used to be a historic sawdust-fired power plant operated by Portland General Electric, and they donated it for the museum in 1992. The museum is over 200,000 square feet, and has USS Blueback . That was the last non-nuclear powered submarine built by the U.S. Navy. Did you see the movie The Hunt For Red October ?

Jerrod nodded. "Yeah, that was cool and a thriller."

"Well, the USS Blueback appeared in the film before it was towed to OMSI. You guys should really dig it."

"Yeah! All the more reason for positive thoughts and a clear scan!" He paused for a couple of minutes, leaning against Jackson, then said, "I hadn't really thought about the cancer coming back part, but he's had to have been worrying about it all the time since he got discharged and went home. That whole thing about 'am I still cancer free?' What a shitty way to have to live."

Jackson hugged him and said softly, "True, he's been worrying about his health like Roger was worrying about his. From what you told us, he not only has an upbeat personality, but he sounds like a pretty brave kid too. If things take a turn for the worse, we may all have to go down to see Roger's parents and have his Mom get out Samichlaus!"

Jerrod grinned and poked him in the ribs. Jackson went on, "When did you see The Hunt For Red October ?"

"Geez, I don't know. It came out a while ago, so I bet I saw it in junior high or something."

"Then how about I rent the DVD and we watch it tomorrow night to get you two in the mood? And I'll rent something else interesting for Saturday night."

"That'd be very cool. You know what? It's nice to have a cool older brother." He gave Jackson a hug and said, "Now, I've got to go finish my homework. Reading poetry isn't as exciting as submarines!"

On the way to Union Station the next afternoon, Jerrod filled Roger in on Michael's situation and what he'd learned the night before.

"Wow! Shitty is right. The dude has probably been worrying about it non-stop since he left Portland. I'm glad you gave him that whole rap about positive thoughts and stuff. So, our job is to make him be positive and feel good while he's here, right?"

"Yeah. I wish you could be with us tonight. Jackson's going to rent The Hunt For Red October so we're kind of prepped for tomorrow afternoon at OMSI. Assuming we make it to OMSI."

"We will, liebling . You said so yourself. You guys will have to tell me about the film tomorrow. I saw it years ago too, but I'm betting I forgot most of it."

They only sat at the curb in front of Union Station for a couple of minutes before Michael came out toting a duffle bag. Jerrod hit the horn and Roger hopped out and gave him a hug. Michael climbed in the rear seats and gave Kaiser, who was in the cargo area, a big hug. Jerrod gave Michael a hand clasp as he settled into his seat and said, "Howdy, bro! You look good with your hair growing back! You can lower that seat back if you want, then Kaiser will lay down next to you instead of just sticking his nose in your ear all the way home!"

"That's a good idea," Michael said, and released the seat back. Jerrod watched him in the rear-view mirror as Kaiser moved forward and then he said, "Kaiser, lay down." Kaiser would have preferred to keep playing but he did as he was told, and lay down next to Michael, who started stroking his ears and head.

Once they got away from the station traffic and headed south, Jerrod and Roger filled him in on the part of town they lived in and what they hoped to do together over the weekend. Then Jerrod said, "Okay, Michael, let's get the details straight. You're staying in a gay house. I live with my uncle and his boyfriend and they're gay and have been together over twenty years. Roger's parents know he's gay and accept it and accept us as a couple, and we sleep in the same bed and most weekends we sleep over at the other's house for one night."

"You mean your parents let you sleep in the same bed, and have sex and stuff?"

"Yeah, 'cause they're all hip and understand that being gay isn't abnormal, and neither is having sex. It helps that we're both eighteen now and it's legal, but they approved even before our birthdays. Roger, tell him about the first night when I came back from Philly."

Roger grinned and said, "Well, we live at home so it's about being cool and playing by the rules." Then he told Michael about the gay sex talk David and Jackson had had with them the first night Jerrod was back and how they'd arranged with his parents for Roger to sleep over at Jerrod's.

"Wow! The rules at my house would be like No! As in nothing! And they gave you each a copy of that gay sex book?"

