Always and Forever

by David Lee

Chapter 12

Love and acceptance

On a clear, sunny autumn day, Liz decided to drive over to see Derek. This time she went alone. She was developing major feelings for this guy and she knew they weren't one-sided. If he wasn't going to do anything about it, she would. When she got to the rehabilitation facility, she was informed that Derek had been released and was at his parents' home. Armed with the address, she decided to pop in for a visit.

There was a fairly long wait before the doorbell was answered. Derek sat there in his wheelchair with a frown on his face.

Liz spoke first.

"Sorry if I disturbed you at a bad time. I had hoped we could go to lunch. It was thoughtless for me to come unannounced."

"There's never going to be a good time. I'm never going to be able to take care of a woman the way I should. When I see you, it just makes me remember what I can't do."

"Derek, I've come to care for you in a way that I would not dare to care for someone in my congregation. Please let me in. We have to talk."

Derek wheeled back, astounded by her words. He felt inadequate. "How could she feel anything for him? He was a wreck.

What Liz saw, and Derek did not, was the fact that he was a trim, muscular, good looking man. Sure, he had lost muscle tone in his legs from lack of use, but his upper body was fine. His handsome face had one scar that only added to his rugged good looks.

Liz saw all of this, but she also saw a man who was kind and caring; one that had a frightened little boy living deep inside. He had lost some of his independence and he couldn't believe that others could love him if they had to help him do the things he had always done for himself.

Liz told Derek that she was attracted to him and wanted to get to know him better. She was already aware that they had many things in common. Then she stood up and said that if he could honestly say that he felt nothing for her, she would leave at once. Derek swallowed the lump in his throat along with his pride and asked her to stay.

While at lunch, Liz invited Derek to a play at the theater in Cosgrove on Thursday of the next week. Derek began to make excuses saying he couldn't drive yet, etc. Liz listened for a while and then stated that she would be there at 4:30 to pick him up so that they could drive to Cosgrove for dinner before the play. He could pay for dinner and she would buy the tickets. She did it all so quickly and skillfully that Derek found himself agreeing before he had time to object.

Derek's parents came home from work to find a far happier man than they had left in the morning. He was working on his leg exercises with energy and determination. He had given them up last week in a fit of depression. Now he was going like crazy. They wondered what in the world could have gotten into him. He didn't tell them.

Late autumn brought the last football game before Thanksgiving break. The team had a winning record. The three games that they had lost were against very tough teams and the coaches couldn't have been more pleased with their guys. Tom continued to show leadership on the field. Had he been like this his whole high school career, he probably would have been a co-captain with Brad.

They were beaten by only three points in the final game, but because of the loss, the team wouldn't be in the playoffs. Still, they had no reason to hang their heads. This had been the best season in six years.

Brad and Tom were the last ones in the showers. Brad thanked Tom for covering his butt so well. He had never been sacked and Tom's being there for him had been the main reason.

"No prob, Buddy," Tom said. "I'll always be there for you - and Alan. You guys have been good to me. If anyone ever hassles you guys for being together or anything, I've got your backs."

Brad froze in place. "Uh, what do you mean - being together?"

"It's okay. I'll keep your secret."

"Shit! Are we that obvious?"

"No. You gotta remember I live with a couple of guys who're in love and I'm in love myself. I know the signs. Besides, I saw you holding hands in the chapel and you guys did tend to cuddle in your sleep when we were camping. I've been in special situations with you, but people who haven't probably don't notice. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to frighten you. I meant it when I said I'd protect you."

Naked and dripping wet, Brad hugged Tom and Tom hugged back. Their affection was like that of brothers – like back when they were in third grade. Neither sprouted wood. And the moisture in their eyes wasn't all from the showers.

Outside of the locker room, Alan waited for Brad. When the latter came out, he had a smile on his face and told Alan he had something important to tell him when they got in the car.

