by David Lee

Chapter 41

Good news travels fast in a small city; bad news spreads even faster. Zeke got a call from an acquaintance about Aaron's being in the hospital. Bryan and he immediately decided to stop by on their way to work at the grocery store.

It was the day before Thanksgiving, and there were many things to do, but the guys thought it was important to pay Aaron a visit. Maybe they could cheer him up. He always seemed to like their company. They could defer helping Mary until tomorrow morning.

When they got to the hospital, they were impressed by the number of people who had already been in to see Aaron. Most of the guys on the swim team had paid a visit. Lonny and Bryce were still there and were insistent they wouldn't leave until Aaron did. Fortunately, he would be released later in the afternoon. Otherwise, his two buds might have gotten pretty ripe. Neither kid had had a shower in over 24 hours; both had been under stress. Their mothers had brought toothbrushes, deodorant, and a change of clothes early in the morning so at least they weren't downright funky.

Watching Bryce hover over Aaron set Bryan's gaydar off. From the telling glances he was receiving from Zeke, he knew his lover was thinking the same thing. They both suspected that Aaron's sexual orientation was in some way connected with his "illness."

Aaron was embarrassed about his reason for being in the hospital. He felt like a loser. His visitors hadn't asked why he was there, but everyone would probably know soon that he had attempted suicide. He voiced his fears in the presence of the four guys he trusted most. In so doing, he filled in Bryan and Zeke on the events of the previous evening.

"Don't feel that way," Zeke insisted. "I know what it's like to want to escape when things get too hard to face. I tried it with booze and nearly succeeded in killing myself. If it hadn't been for Bryan, I might not be here today."

Bryan squeezed Zeke's shoulder with one hand while wiping away a tear with the other. It was still painful to remember the incident.

"Well," Aaron said, "if it hadn't been for Lonny and his mom, I'd have checked out too. I don't want to be dead now, but at the time it seemed like the only way out. I feel so stupid!"

The boys assured Aaron that his true friends wouldn't judge him for what he had done even if they did find out. After all, he had been under a lot more pressure than most people. His father had ragged on him all the time. Ted had threatened him in an attempt to keep him from testifying at the upcoming trial. All of those factors had made him depressed for some time. It was more than most adults could bear; let alone a kid whose body was going through hormonal changes of puberty.

Aaron felt better about himself after opening up to his friends because he realized they understood, and were in his corner.

Sophie Peters counted her blessings and thanked God that she had been able to keep a clear head when Aaron needed her. After it was all over, she had nearly collapsed. That boy was dear to her. What could she have done to have prevented it? Would she have seen the signs if he had been around her house more? Should she have suspected there was a problem when he wasn't around much lately? How could she protect her own children from considering suicide? How could she help Aaron now?

One thing she could do for sure; she could invite Gina and the kids for Thanksgiving dinner so their holiday wouldn't be spoiled, and that is what she called to do. Unfortunately, she was too late. Sally Fulton had already extended an invitation. Gina quickly called Sally to see if they could combine efforts. Sally was delighted to have the help. With the strain of the work week and the shock of last night, neither she nor Mike had remembered to get the turkey out of the freezer. They were discussing how they would thaw it quickly or where they could find a fresh one at this late date when Sophie called. After conferring, they decided that the three families would all eat at the Peters' house since they had the biggest place. Sophie would cook the turkey she'd been thawing in the fridge (for several days), and would provide desert. Sally would prepare most of the rest. There would be plenty for everyone.

Sophie was also thankful for Doctor Hough's commendation of her handling of the emergency. He was effusive in his praise of her cool head and good instincts. He said that getting as much of the drug out of Aaron's stomach before she got him to the ER had helped. He also praised her for not waiting for the ambulance.

Hough said that ironically, it was probably good that Aaron had used alcohol to take the pills on an empty stomach. Normally it would be bad, in that the alcohol would intensify the effect, but since he had a sensitive stomach, the beer had caused him to vomit rapidly before the drug could fully get into his bloodstream.

When Aaron was released from the hospital, his two closest friends accompanied him home to make sure he was settled. Bryce wanted to stay with Aaron, but was hesitant to ask. He hung around long after Lonny had gone home. Finally, Gina asked him if he would like to stay. (When Bryce had gone to the bathroom, Aaron had begged his mother to invite Bryce to be with him overnight.) Of course, Bryce was eager to be there.

