My Best Friend Cody

by Rob Warr

I sat there listening to the Preacher talk about Cody, but I knew deep inside that no one knew my best friend like I did. Oh sure, I guess his mom and dad knew him pretty well, but even they didn't know him as well as I did. The Preacher said some stuff about Cody being a good person, and the kind of person that God gave favor to, so where was that favor that day when Cody got smashed by that pickup?

I tried not to be mad or to get too upset, but boy it was really hard. Then when he started talking about how God needed Cody and called him home I almost lost my lunch. What a crock of bullshit. Sorry about the cussing, but it got me mad. See, I'm not even sure if I believe in God anymore. What kind of God lets a nice kid like Cody get hit by a car two weeks before his 13th birthday? It's mean and cruel if you ask me, especially for the ones that are left behind, like me.

I know that sounds selfish, but I don't mean it to be. I just hurt so much and it's just not fair. Not fair to Cody, not fair to me, or to all the people who loved him that are left to wonder WTF happened.

As bad as the stuff in the church was, the stuff at the cemetery was even worse. I mean, it's one thing to see my best friend laying in that coffin, cause actually he looked pretty good considering he was dead, but when they started lowering his casket in the ground I finally lost it.

I'm not proud of the way I carried on, but no one seemed to think I was out of line, I guess. I mean, I wasn't the only one boo-hooing, but I may have been the only one who collapsed and had to be carried away screaming and begging them not to cover him with dirt.

Who thought that crap up anyway? Who thought up that putting someone in a wooden box, digging a hole, then throwing it in and covering it with dirt was a good idea? Okay, I guess I have to admit that we can't have dead people like laying around and stuff, but I think when I croak I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered to the wind or something.

I missed two days of school after the funeral, and when I finally came back, I found out who my real friends were. The good ones came to me and hugged me or told me how sorry they were about the whole stinking mess, and the bad ones snubbed me or snickered and made rude comments behind my back.

The teachers were pretty nice, especially the ones who knew Cody, cause everyone who knew Cody pretty much liked him, or loved him, depending on how well they knew him. I can tell you that I was one of the ones that loved him, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I mean, we'd known each other since we were little runny-nosed kids and we shared so much together. We spent as much time together as our folks would allow, and it was like we had two sets of parents.

If I wasn't sleeping over at his house, he was sleeping over at mine, and we were the same size, so we even shared clothes and stuff. We had toothbrushes at each other's house, and we never had to pack clothes or anything, cause it was like his house was mine, and my house was his. Pretty neat, right?

Oh, we had other friends too, but most of our time was spent together, and when he died, it left a hole in my life and in my heart. Maybe it wouldn't have been so hard if I hadn't been there that day he died.

It was Monday, May 8, a free day from school, and me and Cody and Cody's older sister Beth and one of our pals, Randy, were just coming back from the park. Cody's mom had dropped us off around one, and we'd shot hoops and messed around for a couple hours, then decided to just walk back instead of calling for a ride.

I don't remember whose idea that was, but knowing Cody like I did, I bet it was his. If it had been me, well...I'd have remembered, cause I would have hated myself for what happened afterwards. Anyway, we were talking and goofing like we always did, when suddenly we came to the busy street that separated us from our neighborhood. I know we should have gone down a half block and crossed at the light, but we never did, and we'd crossed there by the Safeway a million times and never had a problem.

Randy ran across the street first, then Beth, then it was our turn. I turned to yell at Cody to hurry up, but he was already crossing at that point. He was grinning and running, and he would have made it if his hat hadn't blown off and he stopped to pick it up.

I don't know if he saw the Ford Ranger that was speeding up the street or not, but suddenly all three of us were yelling for him to watch out, then almost like it was in slow motion, he turned, saw the truck, his eyes flew open, and I heard him yelp, and then...the truck hit him.

I can't describe that awful sound, but I never want to hear anything like that again as long as I live. But the sound wasn't the worst part. The worst part was watching my best friend being thrown into the air. He went up and up, spinning a few times before landing in the middle of the road with a sickening crunch.

