by Wes Leigh

Chapter 6

I loved thee, though I told thee not,
Right earlily and long,
Thou wert my joy in every spot,
My theme in every song …

-- John Claire, 'The Secret'

"When are you going to tell me where we're going?" Daniel asked.

Connor smirked. "It's a secret. You'll find out when we get there."

Daniel studied Connor as they left the high school parking lot that Thursday, headed out of town, for the surprise Connor had planned all week.

"You won't even give me a hint?" Daniel asked.

"Nope," Connor replied, smiling in that special way he had that caused dimples to crinkle up the side of his lips.

Daniel would never admit it to Connor, but he loved it when Connor's dimples showed. His face was usually so rugged and handsome, but when his dimples showed, he looked like a little boy again. Daniel could just imagine Connor getting in trouble for playing in the mud or some other silly, childish stunt.

Connor glanced sideways at Daniel. "You like what you see?"

Daniel blushed. Connor had caught him staring. Daniel chuckled and said, "Maybe."

"You can take a picture if you want. I don't mind."

Daniel punched Connor playfully on the arm. "Why would I want a picture of you?"

"I don't know," Connor replied, grinning. "When I become a famous football star, you can tell everyone you knew me when I was just startin' out."

"Wow, that would be awesome!" Daniel replied, teasing. "Maybe you could give me your autograph too!"

Connor shook his head. "Nah. Sorry. I only do that for my biggest fans."

"And what if I'm your biggest fan."

Connor paused and looked over at Daniel. His smile disappeared as he asked, "Are you?"

Daniel turned to look out the window at the passing countryside, thinking about what he wanted to say and how much he wanted to reveal. He cleared his throat and said, "I'm not sure."

"Why not?"

Daniel turned back to face Connor and replied, "I've only seen you play in one game. And all you did was knock people down, steal the ball, and make a general nuisance of yourself. But you never actually scored any points. I'm not sure I could be your biggest fan if you can't score at least one touchdown in every game."

Connor nodded and pursed his lips. "Okay. I can see how that might be a problem. I'll make you a deal, then. Tomorrow, I'll be sure to score one, maybe two touchdowns. It's not something they normally let me do on defense, but I'll tell coach I have someone who will be disappointed in me if I don't put some points on the board m'self. Does that work for you? Will that be enough to make you my biggest fan?"

Daniel grinned mischievously. "Make a touchdown first, and I'll let you know after."

Connor slowed down and turned off onto a dirt road that led down into a floodplain. He stopped next to a copse of cottonwoods and turned to Daniel. "We're here."

Daniel looked around. "And what is this place?"

Connor grinned. "The most special place around." He opened his door and jumped out. "Come with me."

They crouched behind a thick stand of chokeberry bushes, looking up into the sky where Connor pointed. At the very top of an ancient juniper pine was a nest. Hovering in the air above the nest, gliding from side to side in a rising thermal, were two golden eagles. Their brilliant plumage rustled as they hovered in the air, banking from time to time, almost colliding before dancing away. One eagle finally landed in the nest. The other dropped from the sky and grabbed a nearby branch. The two craned their necks toward one another, touching beaks briefly. One opened his beak and screeched. The other ducked her head under her wing.

"They're a mated pair," Connor whispered. "Over the last few years, I've seen probably three or four baby eagles. Raised in that nest. Fed by mom and dad. Then shown how to fly for the first time, learning to spread their wings and be lifted by the air until they eventually fly away, to start families of their own."

"They're beautiful," Daniel whispered.

"Some days, I dream I'm an eagle," Connor said. "Floating above it all. Looking down on a world that can't touch me. Then I fly away, too, and I leave behind the pain and the struggle."

Daniel turned to stare at Connor. "Is it that bad, Connor? The pain? The struggle?"

Connor smiled, sadly. "It's not bad, not really. But I do wish I could fly off and leave it behind."

"You can. Some day."

Connor shook his head. "No, I can't. I have duties and responsibilities that will always keep me here, always keep me chained to the ground."

