Jay & Miles

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 57


POV: Jay, Mikey

The guys were all able to stay over Saturday night, though Cal and Benny had to go home to get a change of clothes for Sunday—neither of them could fit into Jerry's old things like Mikey could. Greg asked Benny to pick up something for him from his place since it was just across the street from the big wrestler's, and Denny decided he could fit into some of my brother's clothes since he was just a bit smaller than Mikey.

While the two athletes were gone, Denny, Greg and my kæreste were in the family room where I soon heard piano music and laughing break out.

I was just about to take some Pepsi in when the phone rang. I grabbed the black receiver from the top of the wall phone and heard Benny's voice at the other end. "Hey, Jay—do you think it would be okay for Finn and Lee to come over? They were playing cards and freaked when they heard we were gonna camp out…."

I was pretty sure it would be okay with mor since we'd all be outside, but I thought I'd better ask Greg. "Hang on, man—I'll go see." I took the drinks in with me, and motioned for the guys to quiet down. Three pairs of eyes fixed on me, and they converged on the drinks like they 'were parched men crawling across the desert,' and just came in sight of a life-saving oasis.

"Guys, Benny wants to know if the little love-birds can join us tonight; it's okay with me and my parents. What do you think?"

Greg looked at Denny, and Mikey just nodded. We all knew the two boys had some fun at the drive-in last night, but they'd fallen asleep pretty early and not had much privacy the rest of the time they were at home. At least here they could be with other like-minded guys, so might not feel too embarrassed…and maybe even ask some questions I was sure they had.

Denny gave a little grin which Greg took as assent. "Is Lee there? I need to talk with him a sec first."

When I told him to go ahead and tell Benny it was okay, he went off to the kitchen. I didn't bother to pick up the extension in the hall because I figured Greg might want to set some rules before letting his brother and Finn camp out with us. I was puzzled when Denny yelled after his boyfriend.

"Tell the private to bring plenty of ammunition!"

Greg just laughed and gave him the finger in salute, which made the rest of us laugh, even if we didn't quite get the obvious inside joke. We'd figured out they called each other 'Reb' or 'Yank' which was a clear reference to their heritages, but the ammunition bit was a mystery. Hunting was big here, especially with the more rural families, but I didn't think our Maine transplant had been into that. Greg could be, but Denny Watson? Only Greg had been over to his house so far and might know more.

We were sipping our drinks while waiting for our friends to get back, and I brought up my confusion about the ammunition remark. That got a huge blush from Greg and Denny, but no real explanation.

I exchanged glances with Mikey and saw he was equally puzzled, so I let it go for now. "Greg, do you want us to keep our hands to ourselves while your brother's here? I mean, we're good with just holding hands if you think anything else might be too much for them to see."

There were nods of agreement from our boyfriends, but Greg just shook his head and let out a raucous laugh. "Man, y'all haven't met Finn if you think he'd be shocked by us doing our usual stuff. That kid's a smart-ass from way back. My brother isn't as brash, but he's smart and curious—so he already knows a lot about what two guys could do—even if he hasn't done it yet."

Greg took a drink of his soda before going on. "One thing I told Lee just now was that he could ask us anything he had questions about, but that he didn't have to do anything with Finn he didn't feel ready for."

We all agreed that was the best advice any of us could give, and I grinned when Mikey brought up another important point. "Do you think we should show them the hay loft?"

That sparked some debate, especially since there wouldn't be a lot of privacy at the pond or in the tent tonight. "The tent can sleep eight, and it'll be full if we all sleep inside tonight, so none of us will have any privacy. There's more space in the clearing, but we'd still all be able to hear what was going on…so, I guess the bigger question is, do we limit ourselves to kissing and holding each other?"

I knew my kæreste would be blushing when he thought about what he and I did together, and I was right…my question had him almost crimson, but Greg and Denny were only a little less scarlet-faced. We'd never come right out and said what we'd done together as couples; we all knew we'd jerked off—what boy hadn't—and it was assumed we'd done that with each other, but what else had we done? Surprisingly, it was my Mikey who broke the impasse.