"Sure did. They wanted us to be informed and clean and healthy," Roger said, "but that's not the best part. When we got down to Jerrod's room guess what we found in the bedside table?"

Michael stared blankly at him, unable to conjure up in his mind what the answer was.

Roger almost started laughing. "There were two bottles of lube and two packages of condoms. Too much, huh?"

"Wow! Yeah, too much like totally unbelievable. You have to remember I'm from eastern Oregon where it's real conservative and my family's kind of religious."

"Well, bro, you're down here in Portland where it's hip and progressive. You know the saying, Keep Portland Weird!"

Michael started giggling at that. They pulled up in front of Roger's house and he said, "Come on in, you guys. I want Michael to meet my parents. Kaiser will be fine for five or ten minutes."

Roger's Dad had just gotten home, and they had a nice chat and both of them told Michael how pleased they were to learn that he was among the first patients Roger and Jerrod had seen doing therapy dog work, and how wonderful it was that they'd become friends.

Back in the car, with Michael in the front passenger seat and Kaiser laying with his head jutting forward onto the console, Jerrod said, "You know why Roger did that, don't you?"

Michael nodded his head, "Well, yeah, to meet his parents."

"He wanted you to meet a set of parents who understand having a gay son and accept it."

"Oh, I get it. That was very cool. I know I'm gay. I mean, I've thought about it a lot since I met you and Roger, you know, saw you together. Guys is all I think about."

"That's a pretty strong sign. Meaning you think about guys when you jack off?"

Michael nodded and grinned, "Yeah, well that's all I think about when I'm not thinking about cancer."

"Have you been with another boy, done anything with another guy?"

Michael acted momentarily embarrassed, then said, "No. I mean years back I played around with a couple of friends, you know… exploring. But with a boy, No. Or a girl either. I don't know anyone in Pendleton who's gay. No one's out that I know of, and there's that whole macho cowboy thing, so I'm guessing everyone's as scared as I am about saying or doing anything."

"I get it. I wasn't out till the last few weeks. It was too scary back east, at home, kind of like you just said. It took being here the first quarter of school and being with Roger and living with David and Jackson to change it. You know, being accepted and loved."

Michel was quiet, and Jerrod reached over and put his hand over Michael's and said, "When we get home can we talk about the cancer? I mean all the details. I know tomorrow's gotta be scary for you, and I didn't really get that till we talked last night. But David and Jackson are the best, and they want to understand and be there for you too."

"Sure. Whatever. I guess I'm kind of an expert on the subject now. Well, at least the kind of cancer I got."

"You mean had!"

Michael paused, then said, "Yeah! Had! I get it, think positive thoughts, right?"

"For sure. When we get home, I'll feed Kaiser, then we can take him for a short walk and come back and hang out till dinner. Jackson said he's going to rent a DVD so we can watch a movie after dinner."

"That'll be cool."

And that was the way the evening unfolded. Michael was just getting introduced to David when Jackson got home and came in the back door. Jerrod said they needed to take Kaiser for a short walk, but they'd pitch in when they got back.

When Jerrod and Michael got back from walking Kaiser, they took care of making the fold out bed in the study, and getting his stuff unpacked. Then Jerrod said, "Come on, let's go in the kitchen. David's like my uncle, and Jackson's like my older brother. They both want to get to know you."

Michael nodded and they walked to the kitchen. "Do you guys need me to do anything to help with dinner?"

David smiled at Jerrod and said, "No, actually, I think we have it under control. What you could do is get yourself and Michael something to drink and make yourselves comfortable at the table… after you refill our wine glasses!"

Jerrod grinned and said, "Can do."

They talked about living in Pendleton, living on a small ranch, what it was like during the Roundup and the rodeo, the differences in school and course work, and what courses Michael was taking. When they settled down to eat dinner, the conversation turned serious.

"I talked to Michael on the drive over here, and asked him if we could talk openly about his cancer so we'd all know what the situation is, and he said he was cool with that."