Daniel touched Connor's arm. "Then you'll have to break those chains, Connor. And join the eagles."

Connor suddenly felt uncomfortable with how personal their conversation had become. He snorted and said, "Being an eagle isn't all that great. You have to eat raw prairie dog for breakfast, and that's something I just wouldn't be able to stomach."

Daniel rolled his eyes. "I know I've said this before, but you're goofy."

Connor nodded. "Yeah, that I am. But I think you like that about me."

"That, and other things."

"Other things? Such as?"

Daniel moved his hand to Connor's lips. "You have a nice smile."


Daniel nodded and slid his hand down to Connor's chest. "And you've got a great body. If you're into super muscular guys."

Connor raised an eyebrow. "It's not much, but it's all I have, so I take care of it."

Daniel glanced down and placed his hand on Connor's crotch. "And you have a big … generous heart."

Connor chuckled and wrapped his arms around Daniel, pulling him into a hug. "I don't give my heart to just anyone. You know that, right?"

Daniel nodded, tilting his head up slightly.

Connor leaned down and gently touched his lips against Daniel's. The first kiss was playful, the lightest of caresses. The next kiss was harder, hungrier. Moaning, they pressed together.

Mouths open and savoring.

Chests swelling with each breath.

Groins, hard and demanding, thrusting together.

Hands seeking and finding rigid rods, squeezing, rubbing. Pushing frantically against the fabric, feeling the hard flesh underneath respond. Rubbing harder, faster. Heat building inside and hot hands burning on the outside. Straining, yearning to release.

Throats groaning as bodies shook to a wet and sticky ending.

Pulling apart and staring at each other in surprise.

"Damn," Connor said, gasping for breath.

"You can say that again," Daniel sighed, holding onto Connor's shoulders.

Daniel snuck into the house thirty minutes later. His mom called out from the kitchen, "Is that you, Daniel?"

"Ummm, yeah."

"Did you have a good time with Connor?"

Daniel looked down at the enormous wet spot in his jeans. The fabric was still damp and clinging to his body. He chuckled and yelled, "Yeah, Mom. Had a great time!"

"That's good, dear. I'm just finishing cleaning up in here. Come tell me all about it."

"Uhhh, I really should take a shower first, Mom. We got kind of nasty." He grimaced, remembering the feel of Connor's lips pressed against his mouth and Connor's hands gripping his cock through the jeans.

"Okay," his mom shouted. "But then come talk to me."

Daniel ran down the hall to his room and tossed his backpack onto the bed. Turning into his bathroom, he flipped on the light and looked in the mirror. He smiled at his reflection. "You dog!" he said with a smirk.

Unbuttoning his jeans, he peeled them away and saw his very wet underwear sticking to his body. He pulled them down, amazed at how much cum how poured out of his cock. Had to be a new record for him. He stripped everything off and tossed it in the shower, deciding to wash his briefs and jeans at the same time he took his shower, then let them dry overnight before throwing them in the hamper. It was good thing he did his own laundry. How hard would it be to explain the wet jeans to his mom? 'Oh, well, gee, Mom. I kind of forgot to take them off when I climbed into the shower.' Daniel giggled as he leaned into the shower spray and let the water flow over his hair and back. His body still tingled from the memory of Connor's hands moving up and down on his back, then over his butt cheeks and around to cup his cock.

Connor was a beast.

"Mating eagles?" Judy asked. "And he showed you their nest?"

"Yeah, Mom. It was incredible. They were flying above the nest at first, then they landed and sort of touched each other with their beaks. Connor said they've been making baby eagles for years now."

Judy smiled wistfully. "I wish I could have seen them."

"Maybe I can take you. I remember the place."

She shook her head, standing up and taking her cup to the sink. "No, that's okay, sweetie. We shouldn't bother them. They might be nesting."

"Oh, ummm, Mom … the Cougars play in Lareby tomorrow night. Can we go?"