Traffic had stopped all around by then, even the truck that hit him, and then there was dead silence. I was running as soon as Cody hit the ground, but I think I already knew it was too late. There was so much blood, and his eyes were closed, and I couldn't see any movement at all. I hugged him gently and talked to him, but he couldn't hear me, he was in Heaven or wherever by then, and I was left holding what was left of my best friend in the whole world.

Someone had called 911, and the ambulance was there pretty quick, and somehow my mom showed up just as they were prying me off of Cody, and she held me as I watched them work on him. I knew it was a lost cause though when one of the EMTs wiped a tear from his eye and shook his head.

The next few hours were a blur. I remember talking to a policeman, but only for a minute, then mom took me home and gave me some kind of pill, and I went to sleep. I slept till noon the next day, and when I woke up I was sure it had all been a bad dream. I peed and washed my face and went downstairs, and there at our dining room table sat my folks, and Cody's folks drinking coffee and wiping tears from their eyes, and I knew it was no dream.

"Jason honey," Cody's mom said holding out her arms to me.

I swarmed into them and began crying again. I told her I was so sorry, that we shouldn't have crossed there, and a whole bunch of stuff, but she just shushed me and told me it wasn't my fault. That it was no one's fault, and just a horrible accident.

A horrible accident. A horrible accident. And the beginning of life without my best friend Cody.

Days passed, then weeks, the pain never went away, but it wasn't as bad after a while. It went from being an open wound to a scab, and now a scar. The worst part though was the loneliness I felt. I know, again I'm making this all about me, but in a way I guess I felt like I was the victim of God's ultimate plan or whatever. I mean, yeah...I knew I wasn't the only one suffering. Cody's folks and sister were hurting too, not to mention my folks, who felt like they'd lost a kid too, but I guess I'm just a selfish little bastard deep inside.

I remember feeling especially bad the day of his 13th Birthday, May 23rd, and I spent the whole day in my room, crying most of the time. I barely ate that day, but then I hadn't been eating much ever since the accident, and my folks were beginning to worry about me and they tried to help, but it was no use. My other friends tried to help too, but after a while I guess they just gave up and quit coming around. Except at school I never saw them, and those sleepovers and movie dates, and meeting at the park to play ball were just memories.

School finally ended and I faced my first summer without my best friend. Everyone said time would heal my wounded heart and soul, but I still hurt inside every time I thought about him or went near the place it happened. I guess mom must've felt the same way too, cause she quit shopping at that particular Safeway and drove a mile or two further to shop at the IGA now.

Summer began, and it was mid June before I knew it. The weather was great, warm and sunny, but I just couldn't make myself enjoy it like I used to. Not without Cody around. I thought about all the times we'd goofed around outside, not wanting to go indoors till we absolutely had to, and I managed a smile. Cody was a nature boy. I could easily picture him running around naked in another place and time, enjoying life, and not worried about who might see his dork.

Out of habit that day, I had walked to the creek near my house, a place where Cody and I spent so many hours I couldn't count them. We'd fish, or build dams, climb trees, or wade in the clear water of the creek all the way up to Dumont Street, where there was a bridge large enough to hide under.

One day I remember we were wading up the creek and it began to rain. It had been cloudy all morning, but a little rain never stopped us from having fun. Anyway, we hurried to the bridge and got underneath, then climbed up on the ledge there and sort of shook off some of the rain. Then suddenly Cody started stripping off his tee shirt. I watched with interest as he began to wring the water out of it, then I did the same. Our jean shorts were sorta wet too, but it was warm out and a little water didn't really bother us. Heck, sometimes we'd fall down in the creek and be soaking wet in no time flat.

We sat down on the ledge then, dangling our bare feet over the side and just talked as we waited for the rain to stop. I don't remember everything we talked about that day, but I do remember how good it felt just to be there with my best pal, shooting the breeze, without a care in the world.

The rain finally let up after about and hour and we walked up to the road then to Cody's house. His mom gave us Kool-Aid and cookies, just like always, and I even stayed for supper. That was the way it was most times, whichever house we landed at, that was where we stayed till it was time to go home.

I felt kind of bad that June day as I walked the creek, thinking of Cody, and then realizing that I hadn't gone to see his folks since his death. Oh sure, I'd seen them at our house, and at the funeral and stuff, but I just couldn't make myself actually go over to my best friend's house and have all those memories right there to rip my heart out all over again.