"Umm…me and Jay have done some other stuff than kissing…." He licked his lips and took a big gulp of Pepsi before he went on. "You know, the usual…and got off by lying on top of each other and um…stuff." I was proud of him for being so brave, but thought he would burst into flames from the level of redness on his cheeks and even down his neck. I decided to save him from spontaneous combustion.

"Okay—I'll lay all our cards on the table—we've sucked each other off a few times."

My boyfriend looked like he wanted to crawl under the sofa or run out of the room, but I took his hand and gave it a squeeze, then a soft kiss. I knew what had happened to Denny up in Maine with those older boys, and wondered if he'd be upset by what I said…of course, I couldn't take it back now. Sometimes my brain is just a few seconds behind my mouth and can't put the brakes on in time. "Denny…you okay?"

The sandy-haired runner gave us a little nod and leaned over to kiss Greg's cheek. "It's okay, Jay, thanks to my Reb. He's been helping me get over all the shit from my old school. We're making progress, and I tease him by calling him Doctor Newton. He ought to study being a shrink or something when he goes to college."

Greg had punched his mate's arm before bringing up the biggest question among our group's members. "Shut up, Yank. My main worry are the two goons…how far do you think Benj and Cal have gone? We're about at the level you guys are, but sometimes I think those two have actually gone all the way."

A lot more conversation later, we couldn't decide. Mikey brought up the point that the two wrestlers were naturally more out-going than the rest of us, so maybe their showing more affection in front of us was just part of that attitude. Denny agreed with part of that since he was an athlete himself, though track was a lot different from other sports where physical contact was the rule rather than the exception. Greg said he knew Benny the best, but that though he could be shy, he was also demonstrative by nature, and had taught all his friends how to wrestle in their back yards and on the town green when he began to learn it about five years earlier.

While we'd been studying together, we'd learned the two athletes had had crushes on each other since early in the Fall semester, so maybe that made them more open too. We just didn't know, and none of us wanted to come right out and ask the jocks if they'd done the deed.

All this speculation made me think about the relationship I'd had with my older brother Jerry, and wondered if what we had shared was like that between other brothers. Jerry had always been my guardian and mentor, and I knew I could count on his support no matter what.

If Benny related to Finn the way Jerry had to me, then he'd never do anything to jeopardize his brother's safety. "Greg…I think we've got this from the wrong end of the stick. How do you and Benny get along with your brothers? Jerry was always looking out for me, even when I was a pest—I know, I know—hard to believe I could be that way, but…."

I winced at the punch my elskede landed on my bicep. "Keep going, Jay…."

I shut up.

Greg pushed his fingers through his auburn hair before answering. "We're a little different I guess, since we all play music or sing—you gotta be pretty close to do that even for fun."

He smiled at our shocked expressions. He'd brought his guitar over to my house only once, so we knew he could play really well, but that was about it. Denny said he'd heard them all when he had dinner there, and that they sounded almost professional. We all laughed when his words made Greg turn almost as red as his hair.

"I had a talk with Lee a few days ago about me and Yank being boyfriends, and he had some pretty good questions for an eighth grader. The only thing he had wondered about was how to find a special boy of his own."

"How about Benny and Finn," Mikey asked. "I'm no help because all I've got are older sisters…."

"Well, even though I've lived across the street from them my whole life, I don't really know Finn like I know Benny. They used to have their problems when they were little, but what brothers haven't?" He saw me nod and grinned at me in return, but all he got from my boyfriend and Denny were shrugs.

"You guys won't get it, but think of it this way—it's like having a friend who comes over to visit and never leaves. With friends they can go home if you fight, but with brothers you know they'll always be back, so it's get along or else. I suppose it's worse because if there's more than two of you in a small house, then you have to share a room. About the only way to make that work is to set boundaries and try to keep to them so you don't kill each other."