He glanced at his new friend and smiled. "He says he's now an expert on Hodgkin lymphoma!"

"Not a great claim to fame," Michael said, "but I'll tell you what I know and answer any questions." He then proceeded to tell them that cancers in children and adolescents different than in adults, and not really linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors, but mainly the result of gene changes in cells, and that's why early and strong therapy is important.

"So, my Hodgkin lymphoma is an adolescent cancer, and it was diagnosed in Stage II. That's two out of four stages. So, you know, lymphomas are cancers that start in white blood cells, Stages I and II are the most treatable. HL usually spreads through the lymph system, so catching it early and stopping the spread is key, before it gets to other parts of the body. Are you with me?"

David and Jerrod nodded silently, and Jackson said, "Yeah, Michael. My Mom had liver cancer and by the time it was diagnosed it had metastasized. I know what you mean."

"So, my lymphoma got diagnosed in my sports physical at school, 'cause I had a couple of enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. I'd been feeling out of sorts for a few months, like tired all the time. My Grandpa calls it feeling poorly. Anyway, our family doctor is serious and really good, and he got right on it, and it turned out it was lymphoma and he sent me right to Doernbecher. That was last fall, after school started, and I came down a couple of times for tests and that confirmed HL and Stage II and then was in the hospital for treatments. I guess there are more complicated kinds of HL, but I've got the most common form. They call it Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma. Isn't that a hoot? I'm a classic!"

Michael grinned wryly, and they all cracked up at the play on words.

"So, anyway," he said, with a grin still on his face, "because I'm still in puberty, well, toward the end of it, but you know, not done yet, the cancer docs didn't want to do radiation if they didn't have to since it can affect bone and muscle growth. So, I got a series of chemo treatments where I'd come down to the hospital for a few days and then recover and then go home. Mostly my Mom or Dad would bring me down and then come back and get me. That's how I got to know Suzanne and Rufus, and then the last chemo was when you guys and Kaiser came to see me. So, anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

Everyone grinned at the last comment, and Jackson asked, "How have you been feeling since you went home after the last treatment?"

"Fine. I mean, I see our family doc once a week and he can't feel anything and I've felt like I'm getting back to normal. I kind of lost last quarter. I tried to keep up with classes, but it didn't work, so I'm a quarter behind, but I can make that up. I guess it's mainly been a head trip. You know, everything feels good now, but is it going to come back?"

"Well, that's the question you're here to answer tomorrow," David said, "and Jerrod told us about everyone thinking positive, so that's the approach we're all taking.

The boys helped clean up and they headed into the living room to watch the movie. David and Michael hadn't seen the film before, and Jackson and Jerrod had seen enough years ago that they remembered the main story, which is set during the late Cold War era and involves a rogue Soviet naval captain named Ramius whose real plan is to defect to the United States with his officers. He commands the Soviet Navy's newest and most advanced nuclear missile submarine, a Typhoon-class submarine that has a stealth drive so it can run silent underwater. A CIA analyst figures out what's really happening and what Ramius' motives really are, but he's got to prove his theory to the U.S. Navy before a violent confrontation between the US and the Soviet navy erupts.

Part of what made it an edge-of-your seat thriller was that the Red October didn't just have a stealth "caterpillar drive" that made it undetectable to passive sonar, but the sub is accompanied by another Soviet sub for sea trials. Once at sea, Ramius secretly kills the political officer on board and relays false orders that they are to conduct missile drills off America's east coast. At the same time, American attack submarine USS Dallas, tasked with identifying and shadowing Soviet subs as they leave port, detects Red October as it begins its mission, but immediately loses contact once the sub's caterpillar drive is engaged. Then in comes the CIA agent who's figured out what's really happening, and when he convinces the Navy, they transport him to the Dallas and give him three days to confirm his theory. Then the caterpillar drive fails, and the worry is a surprise nuclear attack by the Red October, the Soviet Navy command figure out something unusual is happening and the other Soviet sub is ordered to intercept and destroy Red October.

