Jay & Miles

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 47

For The Boys Who Can't

POV: Calvin, Jay, Mikey, Jay

I know she didn't say it, but I think my grandma was happy I was home for dinner every night during Period quiz week. Before grandpa died, I would come over a couple times a week to eat dinner, and the three of us always had a lot of fun. We could talk about a bunch of stuff besides school, and we would do things beyond the usual 'grandparents' thing such as fishing, hiking, and doing little trips on weekends to see cool stuff in Ohio.

We'd visit places like Cedar Point amusement park up on Lake Erie, go to drag races at National Trails near Hebron, and listen to concerts at Frontier Ranch—a local venue for folk, country and bluegrass music. Of course, they also showed me other places which had historical interest, like Flint Ridge, and we went to see the outdoor theater show Tecumseh —I even got a program signed by a really cute guy playing one of the Indian warriors.

Okay, most of the allure for that one was the nearly-naked bodies shiny with sweat, and hairless chests, but it was a fairly accurate depiction of the fighting in Ohio's earliest days of settlement. What almost fifteen-year-old boy who knew he liked other boys would turn down a chance to ogle lots of foxy meat on the hoof?

Grandma had enjoyed coming over to the Beckels' for dinner some nights, but I think she still thought she was imposing on their hospitality, despite all their words to make her feel welcome. I hadn't known the family long enough to reassure her, but it just felt like they were genuinely glad to have her company. Maybe she'd believe it in time, but my grandparents had always been proud and independent people, so it wouldn't happen overnight. At the moment, she wasn't able to invite the whole crowd to dinner, and she felt that the occasional cake or story wasn't enough to repay their generosity. I guess this could be seen as arrogance by others, but they had always been the first to lend a helping hand to those who needed it—so I knew this wasn't true. I figured she didn't feel ready to socialize yet, and I didn't push her. You don't get over losing your only love in a year or two.

From the pictures I've seen, I think I got more than my looks from the Schuyler lineage—I got their independence in the form of stubbornness too. Grandma says I'm the spitting image of my great-grandfather Jan, and that included his temperament—seems it would take him a while to get over things, just like it did me. Those 'things' weren't always as they appeared on the surface—which made it harder for him to change his mind—again, just like me. Fortunately living with my grandparents had begun to wear down that trait…who knows how much longer it might have taken for me to be friends with Benny again otherwise?

Benny. What could I really say about having him in my life once more? It seemed like those four months where we'd not spoken were just a bad dream—when morning comes you can't even remember what it was about—and that's how it was now, only better with him being my boyfriend. Sure, we had only been talking a couple months before I quit wrestling, but it seemed like we'd known each other for a lot longer. That's probably why I jumped him in the darkroom on our first day back together.

Okay, okay, it was pure hormones and pent-up desire which made me do it, but I'm seventeen, so I can be forgiven that, especially when I've always felt that Ben Ross would be the guy I wanted to spend my life with. Now that I knew he felt the same, I was seeing nothing but green lights on our road ahead. I guess that was why we made love in my bedroom that same day. I longed for the feel of his body against mine like we'd had during wrestling practice, only now our boners could be put to the use they were intended, rather than being ignored as they had to be on the mats.

What with the study sessions at Jay's, and then the stress of six-weeks exams, Benny had had only one chance to make love to me, but I was determined that would be the first thing we did this coming weekend. I was going to make it really special for us rather than have it be a spur of the moment thing like it had been when I did him. I wanted it to be an event we'd look back on in the years to come with more than lustful memories—I wanted it to be about love rather than just sex. I asked my Grandma if she could make a chocolate cake on Saturday, and she'd laughed and told me I'd have to be especially good until then for it to happen. A minute later, she said she'd make a pot roast too.

My Grandma is the best thing in my life, apart from Benny.

The exams were going good for me, and I was sure I would get B's at least, and Mr. Philips told me my photography project would get an 'A', so I was also covered in that course. Each night of the exams, we studied at Jay's for a few hours, which definitely helped my grades. I had been headed for 'C's so far this period, but now I felt things would be better with a group of friends to study with, and a boyfriend to drive me to do the best I could. Beyond the time with the guys, I was poring over my notes and reviewing my books every night until I was forced to go to bed around 11:00pm.

