Two Brothers

by Rob Warr

Chapter 1

This story is the property of the author, Rob Warr, and should not be reproduced or re-posted without his consent. ©Rob Warr 2024. The usual disclaimers apply, you know the drill.


Brothers: that word usually meant something positive. Friendship, closer than brothers, the saying goes, but the word brother, or more precisely, the role of being a brother, is often not as easy as one should hope it would be.

11-year-old Sean Lewis sat on the front step of his middle class urban home, wiping the last few tears from his eyes. He hated crying, especially in front of his rat-faced brother, but sometimes the jerk just got to him so badly that he couldn't help himself.

Today had been especially bad, Patrick, his 14-year-old brother, having called him a faggot in front of all his friends, then as if that wasn't enough, he had de-pantsed him causing everyone to laugh at his small penis.

He'd ran home from the park, the tears coming in buckets as he did so, but fortunately they were mostly dried up by the time he got home. He knew he shouldn't take offense to the word 'faggot', after all, that was what his brother and his gang called everyone they didn't like, but the truth was, that word hit mighty close to home.

He'd been pretty sure for a while now that he liked boys a whole lot better than girls, in fact, he didn't find girls exciting at all. And when he and his best friend, Tim, had discovered masturbation, they'd eventually began to explore other areas, including a few clumsy attempts at oral sex.

But, even though Tim said it was just fooling around, and not gay, Sean realized he liked it a whole lot more than he should have. So much so, in fact, that he couldn't wait for Tim to sleep over the next time, which was to be this Saturday night. That was, if his butt-head brother didn't louse things up by being the usual dick that he was.

An SUV pulling into the driveway jogged Sean out of his revelry and he quickly wiped the last few tears from his eyes. The garage door went up then and the SUV pulled into the two car garage, but to his surprise the door did not go down right away.

A few seconds later he heard the door of the vehicle open, then close, and footsteps coming his way, echoing off the walls of the neat and clean space.

"Hey sport," his dad said coming over to sit by his youngest son, "you and Patrick been at it again?"

"Dad, it's not me..." Sean said angrily, "he's always picking on me. Dad, why does he hate me?" he suddenly blurted out, tears forming in his eyes once more.

His dad sighed and placed an arm around his son's neck, "I don't think he really hates you. It wasn't always like this, but then you know that. When you guys were younger you got along just fine and went everywhere together. Then when Patrick turned 12 or 13, that's when things began to change. I don't know if it was the influence of his new friends, starting middle school, or...hormones," he added the last with a chuckle.

"What do hormones have to do with anything?" Sean said wiping at his eyes again.

"That question will have to wait for another time, sport. But right now, why don't you tell me what he did this time so I can deal with him."

"Dad, you know I don't like to snitch on him," Sean whined.

"Apparently he doesn't live by the same code that you do, but if you won't tell me what he did, there's nothing I can do but give him the usual talk."

"I know," Sean said leaning into his dad.

He loved his dad, and they'd always been close, but he feared that if his dad ever found out his little secret about liking boys, he'd lose his dad just like he'd lost his brother.

"How about if you and I go do something special this weekend, without butthead?" his dad chuckled.

"Tim's sleeping over Saturday night, so maybe the three of us can go do something. Is that okay?"

"Sure, Tim's a good kid. Well, son...I'm tired and hungry, so I'll leave you here in your misery and go shower," he said standing and patting his son on the head like a good dog, "remember son, I love you, your mother loves you, and somewhere deep down inside: I think your brother loves you too."

"Well he has a sh...strange way of showing it," Sean said, having almost said a forbidden word.

His dad laughed, "Shitty is right. Well, son...see ya inside."

His dad entered the garage, then moments later the door went down leaving Sean to contemplate his life, his brother, and the unfairness of the situation. He was still sitting there when the object of his discourse came riding up on his mountain bike, a huge sneer on his face.

"Well, if it isn't mini-penis," Patrick laughed meanly, coming to a stop, his front tire only inches from Sean's knee.

"Shut up, butthead," Sean said giving his brother a defiant look. He knew his brother dare not attack him this close to his parents, although there were pretty good odds he'd retaliate later.

"Is that the best you can come up with, dick-weed?"

"Why don't you just leave me alone?" Sean said, wary of the fight already.

"What are you doing out here anyway, hiding?" his brother prodded, rolling his bike even closer till the front tire actually touched Sean's knee.

"Stop it, damn it Patrick, why do you have to be such an asshole all the time?" Sean said angrily.