Judy frowned. "I don't know, dear. Your dad will be coming home for the weekend. He'll be tired from a long week of work. He'll probably just want to relax and enjoy being back with us for a change."

"Then would it be okay if Connor's parents took me? Connor said they wouldn't mind."

"Well …" Judy sighed. "I know it's important for you to be involved in your new school, but your Dad might like to spend some time with you too, you know? And I already agreed to let you go to that party with Xavier on Saturday. When were you planning to hang out with your father?"

Daniel blurted out, "Sunday. All day. We can ride bikes and see the entire town and then eat at the restaurant as a family. You won't have to cook. And Dad is probably missing you, being gone all week like he is, so I imagine the two of you would enjoy having me out of your hair Friday when he gets home."

Judy shook her head, chuckling. "How long have you been planning all this?"

Daniel smiled. "It's a great plan, don't you think? You and Dad get some alone time Friday. We have a family day Sunday. It's perfect!"

Judy snorted. "Fine. Have the Finnigans call me and give me their cell phone numbers."

"Ummm, Mom, they don't have cell phones."

"Living way out there in the country. What if there's an emergency?"

Daniel shrugged. "The coverage is spotty anyway. They use a land line. Besides, I'll have my phone."

"Okay, but I'll call you to check on you every now and then."

"Really?" Daniel asked, smirking. "Before or after you and Dad start kissing?"

Judy slapped Daniel on the arm. "Bedtime, rascal. You still have a full day of school tomorrow."

September 10

I ate lunch by myself today. It was the usual challenge. I wanted to eat with Connor, but I didn't want Xavier to be mad, so I took my food out to the patio again and read a chapter in History.

PE was boring. All the football players were excused, since they had a game that night. That meant a really small class of clumsy Rabbits (and me) kicking soccer balls around haphazardly. I didn't even get to shower with Connor, so it was a real drag.

Drama was interesting. Trudy introduced the play we'll be doing in December. It's called "Some Like It Hot." It's about these two guys who witness a Mafia murder and decide to skip town. This one guy named Joe plays a saxophone (so naturally Xavier got the part, since he can play a saxophone almost as good as he plays the trumpet). Trudy asked me to play the part of Jerry, Joe's buddy. I reluctantly agreed, when Xavier promised to coach me on my lines. When Trudy told us the plan to escape town would be to disguise ourselves as women and join an all-female jazz band, we almost shit ourselves. Who the hell thought up this story? Anyway, I'm actually looking forward to it, even if I do have to dress in drag.

Once school let out, we gathered outside the gym to cheer for the football team as they loaded up on a school bus. All the families driving to the game were lined up behind the bus. Making a convoy. Radical, huh? This would never happen in Colorado.

Now we're on the way to the game. I'm sitting in the back seat of the Finnigan's SUV. Writing in my journal. This will probably be the only chance I get to write. I can't wait for the game. My second high school football game. And I think the team captain is in love with me. I'll know he is if he scores a touchdown for me tonight.

Andreas Finnigan stopped and sighed.

Gabi Finnigan, walking next to him with her arm locked in his, asked, "What is it, Dre?"

"Those damned scouts are back." He nodded with his head. Standing at the railing separating the front row of stadium seats from the field were four men dressed in college sweatshirts and ballcaps. They held notebooks and chatted with each other, waiting for the teams to come out.

One of the men, wearing blue and white, turned and saw the Finnigans. He hurried up the stadium steps, holding out his hand. "Andreas, Gabi, it's great to see you again."

Andreas nodded his head, stiffly acknowledging the man. "I see the University of Nevada is still interested in m'boy."

The man smiled. "You bet we are. What's it gonna take to get Connor playing for the Wolf Pack?"

Gabi shook her head. "He's still got a year to go 'til he graduates. Why don't you fellas give us a break? Let the boy enjoy high school a bit before he has to be makin' those kind of decisions?"

The college scout shrugged. "He's a great player. In a class of his own. A lot of schools are going to be wanting him to sign, and we just want you to know the Nevada Wolf Pack will provide him with a home away from home."

