When Shadows Pass

by Sean English

Chapter 32

All Roads Lead To the Future (Part I)

As they turned from the main road, their van entered a lane that progressed down by the side of an older, red-bricked church. The building was not overly large, but it and its grounds had been reasonably maintained, refreshed at least in the last decade or so. Jason stared out the window as he sat behind their driver, guiding him once they arrived in familiar territory. As they moved closer to the church, he observed it with a level of anxiety. He knew this place, and he knew it all too well.

Although it had not been a long road trip, as hinted earlier that week the Flavells and Jason had been driving for at least a couple of hours, having to navigate unexpected heavy traffic along their way. Simon and Mr. Kline chatted amicably in the front seats, while the boys and Natalie watched the scenery go by. They chatted amongst themselves, as the two brothers were keen on observing the countryside, and making occasional comments in that regard. Jason was preoccupied, however, and only offered comments whenever they asked him for specifics. Both boys recognized something was amiss, however, and recalled the conversation their father had with them when they first arrived. Both understood it was not a time to press anything, as they knew Jason's silence was born of thoughts wandering amongst memories that were both pleasant ... and not.

Near the end of the lane, the vehicle slowed and pulled onto the grounds of a small cemetery. As he looked about, a rush of recollections descended on Jason all at once. While the doors of the van opened, he sat frozen, suddenly unsure of himself, or why they had come here. There was a vast feeling of dread now, and it confused him. In the eerie silence, a quiet gripped the group. The air had a fresh overture about it, and the early spring brought beginnings of new life with wildlife, flowers, and more.

As Jason looked out, there suddenly was a feeling of peace that came over him, which calmed him considerably. He suddenly remembered that this is what he had wanted, had hoped, to do. He had thought about it long and hard for months now, but never really believing it could happen. Then he and Elliot had walked through the front door of the flat one afternoon, and hearing of the trip and where they were going, his heart had skipped a beat in anticipation. Now that he was here, it all came back to him. Though the land was alien to him, there was also a familiarity. He glanced at the different tombstones that scattered the field, and in the peace, he felt a sense of finality here.

Still, he did not move, and it was Natalie who noticed first. She saw the change in his composure, and the distant look of uneasiness that fell upon her nephew. She sensed his fear, and wondered if Jason had ever experienced this part of life very often. People lived and died daily - it was the cycle of life, one which would last for eternity. As she walked around to his side of the van, she thought perhaps Jason had been sheltered at some point, as most young people are. Stepping up to open his door, she approached him carefully before gently reaching in and, encouraging him with a smile, slowly tugged on his elbow. Jason turned and observed her blankly, before finally nodding and climbing out from his seat. He briefly closed his eyes to steel himself just then, before gazing upon the woman in a new light. Natalie understood, or could at least feel, his uncertainty and anguish. The people who had taken over Jason's life, at the most inopportune of times, had never let the youth have this moment properly. She glanced at the others. Nothing was said, as the rest of the group gave Jason a moment of peace to strengthen himself. It was a big step finding the finality and facing it. It was not to be rushed.

Elliot walked up quietly to Jason's side. He was unfamiliar with how something, so close and personal like this, could affect someone. He watched Jason's countenance change to something he had never observed. Elliot felt helpless, and a quick glance as his own brother told him Derek was also at a loss. Together, they glanced about the cemetery, and the multitude of headstones and markers that were scattered about. Exactly where they would go, no one was sure.

Jason, however, already knew the answer. He slowly began walking, heading towards the far corner of the yard. Each step seemed heavy, and forced with a sense of foreboding. Deep inside, however, he found a courage as he walked, along with a sudden desire returning to him. Without preamble, the others followed close behind, crossing the rows and open space until, finally, they arrived before a granite stone. The monument, surprisingly, was not as bare and simple as many others were around the cemetery. Instead its slab was smooth and wide, and it clearly displayed the names of two people on one face, along with their dates of life fully intact. Between them, nestled in the middle of the ornate display, was also a photograph, clearly displaying the two as they were at one time in life. Jason stared at that picture and the writings, seeing it as something that would never be altered or changed again. It was writing that represented two people, whose picture he undeniably recognized.

His parents.

As Jason gazed, he slowly fell to his knees before the grave. At first, he was without emotion, but in time it slowly came. All the grief and anguish that he did not know he sheltered, slowly began to surge up. His last visit here had been at a time of confusion, and at a time of inevitability that he hadn't been able to comprehend. His thoughts since losing his father that day, with utter finality, as he was lowered into the dirt, were that he would never get to come here, ever again. Yet, here he was. Instead, now he knelt before their grave, and suddenly it all came out. He cried quietly at first, without really knowing or understanding why. He missed them, missed their lives touching and holding onto him from the inside. He missed what he knew he could never have anymore - a chance to tell them how much he still loved them.

Elliot knelt by his side and tentatively embraced him with a comforting arm around the shoulders. The youngest of the Flavells felt both the sorrow and rage as it came loose. No one moved, no one said a word as they watched with sadness, and listened to the quiet sobs that broke the stillness. Simon had stepped up closer and looked upon the site as well, shedding a few tears of his own, as memories fleeted in and out of a time long, long ago. He paid his respects, recognizing he now stood in the presence of what had once been his half-brother. Although far removed in distance and family, Simon still had a place for the man in his heart, just as it had been in his own youth. After a moment, Simon's gaze moved to Jason. He wished he could comfort the teen in some way, but at the same time he knew this had to happen. His nephew had never had that chance to grieve properly, even with this simple gesture of respect.

It was Derek who finally broke the spell, moving up and kneeling on the other side of Jason. He added his own arms of support around Jason, embracing him from behind. Both brothers listened to the quiet anguish for another moment, but then noticed their cousin quietly pulling himself together again. When Jason finally looked up, he put his own arms around each of the brothers and pulled them close, hugging them tightly. "I'm okay guys," he quietly choked out, smiling through his tears. After a moment, he let go and rose to his feet. Seeing Simon behind him, he turned and threaded his arms around the man. "Thanks, Uncle Simon. Thanks for bringing me here," Jason said simply, hugging the man closely. When they parted, the youth wiped at his eyes and then took Simon by the arm, before pulling the man up closer to the stone. "That's your brother, Uncle Simon. That's what he looked like, and that's my mom, too. Those are my parents."

Simon smiled, and although he also composed himself, his voice was still thick with emotion. "Looks like they at least took care of him here, didn't they?" Reaching out, his fingers touched upon the encased picture, wishing for a moment he could have had a picture such as this, to keep for himself. He was surprised at the likeness he had with the man depicted there. Long gone were the memories of a brother he had shied away from, avoided for fear of annoyance or worse. Up until this moment, only shadows and reflections had existed. Now, with a smile, he could see the resemblances his father had passed on to them both. Their likeness was inherited from a thread of generations before them, and it showed.