"Watch your mouth, bitch!" Patrick said rolling his bike into Sean's knee hard enough to cause him to cry out.

"Fuck you!" Sean cried out in paid, suddenly having had enough.

Standing, Sean lunged at his brother only to be knocked backwards. Fortunately, he landed on the grassy lawn and not on the cement, but he still hit with a thud that knocked the wind out of him.

"Pussy," Patrick hissed as he began riding his bike toward the side gate, "See ya later...faggot," he added with an evil laugh.

For a few minutes Sean just lay on the grass, staring up at the late afternoon sky, and wishing he had the nerve and the muscles to kick his brother's ass...just once. He wasn't a fighter though, never had been, and in fact hated confrontation of all kinds. He knew that was one of his big weaknesses, and Patrick exploited that weakness at every opportunity.

Suddenly, the front door opened, then the storm door, and next his mother stepped out onto the porch.

"Sean, are you all right, honey?" she said with concern in her voice.

"Yeah, just taking a dirt nap, mom," Sean said with a chuckle, "or should I say, grass nap?"

His mother looked at him strangely, then laughed, "Well, I guess that's as good a place as any to nap. Are you hungry, honey? Dinner will be ready in about a half hour."

"Yeah, I'll be in in a minute," Sean said sitting up and assessing any damage he might have received in the fall, relieved that everything seemed to be in working order.

Inside, he washed up in the downstairs bathroom, then went in to see if his mom needed any help. She smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then had him set the table. At least his mom and dad loved him, he thought, but there was still this hollow feeling inside him when he thought about his brother and what they'd lost. It was almost like Patrick was a completely different person now, and he didn't know him at all.

He tried to remember when things had changed, and he thought about what his dad had said about hormones and stuff. Yeah, he guessed Patrick was around 12 at the time, and he had begun to notice some changes in the way his brother acted and the way his body looked.

Being a child of the internet, Sean knew about puberty and hormones and the changes that a boy's body underwent because of them. He'd just never realized before that these changes could be manifested in feelings and behaviors, i.e. Patrick's sudden hate for him.

He missed his brother. He missed playing video games together, tossing the ball around in the park, rolling around on the lawn, play wrestling, laughing, talking, having a good time. He sighed and his mother gave him a soft look.

"Patty been bothering you again?"

Sean laughed, "Better not let him hear you call him that, or he might bother you too."

"Ha, I changed his diapers and wiped his little butt, I'll call him Patty if I want," his mom laughed, and if he doesn't like it, he can move out."

"Would you really, umm, kick him out if he turned on you and dad too?" Sean said looking upset.

"No, of course not," his mom said hugging him from behind and kissing the top of his stylishly long brown hair, "for better or worse, we love Patrick as much as we love you. We...we just don't understand him lately. Neither of you boys could ever do anything to make us not love you, or support you. Of course, if either of you did something illegal, you'd have to face the consequences, but we'd still love you and stand by you."

Sean wondered if that applied to being gay too, but he had to admit, he'd never heard his folks say anything bad about gay people in general. In fact, he seemed to remember his mom talking about a gay friend at work named Carlos, that was a very good cook. He'd brought some sort of Mexican casserole to a dinner and she liked it so much that she'd asked him for the recipe and made it often for her family.

Sean sighed, "Mom..."

"Yes, honey," his mom said giving him a gentle squeeze.

"I miss him. I miss us and all the fun we used to have. I miss not having a brother. It's my real brother left and some evil imposter took his place."

His mother looked ready to cry then, "I know, son, I know. We miss him too. I can only hope that this phase will pass and he'll come to his senses. Meanwhile, we just have to try to deal with it as best we can. But...honey, if he gets too far out of control, or ever physically threatens you or hurts you, I want you to let us know right away. We draw the line there. It's bad enough that he bullies you and taunts you, those things we've observed, but unless you tell us what else he does, we can't address the issue."

"Like I told dad, I don't like snitching, but if he goes too far, I promise I'll tell you."

"All right," his mother said, finally releasing him and going back to the stove, "you're a good son, and a good brother, I just hope Patrick realizes that before it's too late."

Dinner was the usual ritual, the other three carrying on most of the conversation while Patrick ate like a pig, a sullen look on his face, especially when Sean shared anything. Once or twice he made snide remarks under his breath or rolled his eyes, and each time his parents gave him the 'stink eye'. He knew what the limits were and never pushed things too far, saving the worst for when he and Sean were alone.

"Isn't this the weekend Tim is coming over?" Mrs. Lewis said suddenly, causing Sean to almost choke on his bite of chicken, and Patrick to smirk even more than usual.

