Chapter 09

Chapter Nine

 


"I like your enthusiasm," Seamus smiled, his eyes shining. "But fair is fair," he added, untucking Paul's shirt and slipping his hand down the boy's pants.

Paul gasped sharply as he felt Seamus's hand close on his penis. "Oh, God!" he whispered into Seamus's ear, never letting go himself.

"I'm not THAT good," Seamus winked. "You up for something ... more advanced?"

Paul's eyes widened, surprised the boy would suggest it. "On our second date?" Seamus rolled him on his back and grabbed his zipper. "What are you doing?" Paul asked, confused. He thought he knew what the boy meant but now he was a little scared. Seamus was BIG.

Seamus laughed and fished out Paul's rock hard cock. "I'm gonna suck your dick," he said with a laugh. Then, startled by the look of confusion on Paul's face, he asked, "What?"

"I, uhm, I thought when you started with the zipper you were going to want to have sex," Paul whispered.

"What?" Seamus asked.

"It's just, I ... no one's ever.... I mean I've given, but," Paul stammered, embarrassed and hurt by the revelation that, yeah, big macho jock gay boys might want to blow him too, not just use him for their own gratification. Seamus was instantly sobered by the boy's tears, and gently zipped him back up before scooping Paul up into his arms.

"Tell me about it?" Seamus whispered.

Paul, keeping his eyes on the wall farthest from them, spoke softly, "I asked him once if he would, you know, return the favor? He'd already gotten me to do it for him a few times. He told me right to my face that he couldn't do something that 'faggy.' Guys like me can do that shit, but not guys like him."

"What a jerk," Seamus whispered, but he felt Paul tense in his arms. "Sorry but deep down you must know it’s true?"

"Not so deep, but he's trying," Paul said.

"I wouldn't have to try," Seamus whispered. "Cut him loose, and give me a real shot?"

"It isn't that easy!" Paul said. "I'd really ... there's a part of me that wouldn't care what it would do to him, and that part of me wants to say yes to you," he admitted. "But I just can't!"

Seamus hugged him tight and said, "Don't ask me to say I get it!"

***

[FLASHBACK]

Paul was lying naked beneath Billy's covers watching the boy dress. "Come on! My parents will be home soon, so I need you to ... get dressed!" Billy said.

"What were you really going to say?" Paul asked, sitting up and gathering the covers around himself defensively.

"I need you to get gone," Billy said, barely a whisper. Seeing the hurt on Paul's face, Billy said, "You knew it was going to be this way! Didn't you?"

Paul, his eyes glistening, said, "I hoped ... maybe not. I thought...." He couldn't complete the sentence; he got out of bed, not trying to cover his nakedness, and gathered up his clothes.

As quickly as he possibly could, Paul dressed. Billy stood by, not knowing what to do or say, as Paul slipped on his shoes and stormed out of the room and downstairs, but before he stormed out, he yelled, "Now we can all pretend I was NEVER HERE!"

***

[PRESENT DAY]

Seamus squeezed Paul again. He'd let the boy talk it all out. "It's not Jim," he said at last. "Jim would never treat you like that."

"I told you it wasn't Jim!" Paul said.

"But," Seamus began to protest.

"No buts! It's not Jim!" Paul laughed. "Besides, Jim's been avoiding me since he caught me with the other guy.... I think he hates me now!"

Seamus looked into Paul's eyes and shook his head. "Don't you get it?" he asked Paul. "You have no ... Christ!" After a long breath, Seamus said, "You're not ready for this, and I'm not ... I can't do this with you."

"You're leaving me too?" Paul asked, tears welling up.

"NO!" Seamus said. "We can be friends, and when you dump loser boy we can talk again about us, but you got too much going on in your life to give yourself to me." Seamus cleared his mind and began again. "See, you drive me crazy. I thought I could do this on the side thing, and I might be able to with other boys but not with you. You make me want it to be just me and you. And it won't be."

"It wasn't fair to ask," Paul said, dropping his head. "I'm sorry!"

"Don't be sorry," Seamus laughed. "I REALLY like you, and this was awesome, and I really want us to be friends."