Alan was surprised, pleased, and a little frightened when he heard the news. He was amazed that Tom knew, elated at his response, and worried about how many others might have guessed that Brad and he were a couple. He began to run worst-case scenarios through his mind. His mom and dad, and Brad's parents knew and supported them so that was settled. Brad's siblings knew and didn't give them any crap. Tom, the former bully, had no problem with them to the point of offering protection. Even if the other jocks at school found out, Alan doubted that there would be much trouble. After all, Brad was very popular - to the point of being elected student council president and co-captain of the football team. Alan had friends in homeroom and in nearly every class that he was sure he could count on. Suddenly, he wasn't scared. If it came out, so be it! He would not live in fear. As a result, he leaned over and gave Brad a kiss right there in the car in the gym parking lot. No one was around to notice, but he felt brave doing it.

"Hey, Love, what was that all about, not that I mind?"

"I just realized that I love you so much that I don't care if the world finds out. No, I'm not going to kiss you in the main hall on Monday morning, but I'm not going to deny that we're more than buds if anyone asks."

"Dude, I've been thinking the same thing! We're on the same wave length. Isn't it great?"

"Yeah, kinda like being an old married couple."

"Well, we did promise ourselves to each other. Do you still want to have a real commitment ceremony?"

"Yes, I do. But I think maybe we should wait until we are out of this town and in college. But, yes, I want to do it. Let's talk with Pastor Liz about it sometime. I know it's just a form, because we have already pledged ourselves to each other - forever, but I still want to do it."

"Me too."

Derek was sitting in consultation with his physician and his therapist. So far, he hadn't made the progress he wanted. Yes, he was back to work on a nearly full-time schedule. Yes, he had moved back into his own place and could do some of his work from there. Yes, he had a lot of energy. But his legs were still not responding as they should. He could not walk without a walker and even then, it was a few steps because he had to think about each move.

Dr. Bergotti had one more thing to try. There was a new treatment being used on stroke victims that showed some promise for other brain injuries as well. It combined exercises with a mild electrical current that seemed to help the brain create new connections with the nerves that controlled bodily movement. Though it was most effective when used immediately after a trauma was experienced, it still might make a difference. Derek's spinal cord was intact. There seemed to be no physical reason for his not being able to walk. It likely was the result of some damage to his brain on the motor side. He had no problems with intellect or memory.

"I am willing to try anything. I have to walk again," Derek had pronounced.

And so, the new therapy began.

Mary Fischer had asked the whole church to pray for Derek's recovery. Liz had also prayed for a miracle for Derek, and asked Jerry and other of her clergy friends to do so as well. It wasn't a selfish prayer. She had come to care for him, and her love did not hinge on his being able to walk. Like God's love, it was unconditional.

Derek, however, felt he would be only half a man without the use of his legs. One night at the end of a date, the goodnight kiss between them had become more that a friendly peck. He was standing, propped against his apartment door where Liz was dropping him off.

"It isn't right! We can't go on like this without being able to finish it. And I could never ask you to marry me when I couldn't even fulfill my duties in bed. I need my legs for that!"

"Who says the guy always has to be on top? I think the position attributed to the missionaries is overrated anyway," said Liz. "Besides, unless that's a flashlight in your pocket, I have no doubt that you could fulfill your 'duties' to the fullest. Boy, if it is a flashlight, it must take at least three D-cell batteries."

Derek laughed in spite of himself. "Liz, you certainly have a way with words. Would you really marry me even if I never walk again? And could you do it without pitying me?"

"Is this a proposal? If it is, I think you know the answer."

"I can't ask just yet. We don't know each other well enough. In my heart, I think I know you, but I have to be sure."

"Derek, I know how I feel, but I won't push you."

The kissing that followed left no room for further conversation. Liz finally broke the embrace and mumbled something about getting out of there before she broke her vows.

When Derek got inside, he made quick work of undressing in order to massage his "flashlight," so his balls wouldn't ache all night. No, there was nothing wrong with that part of his body!

Thanksgiving was a big affair at the Jacobs' house that year. Brad wanted Alan with him, of course. Fran said that they would invite both of Alan's parents and their "significant others" as well. That meant Tony, Don, and Tom should be included. All but Tom came. He had a prior commitment to go to Amy's.