Needless to say, that doesn't happen, and after the film ended, they spent time talking about the underwater chase by the two other subs, navigating the mountain ranges at the bottom of the Atlantic and how ultimately Ramius was able to successfully defect.

When they went to bed, he told Michael to use the bathroom first, and while he did, he put The Joy of Gay Sex on the bed in the study. When Michael came out, he grinned at him and pulled him in for a hug. "Good to have you here, bro. I put the gay sex book on the bed for you." Michael grinned back.

Jerrod got up early the next morning, and after a long pee went into the study to check on Michael. He was curled up on his side with the covers pulled tight under his chin, and his eyes were open watching Jerrod. His brow was furrowed, so Jerrod knelt next to his new friend and said, "Did you sleep well?"

"Okay, I guess."

"Are you scared?"

Michael nodded his head, and Jerrod climbed over him and under the covers to lay down spooned up behind him. He pulled him close and said, "Positive thoughts, man. Positive thoughts. We'll be there with you."

Jerrod held Michael and rocked him in his arms for a couple of minutes, and then Kaiser came in the door and ambled over to the bed and licked Michael's face.

"See! Kaiser's rooting for you too and says everything is going to be fine."

"Thanks for the hug, Jerrod. It feels so good, so, so… I don't know… comforting."

"Hey, we do lots of hugs in this house. I learned that from David and Jackson."

After a quick breakfast and Michael confirming that the pull-out bed was comfortable, they picked up Roger and headed into Portland and up the hill to the hospital, pulling into the staff parking area fifteen minutes before Michael's appointment time. With Kaiser in his therapy dog vest, all three escorted him to Oncology for his check in, and when he was about to be sent off to Radiology for his PET/CT scan they told him where the dog training room was in the basement.

When they were out of sight, Jerrod turned to Roger and said, "Let's walk a couple of floors first, to work on familiarity, okay?"

Roger nodded and then Jerrod explained that he wanted to start with the cancer floor where they'd met Michael, and try to talk to the Nurse Manager, and see what they could find out about HL and long-term survivability. When they got there and found her, she remembered Kaiser and both boys from their previous visits and was gracious about speaking with them.

Jerrod explained they weren't on the schedule for the day, just doing some training. She nodded, and he went on candidly, telling her that they'd become friends with Michael after their visits in the hospital and had stayed in touch after he went home to Pendleton and so wanted to know about long term outcomes for Hodgkin lymphoma.

She smiled. "Now I get it. Lymphoma is a fairly common cancer, but you've now got a personal connection that you want to understand. You know I can't speak about a specific patient, but I can share general information with you because it will help you in your therapy work. You understand that?"

Jerrod nodded and said, "He told us he has Stage II and it's very treatable." She nodded back, and then went on to share that HL was more treatable than Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and both were classified in four stages, "but, I'm betting you don't know that each stage had two subclasses, favorable or unfavorable—favorable meaning the form of cancer was very treatable. Are you following me?"

Jerrod nodded and then said, "Meaning it's not as simple as "Oh, I've got Stage II and was cancer free when I was discharged, right? He's here today for his first follow up scan. That's why this is on our mind."

She smiled again, "Good that he shared that info with you. You guys must be becoming friends, and you're right. Even in Stage II with early intervention, the unfavorable class of cancer can return. The favorable class is much more treatable, and like all our patients he received the treatment the oncologists though best for him and his condition. I'll confirm that his was favorable and that's why we were all so excited when he was confirmed cancer free after his last treatment." She went on to explain long term survivability for different stages of HL, pointing out that there were less than twenty years of long-term data, but patients with Stage II favorable, that was caught early and treated properly had survivability over ten years.

"That's all?"

"Meaning," Roger added, "only till he's twenty-five?"

"No, boys. That's not what I said and not what I mean. This is cancer treatment and it's not an 'add water and stir' kind of thing, like a cake mix. That's why follow up is really important. There are plenty of patients in whom the cancer never returns. Some where it comes back late in life. Some in mid-life, some when they're young. But the studies so far haven't gone on long enough to track thousands of patients until they're sixty-five or seventy-five. You follow?"