I stared at Greg with my mouth hanging open; Jerry and I had fought some, but it was never anything that lasted more than a couple hours at most. "Me and Jerry never had problems like that…and you guys seem to get along okay now from what Denny told us about visiting your place."

Greg's nose crinkled up as he frowned. "I'm not really sayin' this right. All that was when we were little kids. As we grew up, we figured out how to get along, but it wasn't until I got my attic room that I realized what my brothers meant to me. I like my privacy, but I also miss the talks we had most nights as we fell asleep. Jeff and Lee still have those talks, and I feel like I've missed out on part of Lee's life since I got my own pad."

Listening to Greg talk, it began to sink in what Jerry and I had growing up was pretty special; we'd had to share a room as far back as I could remember, but what seemed even more unusual was that we—okay, me—had resisted getting separate beds. Bunk-beds were tried briefly but it always ended up with us winding up in the same one by morning. I'm not sure why that was, except that I slept better when we did that. It made me feel safer, just like his looking after me at school did during the day. In the two years since he'd moved out, I got used to sleeping alone, though I still preferred being with somebody else…like my kæreste Mikey.

"I guess me and Jerry were different then, since neither of us wanted to have a separate room…maybe because we both had to get up and do chores." I saw Mikey groan at that because he'd had to deal with me waking up before 6:00 to do the milking when he stayed over, though far often beat me to it. It's hard to break a habit you've had for almost your whole life, but my boyfriend was good at finding things to keep me occupied if I did wake up that early now.

Thinking about those mornings distracted me from what we were talking about, so I tried to get us back in the groove. "So, how do we handle making out when the kiddies get here?"

Denny shrugged his shoulders. "I'm an only child, so I'll leave it up to you guys, especially since Lee's my Reb's little brother. I will say that kissing and holding hands is about as far as I'd feel good going, though."

Mikey nodded his head in agreement, so that left only me and Greg, which really wasn't hard to decide—we'd go along with what our better halves wanted.

"Okay, now that the hard decision's made—" I yelped when Mikey hit me in the arm again. "What? I didn't say anything…" I didn't get it until I heard Greg snicker and mutter 'hard' under his breath. "Hey, you can't hit me for something I didn't mean to say. I'd be black and blue by morning if you did that every time."

I think Greg was about to say something, when we heard the slamming of car doors, followed by the banging of the screen door on the back porch. There were murmurs of conversation from the kitchen, then mor's laughter. A few minutes later Benny and Calvin came into the family room, closely followed by two grinning boys bearing their own drinks and plates of cookies.

The two wrestlers snagged the second couch before the newcomers could, so that left them to sit in the last two chairs or use cushions on the floor. Finn had a wide grin that looked a lot like his older brother's, but Lee seemed to be a bit nervous. He was wearing his wire-rimmed glasses which added even more to his serious appearance. Both boys were wearing tee-shirts and jeans since we'd be staying outside overnight. After a quick glance around, they sat their snacks on the coffee table and pulled up two large cushions right next to each other

We all said 'hi' about the same time, and before we could think about what would happen next, or bring up the subject of how to act, Finn swallowed half of his cookie and let out with a remark which would set his tone for the day.

"So I guess we all get naked later on?" He yelped when Lee smacked his arm.

"Finley Ross—behave!" Finn looked down at the floor for a second, then leaned over to give his boyfriend a peck on the cheek before taking another bite out of his cookie. Was I the only one who caught that little twinkle of mischief in his eye? I think Benny's brother and I could become good friends if our boyfriends let the reins slip a bit.

Did you ever get the urge to kill someone you loved? Most times the idea never enters your head, but then something happens that makes it a very appealing option. That's how I felt when Jay told Greg and Denny we'd had oral sex with each other. I mean, sure we were great friends with them, but wasn't our sex life supposed to be private? I knew he hadn't meant to do it, and he was only trying to ease my embarrassment while we were talking about how to behave in front of the younger guys…but still….