"What's next, 'It's not you, it's me?'" Paul laughed.

"No," Seamus laughed. "I already said, it IS you!" With a wink he added, "I can't have just part of you, and he's got his claws in."

Paul nodded sadly. "You're right."

"God, I can't believe I'm doing this," Seamus said, slapping himself.

"You're a good guy, Seamus," Paul smiled. "Is it too much to ask a friend to cuddle from time to time?"

"Only if you don't mind the occasional innocent poke of a big Irish boner," the boy winked again.

When he left an hour later, Paul walked him to the door and gave him a hug. "One last kiss?" Paul asked.

Seamus smiled and kissed him, gently, softly on the lips. "I'm an optimist, so let’s say last for a while?"

"Night," Paul smiled. Seamus was halfway down the steps when he smiled back at Paul and said, "Want to go out on Friday? As friends...."

Paul smiled and nodded. He closed the door and leaned against it with a sigh.

"What's wrong dear?" Molly asked.

"Seamus and I aren't gonna be dating," he said.

"I'm sorry, honey," she said. "Things didn't work out?"

"Worked out too well," Paul smiled bitterly. "The Billy thing got in the way."

"The Billy thing," she said with a nod. "I'm sorry baby."

"Me, too!" Paul said. "I just can't shake Billy off. I don't know why!"

"You're in love with him?" she wondered.

"Maybe," he said, shrugging. "I just wish I wasn't.' She nodded and hugged him tight.

***

Thursday evening as Paul was leaving from his tutoring, the wind grew chilly and he bundled up tight. As he walked up the street, lit sparsely by streetlamps, he began to speed up. At first he thought it was an echo, but then he realized it couldn't be. Someone was behind him. Following him? He wasn't sure. Gathering up his courage, he looked behind him and saw a big figure.

"Hello?" he called.

"It's me," Billy replied.

"Why didn't you call out? YOU SCARED ME!" Paul said, letting a little residual anger slip in.

"I was trying not to scare you," the boy smiled weakly as he closed the distance. "I ... I'm sorry...."

"Oh?" Paul asked.

"I've been so freaked out by Jim knowing about us, it really rattled me!" Billy said. "You can trust him. He's your friend. He hates me, and, knowing what he knows, he could hurt me worse than an ass whooping!"

"Believe me when I tell you, getting the shit kicked out of you is worse," Billy frowned and walked on.

"Paul, please!" Billy said.

"I don't know what I was thinking when I let you back in! I should have known better!" Paul fumed. Then he rounded on the boy and put a finger in his face, the darkness shrouding them. "You know, it was really nice to go on a date with Seamus; and things were great. REALLY GREAT! But then you!"

"Me, what?" he asked.

"The YOU issue got in the way. Seamus doesn't want to share!" Paul yelled.

"You told SEAMUS about me? CHRIST!" Billy said.

"NO! YOU ARE AN ASS! HE KNEW THERE WAS SOMEONE!" Paul yelled. "If I wasn't still hung up on you, I'd be making out with the hottest redhead this side of Ireland right now!"

"You're hung up on me?" Billy asked, a cocky smile rising to his lips.

"Leave me alone, asshole!" Paul huffed and marched off.

Billy grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. "Paul," he smiled. "I told you ... I am what I am! But ... I....   What are you doing on Sunday?"

"Nothing. Why?" Paul asked, frowning.

"I'd like to take you over to Portland," Billy said. "You know ... take you out."

"Like on a date?" Paul asked, starting to smile.

"Yeah, I mean nothing that screams, 'Hey, gays here,' but yeah!" he said, shrugging. "I mean, it’s a college town so it'll be less weird. Plus all the conservatives will be in church."

"You could have let me enjoy the romanticism for a moment before you blew it," Paul teased. "But I guess Sunday and Wednesday incognito dates out of town are better than nothing."

"Who said anything about Wednesdays?" Billy smiled and winked. Before he walked off, he asked, "So Seamus is out of the running?"

"YES!" Paul said with a frown. "Asshole!" But before Billy got too far, he added, "But we are going out as friends tomorrow night!" Billy shot him a bird and winked before jogging off before they got too close to home and got spotted.