Bryce called his mother who, after listening to his pleading, gave her permission. She said she would bring him more clothes after dinner. It was finally decided that since he had his toothbrush and deodorant all he needed was something to wear, and Aaron could find something of his that would fit, so Sally wouldn't have to make the trip at all.

Before hanging up, she reminded Bryce to be polite and to be sure to shower. He was embarrassed that she thought he needed reminding about civility and personal hygiene, but he was thankful she cared. He was also thankful that Aaron's family couldn't hear the other side of the conversation. Above all, he was grateful that his mother had given in to his request rather quickly.

Aaron tried a little solid food for the first time in over 48 hours. Gina made a fairly bland dinner so it wouldn't upset his digestive system. Although his stomach protested a bit, it didn't decide to turn on him.

Around 8:00, Bryce said he would like to take a shower. Aaron would have loved to have gone into the bathroom and helped him, but figured he'd better not. The younger kids would probably wonder about it. He wasn't ready to answer their questions. At least Mom probably would have understood.

An hour later when Aaron's strength seemed to be waning, the boys retreated to his room, Bryce was right there to help his buddy undress. Aaron felt capable of doing it himself, but didn't protest because he enjoyed the attention. He didn't mind the feeling of Bryce's hands on his body either.

Bryce was very proper. He didn't do anything suggestive though he would have loved to.

When the boys got down to their briefs, Bryce asked him if he thought they could sleep in their "skins" again. Aaron said he was worried that his mom might come in to check on them, so they'd better not. Bryce was disappointed. He couldn't understand how Gina would know if they were naked under the covers, but didn't want to push. Maybe Aaron didn't really feel good enough, or maybe he didn't want to get intimate so soon, or maybe he only loved Bryce like a brother.

Aaron was tired from his ordeal, but found he was not particularly sleepy once his head hit the pillow. The two boys talked awhile about school, swimming, and a lot of things; seemingly avoiding the things that they both wanted to say. Finally Aaron got up the nerve.

"Do you really love me, or were you just saying that in the hospital to make me feel better?"

Aaron was pretty sure he knew the answer, but he didn't know how else to get the conversation going the way he wanted it to go.

"Oh, Aaron, I've had a crush on you since the day we met when you helped me get up off the floor. I feel closer to you than any other guy I've ever met. I had a buddy that I messed around with some in my old school, but I never wanted to kiss him or anything."

"Yeah, I had a buddy too that I had fun with and really cared for, but he turned out to be really straight."

"It was Lonny, wasn't it?" Bryce stated more than asked.

"Yeah, but don't ever tell anyone, and don't let him know I told. He'd really be pissed. I guess he was just doing what lots of guys do with their best buds. We never made out or anything like that. Um, do you want to do stuff like that?" Aaron said hardly daring to breathe.

Bryce did! And so they did. At first all it amounted to was a puckered-up, dry kiss like a boy might give his grandmother, but it soon changed. Their next attempt was more comfortable and definitely more stimulating. They drew back breathless, hard, and grinning in the low light of the room.

Their romantic moment was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Gina.

"Come in," Aaron called as the boys moved apart.

"I just had to check to make sure my boys were settled," she said. "I know it's not a school night, but I don't want you guys to fool around and keep each other up all night. You need your sleep to get well."

"Yes, Mom."

"There are going to be several changes in this house. You're growing up and becoming a fine young man. You're not a little boy anymore. I won't invade your privacy. (She was about to say: like your father did, but thought better of it.) I will never come into your room without knocking. I've told Darrin and Jill that you need your space and they are to respect it. You're free to lock your door whenever you want to. I trust that if you're locked in you won't try to leave us again, okay?"

Her voice broke and she bit her lip at the end of her little speech.

"Thanks, Mom; I won't do anything stupid." Aaron responded with tears in his eyes.

Before she left, Gina kissed both boys on the forehead. Bryce was touched that she would treat him like she did her own kid. Due to his racial mix, he was often used to being treated as an outsider. Her tenderness made him feel welcome and warm all over.

Aaron got up to turn off the light and lock the door. When he returned to bed, he lay on his back pulling Bryce on top of his body. Bryce was surprised, but pleased.

"Want to "fool around" and see if you can "keep me UP" all night," Aaron asked with laughter in his voice.

In the dark, Bryce couldn't see Aaron's eyebrows wiggling, but he didn't miss the play on words that Aaron's mother had used.

"Uh, I think you're UP already," Bryce remarked, sensing Aaron's hard dick against his abs.