At lunch on Thursday, Benny asked me to go out to his car with him, so I wolfed down my hamburger and followed him outside. I half expected him to try talking me into joining the wrestling team again, but with the season over, I didn't see much point to it until next year. Besides, I could always practice with him in my bedroom during the summer…so I was surprised when my boyfriend took a box from his back seat and handed it to me. "What's this, Ben?"

I watched as he opened the lid, revealing a large grey-fronted plastic rectangle about a foot long and eight inches high. He pulled it out and I could see it was black on the rear panel and about three inches thick. "You remember last week, you asked me if I had a camera? You said you'd teach me how to take pictures and stuff—so this is my camera…."

It turned out the grey cover flipped down to reveal a camera lens at the end of a short bellows that extended when you opened the cover, and a view-piece at the top of the camera's body. It was a lot bigger than any camera I had, and didn't have any controls at all to adjust the f-stops or exposure times…or even to focus the picture. Even stranger, there was a slot at one end, and I could see a small tab sticking out of it, which Benny informed me would pull out your picture after you took it.

In the upper corner of the front were the words Polaroid Land Camera . This was a fairly new way of taking pictures, strictly for amateurs and supposedly more convenient than taking your film to be processed by somebody else—the image was developed on a slick plastic stock as you pulled the tab. Each picture had a small amount of chemicals which would be activated by the rollers as you took out the individual print. You had to wait about two minutes before peeling the print away from its protective covering— voila —instant picture, complete with a slightly sweet chemical smell. The image was only about 3x5 inches, but at least you got to see it right after taking it. Sadly, this camera was no good at all for teaching Benny the fine art of taking photographs, or making your own prints, as I'd hoped to show him.

A lot of people might have laughed at his thinking this would work for taking pictures, but not me; Benny was incredibly sweet and vulnerable, so that never occurred to me. His face was eager and the grin he had, started to slip when I put the camera back in its case and closed it. I couldn't hear anyone near us in the parking lot—lunch had just started, almost everyone was getting settled…so I put my hand on my boyfriend's cheek and gave it a soft caress before moving it down to slip inside his shirt to rub his chest. I felt him lean into my palm, and let my fingers stroke his left pec as I spoke.

"Ben, this is a cool camera, but it's not got what we need for you to learn photography. You need one which lets you focus the image and do other stuff like adjust for lighting conditions—not every picture is going to be on a nice sunny day, so that bit's pretty vital…." I could tell I was losing him with all these details, so I backed up my explanation a little—he didn't need all this to start learning—especially if it was just for fun. To make sure I had his attention again, I pinched his nipple and then rubbed it to soothe away the tiny ache I'd caused. I'd have preferred licking it, but that was far too risky in the school parking lot during lunch, where somebody could come out at any moment.

"I've got an old one I can lend you, and if you wind up liking photography, then you can have it. Some cameras get pretty fancy with tons of things to do before you can get a picture to come out just right, but this one is a lot easier to use and still takes great shots. We can get some film for it tonight if you want, and I can start showing you things on Saturday…."

Benny put his Polaroid back in his car, then turned around to run his hand down my shirt to rub my crotch for a second. His grin was back with a vengeance as his fingers grasped my tool and brought it to steely hardness with a few hurried strokes before pulling away and giving me a little push toward the cafeteria entrance.

"I've got a few things I want to show you too, Callie…maybe I'll stay over Friday night so we can get an early start?"

I was fretting all day Wednesday because the Auto Shop guys would be working on my truck, and despite Mr. Duncan's saying the prep Mikey and I had done looked good, I couldn't help worrying that something would go wrong. Had I picked up my boyfriend's worry habit, along with one sexy lover? I couldn't help smiling as I wrote about the implications of Big Brother for a war-torn society during my English quiz—I'd take a few worries so long as I had my kæreste to cuddle with at the end of the day.

As if worrying about my truck wasn't enough, and wondering if I could pull off the plan I had this morning for Mikey's and my one-month celebration, Mr. Sparks surprised us with the quiz for this six-weeks' period—the one for his only other subject would be tomorrow. I was so glad I didn't have Physics this semester, unlike Benny. I had no idea why the big guy was taking both Chemistry and Physics the same year—and Algebra on top of that!