I was lost in my thoughts, maybe even crying a little when I heard a whimpering noise and looked up to see a kid about my age sitting on a rock, holding his knee and crying.

Now our town wasn't all that big back then, and I pretty much knew every kid who lived there, but this kid was a stranger. I figured he was either new to town, or maybe just visiting relatives, but one thing was for sure, he wasn't one of the regulars.

"Hi," I said, trying to be friendly, but really wishing he'd picked some other place to hang out. I really wasn't in the mood for company, especially that of a stranger.

"Hi," the kid said softly as I looked him over.

He was about my height, a little skinnier, with brown hair and a few freckles on his face. When he looked up I could see his eyes were grey or light blue, but he looked away quickly like he was embarrassed or something. He was wearing a plain white tee shirt and cut-off jeans, which was pretty much the way every kid our age dressed back then. On his feet he wore white Keds, and long socks with red rings around the top, and they looked to be dry, so I figured he hadn't been wading when he hurt his knee.

"What happened? You okay?" I finally asked .

"Yeah, I'm...I'm fine," he whimpered, making a face as he removed his hand to reveal his knee, which was kind of skinned up.

Nothing serious, I thought. Heck, me and Cody had banged our knees so many times we had permanent scabs there most of the time.

"It's not so bad," I said sitting down beside the kid on the fallen tree that had been there as long as I'd been coming here.

"I fell," he said pointing, "over there."

I knew the spot well, it was uneven there with gravel on the ground, and I'd taken a fall or two there myself.

"So, what's your name?" I asked, despite not wanting to get involved, I felt I should at least know that much.

"Andy," the boy said, "we just moved here from Texas," he said wiping at his eyes, "we live over there," he said pointing across the creek, "On Row Street."

"Really, I live on Oak, two streets over from you, I'm Jason by the way," I said, "How old are you?"

"I'll be 13 in two days," he said looking proud, " can come to my party...if you want. I don't really know anyone yet, except the kids on my block..."

"I might," I said, but I really didn't think I would. After all, I wasn't really in the mood for celebrating anything.

"How old are you?" he finally asked, "will you be in 8th grade too?"

"Yeah, I guess we'll both be going to Jefferson then, "it's the closest junior high."

"Yeah, that's cool. I'll know someone already," he said, then looked away like he was scared of me or something.

"Yeah, gonna be okay? cause I really gotta get going," I said, wanting to be alone with my thoughts.

"Oh,, my house is the yellow one on the corner...number 14" he said, "If you wanna come to my's at 4 o'clock on Saturday."

"I might," I said again, but I was pretty sure that would never happen. Funny how things sometimes turn out. "Well, see ya...uh, Andy.

"See, Jason," the kid said with a little wave, then I turned and retreated, lost in my thoughts again.

I don't know why I told my mom about meeting Andy, but I guess I just felt like talking to someone, anyone, and that was the only thing I could think of that was new. Mom seemed very interested that I'd met a new friend, and I didn't correct her. Instead, like a goofball, I told her about his inviting me to his birthday party. Well, you know how moms are, she latched onto that like a dog on a pork chop, and two days later I found myself being driven to Andy's house with a neatly wrapped present in my lap.

I was wearing my best jeans and polo shirt with a little Penguin on it, polished shoes on my feet, and I felt like a fish out of water. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one duded up, including Andy, who was dressed up like he was going to church or something.

He met me at the door, and at first I didn't recognize him. He'd combed his hair, and of course he wasn't crying today, and his smile sort of lit up the whole room.

"Jason, come in!" he said all excited, "I'm glad you decided to come. Come on, I want you to meet my folks and brother..."

So that was how I got introduced to the Barnes family, Rebecca, David, and Cody. Yeah, Cody. I felt a little sick when Andy introduced me to his 10 year old brother, Cody, but I knew that my Cody wasn't the only Cody in the world, even if mine had been the best.

Mr. Barnes (David) was the new manager at the box plant out in the industrial area, and he seemed pretty nice, but his wife (Rebecca) was even nicer. In fact, she reminded me a lot of my Cody's mom, Mrs. Hale, and I liked her right away, even if I wasn't supposed to be making new friends, or having fun...yet.