While both were lost in their thoughts, Natalie suddenly appeared at their side, moving around the group while carrying a bouquet of flowers. They each stepped back, permitting her room as she knelt, and with Mr. Kline's help, she arranged and attached the spread in and around the headstone. The arrangement was beautiful, full of color and life. Lastly, she extracted her cell phone and took a few pictures of the site, creating a memory for all of them to have and preserve. Stepping back, she made one last attempt to observe her work before setting her sights on Jason. The teenager was still smiling, but now the tears were gone, and there was an expression of peace about him. Walking up to him, Natalie embraced him. "I'm very proud of you, you know that?" She hugged him quickly, then stepped back, taking his picture again with the headstone beside him.

Slowly, the group headed back, one-by-one, toward the van. Simon clapped Jason on his shoulder. "I am certain of one thing, Jason. I am certain your father was looking down upon you, as was your mother, this very moment, with a great deal of pride. And I am certain they saw the fine young man you have turned out to be. Never forget that, hmm?"

"I won't, uncle Simon. I promise," Jason whispered back.

As they drove away, Mr. Kline turned and asked Jason if he would come forward between the seats. "Now, son, if I can get you in the right area, do you think you can find your way out to where you used to live?"

Surprised, Jason perked up. "Uh, sure. In fact, it's not that far from here at all. Down here, in front of the church, just make a right back onto the highway, and then go till you get to the stop sign."

Their driver nodded and obeyed as instructed. Jason guided the man a short distance, until they turned onto an older road. Following it along for about a mile, Jason pointed ahead. "There it is, on the right. That's it."

Mr. Kline turned onto the gravel driveway of what appeared to be a nice, ranch-styled brick home. The yard, the trees, the front porch - everything in view brought back stark memories for Jason, which suddenly made him smile widely. He saw the porch, and although the rocking chair was now gone, the swing he had so many times seen his father using, was still attached and moving freely in the breeze. The house number, the shutters, even the mailbox were unchanged, he noted. It looked almost the same to him, almost as if he could alight from the bus, and be home yet again.

Once they turned in, the van stopped, and its motor went quiet. The area around the yard and fields were quiet, with the only sign that the residence was occupied being a black, SUV in the open carport ahead. When they opened their doors, Jason alighted with the rest of the group before walking into the yard mesmerized. Elliot and Derek had started to follow him, but Simon quickly reached out and held them back. "What say we give him a moment, okay boys?" the man explained softly. They each watched as Jason slowly approached the porch and climbed the steps. He briefly hesitated at the top, looking about its length, before slowly crossing over and sitting down on the porch swing. They all observed a strange expression cross his face, one of wonder, but also mixed with curiosity. What was going through his mind, no one could be sure, but its very nature did not seem unpleasant.

Elliot looked about and thought, for a moment, he could envision this as being the place his cousin grew up. The surroundings were simple, but at the same time open and inviting. He could not help but marvel at how different it was compared to the compressed, city-styled life they now lived. Glancing at Derek, he saw his older brother was, too, looking about, taking in the surroundings. When their eyes met, there was an understanding between them, that they were both thinking identically. It gave them both a new perspective, to understand who their cousin and brother-to-be was, and how the simpler country-style living had shaped his personality.

The rest of the family finally exited the van and approached, following Jason's trail across the yard. Before Simon, who was in the lead, reached the steps, however, the front door of the house opened, and a tall, lean black man made his way outside. For a moment, Jason was suddenly nervous, realizing the group had just invaded this man's privacy. However, he was surprised when the man smiled and spoke softly. "I take it you are the Flavells?"

Simon grinned and extended his hand. "We are. I'm Simon. I take it your Mr. Cayman?" It dawned on Jason then, as he watched the exchange, this visit had been pre-planned for him on purpose. "How do you do, sir?" Simon continued. "This is my family: my wife Natalie, my two sons, and our new charge over there," Simon indicated. "This is Jason, Jason Mathews."

"Oh yes, I've heard about you, young sir," Mr. Cayman replied again softly, crossing the porch and extending his hand to Jason. "Quite a bit, indeed."

"You- You have?" Jason asked, as he grasped the large, oversized hand to shake it.

"Sure have! I spoke yesterday at length, to a feller, I think his name was Moore? Was wondering if it was old Judge Moore, from over near Crossville?" The latter he asked while addressing Simon, who nodded. The man turned back to Jason. "Yeah, he told me quite a story of things, said you used to live here before we bought the place. Is that right?"

"Y-yes, sir," Jason answered, swallowing nervously.

Mr. Cayman noted the questioning expression, then laughed lightly. "Now, you don't need to be worried, young'en. Ain't nothing wrong here. Fella asked if it would be alright, is all. Wanted to know if you could come by for a moment and see the place. I had already told them other folk it would be fine, but seemed he wanted to tell me you all was thinking of coming out here today." Mr. Cayman stepped back, but then lowered his voice. "Sorry about your Pa, young sir. I guess it made a surprise twist in your life, didn't it?"

Jason nodded, but Simon stepped up closer and took over. "To be honest, Mr. Cayman, when it all fell apart, Jason never got to come back to this place. We didn't want to intrude upon you, really, no more than just to let him come by for a minute."

The man waved Simon off. "Oh, it's no trouble, no trouble at all. I can understand what that might do to a person, too. Growing up, I had a lot of family, uncles who took me in back then when things got rough. We didn't lose everything, but then again, we didn't rightly have much to lose, either. I go by the old homeplace every so often, when I'm in the area, just to glance back. It's a bit nostalgic, I'm sure. In fact, I'm sort of glad you folks did come by. See here, me and the wife, a few weeks ago we was up in the attic, putting some stuff away. She calls out to me when we come across this thing up there, see. It was like a wooden box, but it was located somewhere over our bedroom. It was mounted and everything, too, right into the rafters and framework."

Mr. Cayman suddenly stopped and sneezed, before continuing. "Sorry 'bout that, been dealing with some allergies here lately. Anyway, we couldn't make it out at first, not anything about it at all. I mean, it wasn't that big, but we couldn't move it or anything, and it was in one of those kind of odd places, you know? So, I went downstairs and traced it over into our closet, and then started checking it out and all. Turns out, it wasn't all that easy to see at first - unless you were really looking close-like. I did though, mainly because the ceiling was made different. Like, the boards and all were turned different and everything." Mr. Cayman folded his arms upon his chest before continuing. "Well, then I messed with it a bit, and somehow got a part of it opened. Sitting inside was a simple box, sort of strange, though, definitely different. Here, let me go git it. Maybe the boy can tell us if it belonged to them or not."