I was glad for the chance to relax a bit and burn off some frustration during 5th Period. Today was basketball and running—and when I walked onto the polished gym floor, I looked around to see if I could spot Zane—not because I was afraid of him—but to make sure he saw that he couldn't intimidate me. He was at the far end with about a third of the other guys, shooting hoops, and Bobby Thomas was right next to him keeping him occupied and focused on their lay-ups. Today wasn't a game sort of day...just an exercise period to burn up energy and hone some skills, so there wasn't any division into shirts-or-skins.

A mop of sandy curls drew my eyes to Denny as he ran by me and gave a little wave. I couldn't figure out why he didn't do the basketball thing since he was tall enough—but at least that gave me a guy I could chat with as I circled the outside of the court. I felt my lips curl into a small smile as his trim rear came into view before he slowed slightly on his next pass. I thought about the kiss he'd given Mikey at the cook-out Saturday—the one that brought us all closer together—and it only reminded me of just how special my dark-haired boyfriend was. He'd told me the first day he'd met Denny and saw he was having problems, to go and see what I could do—despite being reserved and shy, he was also sensitive and caring.

"How'd you do on the Chem test?" I asked him between breaths. He had it the period right after mine, and we'd said 'hi', but didn't have time for much else with only four minutes between classes. I thought I did pretty good, even though it wasn't my favorite subject. Art was my favorite—not only because it was the last period of the day, but because I shared it with Mikey.

Denny slowed his pace a little more so we could gab more easily, and I saw his grey eyes darken just a bit. "I'm not sure, I know we worked on it a lot last week, and I did a little more on Sunday…but it would have been nice to have one more night of review."

I raised the hem of my tee-shirt to wipe my forehead a bit, and caught Denny's glance at my stomach as I did it. We'd spent part of our cook-out shirtless and shoeless, but hey, what's a queer boy gonna do when he gets a chance to see some skin? I knew he was as devoted to Greg as I was to Mikey, so it was all in fun. "Yeah, I know what you mean…thank goodness my notes were all caught up and I did all the experiments…one of the girls in my class was out for a week with the flu."

"At least the History quiz yesterday was a piece of cake—you can hardly go wrong with multiple-choice." Denny gave a chuckle after he said that—he was still confused there weren't any essay questions on it, but the rest of us were used to that in classes which covered a lot of ground through the course of the year. He'd find out the hardest tests were the year-end ones coming up in about five more weeks.

We did a few more laps in silence before I heard him clear his throat. "Um…I've heard that the school has a dance coming up in early May—it's called a 'Prom' or something like that?"

I almost stumbled at the question, and my eyes immediately went to where Bobby was showing the other guys at his end of the gym how to block shots. His tall frame and auburn hair made him stand out, even if he hadn't been my sister's old boyfriend. He moved with all the grace of a deer, and when he jumped it was like he had springs in his sneakers. Yeah, Linda had shown great taste in picking him out of the herd, and it wasn't just for his looks, but also because he was a nice guy with a brain. He might not have been captain of the school's basketball team, but he was the one who held them together as a unit, and kept their morale high if they were behind on the scoreboard. If he'd had one more year, he'd have been the team's captain for sure….

"Jay? Ground Control to Major Jay!" My eyes darted back to Denny with his reference to Bowie's old hit, and I grinned confusedly. I hadn't missed his question, I just couldn't believe he'd never heard of the traditional high school social event of the year. I mean, Homecoming with its King and Queen I could understand since there were no girls in his private school—then it hit me—no girls, so no dancing, and no Prom.

My eyes went to Bobby again for just a second before I answered him. My grin had gone, replaced at the thought of the upcoming dance. Linda probably wouldn't go now that she wasn't seeing the basketball player any more…all because he was friends with that prick Zane. I wasn't even sure if she wanted to go to the dance since she wasn't your typical girl, and I was no expert on them, but I did know she missed being with Bobby. I began to wonder if there was something I could do to get them back together…then I felt a poke in my ribs and saw Denny's eyes fixed on me.

"Sorry, man—it's just hard to believe you never heard of it." We slowed to a walk and I edged us toward one of the bleachers which had been pushed back against the wall to make room for indoor running—the top row was almost twelve feet high, but they all folded up accordion-style into a space about four feet deep when closed. Mr. Burton wanted none of us sitting down when we were supposed to be exercising, but we could lean against them for a minute to catch our breaths.

"The Prom is a big deal for the Junior and Senior classes—like Homecoming after the last football game. The gym gets all decorated up, and if there's money, they hire a band or dee-jay to provide the music. There's a meal, and punch—and I guess some guys go off to a motel or something to have sex with their girlfriends afterwards…."