This year, instead of the usual grace before the feast, each person was to tell one thing for which he or she was thankful. The list included health, friends, family, food, and prosperity. Some of the statements about friends and family were said with meaningful looks. To put her guests at ease, Fran had begun the process and Jon would finish. When his turn came, he looked at the younger people at the table.

"I am thankful for my wonderful children." (Garret rolled his eyes a bit.) "I have a smart, pretty daughter. I have a younger son who is kind and thoughtful as well as good-looking. And, I have an older son who became a man this year and who makes me proud for who he is and what he does. Most of this I had last year. But this year, I have another young man who is like a son to me. Alan, your entrance into our lives has enriched them ten-fold. I hope you will always be a part of this family."

There were few completely dry eyes around the table. Even Garret was biting his lower lip trying to retain his cool. Jon had put his official, public seal of approval on the boys' relationship.

Fran had done the turkey and mashed potatoes, but Susan and Tony had insisted on bringing several side dishes while Don and Travis had handled the desserts. There was a ton of food and all of it was excellent.

The two younger Jacobs kids actually did the major part of putting food away and then made themselves scarce. The agreement had been that they could do what they wished once things were cleaned up. The rest of the company retired to the family room to watch games on the big-screen TV. Not everyone was avid about football, but all were polite.

Alan and Brad were together. Alan sat at one end of the sofa, while Brad sat on the floor with his back against the sofa between Alan's legs. That way, they were touching without hanging on each other. Sometimes, Alan would lean forward and give Brad a hug. It was great to know you could show affection in the company of your parents. They didn't know how lucky they were.

Across town, a boy whom neither of them knew very well was not so lucky. He was hungry, cold, and dirty. He had no Thanksgiving dinner and no hope of getting any. His parents had not understood. When his mother had found the gay magazine, which he thought was carefully hidden under his mattress; she had flown into a rage. His father was worse. Their minister, John Parker, had made it plain the all gays were bound for Hell. He had told his congregation about a web site they should visit:

When Ben admitted that he was attracted to guys, his father decided to send him to a facility (that Parker recommended) where they could "force the Devil out of him" to make him be straight. Ben said that he would never go. He knew what he was, and that God had made him that way. When Ben's father consulted the minister again, he was told to send him away and to cut off all communication with him.

"The Bible says: 'If your eye offends you, pluck it out!' Don't let his name be spoken in your house again or he may pollute your younger children. Root out the evil before it spreads! This is what comes of listening to that Lezzy Liz person who claims to be a pastor!"

So, Ben's father had literally thrown him into the street with only the clothes on his back. Luckily, he had had a few dollars in his billfold and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Otherwise, the last couple of nights would have been completely unbearable despite the unusually mild autumn. As it was, Ben contemplated suicide as the logical and final solution to his problems.

When her initial anger had cooled, Ben's mother began to have second thoughts about turning him out. But, John Parker was so sure this was the only solution for a boy who would not let God change him. And, of course, she couldn't disobey her husband.

Ben's younger brother and sister had gone to their rooms not knowing what to think.

With shoulders hunched against the wind, Ben was trudging along near an old brick church. He smelled food! Would someone give him something? As he neared the side entrance, he saw a sign that said there was a free Thanksgiving dinner. It went from 1:00 until 3:00. Looking at his watch, he realized he had missed it by half an hour. Oh no!

Just then, Pastor Liz came out wheeling Derek.

"Hello young man! Did you miss the dinner?"

"Yes Ma'am. I didn't know there was one."

"Well, there still is. Derek is holding a box of leftovers that are more than I'll ever eat. Come with us to the manse and I'll warm them in the microwave."

"I - I, don't want to be any trouble."

"Nonsense! You're no trouble. Come along now; it's cold out here."