They nodded, but looked glum.

"Boys, you're working with patients in a health care setting now, so these are the realities and the variables, and the tradeoffs you're going to become more and more familiar with. I've got a little more experience than you two, so I may sound like I take it for granted."

She paused, and both boys grinned wryly.

"So, my take about that long term survivability data is that there are many, many patients that live well past ten years, and many who live a long life as a cancer survivor and it never returns. Does that make you feel better?"

"It sure does," Jerrod said. "I guess the bottom line is no guarantees, we do all that we can, and then be positive."

She assured them that was a good approach, and then had to get back to work. They walked the cancer floor and talked to some staff, then went to the orthopedics floor, and then back to the basement to the training room. They were alone when they arrived and got Kaiser some fresh water.

"She was upbeat, but it wasn't that encouraging, was it? I don't want to think 'he's only got ten years' every time I look at Michael."

Jerrod stroked his boyfriend's face. "You're a softy too, aren't you? I don't think that was her message. It was that there's five-year survivors, ten-year, twenty-year, thirty year and all of their life survivors. There's also no way to know which group he's in, but the odds are in his favor for being in the many years group. So, that's what we think, that he's going to be our friend for the rest of our lives. That's what I'm going to do. Think positive."

"You're right. It's stupid to be pessimistic. Now I understand more about what you were telling me how you found him in bed this morning. It's like what we read about in literature last year, living under the Damoclean sword, and it could drop any time."

"Yeah, it's gotta be scary. And on top of that, he's pretty certain he's gay and lives in a real conservative community and his parents are probably pretty intolerant. That's part of the formula too." He paused, looking into Roger's sparkling blue eyes. "Like you said yesterday, our job is to make him feel good and be happy about where he is. Let's do some drills with Kaiser.

They only worked for about twenty minutes before Suzanne and Rufus walked in, and they let the dogs loose to play with each other while they talked about training. Ten minutes later Michael stuck his head in the door and caught their eye.

Jerrod saw him first and said, "Michael, man! What's the story?"

Michael started grinning, acting as if he was still surprised enough with the news that he couldn't vocalize it.

"Tell us that shit-eating grin on your face is because you're clear."

He nodded and choked up. By then the boys and Suzanne were at the door and pulled him into a huge, warm and thankful embrace.

Michael's head was between Jerrod and Roger's shoulders, and Jerrod could feel him sobbing.

"Tears of joy, right?"

They felt him swallow hard a couple of times and then wipe his eyes before he said, "Yeah. It's so great. I was so scared of it going the other way, but I'm clear."

Suzanne kissed the top of his head and said, "You're on your way, Michael. Getting past the first one is always the scariest. Just stay on top of it."

Roger could feel Kaiser and Rufus on either side of his legs and said, "We need to break this up so you can tell the dogs the good news. After all, they're therapy dogs and partly the good news you got is because of their therapy!"

Michael did and they chatted with Suzanne for a few more minutes, then Jerrod said, "Let's blast off home for some lunch and then get down to OMSI and see that sub in person."

On the drive to home, Roger handed Michael his mobile phone and said, "Call your Mom. You need to tell her the good news. They're probably sweating bullets up there, waiting to hear."

Lunch was some quick sandwiches, and they left Kaiser with David and Jackson. The museum displays were really interesting, but after seeing the USS Blueback in the film the night before, seeing it up close and real was the highlight for Jerrod and Michael.

They finished up at OMSI early enough to take Michael to Powell's World of Books to show him what a gay book section looked like, and got home early enough to take Kaiser for a short walk. They learned that David and Jackson had planned a steak dinner to celebrate Michael's good news. Jerrod raised his eyebrows and asked quietly, "How could you be so sure?"

Jackson grinned back. "You told us to be positive, man, so that's what we did."