"He don't need another home," Andreas said, fed up with the man's persistence. "Connor has a home, and the boy knows his duty. I've told you before, and I'll tell you only one more time … leave m'boy alone." His lips curled into a snarl and a low growl rumbled from deep in his chest.

The man backed away, the smile slowly leaving his face. "Of course, Mr. Finnigan. Sorry to bother you, but if you change your mind, here's my card." He held out a business card.

Andreas glared at the man, refusing to take the card.

Gabi reached out and took it. She shook her head. "You don't listen so well. I think Dre made it clear how we feel about this, but in case he didn't …" She leaned forward and whispered. "Leave Connor alone. Or your Wolf Pack will wonder how its scout ended up with his throat ripped out."

The scout retreated, stumbling down the stairs in his haste to get away.

Gabi turned to Daniel and saw him staring at her, puzzled and alarmed. "Sorry you had to see that bit of nastiness, young man," she said with a frown. "These college scouts just won't take no for an answer. They're all a'slobberin' at the thought of bringin' Connor to play for 'em. Persistent, they are. So Dre and I have found it necessary to make idle threats, just to get them payin' attention, you understand?"

Daniel nodded. But he wasn't so sure that the threats were idle ones.

"They won't leave us be," Andreas snarled. "Stupid gits can't get it through their thick skulls. There's no way under heaven m'boy will be playin' for any of 'em."

Daniel nodded. Now he understood why Connor dreamed of breaking his chains and flying away with the eagles.

The Lareby Stallions managed to make a first down on their first series with aggressive running plays right down the middle of the field, gaining three or four yards on each run. They were hard-fought yards, and Connor and the defense made them earn each precious gain.

It appeared that the Stallions were planning to run almost every play, grinding out a score through sheer determination. Connor apparently had other plans.

Prior to the next snap, Connor switched positions with another defensive player, lining up opposite the offensive tight end. The ball snapped. The quarterback took the ball, spun, and stuffed it into the stomach of the fullback. Sprinting around the end of the line, Connor tossed the tight end to the ground and launched himself at the fullback, knocking him to the ground before he could make it back to the line of scrimmage. Loss of two yards on the play.

Again, Connor lined up opposite the tight end. The quarterback pointed at Connor, calling for the halfback to block him. The ball snapped. The halfback shifted over to help the tight end block Connor. Connor hit the tight end square in the chest, spun around him on the outside, knocking him into the halfback and leaving both of them in a heap on the ground. The fullback had the ball, running hard for the opposite side of the field, trying to outrun the defense and head up the field. Connor was a blur, sprinting after the runner and catching him from behind, bringing him down for a loss of three yards.

Now facing a third and fifteen, the Stallions had no choice but to attempt a pass. Connor looked up at the stands and pointed at Daniel, then pointed down the field at the end zone. Daniel grinned when he realized what Connor was signaling.

The Stallions lined up and snapped the ball. The quarterback shifted to the side with several blockers in front of him. Three Cougar defensive lineman rushed them, pressuring the quarterback to throw before he was ready. In his desperation, he threw the ball to the tight end who was holding one hand up in the air, calling for the ball. It almost made it, but the quarterback had lost track of Connor, who trailed behind the tight end, leaping in front of him at the last second and snagging the ball out of the air. Without breaking stride, Connor headed back up the field, accelerating past the bulky offensive linemen. With only the quarterback to beat, Connor held out his hand and stiff-armed the quarterback, knocking him on his back as Connor ran the ball in for the first score of the game.

The defensive players mobbed Connor, slapping his helmet as he held the ball up and ran back toward the bench. He pointed the ball at Daniel, who was jumping and screaming along with the other Agony fans who'd made the trip to Lareby. Daniel leaned over the rail, shouting at Connor, but the other fans were so loud Connor couldn't hear what Daniel was saying. He held his hand next to his helmet, yelling, "What?"