"Yeah," Sean said, not wanting to dwell too long on the subject for fear Patrick would make a big deal out of it.

"So, your girlfriend is coming over," Patrick smirked, "mom, dad, you really shouldn't let them sleep in the same bed. If I had a girlfriend, you wouldn't let me sleep with her..."

"Patrick Aaron Lewis!" his mom said, growing quite agitated.

Uh oh, Patrick thought, too much?

"Patrick, that kind of talk is unacceptable, especially at the dinner table. And for the record, no, you would not be allowed to sleep with your girlfriend, but I seem to remember you having Tommy over a couple weeks ago to spend the night, did he sleep in your bed, or on the floor?"

Patrick blushed. His dad had him there. He and his friends always shared a bed, but they hadn't done any messing around since they'd started puberty. These days their sex talked was confined to dissing each other's manhood, or discussing girls, tits, and pussy.

"Sorry," Patrick mumbled.

"That didn't sound very heartfelt, maybe you need some encouragement to feel some remorse. Phone please," his dad said holding out his hand.

"No, you can't have my phone! I need that!" Patrick erupted angrily, "it's not fair, you never punish him, you must hate me!" he added getting up and standing menacingly near his brother, who cringed as if he might receive a blow at any moment.

"Sit down, NOW!" Mr. Lewis commanded, "you will not behave this way, young man. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir," Patrick mumbled, realizing that acting out in front of his parents wasn't going to get him anywhere, "I'm sorry, but please, please, don't take my phone. I need it. Besides, what if someone tries to abduct me or something, I won't be able to call 911."

Good luck to the kidnapper, Sean thought, finding it hard to keep from giggling at such an outrageous statement.

"One week won't kill you. And we'll take our chances with the abduction. If you treat them like you treat us, they'd no doubt release you after a few minutes."

Mrs. Lewis covered her mouth to hide a smile at her husband's wit, then she wiped the smile off her face and replaced it with her 'mom look'.

"Young man, we have taken quite a bit off you lately and let you slide more times than perhaps we should have. In addition to losing your phone privileges for a week, you will also come straight home from school, do your homework, no video games, no computer except for school work, and you have kitchen cleanup all week."

"What, no, that's too much!" Patrick exploded, "you can't do that, that's illegal or something..." he said growing angry again.

"We can, and we will," his father said, "want to try for two weeks?"

Patrick looked like a caged animal, his hate-filled eyes finally finding his brother's and causing him to wilt in fear once more. He could tell by that look that Patrick blamed him for his latest situation, and what was worse, he would be seeking revenge.

"No sir," Patrick said through gritted teeth. Then, as if finally deciding to accept his fate with grace, he pulled his phone from his pocket and handed it to his dad, "I hope I don't need to call 911," he muttered.

"Have one of your friends call, if the need arises," his mom suggested.

"When does the week start?" Patrick said, trying to stay calm and not invite any more punishment.

"Tomorrow," his dad said, "let's see, it's Thursday, so next Wednesday will be your last day, assuming you don't do anything in the meantime to earn extra time."

"This is so unfair," Patrick fumed, "but I don't have any choice, I guess. Too bad my own parents hate me," he whined.

"Far from it," his mother said, "we love you with all our hearts, enough to want you to do and say the right thing. Call it 'tough love' if you will, but there are certain rules in this house, and one of them is that we respect one another. Lately, you seem to have forgotten that one, so maybe this will be a reminder that your behavior is not acceptable."

"Yes, mom," Patrick said, finally deciding arguing was a waste of time and energy: time and energy that could be better spent getting revenge on his weasel of a brother.

"I'm done, mom," Sean said, his appetite long gone.

"Oh honey, you barely ate enough to keep a bird alive. At least finish that piece of chicken."

"Okay, mom, for you," Sean said giving his mom a smile.

Patrick almost puked when he saw the mother/son exchange. Once, he was the one his mom doted on, the one who got the hugs and the kisses on the top of the head. Now it was the runt who got all the attention, all the love, all the smiles, and hugs and kisses.

"I'm done too," Patrick announced, rising and taking his plate to the kitchen.

"Sorry," Sean said once his brother was out of earshot.

"What on earth for?" his mom asked in confusion.

"I...I don't know," Sean confessed, "I just...well, it didn't start till he found out Tim was coming over..."

"I brought that up, and there was nothing wrong with my mentioning it. I wasn't trying to goad him. It just seems like he's always looking for something to get mad about."

"It's cause Tim is my friend. He hates me, so he hates my friends too," Sean sighed.