With everyone's curiosity piqued, including Jason's, they watched the man disappear inside the house. All stood quietly, secretly excited for Jason while they waited. When Mr. Cayman returned only moments later, he was carrying a wooden unit, slightly larger in size than a shoebox. It's sides and top were polished slick, but one could observe it had aged over the years despite it's solid-looking construction. Only one side seemed to differ from the others, as there appeared to be a combination lock set into what must have been the front. The lock was set with four numbers, now showing four zeros. Mr. Cayman grunted as he handed it over.

"Me and the wife, we tried a few numbers and all, but we could never get the lock to pop up. Figured I would keep at it and eventually find it, but you understand, not to steal anything, just to git it open, see what was in her."

Simon smiled. "We understand, no worries." He turned toward the teenager. "So, Jason, what do you say? Do you recognize it?"

At that moment all eyes turned to the teenager, who stood with his jaw dropped in surprise. Jason was astonished as he stepped forward and, with shaky hands, touched the box. "Y-yeah, this was Dad's. I only saw it a few times, but yeah. I remember asking him about it, but he always told me he'd show it to me some day later."

"Really?" Simon remarked, a slow excitement building in his voice. "Do you, by any chance, know what the combination might have been? Some special number, or...?"

Jason thought about it for a moment. "Dad always told me, on my birthday, to never forget it. The numbers would mean something to me someday." He glanced up at his uncle, and then to Mr. Cayman. The black man grinned and turned the box around to face the teenager. With shaky hands, Jason spun the numbers to read 0-4-1-0. As the last digit fell in place, there was an audible click heard from inside the box. The top flipped open as if spring loaded, surprising them all at its sudden swing upwards. Inside, right on top, was a picture that left no doubt of its ownership. It was Jason's mother and father, presumably, on their wedding day, along with a tiny picture of a baby inserted in the lower corner. Jason gave out an audible cry before slowly lifting the picture out. He stared at it for an infinite amount of time in the silence that followed.

"I take it you know those folks?" Mr. Cayman asked gently.

It was Simon who answered. "It is, quite possibly, the only surviving photograph he has left of his parents."

"Oh, is that right?" the man declared, before a smile spread wide across his face. "Well, then I think we can do a little better than that." The man handed the box off to Simon, and again turned away without another word and headed back into the house. Simon and Jason were both puzzled as they watched him retrace his steps. Looking at the others, Natalie and Derek both were just as perplexed, but also curious, at his actions.

When Mr. Cayman returned, this time a very pretty woman accompanied him onto the porch. He introduced her to the group as his wife, then turned to the two still awaiting him on the porch. In his hands, he held a large manila envelope, which he turned over to Simon. "After we moved in, we found this in the back of one of the cabinets. It looked like someone went through and stuffed all manner of pictures into it, see? Have a look for yourself..."

Simon took the envelope and, with his own surprising cry of happiness, started laughing. He knelt onto the porch and pulled several photos out, spreading them across the concrete. Each photo highlighted the man and woman they now knew to be Simon's brother and wife, as well as Jason when he was younger. Most were in color, but a few black and white stills were mixed within the group as well. There were also newspaper clippings, showing scenes from over the years, some of his mother's obituary, some of Jason as he was noted with his early school classes, and more. As Jason looked down at them, he started crying again, but this time with happy tears. Simon wasn't far behind him. This was the one thing the man had so hoped, beyond belief by now, that the teen would be able to find and appreciate in some manner or fashion. It also gave the man even further insight into what had happened to his brother, since leaving home all those years ago. There were clippings, and notes, that seemed to contain a wealth of information.

Until that moment, Jason never understood why his uncle had made such a fuss in all these months. At least about not any pictures or other memorabilia preserved or passed on. Now he understood - these pictures were his memories, even of ones lost from long ago. They reflected his history, his life with his parents - his heritage. Jason suddenly laughed, as he literally dropped to the concrete and worked his way through them. Natalie looked on, thinking her nephew looked like a little kid, playing with a newfound toy.

His happiness spread to the brothers, who slowly approached him from the ground and laughed, pointing out various things the pictures revealed. There was Jason as a toddler, playing in a kiddie pool with a puppy. Another brought smiles and laughs of him in the middle of the yard, covered from head to toe with nothing but mud. There were birthday pictures, Christmas pictures, and a whole host of school photos – things Jason had totally forgotten about until now. Simon and Natalie were beside themselves. All Simon could do was, eventually, reach out and shake the man's hand a second time, his voice full of emotion as he tried to thank him. "There are no words, Mr. Cayman, none anywhere, that can describe what you've just handed this boy, or to me and my family."

The man stood tall and grinned widely. "Oh, I understand it, believe me. I, too, lost my parents during my teenage years, so I have a little connection with what y'all are feeling. My wife and I are only too happy to oblige you." The woman, standing at his side with a wide smile, expressed her complete agreement. She, too, was misty eyed as she stood and watched them all.

Natalie finally stepped up and offered her own hand to the couple, thanking them profusely. All stood in silence as the boys looked through a few more of the articles contained in the envelope. Jason, however, eventually recognized the silence around them. Looking up, he smiled and stood to his feet, pushing many of the items back inside. It would take them many hours to go through everything - many hours that could and needed to be spent elsewhere, without interfering or imposing upon these people any further. Reluctantly, he gestured to the two brothers, and they helped him collect the few stray pieces together.

Turning to the black man, Jason smiled. "Thank you, sir," he said softly, then gave the couple a brief hug, which they returned warmly. He looked about the place. "Thank you for letting us come out here, too. It means a lot to me."

"Aw, that's fine young man. Is there anything else you want to do while you're here? Do you want to come inside? My wife and I are okay with that, if you do. You won't find too much of a mess, I think. Trish here keeps a mean house, I tell you!" He grinned, then turned thoughtful. "I'm sorry, but our son Tim isn't here. He's about your age, maybe a clip older. Still, I'm sure he wouldn't mind it either, if you wanted to see his room, too. I suspect it may have been your room anyway, at one time or another."

Jason hesitated. "Are you sure, sir? Wouldn't that be, like, asking a lot?"