He'd rented Alien Resurrection, and after dinner they settled down to watch the most recent release in the Alien series, this one set two hundred years after the previous one, where Ripley is cloned, and an alien queen is removed from her belly. The story is about the military hoping to breed aliens on a spaceship using human hosts, but as might be expected, the aliens escape and now it's up to Ripley to catch and destroy the ship before it reaches earth. They all agreed it was a good sci-fi thriller, but not as good as the first two.

The boys said goodnight, and left David and Jackson on the couch with refilled wine glasses, and headed down the hall to their room. They talked about the movie, then school and finally Michael said, "I can't believe the vibe here. I mean, David and Jackson are so cool. You two are like part of their family. No one cares about being gay, it's like it's so natural."

"It is natural, Michael. The unnatural part about it mainly comes from religion and conservative politicians who are mainly religious."

Jerrod and Roger were lounging on their bed, and Michael was sitting in the desk chair. Roger added, "I hope you saw when you met my parents, that they're not all intolerant like that. I'm really lucky, my parents are open minded and accepting. They treat Jerrod like he's a member of the family."

"I saw that. Lucky you guys. I don't know what'll happen with me. I'm probably stuck with the situation till I graduate and can go to college somewhere more accepting. That's two and a half years, which feels like a long time."

"Maybe you'll get lucky and meet someone. Don't rule it out and only think the worst. You've got lots of positive stuff going for you now, why not the possibility of meeting someone? You know the stats, right? Between five and ten percent of people are gay, so for sure you aren't you only gay boy in Pendleton!"

"That's a good way to look at it, but you don't live where I do. It's just scary opening up. You know, like risky. It could be a lonely two and a half years."

Jerrod looked at Roger and wiggled his eyebrows, looking up at the head of the bed and smiling. Roger smiled back. Jerrod turned to Michael and said, "How about you get off that chair and come up here with us?"

Michael looked momentarily unsure, then watched Jerrod and Roger rearrange themselves so they were leaning against the headboard with space between them. Roger patted the space and said, "Come up here between us."

Michael was still unsure, but trusted them, and crawled up the bed and settled down between them, to be immediately embraced in a double hug—one around the shoulders, the other around the waist. "You won't be totally lonely, see? Roger told me that our job is to make you feel accepted and happy. I'd add that our job is to make sure you know you're loved. So, tell us what your dream boyfriend looks like. We want all the details, too. Hair and eye color, is he athletic or a brainiac, is his cock cut or not? Come on, out with the details!"

"Whoa, you guys! Too much information… required, that is! Isn't that info a little personal?"

"Well, yeah," Jerrod said, "but that's the point. I'll tell you this. I had some kind of mish mosh picture in my mind of some cute boy with classic looks, maybe with light brown hair, kind of athletic 'cause I play tennis and ski, I don't know about eye color…" he paused and looked at Roger and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. He wasn't sure if Roger understood, but Roger grinned back and his eyes were sparkling, so he continued "…I never thought about cut or uncut because all I'd really seen was guys with cut cocks. Then I met Roger, and suddenly it all crystalized for me. Blonde hair, and even though I'd always thought shorter hair, suddenly longer hair was great. Blue eyes. It hadn't mattered before, but suddenly his sparkling blue eyes framed by that blonde hair was my stairway to heaven. I'd never been close to an uncut cock, but when I did it became the most beautiful thing in the world… for me, I mean.

Michael had been staring at Jerrod's chin, listening intently, and then said, "Wow! Even talking about stuff like this is hard for me."

Roger gave him a hug, giggling to make the point, and said, "It's hard for you. Do you mean what I think?"

"What? No, I mean… no, I don't… oh, I see. Hard as in hard-on. Ha, ha!"

Roger hugged him again and then said, "Same kind of thing for me. I was born in Switzerland, so even though I'm American, somehow, I always thought about that dream boyfriend being European. That almost certainly means an uncut cock, and then along comes Jerrod and he's from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is preppy and is cut. And I don't play sports… though I'm going to go out for tennis in the spring… so I never thought about my boyfriend being an athlete. Then in front of me is this dude who is really good at tennis and a killer ski racer, and he's so sweet and vulnerable with that cute little smile, that I was totally gone the first time I met him. Neither one of us planned on it. It just happened."