"That sounds so… gross ," Denny said with a screwed-up face. I almost fell over laughing at his expression which mirrored my own feelings perfectly. I knew some girls were pretty—but there was no way I'd ever want to date one, let alone do the things with her that I'd do with Mikey at the drop of a hat.

From Health class I'd learned how all the parts fit together, and it didn't excite me at all—just the opposite in fact. There was only one place I wanted my dick to go—okay, two —and they were both integral parts of Mikey's body. So far, we'd only concentrated on the oral, but now that we had Uncle Mikkel's parcel, we'd get to the other stuff soon enough.

Denny leaned in closer to me, so that there was no chance anyone else could hear what he said next. "Are you going… with Mikey ?" He'd finished the last part of his question in a whisper.

I was totally taken aback by that one…I'd never given it a thought. The whole idea was stupid—and yet…there was something deep inside me that wanted to say 'Yes', to yell it in fact, as an affirmation of my feelings for my elskede . It was so sappy and so bound up with the high school scene that I would normally reject the merest thought of it—but I'd be going with Mikey…. Then there was the fact that even if we'd wanted to, we couldn't do it. Not in this school, not in this town…not even in this year.

I tried making it sound like a joke, but Denny was sharp enough to see the sad regret in my eyes when I finally answered his question. "Right—that'd go over real swell…."

He put his hand on my arm for a second, and I felt his fingers give it a soft squeeze before he pulled me back to the other guys running laps around the court. His own sad smile was all he showed as we began to jog. My eyes once again sought—and fixed on—Bobby Thomas.

One way or another, he was taking Linda to the Prom—for all us boys who couldn't, because we loved someone of the wrong sex.

Sitting at the lunch table waiting for my elskede , my Jay, gave me too much time to think. I wondered if he'd have more trouble with Timmy Zane despite the quick retribution the jerk had received the other day—he wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer after all. It also gave me time to fret about the quizzes I'd taken earlier; English wasn't entirely unexpected, and I was lucky that I loved 1984 and had already read it a year ago just for fun. No, it was the Home Economics quiz I'd struggled with—I wasn't fond of kids after babysitting for my middle sister's two boys—not that they were bad. One boy would have been okay, but there were two of them and that seemed to multiply their energy by a thousand percent, and their mischievousness went off the scale. A few years earlier, I'd sent them to bed at 5p.m. because they'd pulled some old siding out of our garage and scattered it all over the front yard when I'd briefly turned my back on them.

I did like them, but my desire to sit with them again was a lot less, despite the lure of money my sister dangled in front of me. Thanks to this experience with pre-teen terrors, I had absolutely no interest in even younger kids like babies. My perception of them was colored by my mom raising my oldest sister's boy for a couple years a short time after he was born. Say goodbye to a full night's sleep, and hello to crying, awful smells and trying to keep his tiny hands from breaking things, or sticking them in hazards like electrical sockets at the opposite end of a fork or knife.

I'd been aware of the basics, like having to feed them, or keep them warm and change their disgusting diapers, but that was more than I wanted to know since I'd never find myself having one of them. You needed a girl for that to happen, and there was no doubt in my mind that I'd rather cut my dick off than stick it in any spot attached to one of their bodies. Thanks to dumb luck or the vagaries of school schedules, I now had the perfect object for my sexual desires—Jay Beckel—he was all I'd ever need in my life, emotionally and physically…even if he couldn't get pregnant. For me, that was a definite plus.

I wasn't sure how I'd done on this quiz, but I figured it was probably a 'B−' if I was any judge…then I got distracted by hearing some of the kids at a nearby table talking about who they were going to invite to the Prom. It was two weeks away, maybe three; I wasn't sure because I wouldn't have gone since I couldn't dance, and would never have had the nerve to ask anyone even if I was straight. Since I wasn't, I thought my shyness was a blessing in this one instance.

Jay and I had already found so many ways for us to connect physically…so why did the idea of dancing with him even enter my head? Kissing him and running my hands over his body was a lot more intimate, not to mention fun , so I was confused at the surge of jealousy that washed over me when I heard those guys talking about which girl they would be asking out. Even though I was a newcomer to the world of relationships, it didn't seem right to me that other couples could do things like go to dances or simply hold hands in public with no hint of scorn or risk of being attacked—but let somebody like my Jay do that, and all hell would break loose.