"Are you talking about me behind my back?" Patrick said as he returned to the dining room, "I bet you do that all the time, don't you?"

"Patrick, you are getting dangerously close to exhausting my patience. Perhaps if you didn't act like a misbehaved, spoiled brat, you wouldn't be the topic of discussion so often," his dad said giving him a stern look.

Gathering up the rest of the plates, Patrick remained quiet, though his look said he wanted to say more. When he was gone once again, Sean just shook his head and started helping with the cleanup.

"No, let him do it all," his dad insisted, "why don't you go to your room for a while, your mother and I want to talk to your brother for a bit."

"Yes, dad," Sean said nodding, "good luck."

"Thanks, we'll need it," his dad chuckled.

Upstairs in his room, Sean fell across his bed and stared up at the glow-in-the dark stars, moons and planets on his ceiling. Okay, maybe they were a little juvenile, but there were some parts of his childhood he wasn't ready to leave behind. Besides, the stickers had a special meaning because Patrick had helped him put them up one rainy weekend, way back when they were still brothers and friends.

Sighing once again, Sean wondered how things had gotten so far out of control. He thought about happier times, but the memories seemed faded and old as the more recent ones overshadowed them. Of course, it hadn't happened overnight. It wasn't like one day he just woke up and his brother hated him. No, it was a slow process, one that took a while to play out.

It began with Patrick spending more time with his friends and including his little brother in fewer and fewer of his activities. Then there were the new rules. No coming into his room without knocking. No coming into the bathroom when he was in there. No tagging along when his friends were over, and on and on.

It was about this time that Sean also noticed some physical changes in his older brother. Patrick seemed to have grown an inch taller and added some muscle. Then there was the other thing, the thing that Sean had seen quite by accident. The hair.

It hadn't seemed like a big deal at first, after all, he and his brother had been sharing a bathroom forever, and had even bathed together when they were younger. They pretty much had no body modesty when it came to each other, that was up until that night.

Sean hadn't even been aware that Patrick was in the bathroom, but when he'd opened the door to find his older brother naked and primping in front of the mirror, he'd gotten quite an eyeful.

"What are you doing, you little pervert?" his brother had yelled as he threw a hair brush at him.

"Sorry, didn't know you were in here..." Sean cried, his eyes automatically taking in the scene before him.

Not only had Patrick grown taller and put on muscle, he'd grown between his legs too, and now had a triangular patch of hair just above his penis. There was hair in his arm pits as well, though there were only a few wispy strands which weren't very prominent.

All this Sean assimilated in the few seconds before Patrick stalked across the floor and slammed the door in his face. After that day things had really began to go downhill.

Every time Sean needed to use the bathroom, he now made sure to knock first, cringing each time for fear he'd get yelled at by his older brother.

He'd discussed this newest development with his best friend, Tim, but Tim only had sisters and wasn't much help in that area. Tim seemed excited by the news though, and said he couldn't wait for them to reach puberty and get their hair. Sean laughed and joked that what Tim really meant was: that he couldn't wait for his dick to grow some. Tim blushed, but laughed, and admitted that that would be cool too.

Sean's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by his phone buzzing, notifying him that he had a WhatsApp message from Tim.

Tim: Hey, gangsta, what up? lol

Sean: Hey, just laying in my room chillin...the rents are downstairs talking to butthead.

Tim: Oh shit, what'd he do now?

Sean: Call me and I'll tell ya, too much to

Seconds later the phone alerted him to an incoming call and Sean picked up. After some initial chit chat, Sean filled Tim in on the dinner conversation and Patrick's outburst, toning it down a little for Tim's benefit.

"He called you a faggot? That's cold," Tim said sounding angry.

"Not in so many words, but it was clear what he meant. He only calls me faggot when they're not around."

"What an A-hole," Tim hissed, "my sisters are actually pretty cool and nice to me. I can't imagine them ever calling me names and bullying me like P-head does you."

P-head was one of Tim's pet names for Patrick, short for 'Penis-Head'. Sean laughed bitterly, "Wanna trade?"

"If we did, I'd rat him out every time he dissed me, and my rents would ground him till he was 18."

"You know how I feel about snitching..."

"Yeah, well, sometimes being noble only gets you a kick in the balls. Do you think for a minute he wouldn't rat you out if you were doing something to him?"

"I guess not, but I'm trying not to be like him. I keep hoping he'll see that I'm not as bad as he thinks, and that he'll start liking me again..."