I let him off the hook because of the way he immediately tried to fix the pain he might have caused Denny by his words, even starting to get up to hug him before the tall runner said he was okay thanks to Greg's concern for him. That cleared up the times when he'd called Greg 'Dr. Newton' at least…and I had new respect for the red-head's down-to-earth ways that tended to conceal his real depth of character.

My Jay, alas, was as you found him…warts and all. Would I change him? Not a bit. Would I let him live until tomorrow morning? The jury was still out on that one, but I might think about letting him off for good behavior once we were alone. I just couldn't stay mad at Jay for long, but I wanted him to know that there were some things that he couldn't joke about, and now he knew our sex life was one of them. Not in public anyway…I mean, his trick with the can opener last night had been pretty funny.

When Finn and Lee came in, I realized that I'd seen Finn before; he was only an inch or two shorter than his brother and a few pounds lighter, but the hair and eye color seemed the same. I groaned inwardly when he made his remark about getting naked later—I could see him and my Jay being thick as thieves in no time with that irreverent attitude and quick wit. The look on Benny's face told me he'd suffered for years from Finn's behavior, but I could still see the affection he had for his little brother when he made a swipe at the back of his head. Lee beat him to it.

Oh yeah, Finn and Jay were going to get along fine, and I could only hope that Lee would be able to keep his boyfriend from going totally crazy. Maybe it would be easier since they were a couple years younger than us and less set in their ways? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Benny sigh and shrug his shoulders helplessly. I think I was going to have to take Lee under my wing if the two of us were to stay sane for the rest of our high school careers. It was that or find a new boyfriend, and for me at least, that would never happen. What was that phrase my grandpa used to say—oh yeah—a cold day in Hell….

Almost before we could breathe the cookies were gone, and the real fun could begin. We had a few hours before Jay's mom served dinner, so that would give us time to show the new guys the pond and tent for tonight, or just roam around the farm.

"How about we introduce these two to Gulliver?" I asked. That was almost a requirement for our study group, but why not make it for just coming to the farm in general? If the pinto didn't like you, then there had to be a reason, and he hadn't been wrong yet.

"Then maybe the hay loft," Jay said with a snicker. I guess we'd decided to come clean with the guys, but I was hoping he'd let them figure out what went on up their by themselves. I had a quick plan to keep Jay downstairs while the two were looking around…maybe they'd just think it was a fun place to hang out. Benny and Calvin hadn't been up their yet either, so that was possible wasn't it? Sure it was.

It took a few minutes for the guys to sort out their shoes, mainly because most kids picked out ones that could be used for gym as well as school, so the color was either white or black. Jay wore them around the farm and saved his boots for dressier occasions, and I tended toward penny loafers because I hated tying shoe-laces. More than once Rosalie had urged us to line them up rather than just pile them together, but like most kids, that would take time and we always had more fun things to do. Jay said she'd forbidden shoes in the house for as long as he could remember, so the drive to organization came and went without resolution.

The meeting with Gulli was interesting; he came up to our group and pointedly ignored the two wrestlers, but made a fuss over Finn and Lee. He'd never done that before as far as I knew, but every time the big guys tried to pet his muzzle, he'd pull his head back and move away to somebody else. He looked at Lee and Greg, taking big whuffling breaths of their scents and nodding his long head, then did the same to Finn, but not Benny. When it was his turn, Gulliver turned and used his long tail to smack the athlete's head instead.

We laughed, except for Benny, who got a horsey glare when he tried again to pet the miffed animal. "It's like he's pissed off at you—what did you do to him?" Calvin asked.

I'm not sure why, but a weird idea came into my head: Gulliver was pouting. Could a horse do that? Did their emotions go that far? Despite his size, it occurred to me that in horse years he was still a little kid. He still loved to play, so maybe he could act like a little boy too.

I looked over to where Cal's Buick was parked, a little closer to the house than it had been before, and something clicked. "Which one of you drove back? And what did you do when you got here?"