Daniel took a deep breath and screamed, "That's one!" He held up a finger, laughing. "You promised me two!"

Connor shook his head and chuckled, returning to his celebrating teammates. The extra point try was good. Agony Cougars 7, Lareby Stallions 0.

The Cougars kicked off again, with the Stallions making a decent return to their own 40-yard line.

Connor and the defense trotted onto the field. The offense lined up in an odd formation, with the fullback and halfback both to one side of the quarterback. Connor shifted over to the same side, ready for whatever they were planning. The center snapped the ball. The quarterback got behind the two running backs, who formed a blocking wall in front of him. Connor charged in, attempting to slide between the two backs and take out the quarterback. The fullback and halfback both hit Connor high. From behind him, the wide receiver came back, unnoticed, and hit Connor low, in a clearly illegal crackback block. Connor's body twisted and he fell hard to the ground, not moving.

The quarterback leapt over Connor's unmoving body and made a twenty-yard run before being brought down by the defense.

The referees blew their whistles, signaling an injury timeout.

Coaching staff and a doctor ran onto the field, leaning over Connor but not moving him, for fear of injuring him further. Daniel, Gabi, and Andreas rushed down the stadium steps and ran onto the field, waiting anxiously on the sidelines.

While the doctor examined Connor, the Cougar head coach screamed in the head referee's face. "It was a crackback block! Everyone could see it! Why didn't you flag it?"

The head referee turned and walked away. The coach ran around him and snarled, "You gonna do your job, ref? Before any more of my players get hurt?"

The referee yanked the flag from his pocket and threw it in the air.

"Finally," the Cougar coach grumbled.

The referee moved to the middle of the field and turned on his microphone. "Unsportsmanlike conduct against the defense. Harassing a referee. Fifteen yards, added to the result of the play."

"WHAT?" the Cougar coach screamed, rushing the head referee. Fortunately, his two assistants caught him and pulled him back.

The doctor signaled for the ambulance crew to run out on the field with a gurney. They worked over Connor, carefully loading him onto a backboard, then lifting the backboard onto the gurney. While the other Cougars anxiously watched, Connor was wheeled off the field into the player locker room, with his parents and Daniel following along.

"He should go to the hospital," the doctor insisted.

"I don't need a hospital," Connor insisted.

The doctor shook his head. "Son, you took a nasty hit out there. You could have compacted vertebrae. Possibly a concussion. You need to be checked out, have a few tests done. Maybe even kept overnight, just as a precaution."

Connor shook his head. "No, sir. I need to get back out there. I have a game to play."

The doctor looked up at Andreas. "Sir, please talk to your son. If he sustained a hidden injury, he could suffer permanent damage if he takes another hit like that. I strongly recommend that he go to the hospital and be checked thoroughly."

"Can I have a moment alone with m'boy, please?"

The doctor sighed and nodded, walking out of the room.

Andreas looked around. "Alone." He glanced at the assistant coach and Daniel and all the others in the room.

Connor reached out and took Daniel's hand. "Pa, Daniel can stay."

The others left the room, leaving Andreas, Gabi, Daniel, and Connor alone. When the door closed behind them, Andreas leaned over Connor and asked, "How are you feelin', boy?"

Connor looked at Daniel. "Help me up, Big D."

Daniel braced himself as Connor pulled on his hand, slowly sitting up.

Connor slowly rotated his head, grimacing as his neck popped. He shook his head slightly and frowned. "Head still hurts. Back is sore. But I'm good, Pa."

"You wanna do this, then?" Andreas asked.

Connor nodded and smiled. A cold, determined smile. "I think I owe it to some folks out there, don't you think?"

Andreas shrugged. "It's up to you, boy."

Connor slid off the table and stood on the floor, steadying himself on Daniel. "I promised a friend of mine that I'd score two touchdowns tonight," he said, looking down at Daniel with a dimpled grin. "I still have one to go."

The crowd noticed the four people walking slowly out of the field house back onto the field. The Cougar fans roared with excitement. The Lareby fans groaned.