Mrs. Cayman spoke this time, her voice sweet and tender. "No honey, it isn't asking that much. It would be okay, surely. Mr. Moore told us a little about what happened to you, so I wouldn't be surprised if you wanted to go in. We're sorry we bought this out from under you, you know, but-"

"That part is perfectly fine, folks. And just so you know, there is nothing going to change that. We are not here for any purpose, other than just to give Jason a chance to visit, even if for one last time." Simon smiled at them again. "Really, when Jason was here last, he was rather abruptly swept away. He didn't even know we arranged this little visit for today. We just happened to go down to the cemetery, and then thought we would see if we could come by." He looked at Jason and then put an arm around his shoulder. "He has already said he understands, that this is now your house and yours alone. He doesn't wish to interfere with that at all."

Mr. Cayman sighed and grinned at his wife. "Well, that's a relief then. I wasn't all too sure how that was going to work out, to tell the truth!" He looked at Jason directly, then nodded. "Sure son, it's alright. What the hell, go on inside, look around as you feel the need. We'll just have a little chat out here 'til you're done. Alright?"

Jason hesitated, then started walking to the door. He stopped at the entry, however, and turned to Elliot and Derek. "You guys want to come in with me?" He glanced back to the Mr. and Mrs. Cayman briefly, who also nodded their assent.

Derek, however, shook his head. "Go ahead, I'm fine with staying out here." Elliot, on the other hand, glanced first at his parents and then to the black couple. When the man nodded a second time, he stepped up onto the porch and joined his cousin at the door.

Upon entering, they stood in a comfortable-sized living room. Although the furniture was different, the walls, the shapes and turns had not changed. As Jason made his way opposite to the kitchen, he found the cabinets and basic furniture there were still similar as before. Silently, he observed everything briefly, then moved on, this time heading down a hallway, with Elliot close behind. The floor-plan was not complicated by any means, but Elliot did note how much more spacious everything was to get around in the rooms. He maintained his silence though, as they stopped at the door to the bathroom. Here Elliot got his first glimpse at how different it felt, in style and décor, from those found in Europe. The room, still spacious overall, was much more brightly colored and lit. Jason commented that the walls had been painted a different color, but otherwise there was little change.

After a moment, Jason then led Elliot to the end of the hall, where he pointed through an open doorway on the left. "That was my Dad's room," he stated simply. This time, he stepped just inside the entrance and stopped. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and smiled. "I still smell it, even now. This room always had a kind of woodsy smell, you know? It's still here." Elliot also detected a slight odor as well and smiled in acknowledgement.

Finally, Jason exited and turned to the room on the right. Stepping inside, he stopped abruptly. It was, without question, the room of a young teenager, furnished with various posters and other paraphernalia. "This was my room, Elliot. This is where I grew up." Elliot slipped his hand inside that of his cousin and held it warmly.

Looking around, Elliot could see the area was larger than their room back in Portsmouth. "Kind of nice," he commented, which made Jason turn and smile sheepishly. He then walked over, pulling Elliot along with him, to the closet door. Opening it, he found the backside of the door still held various markings that had been etched into the wood. "This was where we always measured how tall I was getting. And see? Dad would write the date we did it, too!" There were measurements and dates, written with bold penmanship, that stretched a good portion of the height he now had. He ran his fingers over them silently, then sighed, before closing the door back.

Instead of leaving right away, however, Jason walked back to the middle of the room and stopped. He spun around, taking it in one last time, then grasping and gently squeezing Elliot's hand again, he led them out and back down the hallway. "I really don't want to see anymore, bro. I might start crying again, and I think I've done enough of that today."

"I understand, Jase. But you know something? I don't think anyone would care."

Jason stopped in the living room and turned to him. "I know, Elliot." He glanced about again before he continued. "This is something I hope you'll never have to live through, not like I did anyway. Its ... strange being here, but it's special too, you know?" He shook his head and smiled again. "But this is gone now, and that's okay. Because I traded it for something so much better in the end." He leaned in and whispered between them. "I traded it all for you guys, and I couldn't be happier." Elliot closed the distance, and for a moment, they held their foreheads touching one to the other. Jason smiled eventually, then rubbed their noses together as a final gesture.

They returned to the porch and stepped outside, and Jason once again approached the black couple. He extended his hand to the man. "Thank you, thank you both," he said simply. His expression was completely changed now, one filled with happiness and relief.

At that point, Simon cleared his throat. "Are we to keep this box then, Mr. Cayman?"

"Huh? Oh sure, sure. It means nothing to us, we were wondering if we should even take it to one of the real estate people or something. You know, see if they could find the previous owners. Especially if I couldn't get it opened and all, that sort of thing." He addressed Jason. "Young man, you're welcome. If you're ever back in the U.S. again and want to come by, just let us know. Maybe next time we can all share some lemonade and visit a while, too. Our son, Tim, would have loved to meet you, too, I think."

As they all begin to bid their farewells, Jason walked over to Natalie and, unexpectedly, gave her a rather warm embrace. "I'm so happy Aunt Natalie, I'm so happy right now!" he whispered into her ear, and she felt it.

Elliot and Derek both overheard him and grinned. After a few more pleasantries were exchanged, they loaded into the van and all waved goodbye. Mr. Kline then started the engine and backed out of the driveway. Turning on the road toward home, he piped up. "Getting close to lunch time everyone. Any of you Britons like good southern Bar-B-Que? Judge told me of a place not too far from here, if you're game to try it out."

"Sounds good to us," Simon replied, after gathering reassurance from the others. They chatted excitedly about the photos again, this time Natalie opening the envelope, but pulling only a few at a time for all to see.

Once they arrived at the restaurant and ordered food, Simon - who had brought the box inside with them - opened it again, this time to get a better idea of its contents. As he sifted through the various documents, he came across some other, rather interesting pieces. "Jason, did you know anything at all about the contents of this box?"

Jason shrugged. "Not really. Dad had it out a few times, and just told me it contained some of his older papers and stuff. I think he once told me it was stuff, like, from the bank and everything."

"That seems to fit. I mean, here looks like a birth certificate for you, so that's a definite plus. And here…" Simon started reading bits and pieces of another paper. "Here is one, with a firm named Edward Jones. Ring any bells?"

"No sir, sorry," Jason replied.

After reading further, Simon's eyes suddenly opened wide. He glanced up at Natalie and then showed her the paper, pointing at a specific place. "Do I read that right?"

As Natalie looked over the paper, she also looked up in surprise. "My stars!" She glanced at the top of the document. "This statement, why it's almost 10 years old. You don't... Really? Do you think?"

"If Ms. Ross and her people didn't find this, then yes, I do think it's possible. And look, here are more recent statements. I bet this account is still active! Here, this one looks to be the most recent, dated only a year ago February!" He smiled at the teenager across the table. "Jason, it appears your parents may have had an investment account set up some time back, and there's a fairly sizeable amount of funds in it."