***

Jim was lifting weights in his garage when he sensed a presence. "It's too cold to be lifting with the garage open," Seamus said, shaking his head.

"Got a lot on my mind. The cold helps me think," Jim said curtly. "What do you want?"

"Is that any way to talk to one of your best friends?" Seamus asked.

"What do you want, SHITHEAD?" Jim asked, arching his eyebrows.

"Not much," Seamus said, sitting down nearby. "Had a great time with Paul the other night! Date was great," he added, telling him all about their first date. "Then I spent the evening with him on Tuesday, and I gotta say, that boy can turn you to putty, if you know what I mean!"

"Seamus, I don't want to hear about any of this!" Jim said. If Seamus didn't know him so well, he would have mistaken the redness in Jim's face for the blushing of a straight boy, but it was anger.

"And boy was he hot to trot, I mean he had his hand down my pants so fast," Seamus pushed.

But he miscalculated, and the next thing he knew he was laying on his back, James on top of him with a finger in his face. "I SAID ... I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" James growled in his friend's face, low and pregnant with rage.

"What the fuck, man?" Seamus asked, as if he didn't know. "You never had a problem with me being gay before!"

"THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU BEING GAY," Jim yelled in his face and pushed off of him. He walked to the other side of the room and punched the wall. And then he did it again for good effect.

"That doesn't help," Seamus said softly from a few feet behind him. "When I finally broke, I kicked a rock wall so hard I broke my toe. I was still gay, but with a broken toe."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jim said softly, his back to Seamus, as he cradled his aching hand to his chest. He felt the boy's big hand on his shoulders, and relaxed. He leaned back into Seamus and let the boy hug him from behind.

"Come on! We both know you're my brother from another mother," Seamus said with a soft laugh.

"Yeah, and I got the short end of the stick on that count too," Jim laughed.

"My mom rocks," Seamus agreed. "But how surprising is it we fell for the same guy?"

Jim sighed and really let Seamus hold him. "How did you know?" Jim asked.

"Well, I might have let slide the fact that he's the only guy I don't know who you ever took up to the cabin, the only guy you ever took alone, and the only guy who lights you up like a fucking Roman candle. But when he said you've been avoiding him since you caught him with lover boy, I couldn't leave it alone anymore," Seamus said.

"Well, I hope you win, because lover boy is a first class dick," Jim said.

"I told Paul we can't date, Jim," Seamus said and Jim turned around.

"WHAT?" Jim asked.

Seamus shook his head. "I like him too much to share. I just can't do it. Plus, knowing you are totally in love with him, how could I?"

Jim shook his head and said, "But I can't. My dad would freak!"

"Is that all you're afraid of?" Seamus asked.

"That and that he won't take me," Jim admitted.

Seamus sighed. "I'm a distant second to the jerk, but only because he doesn't think you're interested that way," Seamus said. "YOU could take him away from the jerk ... eventually."

"I'm not gonna compete with that asshole!" Jim said. "And I'm not going to make Paul choose."

"So you're going to abandon him and hide? Until when? After jerk breaks his heart and soul? Why should he take you back then? YOU'RE HIS FRIEND! So stop being an asshole!" Seamus said.

"I hurt his feelings," Jim said, plopping down on the bench shaking his head. "I'm such an ass!"

"Fix it," Seamus said. "And if you don't make a move when he's available, that's all mine!"

Jim laughed and nodded. "Did you really ... get hot and heavy?" Jim tried to ask.

Seamus smiled and pursed his lips, and lied. "No. I was just trying to get you riled up, so you'd admit it. It was strictly PG-13." And he wasn't doing it to protect himself; he just didn't want his friend thinking about that.

***

"It just didn't work out," Paul tried to explain to Christina without giving away the fact there was someone else. "We're still friends! We're going out tonight!"

"Can I come, then?" she asked.

"What about Danny's game?" Paul asked. "Isn't it the last one of the year? And his first as captain?"

"Oh shit!" she said. "But won't he have a game too?"

"Oh yeah! He must have forgotten!" Paul said and quickly texted the boy.