Connor lifted his helmet and slowly slid it back on his head. Then he began trotting toward his team, picking up speed as he ran, until he was sprinting full speed back into their midst. They gathered around him, hugging him and clapping him on the back.

Connor turned to look at the scoreboard. The Stallions had kicked a field goal. Cougars 7, Stallions 3. Now the Cougar offense was on the field, making steady progress down the field. The Stallions defense stiffened, stopping the Cougars short of the endzone. The Cougars kicked a field goal, making the score 10-3.

The Cougar coach pushed his way through his players and stared into Connor's helmet. They didn't talk but looked into each other's eyes. No words were necessary. The coach nodded his head and gripped Connor's arm. Then the coach knelt down and pulled the defensive players into a huddle, explaining what he wanted the next time the defense took the field.

Daniel and the Finnigans returned to the bleachers. Daniel was nervous. Gabi and Andreas weren't. If anything, they seemed excited, eager. They leaned forward, waiting for the Stallion offense to line up for their next play.

Connor, back on defense, stalked slowly from side to side, waiting for the ball to snap.

The quarterback called for the ball, moving back with it and turning to hand off to the fullback, who ran sideways, trying to make it around the end of the line before Connor could get there. The wide receiver—the same one who had delivered the dirty block against Connor—pulled back, trying get an angle on Connor to block him. Connor ignored the fullback and charged full speed at the wide receiver, colliding hard with him and sending him flying backward. The kid landed ten yards away and didn't get up.

Without Connor to tackle him, the fullback was stopped ten yards down the field, gaining a first down.

The referees suspended play, calling the doctor back out onto the field. Fifteen minutes later, the wide receiver was loaded onto the gurney and wheeled off the field. He wouldn't be back that night, though he would play many more games in his high school career, and he never threw a crackback block ever again.

When play resumed, the teams lined up once more. The ball snapped, the offense shifted back, as though blocking for a pass, but the quarterback reached back and handed the ball to the fullback. The defense wasn't caught by surprise, knocking blockers down as the fullback scrambled in the back field. Connor charged hard from the side. The fullback juked to the side, causing Connor to miss. Instead of taking out the fullback, Connor crashed into the head referee, knocking the man backward. The fullback gained five yards before being taken down.

The referee left the field on a stretcher, with a broken leg.

Andreas turned to Gabi and smiled unpleasantly. "Guess he won't be ignorin' illegal blocks in the future, now will he?"

Daniel shivered hearing that. Andreas' voice was cold and harsh, totally unlike the friendly man he'd been in the past.

Now facing a second and five, the Stallions had the option of passing or running the ball. The quarterback faked a hand-off, then tossed a looping pass over the middle to the halfback. Connor leapt in front of the pass, snagging it and pulling it in. Crossing the field, he left the offensive players quickly behind and headed for the end zone, scoring his second touchdown of the night.

He wouldn't score any more, but he racked up five sacks, eight hurries, and four interceptions before the game was over.

The college scouts were going crazy, desperately wanting to talk to Connor or the Finnigans, but knowing that wasn't the best idea, having heard what the University of Nevada scout had told them at the beginning of the game. They had to figure out a way to talk to this kid, somehow. The final score was Agony Cougars 38, Lareby Stallions 3. And referees … a TKO.

Coach didn't object when Connor asked to ride home with his parents instead of in the school bus with the rest of the team.

It was a quiet ride home. The boys put the back seat down and stretched out on blankets in the rear of the SUV. After a few miles, Connor mumbled that he still had a bit of a headache. Daniel gently massaged Connor's scalp, running his fingers slowly through Connor's curly, auburn locks, down onto his neck and shoulders, back onto Connor's scalp. Connor turned his head and looked at Daniel, whispering, "Thank you, Big D."

Connor's dimples made him adorable in Daniel's eyes. Adorable though still frightening.

Daniel nodded. He had so much to think about. "My pleasure, Big C."

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