"Really?" Jason furrowed his brow in confusion. "I don't understand. I mean, Dad and I didn't go hungry or anything, but... well, we didn't always have a lot of stuff, either."

Simon thought about that for a moment. "You know, my parents were always very conservative while I was young. Perhaps your Dad picked some of that up from our father. I don't know, but there-" Simon stopped as he looked at another page. "There are several things that need looking at here. For example, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst released your Dad with a mention for excellent service. That's very much an honorable discharge, if I'm not mistaken. So, that usually means..." He shook his head, then carefully laid everything back into the box. "This is going to take someone with time to get through and check out, and it doesn't need to be me. Mr. Kline, you can be my witness in this, if you will. When we get back to the hotel, I'll get copies of everything made, and then get hold of Jason's advocate."

Their driver nodded in full understanding. "Sure thing," he responded.

Just then their food arrived, and the discussion went into different directions.

Wednesday afternoon, Simon and Natalie found the boys in one of the game rooms. "Hallo boys, are you all here?"

Derek rounded the corner just then, and grinned as he joined the two younger teens. "What's up, Dad?"

"Well, your mother and I wanted to catch Jason here and ask him something." Getting the teenager's attention, Simon continued. "As you know, it's our last evening here, and I was curious about something. We've had plenty of good food here, but most of this seems, ah, not so common, if you know what I mean. Did you and your father go out to eat much, and if so, where were some of the places that reflected more of your homestyle food?"

Jason thought only for a few seconds. "That one's easy. Cracker Barrel."

"Huh?" Natalie asked in confusion, which made Jason laugh as he saw their expressions.

"There is a restaurant chain, called Cracker Barrel. It's like an old country store, but it has a restaurant inside of it. Dad always loved to eat there. They had all kinds of, like, home cooked foods and everything."

Simon looked down at him thoughtfully. "Are you sure of the name?" When Jason nodded, he wondered aloud. "I'm curious if there is any that might be nearby here."

Jason was already ahead of him. "Yeah, they're all over the place. Let's ask someone, I bet they can tell us." Without waiting for an answer, he saw a lady in a hotel uniform walking nearby. When he called out to her, they saw it was none other than Denise, the same lady whom they met while checking in.

"Well, hello to all of you! You're the folks from England, right?" They shook hands with her, and then Jason asked about the area.

"My family was wondering, like, you guys do really good here and everything, but they heard about Cracker Barrel. Is there one anywhere close by?"

Denise smiled. "Believe me, I understand what it's like to want some home cooked food every now and then." She stood taller. "I can do better than that. We have a shuttle that goes out to the Villas across the way, about a mile or so. There happens to be a Cracker Barrel located right there. You could easily get a lift, and then just call the front desk when you're done. They'll send a shuttle back for you within, oh, about 15 minutes or so. Couldn't be simpler, really!"

Simon and the boys beamed, as Natalie spoke up. "We would really appreciate that! How do we go about the arrangements, if I might ask?"

Within an hour, the family was sitting at a round table near the front of a large dining area. Most of the tables in the restaurant were already filled, and a line had formed for others only then entering the restaurant. Nearby, a large fireplace caught Simon's eye. "My Lord! That thing is huge!" he remarked, causing a few nearby patrons to look up and smile. A wide variety of aged memorabilia hung from both the ceilings and walls around the room, truly giving the place a sense of old-fashioned history unto itself.

With Jason's help, the family ordered dinner plates of all varieties from the menu, marveling at the homely preparations, but finding tasteful dishes to their liking. Dessert was not skipped either, and when they had finished, more than one set of eyes began looking weary for the early evening hour. When Simon received the bill, he scratched his head. "Is this correct? Somehow, I figured it would be, well, much more."

On Wednesday evening, both Elliot and Jason arrived back at their rooms exhausted. They had been trying to get a bit of final sightseeing in before the day was out, knowing the family would be heading back the next day. They were beginning to get weary of the trip overall, and the longing for home was becoming more tangible by that time. The week had been adventurous for the entire group, with new friendships established, and new experiences to boot. Simon even remarked how surprised he was to find as many things to do in a hotel, of all places.

After their return from the restaurant, Derek announced he had met up and made friends with some other teens, and was going to hang out with them for a while. Simon and Natalie elected to go for a stroll through the hotel courtyards one last time, a different experience in the evening hours as the soft lights and glass lamps used throughout the complex provided a totally different experience which they enjoyed.

Initially, Elliot and Jason had planned to just pull up a movie for the night, but Jason suddenly had another idea. Pulling his shirt off, he walked into the bathroom and started running a tub of warm water. Upon returning to their bedroom, he saw the look of curiosity on Elliot's face. Shrugging, he explained. "I kind of figure I may not get to have a bath again for a while, you know? They're kind of nice sometimes, compared to showers and everything." Elliot nodded, and then returned to watching a movie he had found. Jason withdrew a pair of briefs from his bag and then disappeared again.

Sometime later, Elliot wandered into the bathroom and saw his cousin stretched out, swallowed in a tub full of suds and dozing. Elliot quietly walked over to the toilet and relieved himself, before flushing and rinsing his hands. As he started back out of the room, he suddenly stopped and turned before sitting on the floor, beside the tub. With arms crossed, and propped up on the tub's side, he set his chin as he peered on, observing the peaceful expression on Jason's face for several minutes. "Comfy?" he finally spoke, keeping his voice soft, in case his cousin actually was asleep.

"Oh yeah," was the soft reply that returned to him, almost immediately. "Like I said, it's kind of nice sometimes, to do something different. I don't mind showers, just, you know what I mean..." After a moment, he opened his eyes to observe Elliot's expression. "You know, you can get in with me if you want to."

Elliot thought about it for a few seconds. "You sure?" he timidly asked, but upon seeing Jason nod, he stood up. Quickly stripping himself naked, he then tentatively set one foot inside the tub beside his cousin. "Sheesh, that's almost too hot!" he yelped, but he made no move to withdraw. "Okay, okay, maybe it's not that bad after all," he relented, once he gave his foot a few seconds to adjust. He then slowly stepped in fully, bringing his other foot inside before tenderly setting it down. Once established, he hesitated while facing Jason, unsure how he should proceed.

Jason saved him, however, by reaching out and gently guiding the youth to turn around and face away. Pulling him down, he had Elliot sit into his lap, between his legs as he scooted down to the bottom of the tub. Elliot ended up leaning back, resting in the warm water, using his cousin's knees to help guide and situate himself into a more comfortable position. The excess water approached the rim of the tub, but soon drained appropriately so as not to overrun it. Although he had to adjust at first, Elliot found he could almost stretch his legs forward all the way, given the ample size of the tub.