"Just how flustered did you get him?" she laughed.

"About this much," Paul said, separating his hands about eight inches, which was a slight exaggeration, but they were telling 'fish tales.'

"Redheads," she replied dreamily. Then her face went stony and Paul looked over his shoulder.

"Hey, guys," Jim said, hands in his pockets looking very repentant.

"Jim," Paul said, turning his back on the boy.

Jim sat down right next to him and put an arm across his shoulder. You could almost hear the volume in the room drop 10% as that was noticed and noted. "Paulie," he said softly. Then he looked at Christina and said, "Can you give us a minute?"

"Stay," Paul said.

"Alright," Jim said, his jaw flexing. "I've been an asshole, and I'm sorry. I should have ... after I, you know!"

Jim’s eyes widened and Paul got the message. "Christina, could you give us a minute?" Paul asked.

She glared at Jim and then got up and left them. Jim continued, "After I saw you with him, I was so shocked, I didn't know how to deal."

"Why do you even care?" Paul said.

"I'm your friend," Jim said. "I don't want to see you hurt, and HE WILL HURT YOU!"

"You don't know that," Paul said, looking away. He hoped Jim was wrong. "And so you decided the best thing to do was hurt me?"

"Paulie, I'm sorry! What can I do to make it up to you?" Jim said. "ANYTHING!"

Paul looked into his eyes and softened. Jim's eyes always made him feel a little soft and queasy in the pit of his stomach, but hard elsewhere. "Take me camping over New Years, after Christmas. Real camping, just you and me!"

"Really?" Jim asked, confused.

"What?" Paul asked.

"I just expected to have to do something I didn't want to do to make it up to you. THAT's just awesome!" Jim exclaimed, and gave the boy a tight half hug. Suddenly, the drops another 10%.

"Better let go before someone decides to paint your car pink," Paul said.

"It needs a paint job," Jim said, slowly removing his arm.

Just before lunch ended, Paul said, "I'm coming to your game tonight!"

"Cool! Hang out after?" Jim asked. Paul looked at his phone and said, "Can Seamus join us after his game?"

"Absolutely," Jim smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "See you tonight then!"

"All better?" Christina asked, approaching with a smile.

Paul blushed and said, "Yeah." Then he texted Seamus to join him and Jim at the diner after the game. He told Christina and said, "You guys want to come?"

"Sure! Need to fuel up before our celebration!" she said.

"Ewww," Paul said. Then he teased, "Well, the you part anyway. Danny isn't hard on the eyes."

"Hands off, princess. You're rolling in jocks right now!" she said.

Eyes wide, Paul asked, "What do you mean?"

She rolled her eyes and said, "I ... why?"

"Whatever," he said, hurrying off. 'Oops,' he thought to himself. She had the scent of blood now!

***

After the game, Jim and Paul, along with Danny and Christina, drove out to the diner and got dinner. About 20 minutes later, Seamus joined them, giving Jim a smile and an arched eyebrow. Jim was sitting in the booth with Paul, and he really was sitting too close, though Paul didn't seem to notice. Jim gave him a flash of a look and smiled.

"Hey, Seamus! How'd it go?" Jim asked.

"We won," Seamus said casually, before ordering a drink. "13-6. How 'bout you guys?"

"Us too," Danny said with a smile. "14-0"

"Ouch!" Seamus said, "Nice! So how's football growing on you, Paul? Second game, right?"

Paul smiled and said, "Let's just say it’s not my choice of entertainment! If it weren't for you guys, I'd have no interest at all!"

"Stud's like me crashing into each other," Danny said, "and you have no interest?" Seamus laughed at him and smacked him on the arm.

Paul blushed and said, "I stand corrected. I have no interest in what goes on on the field. The showers are more interesting." Now it was Danny's turn to blush a bit as Paul winked at him.

After they ate, Christina and Danny ducked out for some private celebration and Seamus slid into the booth across from Jim and Paul and said, "So what are you guys up to tonight?"

Paul looked up at Jim, who shrugged. "No clue. Just hanging out," Jim said. "Why?"

"Want to go play goony golf?" Seamus asked.