"So, Michael," Jerrod added, "don't be surprised if it just happens one day. You need to be open and ready. Roger was open and ready when we met, but I was still withdrawn from shit in my life, but it didn't take me too long to recognize what I'd been dreaming about when it was right in front of me. Make sure you do, okay?"

Michael nodded, still at a loss for words.

Jerrod leaned over and said, "Do I see a little bulge in your shorts there?"

"What? Come on, man, you're trying to embarrass me now."

"No way! Embarrassment isn't part of the deal. We're getting you ready, so you don't seize up when that dream boy comes into your life. Come on, we should get ready for bed."

Jerrod got up and pulled Michael off the bed and said, "You use the bathroom first, then let us know when you're done."

When he was gone, Jerrod lay down on the bed with his head on Roger's shoulder. "He's such a sweet kid, but so uptight, and a lot of it is just being afraid of stuff he doesn't need to be scared of."

Roger kissed to top of his boyfriend's head and said, "You're right. This is his first time in a completely different and accepting space, so some of it's understandable. Still, he's got this shell or these hang ups he's got to get over."

They both fell silent, then Roger said, " Liebling , are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Well, selle , that depends on what you're thinking."

"I'm thinking maybe we should tell him he's sleeping in here with us, and help him feel good about himself."

"Meaning what?"

"You know what I mean. A little loving, a little kissing, maybe help him get off. Help him decide if he really likes boys. Kind of crack that shell for him and help him be less afraid. I'm not talking blow jobs or fucking or anything like that."

Jerrod had been stroking his fingertips over Roger's chest and belly and said, "You'd do that?"

"Yeah, if you would. But only if you would, and only for the same reasons."

"I thought about it, but I thought it would be a little weird."

"Not weird. I think the word is love. We love him as a friend already and he loves us that way. What he needs to experience is a little of what the other forms of love are. What did Silverberg call sexual love in the book?"

"Eros, that's the Greek word. I hear you, and I think you're right. But how do we set this up so it doesn't become a problem?"

"Easy. We tell him what we're doing and why. That sets some limits. Same as you told me about why I needed to do this or that to improve my serving and feel what it was like to really be able to control the ball and place it where I wanted to. Not romantic, just erotic. What'a ya think?"

"Okay, I'm in. Let's let him get settled in the pullout bed and then one of us go get him. How's that?"

Roger nodded, as Michael came in from the bathroom in his pajamas and said, "Night you guys. Thanks. This was such a great day. I worried you didn't really want to be friends with me, but I'm so glad you do."

Jerrod smiled and said, "We're glad too. Sleep well," as he thought to himself, 'just wait a few minutes for feeling alive in a whole new way!'

They both came back from the bathroom and got Kaiser settled on his bed, then turned down the quilt on their bed and turned off the overhead light. Roger stepped up and pulled Jerrod in for a kiss. His body was illuminated by the small light on the bedside table, and he said softly, "I love you so much for so many reasons. I'll go get Michael."

Sleeping over frequently, his eyes were accustomed to the dark and the intermittent low light in the house, so when he walked into the study, he could see Michael lying on his side with the covers tucked up under his chin. He saw his eyes open and then widen, and he knelt down in front of their friend and said softly, "We were worried you were lonely."

He saw Michael blink and then heard him say, "Kinda, but you guys are just down the hall. Hanging out with you guys tonight was just so great. It made me feel real."

"Good. Feeling real is good. That's why we want you to come sleep with us." He lifted the covers out of Michael's hand and set them aside. "Come on, you're going to sleep with us."


"Really." He took Michael's hand and led him into their bedroom, closing the door behind them. As they walked in, Michael could just make out Jerrod in bed with the covers on his side of the bed turned back. He couldn't believe what was happening.

Roger dropped his hand and said, "We sleep naked, that's why I don't have pajamas on. Why don't you take yours off and get in bed?"