It was different, in so many ways that Elliot had forgotten. As he lay back against his cousin's chest, Jason wrapped both of his arms around his cousin. The water crept within inches of their necks, and they had to blow some of the suds away to keep from swirling too close. In that moment, however, Jason had a feeling come over him, one of peace and tranquility. Underneath the surface, he rubbed Elliot's arms and sides while cuddling him close, occasionally stretching further to rub his stomach, and then further down into his groin. When he grasped hold of Elliot's willy, Elliot started, but then grinned before thrusting himself up to meet the hand reaching for him. Elliot closed his eyes momentarily, the combination of the warm water and being held so tenderly calming him. "I see what you mean. This really IS nice."

"Yeah," Jason replied softly. "It's even nicer that I get to hold you so close, like you're a part of me."

Elliot turned so he could look into Jason's eyes. "I am a part of you, just as much as you are a part of me." He shifted to one side slightly, laying his head back again, but this time into his cousin's shoulder. "I know what you mean, though. That day, when I held you in here, to get you warmed up? It was really awesome holding you, too."

Jason stared at the youth for a moment. Several thoughts went through his head just then, but none more important than how blessed he felt at that moment. He was blessed to be holding his cousin, as close and intimately as he was now, and he knew it. He was blessed just to be back in America, his home country where he was born and grew up. Even more so, he was blessed at getting to see things he was sure he would never get to see again, like his old home, and his parents' grave. He recalled how happy he felt when they found the photos, and more. None, however, matched his feeling of awe and wonder when he discovered that, after all that had ended so horribly, the whole tale was now out in the open. It might not be quite everything, but he hoped it was enough, and that the authorities would be able to stop it from happening again to someone else.

In this moment, though, his thoughts returned to Elliot. He leaned in and kissed the teen on the scruff of his neck, then held him tightly. Elliot moved his own arms up to rest onto the ones clinging to him. After a moment though, he pushed them down and sat up, rolling over onto his stomach and stretching back out. This was, without question, his best friend and his brother, as he lay on top of him. At no other point, in their time together, had he ever felt as close to him as he did right now. Perhaps it was because of a last night rite, within this strange land, or maybe because of the events of the day. He didn't care; Elliot just knew he had never seen Jason as happy as he now seemed.

And that made Elliot feel awesome inside, too. "I love you, bro," he whispered.

The tub was large enough that both boys could fit inside easily. Nevertheless, Elliot parked his knees between Jason's spread legs and pushed himself up onto his cousin's torso. Once there, they both lay face to face, staring into each other's eyes. Elliot could feel the bond between them in that moment, too. So deeply interlaced as they were to each other, they could each feel the moment and the love they shared. That was when Elliot leaned in slowly and kissed Jason softly.

Jason met him halfway, and hungrily parted his lips to meet Elliot's in kind. They both absorbed each other for minutes, locked in a battle of tongues and love, seeking each other out. It had been some time since they had met like this, and Jason longed for it like no other they had experienced together. Elliot, too, exercised a tenderness in their exploration, but with an eager fervor of want and need. This was the thing they both knew they had, for each other, that no one else could touch. It had been a cornerstone of their relationship since that first night when they gave in to each other. It was a night that the barriers had fallen, and each had freed himself to live in a way that shared their fears, their desires, and their love. In their own way, they knew they had shared a part of themselves with their friends Scott and Ron, and there was no shame or hesitation in it. But here, this part they shared now was only with each other, like a sealed pact. It brought them comfort on an entirely different level.

They separated to catch their breath at one point, and Jason whispered into Elliot's ear as he clung closely. "I love you, too, you know. Now, more than I have ever loved you before. You're the best friend, the best brother I could ever hope to have in my life."

"Me, too," Elliot replied, softly, his voice betraying the emotion he, too, was feeling. He lay his head down upon Jason's chest. "I'm so thankful you're mine, bro, and that I'm yours."

Jason hung onto the boy tightly, but also began moving his hand up and down Elliot's back and sides. From the shoulder blades to the top of his butt cheeks, he pulled and pushed, thrusting himself up and into Elliot so that they were touched in every possible way. They both had very hard erections, sandwiched between them, that were grinding and moving with the friction of their movements with each other. Jason whimpered at times, not getting enough, or at least as much as he wanted. That in turn caused Elliot to respond with an equal craving, and with a whimpering of his own. There was a heated passion this time, something unlike they had experienced before, and both were indulging it with a grace and desire.

Slowly Jason lay back and tried to calm down. Elliot, feeling the change in intensity, raised his head to observe his cousin. Their feelings were mutual, and in the dim quietness, their passion was locked. Jason had his legs encircled around the youth, rocking slowly, but methodically, into him. He stopped only for a few seconds when he moved one foot to the drain control. There he tripped it, and the water began to slowly recede and dissipate, eventually leaving them atop each other in an empty, soapy tub.

Neither said a word as they lay there, smiling and dreaming about the other in their arms. Elliot was the first to eventually move, rising and pulling his friend with him. The teen locked Jason in another full-bodied embrace, and once again they found themselves sharing that special moment with even more kisses. All the while, each grabbed the other from behind, grinding him completely. They forcefully found their desires never-ending, as they renewed their passion again. Jason tried, with all his might, to push his tongue as far as it would go inside of Elliot. His cousin did his best to swallow and suck on it gently. They cocked their heads at opposite angles, and then locked their lips as far apart as they could. They each wanted to explore without hurting the other, and each found the effort very rewarding. Neither felt they could get enough though, as they played and suckled the other inside. Elliot, harder than he had been in a long time, ground himself constantly into his cousin's pelvis. Here it was his turn to whimper, and Jason knew then that, this moment, was going to be it. He was totally free with the idea, with no inhibitions or cares in the world anymore. He loved his cousin, and he wanted Elliot to see it, to feel it... and to know it.

Slowly he stepped out of the tub, dragging Elliot with him. It wasn't the easiest of tasks, with their lips still locked to each other as they gently played. They broke briefly however, as he reached for a towel and half-swatted, half-wiped the few suds that still clung to their bodies. He dropped to his knees, and quickly went down on Elliot, only briefly, giving the hardened rod his best attention. Just as Elliot let out a loud groan, however, Jason pulled off and stood again, kissing yet again in the heat of the moment. With careful guidance, he lead Elliot out into their room and over to their bed. They broke their kiss briefly again, as he pulled the covers back. He then sat down on the edge and brought Elliot in and down on top of him. They kissed again and maintained it for what seemed an eternity. All the while, Jason maneuvered himself underneath his newfound brother. He eventually spread his legs wide and used them to grip the other into a hold that brought him forward, but into a new position of sorts than their usual, sensual play.