"I don't have any money," Jim said uncomfortably.

"It's on me," Seamus said. "Let's go!"

The three of them rode out to a place with a very elaborate course and paid the admission. Paul showed his general inability with sports and had the guys rolling with his eight over par on the first hole.

Seamus nodded at Jim and said, "Show him how it’s done," as they approached the second hole. Jim put his ball down and began to line up his shot. "Not like that, doofus! Help him line up his shot!"

Jim looked at Seamus and shook his head, but he did pick up his ball. Paul set his down, and Jim glared over at Seamus as he stepped up behind Paul and put his arms around him, placing his hands on the boy's hands as he grasped the club. "Just line up the ball, the hole, and the little line on the club," Jim said.

Paul took his swing and Jim helped keep the swing straight and the ball nearly went in on the first swing. But more importantly, Paul's body rubbed intimately against Jim as he went through the motion, giving the bigger boy an immediate hard-on. "Great," Jim coughed and stepped away, hoping Paul hadn't felt him pressing against his back.

Paul walked down the green and knocked his ball in the hole without looking at Jim so the boy wouldn't see him blushing. "What was that?" he asked himself softly, under his breath.

While he was out of earshot, Jim said, "Stop that!" to Seamus.

"Don't tell me you didn't enjoy it, big boy!" Seamus said, leering at his bulge and winking. Jim blushed and shoved his hands into his pockets.

They played 18 holes, Jim occasionally giving Paul some less hands-on pointers. When they were all through, Seamus let Jim give Paul a ride home.

When they pulled up in front of the house, Jim turned to Paul and said, "Paul, I missed hanging out with you. I was so stupid."

"Yep," the boy said smiling slightly. "But it's okay now."

"No, it isn't," Jim said, leaning across the gear-shift and wrapping an arm around the boy, pulling him into a hug. For a second, he nearly pressed his lips to Paul's neck, but he just rested his chin on the boy's shoulder.

"It's okay, Jim. I understand it must be strange," Paul whispered. "But I think he's changed," he added, lying.

"I don't know about that," Jim said, "but I'm not gonna disappear again." His heart skipped a beat as he felt the boy squeeze him back.

"Better not," Paul said. "We've got a camping trip to plan!" Then he hopped out and ran up to the house.

Saturday afternoon, Paul heard a tapping at his window. He looked out and saw, Billy so he went downstairs. "What are you doing here?" he asked as he invited the boy inside. "And what's with the window. I thought we were past that!"

"I was just playing around," Billy said with a smile. He stepped inside and kissed Paul on the cheek with a wink. He saw Phil walk around the corner and stood up very straight, nervous.

"As you were," Phil said drily, peering over his glasses at Billy, who had the guts to put an arm around Paul. The man nodded and disappeared into the living room.

Billy smiled down at Paul and held him tight. "I just wanted to come by and tell you I'd pick you up at 5:00!"

"Cool," Paul said.

"Are you excited?" Billy asked softly.

"VERY," Paul said, laying his head against the boy's chest. "What are you doing tonight?"

"Going out with some of the guys to the batting cages and then the movies," Billy said. "What about you?"

"Homework," Paul said. "And then I guess I'll catch something on television."

Billy looked at his watch, and then hugged the boy and kissed his neck. "I gotta go!"

"Give Robert my best," Paul said with an unhappy smile, and Billy nodded with a grunt.

Jim and Seamus went out to play golf on Sunday morning at Seamus's parents' club. "Glad you could come," Seamus smiled as they walked up to the first green. "We got our run of the place; the old guys can't hack the cold!"

"Well, as long as you don't mind playing with somebody who sucks!" Jim said.

The look on Seamus's face had Jim laughing even before he said, Well, JIM! I LOVE to play with guys who SUCK!" Jim laughed and shook his head. "But I know you're taken!"

"I'm not taken," Jim said.

"You just wish you were," Seamus smiled. "Part of me hopes you get the chance, and part of me hopes you weenie out so I do!"

"He's something else," Jim nodded. "He wants me to take him camping over the new year...."