Michael nodded, almost like he was on auto-pilot, and dropped his pajamas on the floor and crawled in next to Jerrod, who was laying on his side. Jerrod softly rested his hands on Michael's chest and their eyes met, and he said softly, "We decided that we needed to make sure you know you're accepted and happy and loved. This isn't going to be an orgy, but we want you to experience some of what we've got so you know what to do when it comes into your life." He paused, and Michael just gazed at him in awe.

"Roger will always be my boyfriend and lover, but you deserve some love and we're going to share."

Roger had shimmied up behind Michael and was spooning him, holding him close against his warm body.

Jerrod said softly, "Michael, I'm going to kiss you. Is that okay?"

Michael felt himself nodding his head, and Jerrod leaned closer and gave him a tentative kiss. Then he felt Jerrod's hands come up to hold the side of his face, and he responded, and Jerrod kissed him a little more assertively and then he felt Michael's arm go under his arm and around his back, his body responding automatically.

Michael had never been kissed by a boy before, but he immediately understood what it was, and this was a feeling he was immediately totally in love with. He signed deeply as he felt Jerrod's tongue graze his lips… and then he felt them open and the tip of Jerrod's tongue meet the tip of his. It was electric, and he also realized that part of what his body was feeling was that Roger's hands were now stroking his chest and belly, and he also realized that he was suddenly totally hard.

Roger leaned up from behind him and whispered in his ear, "No embarrassment. This is to make sure you know you're loved, the way gay boys love each other. I'm betting if my hand goes down here… " and Michael felt Roger's hand slip into his pubes and beyond… "that I'll find you already have a hard-on."

Michael gasped as Roger softly grasped his hard cock, simultaneously feeling Jerrod's kiss intensify. Roger slowly stroked Michael's cock, then wet his fingers with saliva to make it even more sensuous. Michael's groans said it all, and it wasn't long before he said, "Oh god, I'm going to cum."

Jerrod said softly, "No embarrassment. Lay on your back." As Michael did, Jerrod reached for a hand towel on the bedside table, and Roger continued stroking him, running his other hand over his pecs and up to his neck. Michael was on sensory overload as he came, bucking in Roger's hand and shooting on his belly.

When he'd caught his breath, Jerrod handed him the towel and he cleaned himself up. Both older boys had snuggled up next to him, and he purposefully ran his hands across their thighs and reached for their cocks. "Is this okay?"

"Sure is."

"Feels great."

"I've never held another boy's cock before, let alone two."

"My cock has never been held by anyone before except Jerrod," Roger softly said.

As he slowly stroked them, he felt Jerrod and Roger harden and while he loved the feel of the throbbing hardness in his hand, he became aware not just of the fact that their cocks were larger than his, but that he'd cum and they hadn't.

"What about you guys?"

"We're happy that you're happy."

"That's not fair. You guys shouldn't be denied because of me. Is it okay if I watch you guys make love?"

"That's fair," Roger said softly, "but we're only going to do a sixty-nine, nothing more, okay?"

Michael nodded, smiling in anticipation, amazed that his friends were so open.

Roger climbed over Michael, so that he was next to his boyfriend and they began to seriously make out. It suddenly dawned on Michael what it could really be like. What he'd experienced was amazing, but it was only the beginning. He could see both of them slowly stroking each other as they kissed, and then he watched Roger change position as Jerrod slid down in the bed, and momentarily they'd taken each other's cock in their mouths.

Suddenly the dots connected in Michael's mind, not just about the sex itself, but about how they expressed their love for each other as they consummated it and brought each other to climax. After they'd both cum, Roger moved back up and they held and caressed each other as they kissed.

When they'd recovered, Roger gave his boyfriend one last kiss, then turned in the bed to face Michael, and said, "Thanks for wanting us to make love. That was very cool of you." He gave Michael a quick kiss and then said, "I'm climbing over you. You're sleeping in the middle."

As they all slowly settled into comfortable positions next to each other, and as Michael heard Jerrod and Roger begin to fall asleep, the wonder of what had just happened to him filled his mind, as did all the new possibilities that went along with it.

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