It wasn't until this happened that Elliot began to hesitate. He recognized the difference and it caused him to break their kiss. Pulling up, he stared deep into the American's eyes that met his. There was a hunger there, for them both, and they could see it within each other. Elliot understood then, understood what Jason wanted him to do, and his love was bound in that moment. "Are you sure?" he whispered, ever so quietly.

Jason smiled at him, before putting his lips to his cousin's ear. "I've never been more sure of anything, Elliot. I love you, remember?" With a whimper, Elliot adjusted himself only slightly, until he had the head of his penis pointing directly into Jason. Feeling it, his cousin shifted and propped himself backwards even more. His legs rose high around Elliot's waist, where he held them in place. His hips were elevated, rolled back so that his whole area was curled and exposed underneath.

Seeing Elliot hesitate again, Jason wiggled his hips, flirting. He pulled his cousin up closer, fitting himself around Elliot's cock as closely as he could. At first, he was met without any resistance, and he grinned as he looked up into the face of the boy who had saved his life. Elliot had wanted this, and still wanted it, even if for just a little play. He slowly pushed himself up and into the tip of the rosebud, thrusting back and forth in the tiniest of motions, just to gently poke at the doorway. He could feel the excitement and the heat as he teased Jason, but nothing more than that developed right away. Initially he had no intention of going inside, at least no more than just right up to the entrance like he was. He knew it would probably hurt Jason anyway, and that was something Elliot didn't want to do, no matter what his lust or sensuality demanded of him.

Being there, however, at the gate, and feeling the tightness that already met him at the head of his boner, sent feelings that were electrifying to him. He could feel his skin slowly start to slide backwards along the shaft, and the sensitive head that it protected inside began to find a different kind of feeling to engulf it. The sensation sent pulses through him that were far more ecstatic than he had ever anticipated. Before long, he found himself hungrily wanting more. His heart pounded from inside his chest as he lay there, absorbing the ecstasy he was engulfing.

Jason lay with his eyes closed, and though they both moved around physically, he never released Elliot from the grasp of his legs. He was breathing hard, moving in a perfect rhythm with the cousin, meeting the thrusts that poked at him ever so tenderly. He felt the firmness at the door to himself, and he tried as hard as he could to relax. Not because he felt violated, or because he was trying in any way to close himself off. Instead, he wanted to make it as easy as he could for Elliot to go all the way. He really wanted to give Elliot this part of himself. He had never given it up before, though they had talked about it, because he wasn't sure what his true desires were. This was sex, boy sex at that – and in his mind, he was turning a corner here. But Jason wanted to do it. He ached to do it, too. He wanted to give that part of his love and trust to his cousin, and he hoped Elliot would feel it in return.

At times, Jason found himself pushing onto Elliot, and he felt his cousin slip inside just a little further, but then pull back. Although they repeated it time and again, it was a long while they lay there like that, with either Elliot making a fraction of progress, or Jason giving and pushing along on him. With a grunt however, Jason became impatient at Elliot's unwillingness to go further, so at the opportune moment, he pushed forward hard. Elliot slowly, but steadily, inserted more of himself inside. "Ohhh sshhheezzbbboootttt!" Elliot proclaimed, moaning loudly again. He froze, but suddenly had a very happy expression on his face. They had no lotions, no vaseline, nothing between them - only the precum which Elliot leaked profusely. In its own way, it gave more meaning to the hard friction between them. It didn't matter though. As he looked down, Jason met his gaze with a grin and a nod. They were taking their time, and they were gaining ground. Jason didn't experience anywhere the discomfort he had been afraid he would, especially compared to what he remembered happening to him before. He already knew why, though. This time, what he was letting inside of him, was the very part that came from someone he felt so close to. It was the difference of night and day.

It didn't take Elliot long to figure out that, considering what he had planned, that was very different from what was happening now. At one point, he pulled back again and looked questioningly into Jason's gaze that met him. "Yeah, I still love you," Jason whispered again, then thrust himself more firmly, ever further onto his friend. Elliot closed his eyes, as he realized he was almost all the way there.

"I know you love me. And I love you, too. That's why... that's why I'm willing ... to... yeah." Elliot opened his eyes and smiled. "It's, like, really, really tight now, and ... and warm, almost hot. It's ... I can't describe it." He kissed his friend. "I love you too, so much Jase..."

"I know," Jason whispered before closing his eyes again and moving with the rhythm between them. It had taken several minutes to get this far, but all of a sudden, he relaxed and felt Elliot make another significant advance. This time, he could feel Elliot's testicles against his butt. He moaned softly, knowing Elliot was there now, all the way inside of him. However, it had caused the Elliot to suddenly stop. Jason opened his eyes to see the unspoken question again. "Don't stop. I'm okay, honest," he whispered.

"Does it hurt?" Elliot asked.

"Yeah, some, but it's not really that bad. Not like I was afraid it might," he confessed.

"I don't want to hurt you, Jase," Elliot almost cried in defeat.

"You're not, bro, honest." He closed his eyes and sighed. "It's a good kind of thing, I swear. I can feel you, I can feel you inside. I feel your skin when it slides a little, I feel your... your tip, you know, the head of your dick, when it gets in deep. It's like, you're touching something almost, and it makes it itch a little inside and all, like, I want you to go even further, you know? If that makes any sense, I mean. And it's... and it's... I don't know, I'm like you, it's special. It feels awesome." He opened his eyes. "It's like, yeah, now you're really a part of me, all the way inside, you know? It's not even like it's sex, it's ... more. It's like, there's no other way now you can be inside, be a part of me any more than you are now. And that feels... it feels so fucking awesome to me."

"It is special, Jase. It's supposed to be special. If it was just sex, then you know, why bother." He leaned in close. "But it's not, not with us, not with me." He kissed the boy again, and Jason drove it home just then by thrusting himself onward the rest of the way. He was receiving all of Elliot then, and could feel his pubic hairs tickling him. He held Elliot in his arms now, and all the while he kissed him deeply again. There was no way now either could have made it feel more complete.

Elliot let himself lay there momentarily while Jason plunged deep. Eventually he felt a little friction and motion begin, and slowly, he then started to wiggle about, too. At one point, Jason broke the kiss long enough to whisper. "Now, bro, you're inside. I'm all yours, don't stop. Do it. Fuck me, make love to me. I want to feel you, and I want you to feel me, so do it… fuck me, honest… just do it…" He then went back to kissing again, long and hard.