"Yeah?" Seamus asked. "There's your chance!" Jim looked at him with raised eyebrows and Seamus said, "Days alone, out of communication! Tell him how you feel and use the time to win him over!"

"I just can't do that," Jim said.

"The jerk who's dragging him around hopes you don't!" Seamus said.

"I don't know, Seamus," Jim said. "What about my dad?"

"Are you bi?" Seamus asked. "Is Paul the only boy you'll ever crush on?"

"No," Jim said. "No to both."

"Then you need to talk to your dad anyway," Seamus said.

"What if he kicks me out?" Jim asked.

"Then you can move into one of our five guest rooms the boy joked. "But seriously, your dad is awesome! You don't have anything to worry about."

"After my mom, it's scary," Jim said. They let the subject drop and just played the game, turning discussion to other things.

Phil answered the door to find Billy nervously standing there in dress casual -- blue slacks and a white shirt, the top two buttons undone beneath a v-neck sweater.

"Come in," Phil said, patting the boy on the shoulder. "How are things at home?"

"Told my parents I was going to church," Billy said. "Dad told me he wasn't interested."

"Sorry, buddy," Phil said, trying to be compassionate. But the idea of his son dating this boy set him deeply on edge. There was something soft and sweet about Billy that made him want to love the boy, but his weakness, his fragile self-concept worried Phil for his son's safety. "If you ever need to talk, you know where we are!"

"Thanks, Mr. Anderson," Billy said, before starting upstairs.

"No, no, no, young man! That's not how it works," Molly said with a laugh. "You wait for him to get ready and come down!"

Billy blushed and sat on the love seat by himself and waited nervously, while Phil sat in his seat reading. "You're tapping your foot," Phil said finally, making Billy blush. Phil looked him in the eyes and asked, "Are you really that nervous?"

Billy nodded. "What if someone sees us?"

"A lot of someones will see you, Billy. That's why you're going out of town, isn't it?" Phil asked.

"Yeah," Billy said, looking away. "But ... I mean, what if they see we're together?"

"Billy, when you boys are being yourself, it’s not that hard to see for those who know you," Phil said. "When you loosen up, I can see in your eyes the way you watch him...." Phil sighed and asked, "Are you sure you're ready for this? You shouldn't feel pressure."

"It's not pressure," Billy said. "Paul ... deserves better from me, and this is the best I can do right now."

"Then when people look at you, don't be ashamed," Phil said. "My son DOES deserve better than that."

"I'm not ashamed of him," Billy said. "I'm ashamed of being me."

"And until that changes," Phil sighed, "you'll never be the man you want to be. And I do believe you really do want to be that guy."

"I do," Billy nodded, but he stood as he saw Paul walk into the room. "You look great!" he said to Paul as the boy walked up and stood at his side wearing tan pants and a powder blue sweater.

"You too, hot stuff," Paul said, making him blush with Phil and Molly sitting there. That deepened when the boy got on his tiptoes and kissed Billy on the cheek.

"Alright, you two," Phil smiled. "Tonight is a school night, so home by 11!"

"Yes, sir," Billy said and took Paul's hand softly. They walked to the door and hurried out to the car. In the dark evening only someone looking would have seen.

The drive was about half an hour, and the two boys talked all along the drive, Paul stroking Billy's arm gently. When they reached the restaurant, Billy squeezed his hand and said, "I wish we had done this a long time ago."

"Thank you," Paul said with a smile. Billy got out and came around to open his door. Paul was shocked when Billy took his hand and walked into the restaurant with him, hand-in-hand. The man at the door didn't even raise an eyebrow; Billy was right, gay couples were a lot more common around the campus, and fewer people cared.

He simply escorted them to their table, and when they were alone Paul said quietly, "You don't have to do things like that if it makes you uncomfortable."

"Let me be a little brave," Billy whispered, and then reached across the table and put his hand on Paul's, though he did look around to see if he recognized anyone first. But Paul couldn't begrudge him that.

"Billy," Paul smiled, "I could kiss you."

"Let's save that for private," Billy responded. "If you don't mind?" Paul grinned and nodded.

"Maybe in the movie," Paul winked. "We can sit in the back?"

Billy grinned and nodded.

 

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