"Sean,'re the brother I always wanted, my best friend, and I love you in a dude way, but sometimes you are so naive. Anyway, let's forget about him. What are we gonna do this weekend...?"

They discussed their weekend plans, including what they could do with Sean's dad. They finally decided on going to the Sport's Center, which had batting cages, an arcade, and miniature golf, all under one roof, inside, and climate controlled.

They talked about about a half hour longer, then Tim said he had to go and do his homework and ended the call. As Sean laid the phone on his nightstand, he heard noises on the stairs, and a few minutes later his door flew open and Patrick stuck his head inside.

"You really did it this time, you little jerk. I got a week of punishment and it's all your fault. But just remember, payback is hell," he said stomping off to his room before Sean could refute his statement.

"What a jackass," he muttered to himself, "he shits in his own pants and blames me for it."

Sean had done his homework in study hall at school, and decided to take a shower before settling down for the night. However, as soon as he'd dug out clean shorts and a tee to sleep in he heard the bathroom door slam shut and the shower begin.

He sighed and sat down on his bed, hoping Patrick wouldn't use all the hot water, and wishing once again for things to get back to normal.

Friday was uneventful, though he and Tim did spend some time at lunch going over their weekend plans again. The others at their table listened intently, some jealous, some merely curious, but all happy for the two friends. The boys had carefully hand-picked their friends, and they all liked the same things and got along well. In fact, Sean thought at times, except for Tim, who was his dearest and closest friend, all the rest were interchangeable. Jake Eddings for example, was a frequent visitor to Sean's house, and though the only black friend he had, Sean never thought of him as being different in that way. He was just Jake: cute, slim, wiry, and dare he think it? sexy. Just Jake, who was always happy and smiling and eager to have fun.

"You guys are lucky," Jake said, "I gotta stay home all weekend. My dad is away on a business trip and my mom is working, so my older bro is 'babysitting' me. Like I need a 'babysitter'," he snorted. My bro is only two years older, so how is he any more responsible than me?"

"That would be like Patrick 'babysitting' Sean," Tim laughed, "he'd probably burn down the house with Sean still in it."

"Don't give him any ideas," Sean sighed.

"That bad?" Jake said looking concerned, "at least my bro is cool. We'll actually have a blast, playing video games, shooting hoops, and eating tons of junk food and pizza."

"Yeah, good to hear," Sean said softly, looking sad.

Jake realized then that the subject of his and Patrick's relationship was one he didn't want to dwell upon, and began discussing a movie he'd watched the night before, and soon Sean joined in the conversation.

After school, Sean caught up with Tim at his locker and they walked to the pickup zone together. Today, Sean's mom was picking him up and he'd offered Tim a ride as well, since they lived in the same housing edition, though two streets apart.

"Thanks for the ride, Mrs. Lewis," Tim said once the two boys were in the back of her SUV.

"No problem, Tim," she said glancing in the rear view mirror and giving him a smile, "is your mom bringing you tomorrow, or do we need to pick you up?"

"I'm going to ride my bike, if it doesn't rain. Otherwise mom or dad will bring me, but thanks."

She nodded and turned her attention back to the road, and the two boys began a conversation about their favorite video game.

After dropping Tim off, Mrs. Lewis said she needed a few things from the grocery store, and though Sean groaned for effect, he really didn't mind shopping with his mom. While Sean pushed the cart, his mom filled her list, and when they got to the snack food aisle, she let Sean choose whatever snacks he wanted for his sleepover.

"Thanks mom, we'll even share with...umm, Patrick," Sean said smiling sadly.

"That's very sweet of you, son. Despite all he's done to you, you still love him, don't you?"

Sean blushed, "He's my brother, mom. I guess I just can't help but love him. I still remember the old Patrick, I guess, and how close we were..."

"I know, son, I know," his mother said sounding tired and weary, "but the new Patrick has begun to wear on everyone's nerves, and if there's aren't some changes made soon, I don't know what's going to happen."

"I feel like it's my fault, sometimes," Sean said, then quickly added, "I mean, I know it's not, but that's how I feel. I didn't do anything that I can think of to make him change. I guess it's like dad said, it's a lot of things, and not just one."

"Alien possession?" his mom joked.

Sean laughed, then added, "Yeah, I wish it was that easy to explain."

On the ride home, both were quiet, and when they pulled up in front of the white and red brick house they called home, Patrick was shooting hoops in the driveway. He paused long enough for his mom to park in the garage, dribbling the ball the whole time, looking like a normal teenage boy enjoying some after school fun, but he was far from that.

"What did you bring me?" Patrick smirked, "or is it all for Sean and his gir...I mean friend?"