I guess I felt I hadn't grieved enough for my Cody, and that was why I kept putting this wall up to keep people away. But with the Barnes, especially Andy, it was hard to keep that wall standing.

Fortunately, Cody Barnes looked nothing like my Cody, and in fact he was kind of plain looking. He seemed like an okay kid, but we really didn't hit it off right away, that would come later.

There were a couple of other kids there that I knew, kids from the neighborhood and Andy's street, and I think they were sort of surprised to see me there. I didn't know if any of them had told Andy my story at that point, but I was sure if they hadn't, they would as soon as they could get him alone.

I have to admit, I sort of had fun, and for once I didn't even feel guilty. Cody loved birthday parties, his or anyone else's, and we'd gone to plenty over the years. Our birthdays were only a few months apart, and I really hadn't celebrated my last one since it was so close to Cody's death.

By 5:30 or so almost everyone was gone, and I began to make my exit. The board game I'd gotten for Andy, with some help from my mom, turned out to be a big hit with him, and even his little brother seemed excited about it. I guess he and Andy spent a lot of time together, despite the age difference, and in a way I sort of envied them having each other. Maybe if I'd had a brother, or even a sister, I wouldn't have felt so alone when I lost my best friend.

"Thanks for coming today," Andy said at the door, "and thanks for the Clue Game, it's really rad. I been wanting one for a long time."

"You're welcome, I have one just like it and it's a lot of fun," I said, feeling a whole lot better than I had when I'd stepped through the door a couple of hours before, "See ya around."

"Yeah, umm...maybe we can hang out sometime," Andy said looking hopeful.

"Yeah, sure...why not?" I said surprising myself, "maybe I'll see ya at the creek or something."

"Yeah, okay...umm, want to meet there...tomorrow?"

"I..." I started to make up some excuse why I couldn't, but suddenly I blurted out, "I guess I can meet you after church, how's 2 o'clock?"

As I walked home that evening, for once I wasn't thinking about Cody. It was Andy who was on my mind, and I was a little confused. What was it about Andy that had made me change my mind about being with someone again? All my friends hadn't been able to scale my wall, but this new kid, had somehow gotten over the wall and was making camp in my front yard.

I actually laughed when I thought about that, I doubted Andy had ever camped out in his life, but maybe I could change that.

We met the next day at the creek, and again I wasn't thinking about my Cody every minute. Andy and I talked about regular boy stuff, sports, movies, the TV shows we never missed, and somewhere along the way, we became friends.

Now, I'm not saying that happened overnight, or that after that day we were best pals, but we soon would be. Heck, I even discovered that his little brother, the other Cody, was a pretty neat kid too. I still felt weird calling him by that name, but in a way meeting this new Cody had helped me to get over the loss of my Cody.

Andy and I hung out that whole summer, mostly at the creek, but also at the pool, at the park, and we even went to the matinee at the Bijou Theater a few times. It was there, on a Saturday afternoon, that things changed for us once again.

We were watching the previews before the movie, sitting on the back, center seats, like we always did, and that's when it happened. You know how those old movie theater seats are, with one shared armrest, and barely wide enough for boy bottoms like ours.

Anyway, I had my arm on the armrest between us, using my other hand to scoop popcorn up and shovel it in my mouth. Andy wasn't eating popcorn, he had Goobers or M&Ms, or something like that, cause that kid loves chocolate.

So, suddenly the movie begins, and I feel something warm and soft on my hand, and I realized it's Andy's hand. He's just laying it on top of mine, like he doesn't know my arm is there and he's just using the armrest or something.

At first I just ignore it, and I start to make a joke, then I get this really weird feeling running all through my body and I realized my dork has begun to stir a little in my cutoffs. Weird, huh? I was torn between jerking my arm out from under his and...well...I didn't do that. Instead, I sort of rolled my arm over so my palm was facing up, and...well, you can imagine what happened next, suddenly we were holding hands.

Holding hands! Whoa! Now, I'm not saying I've never held hands with anyone before, in fact, Cody and I did that a lot when we were little kids, but not since we were ten or so. But that kind of hand holding had been innocent kid stuff, and this hand holding with Andy felt way different. I was 13, and pretty ignorant when it came to sex, but holding hands with Andy sure felt sexy.