I thought back to the time I'd read a book about students' rights put out by the Students For A Democratic Society , and felt an urge to start one of their groups here. But I had no idea how to do it, or the guts to stand up in front of people and ask them to join such a worthwhile group…so there was no way I'd find the nerve to go to a dance with my Jay—not even with our other friends along. I had to go to this school for another year, and so did Jay. It wasn't fair—or right—but who said life was either of those things?

My sour mood disappeared when I saw Denny and Jay coming out of the lunch line, and Jay's grin brought out one on my own face. As a matter of course, I felt my foot go out to meet his between our seats, and our ankles rubbed together sensuously. It felt good, and I was happy that we could go even that far in school without being noticed. I wanted to reach over and hold his hand on the tabletop, or better yet, plant a soft kiss on his cheek…but that would have to wait until we drove to his house for studying later. The quick one we'd shared on the bleachers this morning only whetted my appetite for more. "Gonna tell me what you have planned for the 7th?"

"Sure. I'm gonna get up, eat breakfast, then pick you up for school," he said with a smirk. At my frown, he went on. "Then, after classes, we're studying…after that…I have no idea." The twinkle in his eyes and the self-satisfied look on his face let Denny know something was afoot, and he looked from Jay to me and back again.

"What's up with that, guys? What's going on that day?" Jay looked at him and smiled, then leaned in and whispered in his ear. After a few seconds, Denny grinned too and focused on me. "That's so cool, Mikey…I can't wait for an occasion like that for us." He took a bite of his lunch, then changed the subject with another grin. "Have you had Chemistry yet today, guys?"

I shook my head, I had it right after lunch, and then Art with my enigmatic boyfriend. "No…I figured I'd do a little more studying for it tonight since the quiz is tomorrow; it's been a sucky day with the tests in both my English classes and Home Ec."

Jay shot me a look of sympathy, and it was quickly joined by Denny's. "Brace yourself, Mikey—Sparks sprang the quiz on my class today, and he did it to Denny too. Something about not wanting to do them on the same day as Physics…."

Shit ! The only way my day could get worse was if I broke my glasses. That had happened when I was in elementary because I'd had plastic frames, and they'd fallen off during recess. I'd bought metal frames last Summer and these had wrap-around ear pieces to prevent them falling off again—but I still had to push them back up once in a while. I'd asked my doctor about contacts then too, but he said I couldn't get them….

I was back to my bummed-out mood until the sound of a scraping chair drew my attention, and I saw Greg's bright-eyed cheeriness. His smile broadened when he took the place opposite Denny, and their exchange of smiles raised up my outlook on next period right away. How could I stay in a bad mood when I was seeing the look in their eyes that I knew was in mine whenever I looked at Jay?

"Screw it—one more night isn't gonna help much—and at least this way, I don't have a lot of time left to be nervous." Before I could take a bite of my sloppy-joe, another thought struck me—Chemistry was my last quiz since I'd had my History one yesterday. Jay saw my evil grin, and frowned, raising one of his golden eyebrows quizzically. "It just hit me…after next period, I'm done with my six-weeks' exams! That's the only one I had left, unless Ms. Jones comes up with one for Art class."

Now it was my turn to gloat…and I did it despite my friends' disgruntled looks…until I walked into the Chem. Lab. The sign on the wall in big letters above the demonstration table broadened my grin even further: More LABOR—Less ORATORY . Mr. Sparks' sense of humor was quirky, and sometimes went over our heads, but at least he had one, unlike most of our teachers. When it came to experiments or tests, he was deadly serious, and this quiz showed it in spades. I was shaken as I walked into Art and saw Jay waiting for me.

"Holy crap, that was rough…thank God it's over," I breathed out noisily. I shuddered at my boyfriend's words that we only had the semester final to go now…at least that was six weeks away. I felt a little cheerier knowing in less than an hour, I'd be holding him in my arms.

I almost walked out of the building after Art class. Mikey looked pretty beat-up by his tests today, and my concern for him made me forget about getting my truck. My elskede steered me to the left as we walked down the western hall of the school, and I snapped back into focus when I saw the door to the Vocational Arts room. In the far end was a section composed of several bays for us to work on projects rather than class-work. One big area was for Wood Shop, and the other—even bigger—contained the tools needed for Auto Shop and Welding.