With a feeling of elation inside of him, Elliot gave in to the natural urges his body was screaming for. He slowly started to thrust himself in and out, first in very small strokes, but eventually he was moving a half-inch, then an inch and more. Jason finally broke their kiss and threw his head back into the covers, allowing Elliot to straighten into a more dominating, but comfortable position. Jason grabbed his own legs and held them high and back towards his own chest. To him, it was like getting a massage, in an area that would never get such a treatment otherwise. He pushed occasionally, still looking for that part of him inside which Elliot had touched. It made an electrified impulse surge through him, more intense than the first time he had cummed in Elliot's mouth. It was a massage accented by the naughtiness of Elliot sharing it with him, but also the completeness no one else had dared tried to give him. He could feel Elliot's testicles slapping his butt with each thrust. He could even feel his cousin's bush, as it tickled the crowns of his cheeks more profoundly than before. He met each thrust in succession, feeling Elliot all the same in ways he never had felt before. This is what he wanted Elliot to feel, to know how much Jason wanted to give it to him. This, he felt, was what had let him express his willingness to Elliot. When he had been raped, there was no such feeling of want, no caring. It had hurt like hell, with so much pain while he was being split wide, all at once. He had almost vomited over the stench and violation of being assaulted. He had felt used and killed, left for dead, with the sound of laughter echoing forever in his thoughts.

This, however, was everything the opposite of that experience, and as he moaned softly, he could feel Elliot building himself up, getting ready to let go and spooge him inside. This was so much different. So much better... and so right. He wanted this. "Don't hold back, Elliot," Jason whispered. "Let it come, all the way, inside."

And that was exactly what Elliot did. With a final push, perhaps harder than he really intended, Elliot buried himself deeply inside, between the legs of his cousin as he pushed up hard. He felt his testicles slap up against the warm flesh, and the feeling inside told him he had just stretched and reached the end. Elliot watched Jason's expression change to one of delight, and as the teen closed his eyes, so did Elliot. He had no way to gauge how much he let go, no way to see what he was leaving behind as he slowed into shorter, less frantic pushes. Elliot moved with a pulsing rhythm as his body took over, easing himself with slower strokes as he released everything he had. He could only feel each pulse as it emptied, wave after wave of his cum, into the canal where Jason was sheathing him. Each ejaculation left him feeling the tightness, but also the warmness that went with it. Emotionally, Elliot was spent, but the feeling that the two of them had just completed something for each other was overwhelming. There was an awe in his countenance, and he was sharing it with the boy beneath him.

Physically, Elliot was also doing everything he could to keep from collapsing. He felt he gave up a lot of cum, this being a first time for him in the way that they had done it. It was in the height of that moment, however, when he looked down into the smiling eyes that were looking back up at him. Jason felt it, too. He could feel something between them that had gotten stronger, and it solidified his belief. With all his being, Jason knew this had been the right moment they had always talked about, and he was so very glad Elliot had taken it. They had done it, and best of all, he knew they had done it for the right reasons.

Jason let go of his legs and put his arms around his cousin. Elliot slowly withdrew himself, slipping out to come forward and lie next to Jason's semi-hard erection. As he collapsed on top, it was Jason who pulled Elliot up inside of his arms. They both had begun to perspire profusely at some point, but it had been ignored in the passion of the moment. They were hot, sweaty from the heat of their craving, but it mattered to neither of them. Elliot recovered slowly, before stretching forward enough to kiss his cousin. They opened there mouths briefly, and shared again that which was so special, before Elliot pulled back and stared down into those eyes that reflected back upon his own. For some reason, he began to giggle. Jason first grinned, but the act was infectious enough that he started giggling with him.

Elliot rolled to the side after a bit, relieving some of the weight he had stacked onto Jason. When he spoke, Elliot snuggled up. "I don't know, how... why... I even deserved that, or even deserved to have you in my life. You truly are my brother, you know?"

Jason moved a finger to the other boy's lips to shush him. "You have me, always, for as long as you want me. This? This was just me, showing you how much I trust you, and how much I wanted to be there for you. You know that, right? You're inside of me, now, just like you've always been. But you're really, physically inside of me all the way now, though."

Elliot observed the youth with an expression of fascination. "I ... I don't know what to say, anymore. Other than no, it wasn't just you. It was me, too. This was us."

Jason giggled. "Okay, I know. Just keep, you know, keep us, keep loving and caring. That's all I need."

Elliot leaned in and kissed the boy again, but softly this time, and with feeling. When he broke and pulled back, he whispered. "Always bro, always." Sitting back, he sat up and placed his hand around Jason's softened boner. "So, your turn? Do you want to do it? I want you to, to me - you know that, right?"

Jason shook his head, giggling. "Yeah, sometime I want to, I think - but not now. Your brother could come back any time, and you know your Mom and Dad are not far behind." He wrinkled his nose. "And besides, we probably ought to rinse off or something, shouldn't we? I've got this weird feeling, like, up in my ass, and I think it's leaking stuff, too. Or at least, it might be about to be!" He rubbed noses with Elliot, after seeing him blush. "I love seeing you do that, you know. It's not too many times I get to see you embarrassed like that."

Elliot grinned. "I know, bro."

Jason hugged him, then wrinkled his nose. "I mean, you get it. I don't want to smell like sex when they come back, or at least when your brother does." He giggled suddenly. "I trust him, I really do, but I'm not sure I'm ready for him to know about THIS. Not right now, okay?"

"This is us, bro. He doesn't need to know," Elliot replied.

Jason thought about that for a few seconds. "Nah, I don't care, really. Maybe sometime, soon, just not right now. Not tonight. Right now, I just want to keep this for us. I want to remember and feel it for a little while. Just us. But I leave it up to you. I just don't want to tell him now, that's all."

Elliot nodded, smiling. "Okay, if you're sure. Maybe we can later, after we get home and everything. How's that?"

"Deal," Jason replied.

Elliot reached out and grasped Jason's softened member. "Man, I can't let you go without doing something, bro! I mean, look at what you gave me and everything, and… and…"

Jason laughed, the leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. "Then jack me off tonight, when we go to bed, that'll be good for a down payment, I think."

Elliot relented. "I may go for more than that, though, but… okay."

Jason grinned, then hugged him yet again. "Oh, and thanks."

"For what?" Elliot asked.

"For saying 'when we get home'. It really is my home now, too. I'm ready to go back."

That made Elliot grin widely. "Really? That's fucking awesome, Jase. I mean it! Besides, I am, too."

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