I kept staring straight ahead at the screen, but occasionally I'd sneak little peeks at Andy just to see what he was doing. He seemed to be concentrating on the movie too, but suddenly, just when I was sneaking a peek, he did too, and our eyes met.

I loved Andy's eyes. They were pale blue and seemed to sparkle when you looked at them long enough. I must've blushed, there was no way I didn't, but I didn't look away. In the flickering light of the movie screen, Andy's eyes seemed even more mysterious, almost hypnotic, and I was powerless to look away.

I licked my lips nervously and managed a smile, and Andy smiled back, then the spell was broken, and we went back to watching the movie. We held hands the whole time we watched the movie, but I was pretty sure no one else could see us. For one thing, we were the only ones in that row, and the next seats that were occupied were three or four rows in front of us.

The movie ended and we were jolted back to reality as we slowly pulled away from each other. We waited till most of the other kids had gone before we finally stood up, then made our way out of the theater, but still we hadn't spoken.

Outside in the warm fresh air, we grabbed our bikes and headed to my house as we'd planned. In fact, Andy was spending the night, and he'd dropped his stuff off there earlier before we rode downtown to the Bijou.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a little nervous after what had happened in the movie theater. What did holding hands mean for two 13-year-old boys anyway? If Andy had been a girl, Andria maybe, it would have made sense, but two way, that had to be...weird or something, right?

Even when we got to my house we didn't go inside, instead we put our bikes on the back patio and headed off to the creek without even discussing it. I didn't know if I wanted to talk about what happened or not, so I decided to let Andy lead. After all, he'd been the one to start the hand holding, even if I'd sort of helped it along.

At the creek, we quickly skinned off our shoes and socks and were wading in the cool creek water in an attempt to cool off. It was in the high 80s that day and humid like always, and we'd worked up quite a sweat riding to my house, then walking to the creek.

The cool water helped though, not to mention the shade from the huge trees that overhung the creek. This wasn't like us, not talking, and it felt awkward at first, but I didn't know what to say at that point. I was still hoping Andy would get the ball rolling, but he seemed as unsure as I did.

Finally, I'd had enough, "We...uh, should talk, I guess..." I murmured.

"Oh," Andy said, sounding innocent, "Okay, what about?"

What about? I screamed in my head, but I didn't scream at Andy, instead I played it cool.

" know? back there in the movie theater..."

"Oh, that," Andy said blushing, his pale blue eyes darting around like a dragonfly on the water.

"Yeah, that," I said, focusing my attention on the water at our feet and avoiding Andy's darting eyes.

Andy sighed, "I'm sorry..." he choked out, sounding ready to cry.

"Why are you sorry?" I said quickly, "I didn't say it was bad, did I?"

"No, I just...I don't know. Did you like it?" he said, suddenly taking me by surprise with his blunt question.

"I...I didn't pull away, did I?" I said, not willing to commit to more at this point.

"No, you sort of...helped," Andy said, finally looking up at me with those eyes, and I was lost.

"It was nice," I said then, and suddenly I found myself reaching over to pick up both his hands and hold them in mine, "but...I don't know what it means. Please help me understand," I begged.

"Jason," Andy said moving closer as we stood there holding hands, then suddenly he was so close I could feel the heat coming off his upper body, "I knew that first day that I liked, that way," he said looking away for just a moment, then locking eyes with me again, "I...I know Cody was your best friend and all, and I'm not trying to take his place. I...I just like you so much...maybe love you," he said looking away again, "I know that sounds crazy, but when we're not together you're all I think about. And when we're together, I just want to touch you and hold you and..." he was so red now you'd have thought he was sunburned.

"I like you too," I confessed, "I sort of liked you that first day too. Otherwise I wouldn't have come to your party." Even though my mom had sort of pushed me, I think deep inside I really wanted to go. "Can two boys love each other?" I asked then, but I already knew the answer to that. I'd loved Cody with all my heart, and maybe it wasn't the same as what Andy was talking about, but it was love...deep love, and it had felt wonderful and natural, and the best feeling ever.