The younger guys looked puzzled, but as if they were one person, pointed at Benny and said, "He did." It was Lee who went on. "We got out of the car and Benny told us to take our things up to the house, so Cal took the lead to the porch…then we came inside."

Jay's sudden laugh had us all staring at him. "Man, you messed up, dude. You guys think about it—what was the first thing I did when you came out here to visit?" I got it because I'd been here for all of them, but they had to talk together for a few seconds. They still looked confused, so I decided to help them out by pointing at Gulliver standing by his corral's board fence. By George, I think they've got it.

"What do I do, Jay? I didn't mean to hurt his feelings," the wrestler whined.

"This was a biggie, so it'll take more than usual—he doesn't like dried apples as much as fresh, but you'll find a bag of carrots in the tack area. I think two ought to do it, but bring a third just in case." Benny headed off inside the barn and was back a minute later, dangling four by their leafy stems.

"You trying to make him fat?" That got a laugh from us, but it only took a minute or two before our four-hooved friend had eaten three of the treats, and after glaring at his owner for the 'fat' comment, calmly ate the fourth. I couldn't resist a little dig of my own.

"For his 4-H project this year, Gulliver's teaching Jay how to drive a sulky." I pointed to where the two-wheeled racer sat parked next to the side door into Gulli's training area. I couldn't wait to see Cal's pictures of that—"Film at 11," I added with a grin.

Finn and Lee looked confused and eager to hear the story, but all I could do was rub my arm where Jay had just punched it. Okay, I now knew what it felt like when I did it to him. Next time I thought he deserved some sort of reaction for a smart-alecky remark, I'd find another way to let him know I wasn't too happy about it. I didn't want him to be a mass of bruises while we were together, and I knew he found it hard to resist saying something colorful at times. Of course, if I held off on even a light punch, I couldn't 'kiss it better'…I'd have to give this whole thing a lot more thought.

"They're just pulling your legs, guys," Jay said quickly. "You wanna see something really cool?" We followed the three of them into the barn, and I let out a sigh when Jay pointed to the rungs on one of the central pillars leading up into the hay mow. "Just climb that ladder and go through the trap door. Benj and Cal haven't seen it either, so the rest of us will stay down here."

"Who wants to see a bunch of hay?" Lee asked. Even though he hadn't lived on a farm, everybody knew that barns had an upper level for storing it. I saw the two wrestlers exchange a quick glance, and when the younger guys hesitated, they moved ahead and began to climb. Once they disappeared, the boys followed more slowly, but we heard exclamations of surprise just a few seconds later.

Jay grinned at me, and I saw Greg and Denny do the same. We all had very fond memories of what we'd done up there, and were pretty sure that Finn and Lee would want to see what memories they could make too. Benny and Cal? We didn't know what they'd done already, but their familiarity with each other's touches told us they had found a place to do some things that was a lot more comfortable than lying on straw or hay.

"You think they'll use it right now," Denny asked, ears turning a little pink.

Greg rested his hand on his boyfriend's cheek and let his fingers trace the curve of his jaw for just a second. "Honestly—I don't know. I wouldn't think so with Benj up there with them…." We heard the radio come on, and when it didn't go off again, we knew it was more than just a test to see whether it worked or not. We heard muffled voices, then steps, then the two wrestlers climbed down the ladder. Benny came last, and pulled the trap door closed as his head cleared it.

"Guess that's our answer," I said nervously.

"Come on guys, let's go see what we can do tonight," Jay said waving toward the open sliding door at the barn's front. "Maybe we shouldn't have carried all that junk back up here earlier…."

"I'm not lugging that mattress back all that way," snorted Ben, who was immediately barraged with taunts of 'wuss' and 'baby' and mock sniffles from the rest of us.

"Bite me, assholes." He grinned after flipping us off with the middle finger of each hand.