Liz sensed that this was a kid in trouble and she was going to do what she could. She would get to the bottom of it and help. Though he had a couple of days of serious dirt on him, he was obviously not a street kid by nature. There was innocence here, not streetwise cunning. She could tell. She had worked in an inner city shelter one summer between her sophomore and junior years in college.

Once inside, Liz scurried about to set a place for Ben. Derek helped as much as he could.

"Would you like to wash up before you eat?" Liz didn't want to push.

"Oh, yes Ma'am. I would like to be clean almost as much as I'd like to eat."

"Well, wash your hands and face and come eat. There's a powder room just down the hall. When you are done with your dinner, you can have a shower if you like. I'll find you some clean things to wear from the clothes brought for the bazaar, if you don't mind used things."

"Thank you; I'll be happy for anything."

For the first time in his life, Ben really thanked God for his food when he bowed his head for a silent grace. Liz hoped he was sincere, and not just making a show to impress the minister.

The leftovers tasted like the finest cuisine ever prepared. Ben couldn't believe how good they were. He ate slowly savoring each bite as if it were his last. Derek and Liz sat with him and made conversation while having coffee.

"There is pumpkin or chocolate meringue pie for dessert. Which do you prefer? You may have a slice of each if you like."

Ben opted for the chocolate. It tasted like his grandma used to make. He thought about her. If she were alive, she would take him in. Unbidden, big tears began to form in his eyes.

Derek instinctively wheeled close and put an arm around Ben's shoulder. His gesture unleashed the floodgate. Ben twisted around so that the chair-bound man could hold him. This felt safe. This felt like love. Ben needed love and safety. Liz put a hand on the backs of both, and knew again why she was attracted to this man.

Over the course of the next half hour, Liz and Derek managed to get most of the story out of Ben. He was holding back about the reason his parents had disowned him. Liz thought she knew.

"Ben, are you gay?"

The boy looked at his feet and nodded. "I'm sorry," he mumbled softly.

"There is no reason to be sorry! I only asked because I want to help. I think I may know of a nice couple who would give you shelter. If they can't, I have another solution in mind. You need to trust me and I'm going to trust you. Do you feel okay about staying here with me tonight? I have to take Derek to his aunt's place because it wouldn't look good for the pastor to be entertaining a man overnight. But, in your case, I think even the gossip mill might make an exception, despite the fact that you are a good-looking young man."

Ben blushed and grinned a little at the compliment. It was his first smile in several days and it lit up his face like a halo.

Now that his orientation was no longer a secret, Ben proceeded to relate exactly what had happened with his family and the advice they had gotten from the Reverend Parker. Then, with Ben's approval, Liz phoned his parents and found out that his story was true to the last detail. She could do as she wished with him. They wanted no part of him. They had only one son now.

Tom's day with Amy started out a little tense for him. He was nervous about making a good impression on her family. Her parents had already accepted him, but he was not sure how he would do in a more formal situation with her grandparents and other relatives there as well. Tom's fears turned out to be groundless. Amy's grandparents absolutely doted on the handsome young man who had recently joined the church.

Later, when most of the family went to the basement rec. room to watch football, Tom and Amy went for a drive. Tom's love of football was only surpassed by two things: his love of art and his love for Amy. While he really wanted to see the game, Amy wanted to get away from the family so the two could be together. They ended up at Tom's new home.

Tom gave Amy a tour of Don's house. He was especially proud of the room in the basement that Don, Travis, and he had created for a bedroom. There was a small bathroom with a shower right next to it. Tom had his privacy and Don and Travis had theirs. They had insulated the area above Tom's ceiling to cut down on noise transmission. Both Don and Travis were vocal when they came.

Amy sat down on Tom's bed and Tom sat down close beside her. Soon they were lying on the bed engaged in passionate kissing. Tom pulled back to get his breath.

"You know where this is leading," he panted.

Amy responded by unbuttoning his shirt and running her hands over his nicely defined chest, lingering at the nipples. Tom's abdominal muscles were hard, and his love muscle was getting harder by the moment. It longed to be free of its khaki confinement.

Tom ran his hand under Amy's pullover top. Soon it was on the floor with her bra on top of it.