The room emptied out fairly quickly since all the tools were checked and put away just before the bell rang, so there wasn't much to do otherwise. I could see my truck up on the rack, and from the door it didn't look any different, but as Mikey and I got closer, I noticed the shiny new metal where the running boards would be attached, and I saw those pieces laying on a bench to the left of the big metal garage doors.

"Ah, Mr. Beckel—just the man I wanted to see," Mr. Duncan said with a smile. "The kids in the welding classes had a great time working on your truck—it gave them real world experience rather than making up something on practice pieces."

"So it went okay," I asked nervously. The older man led us around the truck, pointing out the spots which had been repaired, and how the work had been done. It all looked fantastic, then I noticed the hole I'd patched on the fender was also showing shiny metal rather than filler. "What's this?"

"Well, one of the boys is planning on going into his dad's auto repair business, and asked if he could replace that—it seems a lot of their work is fixing up accident damage—so I let him go ahead. I went over the process with him, and inspected it step-by-step…she's good as new." He then led us over to the bench with the running boards, and pointed out the bolt holes.

"Those seemingly innocent-looking holes were the hardest part. Replacing the metal was easy, but lining up the holes on those and the truck body was harder since those needed replacing too. We had to measure the spacing of the intact holes, and their diameter, then confirm the alignment once we were done with the welding. I thought I might have to call the factory in Detroit, but a note in one of my manuals said that the spacing and diameters were the same for several years, and I did have the manual for the final year mentioned."

"I'm sorry you had so much trouble, Mr. Duncan…." He cut me off with a wave of his hand, and I reached out to shake it as my parents taught me. "I really appreciate all you've done, especially with so little notice; now, I can get her painted a lot sooner!"

When he turned toward the lift controls, Mikey nudged me in the ribs with his elbow, and when I turned my head to look at him, he pursed his lips quickly as if he were kissing me, and I blushed. "She looks great, Jay. Just a few smaller holes to fill, and then we can do a general sanding. I think it's time to ask our dads to set a date for doing the bed."

The hum of the lift stopped when it hit the concrete floor with a clank . "She's all set to go, boys. Make sure you prime all the new metal right away, and see that there's no dust or grime on it." He looked closer at Jay, then added, "Did you know there should have been a metal bed on her? The wood was only supposed to be to support the more durable steel…."

I nodded, but didn't miss Mikey's confused look. I guess he'd not been around much farm equipment before. "Yes, sir; my dad told me that Grandpa had specified it this way—he'd thought the metal bed would dent and get the paint chipped, and it would rust out pretty quick, so the wood had to be easier to maintain over the years. My dad kept an eye on it, but my older brother had it before me, and didn't take as much care of it. We're going to replace the wood with new, and re-varnish it all."

Mr. Duncan stroked his chin for a minute before he spoke. "The most durable wood is hickory, but it's pricey and hard to find…next, there's maple, white oak, beech, and red oak. Cherry looks great too, but isn't quite as good for exterior uses. I'd say it depends on what color you're going to paint her?"

"My dad suggested maroon, and Mikey's dad said it was one of his favorites too—so did Mr. Walker at the hardware store."

"Well, in that case, I'd think red oak or cherry—then top that with several coats of spar varnish…." At our confused looks, he smiled. "That's marine varnish—used to do the wood on boats and masts…you can't beat it for resistance to weathering and hard use."

I thanked Mr. Duncan again, and promised him a look when we had all the work finished—if nothing else, he could see it when we started our Senior year in the Fall. I took the keys from him and backed the truck off the ramp, while Mikey grabbed the running boards and put them in the back. With another wave, I headed off for my house, taking my boyfriend's hand and holding it on the gear-shift like we always did. Of course, I had to give it a quick kiss before we pulled onto the one-lane road from the parking lot.

We got in some more reviewing before dinner, except for Mikey, who spent his time giving me amused glances when he wasn't trying to distract me with little touches to my arm or an occasional peck to my cheek. He was so going to get it when the other guys were gone. Calvin and Benny wrapped up first, telling us they were going to Lisbeth's to eat, so we all stood up and gave them warm hugs goodbye. Greg and Denny decided to stay tonight, rather than go to Greg's house…I figured they'd spend some time in the hay mow since it was still set up as a love-nest, but they didn't. "I'm taking Reb to see a movie in town," Denny said, much to Greg's surprise.

"Since when?"