Jay led us back toward the house, but went through the door into the basement from the kitchen rather than on into the rest of the house. Rosalie was looking at us and counting heads, but Jay explained before she could say anything. "We're gonna set things up for camping later on. Do you think we can take some hot dogs back and some marshmallows?"

Rosalie knew from years of experience that kids would always want a snack even after dinner, so she just nodded. "If you're going to all that trouble, don't forget the grill…or do you think you'll find enough brush to cook over?"

"We're cool; we can use a bag to carry stuff since we'll be eating pretty soon, and the gallon thermos jug will keep tea cold. Are the sleeping bags still in the store room?"

"Last I saw them. Don't forget to air them out since we haven't used them since Jerry went off to the Coast Guard." She paused in cutting up potatoes for dinner. We could smell a ham baking in the oven, and I for one, had to look at the clock to see how long it would be before dinner. Rosalie laughed when she saw all our eyes fixed on the same point mine were.

"Get out of my kitchen…you've got another hour or so before it's done. Do you think I'll let you starve to death?"

I saw Jay pout for a second then rub his flat stomach. "Not on purpose…" He managed to dodge her whack toward his head, so I laid one on his arm as he scooted by. I laughed along with the others when she gave me a high five, then followed my elskede down into the cellar. Minutes later each of us had a rolled-up sleeping bag under one arm as we headed off into the back yard.

"We only have six," Denny said dejectedly. "I guess we can use some blankets or something…or maybe double up?" He pointed at me and Jay when he said that last bit. "I don't think Benny and Cal can fit in one together."

Greg gave his Yank a pat on the back. "Not to worry, Marse Robert always told us to be prepared like a good soldier." He turned to Benny, who still had the keys to Calvin's blue LeSabre. "Gimme the keys, Benj. When I talked to him on the phone, I told Lee to put his and my sleeping bags in the trunk while y'all were sortin' out clothes for tomorrow."

I saw Denny look at the rest of us in confusion. "Why do you guys all have sleeping bags? You never mentioned camping out before, but it sounds like you've had them for a long time?"

"I don't have one. We only went camping a few times when I was little, and my sisters didn't like it once they got older." I patted his shoulder in commiseration. "Some friends of my parents would ask us to go, but I wasn't fond of fishing, and their three boys liked to pick on me."

"Okay, that's one of you, now what about the rest?" I wasn't surprised when Denny gave me a quick hug after he heard my little story, and the others did the same. He and I watched as Greg and the wrestlers exchanged grins and did a little salute to their fore-heads simultaneously.

"Boy Scouts, man!"

I don't know why that didn't occur to me right away. I'd read the Handbook when I was about twelve and decided not to join because it sounded like too much trouble, and studying for all those merit badges would have taken the fun out of the parts that did sound appealing. My old friends joined since the Scouts' meeting place was a log cabin on our street just to the right of the bridge that crossed the creek before getting to town. I'd passed it countless times on my bike riding to elementary school or to the drug store to buy comics or candy. I saw Jay hadn't joined in the salute.

"You and Jerry didn't join?" I asked, rubbing his back in gentle circles.

"Nah," he shrugged with a laugh. "Some of us had chores to do rather than laze around tying knots and whittling their little sticks at night in those pup tents they had to use on camping trips."

It took about three second before the three mobbed him and wrestled him to the ground. They tickled him until he begged for mercy. Denny and I laughed but didn't do anything to help either side, though we exchanged a raised eyebrow or two. I shrugged and grinned to convey my message: he brought it on himself.

Jay was looking the worse for wear when they let him up, so I brushed him off and kissed his cheek; then we all sat in a circle in the back yard talking until Rosalie would call us for dinner. The feeling of companionship and brotherly love was just the same as it had been in my own back yard after my cook-out, except we were still in our shirts and shoes. About forty-five minutes later, we heard steps approaching from the barn and two blushing teens joined us. Their clothes were disheveled and hair mussed, but they seemed okay. Swollen lips gave proof of some prolonged kissing.

