by David Lee

Chapter 24

"So when am I going to meet this mysterious brother of yours?" Luke asked Doug as they were cleaning up the kitchen. "I think I'd like to see if he really is like me."

"Shit, I'd hoped you'd forgotten about that. I'm not sure I'm up to telling you the story and I know you'll hate me when I am done."

"I could never hate you, man. You've given me more than a place to stay; you've given me hope. I'm not sure I could've survived this summer without your intervention. You're the kindest guy I know."

"Luke, you aren't going to think that when I am done, but here goes. I'll understand if you want to move out. Of course, you'll have to find a different motel since the Starlit Inn has been condemned."

The two men moved out to the deck. Uncharacteristically, Doug had poured two fingers of whiskey into each of two glasses of ice and put one in Luke's hand.

"Here, I'm not into abusing my body or yours, but we may need this."

Luke sat quietly wondering what could be so horrible as to make Doug hit the hard stuff.

"This all happened four years ago, when I was a senior in college… Mom and Dad had to be gone on Skylar's birthday because Grandma was in the hospital. The kid was old enough to take care of himself, but I felt bad that he'd have to spend his 15th birthday alone. So, I decided to surprise him.

I drove home with a cake and a couple of presents. Since I had to work, it was about 8:00 p.m. or so when I arrived. I quietly let myself in the back door. There were strange sounds coming from the family room. It sounded like on orgy in there. I tiptoed in to find Skylar and his buddy naked in front of the TV. He was sucking his friend's dick while they were watching a gay porn movie. I went crazy. I pulled him off of the other kid and threw him across the room. I yelled at him and called him a fucking faggot. He threw a punch at me. I hit back hard. I ended up hurting him pretty bad, to the point of breaking his nose. I was totally out of control. He told me he hated me and never wanted to see me again. We've avoided each other ever since. If he knows I'm coming to visit my parents, he has somewhere else to go. He's never spoken to me again."

Doug stopped his story, took a big swallow, and reached for a Kleenex. The depth of his pain was obvious.

"I went back to school and told the girl I was dating at the time. She called me an idiot and a bigot. She insisted that I go to a meeting of the gay–straight alliance group. I learned a lot from them. They directed me to sites on the Internet where I could learn more. I now know that sexual orientation is the luck of the draw. It isn't anything you choose. I wish I could have his forgiveness and start over. I miss my little bro like I'd miss my right arm. I guess that's why I had to ask you to live here. You're very much like him; your laugh, your walk, even the way you brush the hair out of your eyes. It was like a chance for redemption."

Luke was lost in thought for a few minutes. He took a sip of the diluted whiskey before he spoke.

"Where does your brother live?"

"All of 20 minutes away, but it might as well be on another planet."

"Doug, I know he'll welcome you and want to start over once you can get through to him that you've changed, and that you love him."

"How can you be sure?"

Luke took another, larger, slug of the amber liquid in his glass.

"I haven't been completely straight with you, Doug. I guess that's a pun. I told you my family was poor and I have to work my way through college. That's true. But they did give me a little financial support until I decided to be honest with them. They always taught me that honesty is the best policy. Well, it's true until you tell them something they don't want to hear. In my freshman year, I finally admitted to myself that I'm gay. I felt I should tell my parents. Boy was I wrong! My father only hit me once before he showed me the door, but being rejected hurt just as much as if he had beaten me up. I would have had a good job at the hardware store this summer, but he called them to say I wouldn't be working there; I was going away. Of course if I had stayed in that small town, the truth would have come out eventually and he would have been embarrassed. You can't have diarrhea in the morning in that burg without receiving get-well cards by afternoon."

"Man, I didn't know you were gay. You're a normal jock like me. Well, maybe not as built, but you're getting there."

"See, now you know me better; you'll want me to go. And you thought I'd be the one to want to leave."

"No! I don't want you to go. You're like a brother. I love you, kid, no matter what you are. Well, you know, like a brother. I'm not going to make love to you or anything."

"Doug, why don't you tell that to your real brother? I'll go with you. It WILL work out. If my father would say something like that to me, I'd be home in a minute. I could forgive anything for the love of family."

While Luke was positive things would work out, Doug was not so sure. He had mixed feelings about seeing Skylar. Oh well, what did he have to lose?