"Patrick, please don't start this again. I'm not in the mood for it," his mother said, then hit the garage door remote, closing the door in his face.

Patrick fumed for a few moments, then went back to shooting hoops, pretending the hoop was Sean's face and each basket was a direct hit to his nose.

"I remember when the two of us used to play one-on-one out there," Sean lamented, "we got that backboard for Christmas the year I turned nine, I think..."

"Yes, I remember. I also remember one of you boys putting a dent in my car with a basketball," she chuckled.

"Yeah, know...accidents happen," Sean said grinning, not ready to confess, but not blaming his brother either.

"Seems like a long time ago," his mother said sighing, "you boys are growing up so fast, and I fear that this time you're missing out on as brothers right now will affect you the rest of your lives."

"I know, I feel that way too," Sean said looking sad, "and if I could figure out how to fix things, I would. I'd give anything to have my brother back..."

Saturday was warm and sunny, and Tim arrived just after twelve on his bike, a backpack strapped to his back containing his change of clothes and other necessities for the sleepover.

Sean greeted him in the driveway and punched in the code on the keypad to open the garage door so Tim could park his bike inside. After closing the garage door, Sean led Tim into the short hallway off the mudroom and into the kitchen, where Patrick was doing some cleaning, under his mother's close supervision.

"Hey," Tim said to Patrick, just to be polite, then to Sean's mom, "hi, Mrs. Lewis, thanks for having me over."

"You're welcome, Tim. Looks like you boys have some good weather today."

"Yes, ma'am, if Sean wants to, I thought maybe we might ride our bikes to the park and hangout there."

"Hey, that sounds good, but first let's stow your junk and I'll grab my helmet and a hoodie."

Patrick snorted just loud enough to be heard, but didn't speak. If his mom hadn't been there, however, he would have had a few choice words for the two, such as faggot, or pussy.

"Wow, so...your folks are really making Patrick work, huh? I bet he's already thinking up ways to get revenge, even if it isn't your fault," Tim said once they were in Sean's room.

"Unfortunately, you're probably right," Sean said falling down on his bed, "but let's forget him, and just have some fun, okay?"

"Sure, gotta use the can first, though. That bike ride was jiggling my bladder all the way over here," Tim laughed.

"TMI," Sean said, pretending to be offended, "keep your pee problems to yourself. You need Pullups?" he added laughing.

"Ha, good one. You know you're interested," Tim laughed as he went out the door, headed to the bathroom across the hall.

When he returned, he fell down by his friend and laid back, letting out a deep sigh, "Man, we are gonna have so much fun today," he said punching Sean playfully in the kidney.

"Oww, that hurts," Sean said, realizing that Tim's gentle jab felt way more painful than it should.

"Right, like that blow would kill a sickly fly," Tim laughed.

"No, I'm serious. It really hurt, like my kidney was tender or something."

"P-hole didn't punch you there, did he?" Tim asked with concern.

"No, believe it or not, he's never actually physically harmed me. Oh, I mean...besides de-pantsing me he's never actually touched me."

"That jackoid," Tim seethed, "I wish I'd been there, I'd have kicked him in the balls."

Sean laughed, "And then he would have torn you apart limb for limb and left you for the buzzards."

"Nice picture you're painting there," Tim laughed, "come on, let's ride."

Sean forgot about his tender kidney as they rode to the park, and though he felt a little tired and a little sick to his stomach, he decided there was really nothing wrong with him. Probably just tired, he thought, since he hadn't slept all that well the night before.

The two boys did the usual laughing and clowning around, finally sitting on a bench by the park pond and watching the geese and ducks. A few stragglers wandered over to see if the boys had any food for them, but quickly waddled away when they saw there were no handouts to be had today.

" you think P-hole will bug us tonight?" Tim asked with a smirk.

"Nah, he knows better than to mess with me when mom and dad are around, especially since his ass is in hot water already."

"Yeah, but what worries me is: that eventually he's gonna want some revenge. Even if it wasn't your fault. Maybe we should put a hit out on him and take him out for good," Tim teased.

"Hey, he's my bro, no matter how big an ass he is," Sean said in his defense, "can we go on home, suddenly I'm not feeling very good," Sean added, his stomach feeling as if it wanted to give up what little he'd eaten that day.

"Oh, sure, you okay? Should I call your mom to come pick us up?" Tim asked, taking one look at his friend and seeing how pale he looked.

"I...I think I can make it, but I might need to walk my bike instead of ride it..."