"I have to tell you something," Andy said, locking eyes with me again, "and if you don't want to be my friend after I do, I'll understand," he sounded sad, so sad, and I felt like I needed to fix that.

"Aww...nothing is gonna make me not wanna be your friend," I assured him, "What's wrong, what is it?"

"I...I'm not like other boys," he said simply, "Other boys, well...they like know? But I don't, I like boys that way. I...I like you that way," he said as a single tear trickled down his cheek.

I didn't know what to say at first, but I knew what to do. Breaking the hold with my right hand, I raised it and traced that single tear down his cheek with my finger. Then smiling, I leaned in...and kissed him, right on the lips.

Yeah, crazy huh? I'd never kissed anyone like that, not even a girl, and yet I thought I did a pretty good job. In fact, it was so good that I went back in for a second helping.

When we finally broke for air, Andy was smiling and looking so cute, yeah cute, "Does that mean that you like me that way too?"

"Duh," I laughed, "but I didn't know it till today," I said, then frowned, "but how does this work? We can't tell anyone, and we gotta be careful..."

"I know, but as long as we know, that's all that matters. We have lots of alone time, so..."

"I've never done anything..." I stuttered, which wasn't exactly true. Cody and I had been very close, and when we were younger we'd messed around a bit, but nothing serious.

"I...well...I had a boyfriend back in Texas," Andy confessed, "he was older, and he knew stuff..."

"Oh," I said, not sure how I felt about that, and I guess it showed on my face. Then smiling, I made a joke out of it, "Well, I'm glad one of us knows something."

He giggled then, and a smile filled his whole face, "One more thing: Cody knows how I feel about you."

"What, how?" I sputtered.

"Cause it's hard to keep something like that a secret from your brother. He knew about me and Kip, the kid back in Texas, but he was cool with us. He won't tell anyone else, but he might tease us sometime," Andy said grinning.

"Oh, well...I guess if you say he's okay, I believe you. So, now what?"

"Well, that's really up to you. Tonight, if you want, I can show you some stuff, or we can just kiss and hold hands."

"Tonight,, I...I guess. What kind of stuff?"

"Come here," he said, and when I did he whispered in my ear all the things he wanted us to do.

I was beet red when I pulled away, but the tent in my cutoffs said I liked the idea. We hung around the creek the rest of the day, and even waded down to the bridge, just like Cody and I had done so many times before. Until that day I'd never shared this particular experience with Andy, but I felt like Cody would approve now.

We sat under the bridge, dangling our feet over the creek water and talking for a long time. We held hands as we sat there, and it seemed as natural as breathing to me. I loved the softness and warmth of his hand, and I dreaded the moment we'd have to break our hold and head back to my house.

Back at my house, we arrived just in time for dinner. I expected mom to scold me for coming home so late, but I think she was just happy I'd made a friend and rejoined the real world. We washed up and took our places at the table, and dad said grace and we dug in .

Andy was beginning to feel right at home at our house, and both mom and dad seemed to like him a lot, and it was mutual. Dad talked baseball with him, and mom mothered him like she'd done Cody all those years. I was reminded once again that I wasn't the only one who'd lost someone they loved when Cody had died. I smiled as I looked around the table at my family and was happy to include Andy as part of it now.

I was nervous as we headed to my room sometime later, but bedtime was still a few hours away. First came showers, and I let Andy go first since he was company. It never occurred to either of us to shower together at that point, but that too would happen later into our relationship.

Andy returned from his shower still toweling his long brown hair, which was getting a bit shaggy now. I liked it though, as well as his thick eyebrows and long eyelashes. He was...beautiful. Yeah, beautiful. When I really thought about it though, I'd thought my Cody was beautiful too, so it wasn't that weird. Only, I'd never had these tingly feelings in my guts for Cody like I did with Andy.

I grabbed my stuff and headed off to the bathroom, afraid to look at Andy too much longer or I was going to pop a boner for sure. I was already half hard and I knew Andy was the reason.

In the shower, I considered jerking off, then remembering what Andy had whispered in my ear earlier, I decided I'd better save it. It was hard though, yeah, that too, but I managed to get clean, and dried, and dressed in undies and shorts. I never wore shirts after a shower, and I hoped Andy was okay with that.