It was a sunny and chipper Hunter who went through airport security on Friday. His disposition had changed so much in the past few days that Grandma Zrudsky wondered if Zeke had gotten him on drugs. (She was always suspicious.) Grace noticed the change, but chalked it up to teen mood-swings. Zeke, of course, knew the reason. Hunter had met his nemesis face to face (or should one say cock to face), and had had his fears allayed. He didn't feel like a wuss anymore. In fact, he was feeling a bit "cocky." He had experienced boy fun and was ready to move on to girls. Boy was he ready!

When Rusty came into Fareway later in the day, Zeke managed to take his break in order to visit with the older wrestler. He had to share details about Hunter's confident new attitude as well as thank him for his role in straightening out the mess with Trey.

"Hey big guy, you were really great on Wednesday. I can't believe how well you told that story to Trey. You had me nearly believing it, and I knew it wasn't true. You have a great imagination and you're good with words."

"Thanks, Zeke, I loved doing it. I write pretty well, you know. We jocks are often thought of as dumb just because we're big or because we excel at a physical activity. Even teachers sometimes prejudge us. Old lady Primrose never gave me a chance. She just assumed I didn't have a brain. Mr. Naughton said my work was college level."

"I know what you mean, Shrek, my grades in the old biddy's class went down once she found out I was on the wrestling team. She said I wasn't doing as well because I spent too much time in practice and not enough on my homework, but I know it wasn't true."

"Hey, li'l bud, I'm glad I had enough brains to help Hunter find his balls and help Trey respect other people's 'nads."

Zeke laughed at Rusty's play on words.

On Saturday, Doug and Luke drove to the home of Doug's parents. Skylar was living with them while attending community college and was likely to be home in the morning. Luke went to the door with his book-seller briefcase so he could talk to Skylar before telling him that his brother was there.

Luke noticed that the young man who answered the bell DID look a little like him, but felt he looked more like his older brother – a thinner version. Still, the man did share some of Luke's mannerism and he could see why Doug had thought they were alike.

Luke was stunned by his handsomeness and prayed that he was available. One look into those blue eyes, and Luke was stumbling over the words of the spiel he had given hundreds of times. He felt like a blushing adolescent.

Skylar was likewise taken with Luke. He hated to tell him that there were no children in the house, so he quickly decided to buy a book for his little niece just to have a chance to become acquainted. Damn! This guy was cute.

"Please come around to the deck. I'll get some iced tea and we can look at your catalog."

"Great. The guy I live with is in the car, can I bring him too?"

"Of course," said Skylar trying to hide his disappointment.

"I don't LIVE with him, live with him; it's like I room there."

Skylar brightened. Then he went into the house to get the refreshments.

When Skylar came out of the back door, he nearly dropped the tray he was carrying.

"What the Hell are you doing here, asshole!" he shouted at his brother. "Did you set this up with this hunk to get me to make a pass at him so you could have an excuse to break my nose again? Do you know how much that hurts? Well, I've been taking judo and I can take care of myself now. Don't try anything unless you want YOUR nose broken. Now, get out of my sight, you prick!"

Luke took the tray from Skylar, set it on the table, and stepped between the brothers who looked like they might explode.

"Look, Skylar, if anyone gets punched here it ought to be me. I'm meddling. I told Doug you'd forgive him when you heard him out. But I was wrong. You won't even give him a chance. You're the one being a prick here! Now shut up and let Doug talk! And, by the way, do you really think I'm a hunk?"

Luke raised his eyebrows and smiled at the end of his tirade. Skylar's anger began to deflate at Luke's words, and he gave a half grin at the last statement. Luke had stunned him enough to make him hold his peace for the moment. When Luke stepped aside, Doug drew a big breath and began.

"Little Brother, I can't tell you how sorry I am for what I did to you. If I could undo it, I would. If you want to break my nose, I'll stand here and let you do it if that's what it takes to be brothers again. I've learned a lot. I know you didn't choose to be gay. There isn't anything wrong with you; it's me. I've been a real shit. I love, you! I want you to forgive me. I need to have you back in my life, Binky."

The use of his childhood nickname was the clincher. Skylar took the first halting step toward Doug. Then, the space between them seemed to evaporate magically. After a tentative hug, the brothers locked in a tight embrace with healing tears cascading down their cheeks.

Karen Newman burst from the kitchen door to see what all the shouting and cursing was about in time to see her two adult sons embracing and crying like babies. She looked quizzically at Luke.

"Hi, I'm Luke Holder, Doug's housemate. You must be their mom. I'm very glad to meet you."

Karen took Luke's hand and smiled.

"Are you responsible for this ruckus?"

"Yes, ma'am, I think I might be."

"Well, thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

The brothers spent the rest of the morning catching up with each other. They joked and laughed as if there had never been a rift between them. Their mother insisted that everyone stay for lunch when the boys' father would be home.