"Yeah, sure...I'll walk mine too. Come on, you don't look so hot, are you sure you don't want me to call your mom...?"

"Nah..." Sean began, but suddenly he doubled over and began to puke, causing Tim to jump back so as not to get any on his shoes.

But as soon as the worst of it was over, Tim was right there at Sean's side, smoothing back his hair and offering him support. "You better sit down, Sean. I'm gonna call your mom."

"No..." Sean began, but another wave of nausea hit him then, and he finally decided Tim was right, he did need help.

"Mrs. Lewis," Tim said as soon as he heard her pick up her personal phone, "can you come get us, Sean is sick and I don't think he should be walking or riding his bike. Yeah, we're at the park, we'll meet ya in the parking lot, okay. Yeah, thanks."

"Ugh, I'm sorry," Sean said sitting down once again, "I'm ruining our fun..."

"Don't worry about it. You probably just ate something that upset your stomach. Maybe after you lay down for awhile you'll feel better."

"I hope so," Sean said, but deep inside he was worried. First the pain in his kidney, his one kidney, and now the fatigue and the vomiting. He'd known for a long time that he only had one kidney, but his mom and the doctor had assured him that one was enough, however, that they did need to do routine monitoring to make sure it was functioning properly. He'd looked his condition up on the internet and learned that about one out of every one thousand babies were born with only one functioning kidney, but that most lived a full and healthy life despite that.

He'd never told any of his friends about his condition, because, after all, it wasn't a big deal. He felt fine, and everything worked like it was supposed to, so why label himself as different in that way? Not even Tim knew Sean only had one kidney, but he had a feeling he was about to find out.

Mrs. Lewis arrived within five minutes and Sean wondered if she'd been speeding all the way there. It wasn't like his mother to break the law, but when it came to her boys' safety and health, he figured anything was possible.

As soon as she had the SUV in park, she hopped out and hurried to her son's side, took one look at him, and though she was terrified, she tried to keep calm.

"Why don't you sit up front, honey?" she said putting an arm around her son.

Sean just nodded, "Can you get the bikes in the back, Tim?"

"I'll help him," Mrs. Lewis said after helping her son buckle up in the front seat.

Minutes later, the bikes stowed in back, they started off to the Lewis' house to further assess the situation. Mr. Lewis was waiting in the garage, and Tim frowned. Why was everyone so worried? he wondered, surely Sean isn't that sick. Surely it's just an upset stomach, or maybe one of those bugs that was going around. To see Mr. Lewis looking so anxious and worried though made Tim think there might be something more to Sean's sudden illness that he wasn't aware of, and of course he was right.

"I called the hospital, they said to bring him in immediately," Mr. Lewis said through the open window on the driver's side, "Tim, buddy, you can stay here with me while Sean and his mom go see the doctor."

"But, what's wrong with him?" Tim almost whined as he climbed out of the SUV, feeling a little sick himself now, but not from any physical affliction.

"We'll talk inside, okay, buddy," Mr. Lewis said, trying to smile and failing badly.

"Oh, okay," Tim said looking near tears, then going up to Sean's window he waited for him to roll it down, then reached inside to pat his friend gently, "I hope you're gonna be okay," he said wiping at his eyes, "see ya in a little while."

"I'll be fine," Sean said leaning back in the seat, looking exhausted and ready to pass out, "see ya later," he managed to get out.

"Come on, Tim," Mr. Lewis said slipping an arm around the boy's slender shoulders, "Dear, call me as soon as you get there," he said to his wife.

Mrs. Lewis nodded and blew him a kiss, then began backing out of the garage. Mr. Lewis and Tim watched till she disappeared up the street, then Mr. Lewis closed the garage door and led Tim inside.

Patrick was getting something out of the refrigerator when they entered the kitchen and he looked up to see the two and frowned, "Where's your boyfriend?" he sniggered.

"Patrick!!" Mr. Lewis said angrily, "for your information, your brother is on the way to the hospital."

"What, what happened?" Patrick said, actually sounding concerned for once about his brother's well being.

"Come in the living room with us, and I'll tell both of you at the same time," Mr. Lewis said softening some.

Patrick put back the can of soda he had pulled out and solemnly followed his father and Tim to the living room where he and the younger boy sat on the couch, while Mr. Lewis took a seat in his recliner.

"When Sean was born he was born with only one kidney," Mr. Lewis began, "something like one in one thousand babies are born with only one, or at least only one functioning kidney, and go to live a healthy and full life. However, it's important to have frequent checkups to make sure the kidney is functioning properly and that there are no problems."