I found Andy thumbing through a car magazine and he looked up when I walked in, then tossed the magazine on the bed. His eyes seemed to be burning into me as he scanned me from head to toe, then he smiled.

"You look good tonight," he said, his blue eyes sparkling.

"Oh, and I usually look bad?" I joked.

"No, you always look good, but tonight you look...excellent."

"Wow, thanks, you too," I said plopping down beside him, "So...what do you want to do?"

He got a big grin on his face as he seemed to be thinking that over, then he sighed, "Well, we can't do what I want to, not right now, but maybe later."

"I meant...before we go to bed," I said blushing.

"Clue?" he said grinning, and that's what we did, play Clue.

At ten, mom came by my room and knocked on my door. I told her to come in and she gave us a smile.

"Don't stay up too long," mom said, but I knew from sleepovers with Cody that as long as we didn't make a lot of noise we could stay up as long as we liked, "and be sure to brush your teeth. Good night boys," she said, sparing me her usual kiss on the forehead since Andy was there, but I have to admit, I sorta missed it.

"Night mom," I said smiling, "we're almost finished with this game, then we'll brush our teeth and go to bed."

Saying it out loud sort of made it seem real to me, and I started to have second thoughts about what was going to happen later in bed. Would I be too freaked out to enjoy it, or would I find it just as natural and pleasant as holding hands and kissing? I guessed I'd soon find out, but I was still one nervous kid by the time we finally piled into my bed.

This wasn't the first time Andy had slept over, and I'd even slept over at his house a couple times, but this was different. This was more than just two buds sharing a bed, and we both knew it. This was serious, this was new, and both of us were a, a lot nervous.

Once the light was out and we were settled, Andy rolled onto his side facing me and I did the same. The nightlight by the door cast a soft glow on Andy's face and I could see his eyes studying me, his lips twitching like he wanted to say something.

"Well, here we are," I laughed nervously.

"Yeah, here we are," he said finally smiling, "wanna hold hands?" This was the first time either of us had actually used those words or asked that question, and for some reason it seemed more exciting.

I nodded and reached for his hand, and I felt a little electric jolt as our fingers intertwined. He smiled again and moved his head a little closer, and I knew what was next. I'd initiated the first kiss, now it was his turn.

His lips felt soft and wet against mine, and when he offered his tongue, I didn't hesitate for a second to admit it into my mouth. He tasted like toothpaste and something else, Andy spit I guess, and I loved it. I offered my tongue then, and he took it as willingly as I had, sucking on it like it was a piece of candy.

All the while I'd been aware of a slow awakening in my underwear, which was all I was wearing at the moment, then suddenly I felt something warm and firm pressing against my hardness. I knew in an instant what it was, Andy's boner, and I pressed back as we continued to kiss, the feeling almost too much to bare.

Andy turned out to be a tiger when it came to our lovemaking, and suddenly he pushed me onto my back and was on top of me, pressing our hard cocks together as we continued to kiss deeply and wetly.

I matched Andy's grinding, stroke for stroke, and soon we were panting and nearing the point of no return. I didn't worry about the mess I was about to make in my underpants as I grabbed Andy's slender waist and began to thrust harder against him. Suddenly, Andy cried out and I felt something warm and wet against my dick, and that was all it took to send me over the edge.

I came and came and came, and I felt like I was about to pass out, except I couldn't, cause Andy kept kissing me the whole time and I didn't wanna miss out on that. Eventually, Andy quit moving and just sort of fell down on me and laid there, his face nuzzled into my neck now. He felt warm and soft, and I loved the way his body fitted into mine. Was this love, was this sex, was this what men and women felt for one another? I didn't know much about any of that stuff, but I did know one thing for sure, I loved what we'd done, and if this was what having a boyfriend was like, I wanted in.

That first night was special, and eventually we did about everything two boys could do. We held off on the anal stuff till we were 14, but when we finally did it, wow...oh wow, it was great.

As for Andy's brother, Cody, he did tease us a lot whenever he got the chance, but he wasn't mean about it, and I knew he was really on our side. In fact, the new Cody and I became rather close after I sat down one day and told him about my Cody.