We scooted around to make room between Greg and Benny, and the two sat as their brothers poked them in the ribs. Greg pulled a bit of hay from Lee's strawberry-blond hair and whispered something that had him turning crimson. He faced away from us, and we clearly heard the sound of a zipper closing. Finn pulled him into his arms for a quick hug.

"Sorry…I didn't notice or I'd 'a said something."

Benny couldn't resist a chance to tease his own brother. "Well, at least his shirt's okay, while somebody else's is inside out and backwards…." It didn't have the effect he wished because Finn just flipped him off, pulled off his tee and flexed his muscles for a second before putting it on the right way around. Benny tried again, and this time he scored because Finn went pink all the way down his neck.

"Those nipples looked a bit tender…were those little bite marks I saw?"

Calvin said something that mystified all of us, but had Benny blushing and cutting off any further remarks about his younger brother. "Dark room." I was the only other person there who'd taken Photography and knew how small and private that space was…and it reminded me of the many fantasies I'd had about sharing it. Had the two athletes been in there together? Just the idea had me stiffening a bit.

Jay saw my predicament and wistful expression, and it didn't take him long to make the right connections—after all, he was the math wizard and 2+2=4 was as basic as it could be. "I am definitely taking that class next year! You'll help me study for it, won't you kæreste?"

I'm not sure he got the intent of my look because I was seldom really exasperated by him, but I was now. There was a lot of work involved in learning how to develop film and making your own prints, not to mention talent in composing good pictures to start with. "It's not just about fooling around in the dark room, Jay. It's really cramped and hot in there since the place has no air conditioning. Do you even have a camera?"

The look I saw then in my boyfriend's eyes was one I never wanted to see again. I'd hurt his feelings, and maybe he thought I'd rejected him too. I had to fix this. Fast. I grabbed his hand and pulled him up next to me, then we made our way toward the house…and up to his bedroom which held so many good memories for us. I held onto his hand as I closed the door behind us, then led him over to his bed.

I hated times like this when I couldn't see all the subtleties of expression in people's eyes…some of it I could figure out from other clues, but as some ancient poet had said, 'the eyes were the windows of the soul,' and for me they were often shuttered by my own near-sightedness. I leaned my fore-head against Jay's and tried with all my might to make my love pour into his brain by will-power alone. I needed all my words now, but what could I say to match my love, remorse and regret? This wasn't something sex could solve either, but maybe affection could be a start….

I wrapped him in my arms and we lay back on his pillows, holding him against my chest face-to-face and buried my nose in his blond locks. Of course, I found myself sniffing his scent, not just his shampoo but the little hints of grass and horse that seemed ever-present, and spelled out 'Jay' to me in all his variations. At times I thought I could pick him out of a crowd by his scent alone…I inhaled more strongly, and he chuckled where his mouth rested in the crook of my shoulder. He couldn't get over how much I enjoyed smelling him. When I took another deep breath, he giggled and thumped me on my back between my shoulder-blades.

"I don't think mor's done laundry yet—want me to grab something so the two of you can be alone?"

And with that sad little joke, I knew we were okay again.

"Will you tell me something, Jeepers," I asked softly, my whisper tickling his ear.

Umm-hmm he murmured, taking an exaggerated sniff of my own hair. I giggled, then he giggled…then I pulled him on top of me so we could get the maximum contact between us without being naked. It felt so good—so right—for him to be where he now was. He wriggled a bit to get more comfortable, and I let my hands rest lightly on his back, making little circles and rubs down his back bone.

The idea of getting Jay alone in the school's dark-room was exciting to think about and would fulfill one of the fantasies I'd had last year, but I couldn't figure out why Jay wanted to take the class just so that might happen. Besides the erotic vision of it, what could we do there that we couldn't do anywhere else—like his bedroom? It would be too risky to do it, unless we stayed after school to work on a project… Wait—was that what Cal had meant with those two words?