When Carl Newman walked in to find both of his sons under the same roof, he couldn't believe his eyes. He had long ago made his peace with Skylar's orientation though he didn't understand it. He loved both of his sons unconditionally. This was a day he had hoped and prayed for these past four years.

"I'm going to call your sister. She's gonna go bonkers over this!"

Debby Maxwell was duly called. Doug got on one phone and Skylar on another. The three siblings racked up a pretty good long distance bill, but their parents couldn't have cared less.

While the younger family members were occupied, the older generation visited with Luke. Skylar's mother found herself hoping this gentle young man shared her younger son's orientation. He would make great son-in-law material.

Skylar immediately accepted Doug's invitation to stay with him for the rest of the weekend. Doug wanted to show his little brother his house and acquaint him with his life. Skylar had a double motive. He wanted to be with his brother, but he also wanted to get to know Luke. Unless his gaydar had gone completely haywire, this guy was worth pursuing. The comment about asking if Skylar thought he was a hunk seemed like more than just a flippant remark. Luke had sounded hopeful.

On Saturday night, Doug was suddenly faced with the problem of where everyone would sleep. He didn't know if his brother would want to share his bed or if he (Doug) should take the sofa. Finally, he decided to give Skylar the choice. Skylar chose to sleep with Doug, though he wouldn't have minded sleeping with Luke, if truth be told. He had hopes of possibly having that opportunity someday. However, he had learned from a past failed relationship not to move too quickly.

At the Stillwell house, there was no problem deciding on sleeping arrangements. Dave and Todd shared the center of the king sized bed in the master bedroom while their girlfriends took the outsides. The girls would sometimes get up to pee in the night; while the guys would normally sleep through. It was quite exciting to make out and make love side by side. At one point the couples were performing 69 on each other. Dave was licking Jeri, but also using one of his hands to feel Todd's body. Later, the girls kissed each other while the guys had their tongues firmly planted in the girl's crotches. Both couples felt that a major requirement for their households would be king-sized beds. While they were certain society would frown on their group relationship, they were confident it could work. The couples wouldn't trade partners, but doing it in other combinations in the same room could become the norm.

A few blocks away, a very tired Zeke and Bryan didn't make hot, passionate love that night. They showered off the sweat from working a long shift and cuddled in the queen-sized bed in Zeke's new basement apartment. Back last summer, when the boys had helped Craig finish off this space, they'd had no idea how much they would be enjoying it now.

The days of summer kept moving along. Drivers' Ed. was over and both boys had done well. Now, they had only to count the months until they would turn 16. Bryan hoped to have some kind of wheels by his birthday. He could hardly wait. Not that he would give up riding his bike, but a car was way cool.

As summer grew shorter, Zeke and Bryan felt bad that they hadn't had a chance to camp out. When Mary and Brian returned from vacation, the boys decided to take the small tent out to the woods near the Stillwell's house. It wasn't quite like going to a state park, but it was fun to be out in the fresh air and practice outdoor cooking skills.

Craig dropped Zeke and his sleeping bag off at Bryan's house in the middle of the week. Since they had caught up on the mowing jobs on Monday and Tuesday, they had a couple of free days before working at the store.

They made quick work of pitching the tent and cleaning out the fire pit. Then they gathered an adequate supply of firewood. Once those tasks were completed, the boys shed their favorite shorts to play bare-assed in the creek.

They stayed naked while they cooked and ate their simple meal. As darkness descended, they had to get out bug spray to keep from being eaten alive. For a long time, the two sat near the campfire holding hands, roasting an occasional marshmallow, and talking about life. Zeke had undergone so many changes in the past year that he felt like a different kid. Bryan had been there with him through it all. This place had special meaning for them.

After they rinsed off the bug spray in the creek, they crawled into their joined sleeping bags. Tonight they kissed gently as a prelude to tender lovemaking. There was no hurry. Neither was desperate to unload his balls. They made all the stops along the way. Earlobes and nipples were nibbled. Thighs and balls were bathed with tongues. Senses were filled with soft touches, gentle sighs, and the aroma of sun-kissed skin.

When the awesome feeling of impending climax began to rise, the boys slowed down even more to dwell on that peak of feeling for as long as they could. At last, when they could hold back no longer, they plunged over the edge together.

It seemed like hours, but in reality was only a few minutes, that they spooned together enjoying each other's naked body. The sandman struck quickly and thoroughly. Their night was illuminated with moonlit dreams.

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