"Yeah, but can you keep me that way all night?"

Bryce giggled. He thought it might be fun to try.

Their third attempt at kissing was done in the position of full-body contact. Their mouths were slightly open. Aaron felt Bryce's tongue teasing his lips. He opened them further to allow Bryce access. Bryce accepted the tacit invitation as he explored the hot, new environment of Aaron's mouth. Aaron's tongue soon responded as it wrestled with Bryce's.

Suddenly, Aaron winced from a momentary twinge of pain.

"What's wrong," Bryce cried as he jumped off of his friend.

"I'm okay; my stomach is just sore. I don't think I can keep you on top of me anymore tonight. I might throw up. I'm sorry, Bryce. I didn't mean to sound disgusting."

"Don't be sorry; it's okay. We can do it again when you feel better."

"Thanks for not being mad at me, I love you so much. Do you want to be, you know, like boyfriends?"

"Oh, yeah!" Bryce sighed.

"Would you lie on your side and let me rest my sore belly against you warm back?"

"Oh, yeah." Bryce sighed again.

Bryce lay on his left side. Aaron cuddled up behind his new boyfriend and draped his arm over the younger boy's loins. His right hand rested on the slightly sticky cotton that covered Bryce's hard package. Aaron slipped that same hand under the waistband of Bryce's briefs and Bryce gasped at the sensation of his gentle, exploring touch. Unfortunately, fatigue took its toll as Aaron fell asleep while still clutching Bryce's drooling cock like a security blanket.

Though his boyhood was hard almost to the aching point, Bryce drifted off, lulled to sleep by the rhythm of Aaron's breathing. He felt, warm, secure, and loved.

Their positions changed many times during the night, but they nearly always wound up snuggling. When they awoke in the late morning, it was Bryce who was wrapped around Aaron.

Bryce's first conscious moments on Thanksgiving morning were filled with the realization that he was holding his BOYFRIEND. His heart swelled with joy as he kissed Aaron softly on the neck.

Aaron stirred slightly and then, like a tiger, twisted around and pounced on the unsuspecting Bryce. The sudden move nearly sent them both off the edge of the bed bringing the top sheet and blankets with them.

"What are you doing?" Bryce laughingly demanded.

"I'm jumping your bones!" Aaron replied.

"I think you already did that in my dreams."

Bryce guided Aaron's hand down to feel the crust in his underwear. Then Aaron pulled Bryce's hand over to his briefs. There, Bryce felt the slightly damp evidence of a more recent wet-dream.

Bryce stuck his head under the covers until his nose was even with Aaron's crotch. He inhaled deeply the rich aroma of teen sperm. Aaron squirmed.

"Get out of there, you pervert!" he scolded.

Bryce came back up looking worried, but quickly relaxed as he saw by Aaron's grin that he was kidding. Aaron took a turn at being a "pervert" as he turned around to get a whiff of Bryce's crotch. He was stretched out in a position that allowed Bryce access to the front of his briefs. Bryce wasted no time in burying his face again. Aaron began to assault Bryce's cloth covered erection with playful nips. Bryce ran his tongue over the sticky spot on Aaron's briefs. They were feeling giddy about the extent of their naughtiness when their fun was cut short by the sounds of someone pounding on Aaron's door. Aaron's little brother was on the other side, announcing breakfast.

"Hey, what's going on? How come this door is locked?"

"Mom said I could, doofus!"

"Yeah, what are you guys doing in there?" Darrin demanded.

"None of your business!" Aaron laughed.

Scrambling into their jeans and T-shirts, the boys hurried to relieve themselves and to brush their teeth before joining the others for breakfast.

Bryan and Zeke had also awoke in each other's arms early on Thanksgiving morning. They had several things to do to help prepare for the big dinner. There wasn't time for serious love-making, but they did manage to get each other off in Bryan's shower. To save time, they played one of their favorite games. Each got a blow job while shampooing the other's hair. No doubt, they had the cleanest hair in town before they were through!

It was hard to stop doing what they both loved so much, but the list Mary had given them would not get done by itself.

When they arrived in the kitchen, they met Mary who was preparing the turkey for roasting. They ate breakfast quickly and proceeded to help. By 11:00, the table was set, the salads were made, and the wine chilling. Thinking that Mary had gone back to the master bedroom, the two young men pulled each other into a tight embrace. They were momentarily startled when they felt her arms around both of them.

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