The lovers hastily finished undressing each other and climbed under the covers to keep warm. This was their first time of experiencing each other's totally naked bodies pressed together. It was a feeling beyond description. Both experienced the copious flow of natural lubrication. Since the onset of puberty, Tom had always been a "leaker."

Tom was frustrated. He desperately wanted to complete their union. He longed to ram his hardness into her velvety softness. But, he also felt that he shouldn't go all the way with her. How would she feel about him tomorrow if he did? Would he lose or gain?

Tom was on his back and Amy was rubbing herself against him. Surely she wanted this as much as he did. As they wrestled around, his cock sensed the soft, wetness of her vagina. He couldn't take this much longer. With a moan that began in his toes, he erupted like Mt. Etna. There was cum all over both of them.

While Tom was relieved for the moment, he realized that being baptized in his fluids did not necessarily satisfy Amy's needs. So, as soon as he recovered his strength, he tenderly kissed his way down to her hot crotch. Once there, he gently began using his tongue to stimulate her.

The nasty comments he had heard in the locker room about women smelling like fish didn't apply to Amy. She was fresh and clean. He tasted his juices mixed with hers. The very thought turned him on. He worked his tongue into the lips of her slippery vagina. Amy coached him about what felt best to her. Soon, she was experiencing the most powerful orgasm of her young life as she moaned her appreciation while digging her fingers into the bedding beneath.

Cuddled together, softly kissing, the two fell asleep for a short while. Upon awakening, they showered together massaging each other to another great climax before they got dressed.

On the way back to Amy's house, she thanked him for not taking her when he could have. She told him that she wasn't on the pill and she wasn't ready to be pregnant just yet. They would either have to cool it, or Tom would have to be prepared. He decided he'd shop for condoms the next day.

In another shower, Ben shampooed and soaped away several days of grime. He found some crème rinse and used that as well. He actually felt somewhat human again. He looked heavenward and simply said: "Thanks!" He was full, clean, and warm. He had a place to sleep for the night.

Whatever tomorrow brought, he could face it better. Maybe he didn't have to leave this world just yet.

When Ben appeared in the clean, but used clothes Liz had scrounged up, Derek and Liz were both impressed by the transformation. If either had doubted that this was a respectable kid, those doubts were surely laid to rest.

When she returned from taking Derek to his aunt's house, Liz found Ben asleep sitting in front of the TV. He looked so sweet and innocent that she had the urge to wrap him up in her arms. She resisted, settling for gently awakening him to lead him to the guest room upstairs.

Ben stripped to his new underwear, slipped between the clean, fresh-smelling sheets and went to sleep immediately. He slept soundly, not wake up again until 10:30 a.m.

Alan elected to stay at Brad's house Thursday night. After a snack of leftovers, the two went to Brad's room to play video games and listen to CDs. In the midst of their fun, there was a knock on the door. It was Garret, and Brad asked him to come in. Garret sat in the desk chair watching the game as Brad trounced Alan for the second time in a row. When there was a break, he spoke.

"I want you guys to know that I agree with what Dad said today. I'm glad you're together. At first, I was scared because I thought that people at school might find out and tease me. I tried to figure out ways I could put some distance between you guys and me. But I don't feel like that anymore. I love you Bro. And Alan, I think of you like a bro too. If you ever need me, I'm here for both of you."

The guys thanked Garret and asked him to join in the games. He took on Brad and nearly beat him. After a bit more talk about school and things in general, Garret left to get ready for bed.

Brad and Alan decided to shower together before retiring for the night. They enjoyed soaping each other up but stopped short of getting each other off. They saved that for later.

Naked, in bed with the lights out, the two lovers cuddled and caressed. There was no hurry since they could sleep in tomorrow. Slowly they savored each kiss and each touch. Starting gently and tenderly, their love making rose to a white-hot passion. When they at last climaxed, the feelings were powerful and their loads plentiful. Once again, they had given each other pleasure that no one else had ever come close to giving.

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