"Call it an 'anniversary'…," the runner said, grinning back at his shocked face. Mikey and I walked them onto the back porch and waved them off after giving them their own hugs. Then it was our turn. I speared him with my eyes, and put on my most evil smile; I took a step toward him, raising my fingers menacingly as I moved forward. My dark-haired boy was ticklish, and I knew all of his weak spots.

"You wouldn't dare …," he began, and then stopped as my eyes narrowed. Another step had him backing up and edging toward the kitchen behind him. When I started to wiggle my fingers, he broke and ran up the back stairs—yep, he was in trouble now and he knew it. As I bounded up the stairs in hot pursuit, I heard him slam the door to my room amid worried giggling. Movement caught my eye as I passed the open bathroom door…Linda was standing at the sink, wiping her eyes with a tissue.

I stopped dead in my tracks at this unusual sight…my sister planned everything…she almost never let anything bother her enough to cry. Not even the confrontation with Timmy Zane had brought tears—just anger and cold resolve. " Hvad er der galt? Hvorfor græder du ?"

She dabbed her eyes a few more times, and I thought she might just say 'nothing' as usual when I asked her about stuff, but she didn't. I used my Danish mostly with mor when I wanted something, but hardly ever with her…so she knew I was concerned about what was going on. "Bobby asked me to go to the Prom…."

For just an instant, my heart soared; he'd asked her, and I hadn't even talked with him about it yet. Her tears could have been ones of happiness, but her expression, and the tone of her words, told me that wasn't the case this time. Of course she was crying—she had broken up with him because he sided with Zane out of loyalty rather than drop him as she'd requested when he fought with me. My entire plan had been aimed at the wrong person…Bobby would have asked her regardless—it was my stubborn sister I had to work on. Bobby Thomas was the first guy she'd dated that I liked, and it had more to do with his nature than his foxiness.

The basketball player was too good a catch for her to lose because of me. As much as I appreciated her gesture, I couldn't let her ruin this once-in-a-lifetime event out of family loyalty. Bobby was cool, and he really did love my sister. Just thinking of what idiots might be waiting to date her at OSU had me sweating bullets. I knew she had high standards, but what if she let those slip out of a need to find a guy before checking things out first? No, she had to go to this stupid dance with him…and be together with him when they started college next term….

" Lene , don't turn him down because of the fight—he had nothing to do with it except stand by his friend despite not approving of what he did. Since then, he's been trying to get Zane to reform, or apologize…." I felt my face turning red as I went on—I didn't like admitting my faults. "I may have pushed Zane too far in the locker room…especially in front of the other guys—so maybe I brought the fight on myself?"

I held up my hand to stop her protest. "No—think about it—you know I have a quick temper sometimes, right ?" Her eyes widened in shocked surprise, and that made me laugh, which set her off too. "All I'm saying is, if you don't go with him to the Prom, at least do it for the right reasons, like him cheating on you, or saying your hair looked bad…."

I mostly dodged her swing at my head, but even so, her fist hit my arm and left a few tingles in its wake. Her face softened a little, but her mood had lightened, which was part of my plan. She'd set up a punishment for Timmy Zane until school ended in June, so what need was there to hurt Bobby? I reminded her of that.

" Straffer du den rette fyr...han har ikke gjort noget galt ." Linda never expected me to be too sympathetic toward her since she liked to appear aloof, but the events of the last week or so had brought us closer than before…she was listening now, rather than just tossing out my words unheard. "There's also another reason… han elsker dig ."

Adding those three powerful words—he loves you—might have been unfair, but if they worked, then I wouldn't regret reminding her of them. A guy my height has to use all the tools he can to get something done. I heard a door open behind me, and looked back to see Mikey standing in the hall next to my room. When he saw me talking with Linda, he walked over until he could see our faces better.

"What's wrong, Linda?" I knew that she still intimidated him a little, and yet he was offering her support. Just one more reason I loved him so much. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

I walked the two steps over to him and took his hand in mine, then pulled him against my side after a soft kiss to his cheek. I turned back to my sister, and used my last argument to persuade her….

"There's your last incentive, Lin…me and Mikey— no gay couples —can go to any sort of public event and be themselves…not without risk of being beaten up or worse. So I'm asking you to go to the Prom with Bobby—if not for yourself, then for us ….

"Go, have fun— and dance one dance for your gay brother who can't be there ."

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