Oh, I guess he knew the general story, but what I told him was our story, the story of how two boys met and became friends, and how close we were. It was the story of how I'd lost the only person I'd truly loved, and how I'd taken it so hard. When I'd finished, the new Cody was crying softly, and when he leaned in and hugged me, I knew we were going to be pals from then on.

Andy and I are still together, and I like to think that my Cody is up there in Heaven or whatever and smiling down on us. Though only Andy's little brother knows just how close Andy and I really are, anyone with any brains can see there's more to our relationship than just friendship. I think my folks suspected Andy and I were boyfriends, but that was the 90s, and people just didn't talk about that stuff back then like they do now.

As for Andy's folks, if they ever worried about us being too close, they never let on, and never batted an eye when our sleepovers continued long after most boys had outgrown them.

When school started in the fall, that first year after Cody's death, I think my friends were surprised to see the old Jason was back. I'd reconnected with a few over the summer, and the rest slowly over the next few weeks. I introduced Andy to them and he became a part of our group, but I don't think any of them ever realized just what Andy and I were to each other.

On the anniversary of Cody's death that following May, my mom took me, Andy, and the new Cody to decorate his grave. This wasn't my first time there, for even though I'd freaked when they'd laid him to rest, I'd decided it was kind of nice to have someplace to go to talk to him and remember him.

The headstone was huge, with little holders for our flowers, and carvings of angels on it. His name, date of birth, and date of death were followed by this inscription.

God's gift to us, taken way too soon. Loving son, best friend, and perfect Angel.

I always cried a little when I read that part about best friend, cause I knew that was about me. His folks had thought that up, and I loved them for it. After awhile, I told my mom and the other boys that I wanted some time alone with Cody, and she took them to her mom's grave which was nearby.

I knelt by Cody's tombstone and traced the words of the inscription as I wiped tears from my eyes. It took me a minute to find my voice, but when I did I felt as if Cody was right there with me, holding me up and giving me strength.

"I guess you know about Andy by now," I whispered, "heck, maybe you even sent him. But I want to promise you, I will never forget you or what we had. I love Andy a lot, and we're really happy, and I think that's what you would want. I would want that for you. I hope you're happy wherever you are. And if it's Heaven, then I hope someday me and Andy can join you there."

I wiped more tears from my eyes as I thought about what else to say, then I continued, "There's a new Cody too, but I guess you know that, and he's a pretty cool kid. Not like the original Cody," I laughed, "No one will ever be that cool, but he's a good kid. I guess what I want to say most is: I miss you, and I love you. I don't know if I ever said that to you, but I always you, and I think you loved me too. No, I know you did. You showed it everyday in everything you ever said or did when it came to me and you. Man, I miss you sooo much, and it still hurts, but I'm gonna make it. Andy has helped me a lot, and well...the other Cody too, and I feel like I'm gonna make it, even if you're not gonna be here with me to figure things out. Maybe you are in a way though, maybe as long as I remember you and what we had, and how we loved each other, you'll always be a part of me." I wiped more tears from my eyes and stood then.

"I'm gonna go find mom and Andy and the other Cody now, but I'll be back real soon," then I laughed, "I bet you're up there laughing your ass off right now, probably playing cloud tag or something. Well, I gotta go buddy, love ya, miss ya, and I'll never forget ya."

With that, I walked away, and I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I knew there would still be times I would be sad, and that I'd always miss my best friend Cody, but I also knew I'd be okay in the end. Andy and his family, my folks, and all my friends were there for me, and how could I fail with so many people in my corner?

I still had a lot to learn about life, and a lot of living to do, but I would never forget that part of my life that included my best friend Cody. He might be gone from this earth, but he lived on in my heart, and I was pretty sure he was up there looking out for me.

I found my mom, Andy and the new Cody, and together we walked to the car. As we drove away I looked back, and for one second I could have sworn I saw Cody, my Cody, hovering above the cemetery, smiling as he was gave me a thumbs up. I rubbed my eyes, but when I looked back the figure was gone. Until now I have never told anyone about what I saw that day, because somehow I knew it was just for me. Cody was telling me things were cool with us, and that I would be okay, and you know what? He was right.

The End

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