"Why do you really want to take Photography?" I gave him a quick kiss to reassure him of my love, then went on. "Yeah, the potential sex would be cool, but we can do that now…and it really is a lot of work to learn. There's the class time, then actually going out and taking pictures—and that can be a hassle finding shots for some of the assignments."

"You don't want me to take it," he asked. I thought I could detect more than a hint of disappointment in his tone, so I hugged him tighter to me.

"That's not it at all…if you want to do it, then I'll help out all I can. I'll always help you do whatever you want, in school or out." I chucked him under his chin, and he snorted into my ear. "We're a couple now, just like your parents. I help you, you help me, always and forever. Now, stop with the snow job—it's May. What's behind all this, elskede min?"

Jay shifted on top of me, then slid off to lay facing me, taking my hands in his and rubbing the backs of them with his thumbs. He looked at them, then up into my eyes, then back to our clasped hands. His voice was low and hesitant when he finally spoke. "I get worried, Mikey. I worry that things are going so good for us, and that it's not real…like I'll wake up tomorrow and it was all a dream."

He shushed me with a finger to my lips. "I know it's not like that, but it feels that way a lot. I mean…what do we really have in common? You read a lot…I don't do much of that. You can draw and take pictures—you've seen my stuff in Ms. Jones' art class…I'm lucky to draw a straight line, let alone anything that looks like something….

"I like doing outdoor stuff like horse-back riding and camping and even my chores. You hadn't done any of that until you started coming over here. Deep down, I guess I'm afraid you'll get bored with me, or fed up, and find somebody else you have more in common with. I love you so much, I don't think I could be alone again."

I was speechless. It wasn't just an expression—I really couldn't find words to reply to my boyfriend's fears. I sat up, then pulled him to me so we were side by side, arms around each other, and it took a few minutes for my eyes to clear of the tears that had formed in them. I rubbed our cheeks together while taking in the softness of them against my razor stubble. I moved one hand to the chain around my neck, drawing out my silver oak pendant. "See this? Remember what it means?"

He nodded, and he drew out his own pendant—a Pegasus in flight. "It means you love me…and I you."

I gave him a kiss on the tip of his nose, and he snickered. "What else," I asked softly, my eyes moving from his face to take in his desk against the opposite wall. When I came in yesterday, I'd seen something new hanging above it in a simple wood frame—the single sheet of purple paper on which I'd expressed my love for him in a little song. We'd also repeated that pledge when we'd exchanged our love tokens.

"…I'll be your roots, you'll be my wings..."

Jay's eyes had followed mine, but he quoted that line even before his head turned. "More than just words, kæreste—a promise for now and for our future, come what may. If either of us doubts, the other will be there to reassure. We'll make our dreams a reality, together."

Jay sighed against me. "I knew that, deep down where it counts, but our interests are so different…." He laughed when I suddenly tickled his ribs, and almost howled when my fingers got into his arm-pits. "Stop—I give—uncle!"

"That's better, you big dummy. Bet your sweet bippy…."

"I said 'uncle' already…stop torturing me with the awful quotes, or I'll 'sock it to you'…."

"Sock it to me?" I said in a near-perfect imitation of ex-President Nixon's astonished tag line from Laugh-In that I had on one of my favorite tee shirts at home. Before he could punch my arm like I did him so often, I pulled his head into me and ruffled his hair, then gave him a serious noogie. "See, that's one thing we have in common—we both love bad television shows."

Jay groaned and rubbed the top of his head. "You suck."

"A-ha—another thing we have that draws us together. Now, are we okay?"

"Yep, but I still wanna take that class next year. During the summer while you're getting all hot and sexy doing farm work, you can show me how to take pictures. I might even be good at it, especially if it's shots of your sweaty bod that inspires me…."

The sound of an oven door opening came up from the kitchen, along with the intensified aroma of finely-baked smoked ham. I grabbed Jay's hand and we went toward the back stairs to check out the food situation and call our friends in to eat.

"Don't hold your breath…I think your mom caught that pig as it flew by!"

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