"Wait, brother only has one kidney?" Patrick said looking confused, "so does that mean he doesn't pee as much or something?"

His dad sighed, "Urine, or pee, as you call it, comes from the bladder, however, the kidneys do filter the blood and produce the urine. The kidneys also help control blood pressure and levels of other substances in the body. Without these functions a person cannot live."

"Sean's not...umm, gonna die is he?" Tim said looking stricken.

"No, of course not. Even if his kidney failed completely, there is dialysis, which is a process of filtering the blood, and of course a healthy kidney from a donor could be transplanted into his body. The success rate for kidney transplants is very good, and most recipients go on to live a full life."

"So, Sean might need to have a transplant?" Tim asked looking worried.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This may just be a kidney infection or something else entirely. I'm sorry if I frightened you, but I'm a little shook up myself. No matter how careful we have been, how many times we've taken him for testing, we still worry that something will go wrong."

Mr. Lewis was trembling now and Tim felt sorry for him. He was a man, and he was supposed to be strong, and there was no one there to comfort him right now. Tim needed comforting too, but he knew he wasn't going to get it from Patrick, and Mr. Lewis was barely hanging on by a thread as it was.

"Can I go to my room?" Patrick said then. Besides the one question earlier, for a change he'd remained quiet and seemed to be deep in thought.

"What? Oh, yes," Mr. Lewis said, "I'll let you know when I hear anything."

Patrick nodded, and after giving Tim a nod he left the room.

"I wonder if he even cares," Tim muttered, causing Mr. Lewis to look up.

"I understand why you'd say that, but I think deep down inside Patrick loves Sean almost as much as we do. The news seemed to hit him hard. I haven't seen him that quiet or that introspective for a while now. Usually he's surly, and loud, and hateful."

"When will you know something?" Tim asked, changing the subject.

"Soon, I hope. Do you want to stay? If not, I can drive you home."

"My bike is in the SUV," Tim explained, "but I want to stay anyway. If Sean needs me to help him after he gets home, I'll be here for him."

Mr. Lewis smiled, "You're a good friend, Tim. Thank you for that."

"I should call my mom though," Tim said, "I'm gonna go up to Sean's room if that's okay."

"Of course, make yourself at home," Mr. Lewis said smiling, "I'll come find you when I know something more."

Tim made the call and his mom was almost as upset as he had been. However, she had known about Sean's medical condition for quite some time as Mrs. Lewis thought it was necessary for her to know in case Sean ever showed signs of kidney problems at their house.

"Our prayers are with him, son. Do you want me to come get you, or do you want to stay?"

"Stay, mom. Sean will need me if...umm, when he comes home."

"All right, dear, call me when you know more. Love you, honey," she said choking back the tears. She couldn't help but think about how she'd feel if it was Tim who was sick, not that she didn't feel for Sean as well, for he was like a second son to her.

Tim fell down on Sean's bed then and began to cry softly. Why hadn't Sean told him that he was sick, that he only had one kidney? Was he ashamed, or worried that he would think he was weird or treat him differently? No, that was silly, they'd shared too much to keep secrets like that. It had to be because Sean didn't think it was important, that it was just how things were, and no big deal. Yeah, that had to be it.

A knock on the door brought Tim up and wiping at his eyes, but fortunately it was Sean's dad, and not Patrick.

"Tim, Sean's mom called, they're at the hospital and Sean is undergoing some tests right now. We should know something in a hour or so. Are you hungry, buddy? I could fix us a sandwich or order some takeout."

"I'm...I'm fine," Tim said sniffing back a few more tears, "is it okay if I take a nap?"

"Of course, buddy. Do you want me to wake you when I know something more?"

"Yes, please," Tim insisted, "I'm just really tired."

Mr. Lewis nodded and closed the door before going off to Patrick's room to deliver the news to him as well. As expected, Patrick was sitting in front of his TV playing some mindless video game and he barely looked up when his dad knocked on the open door. Finally, pausing the game, he laid the controller down and looked up questioningly at his father.

"Sean is having some tests run and we'll know more later. Tim is resting."

"Okay," the boy said shrugging, "when will you know if he's gonna be okay?"

"I already know he's gonna be okay, it's just a question of what we need to do to make that happen."

"So, he can't die from this...?"

"I won't kid you, it could be serious, but with proper medical care, there's no reason to assume that your brother can't live a fairly normal and productive life."

"Okay," the boy said looking down at his slightly trembling hands, "let me know, okay?"

"All right," Mr. Lewis sighed, "I'll be downstairs waiting for your mother to call."

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