Chapter 12

Chapter 12

 

When Jim woke up in the morning, he found that Paul had turned over in the night. The boy's cheek was on his chest, and his nose was nestled against Jim's neck. Jim ran his hand down the boy's back and instantly popped a boner when Paul's knee inched up his muscular thigh in an automatic response.

'Just a few inches, Jim,' he told himself. 'Lean over and kiss him, asshole!'

Just then, there was a knock at the door and Molly stuck her head in. "Oh, I didn't realize," she said, embarrassed.

"Oh, this is nothing," Jim whispered, pointing to the sleeping bag.

"Talked you into it, did he?" she smiled.

"It wasn't too hard," Jim admitted.

"Next time, hang a sock over the door knob," she said, making Jim blush brightly. She wouldn't have taken it so lightly, but Jim ... didn't worry her. "I'm making breakfast if you boys want to help," she said, closing the door and retreating.

Jim grabbed his bag and went across to the bathroom to shower and dress. Then he woke up Paul, who simply pulled on his sweats and tromped down the stairs, a laughing Jim in his wake.

***

Andy woke up to sun in his eyes. "Oh, God!" he gasped from the pain, like an ice pick, which shot through his head. "How much did I have to drink last night?" The throbbing, the dry mouth, and the feeling of being too hot in his cool bedroom told him the answer was WAY TOO MUCH.

He rolled onto his back and nearly rolled over on top of someone, as a big form made a depression in his mattress. As it was, his chest was pressed firmly against the man's side. "Sean," he whispered in shock. He lifted the sheets to find that, while he was in his boxers, Sean was totally nude. It was the first time in seven years he had woken up to find someone in his bed, and it was something of a shock to find it was his dead brother's undying crush.

'Worse looking guys you could have woken up with,' his inner voice reasoned.

But reason retorted, 'It matters? He's a guy!'

Andy rolled out of bed, ignoring the pain in his head and stumbling to the bathroom. He started the shower and brushed his teeth. Then he thought better of the warm shower and turned down the heat. "Ah, cold shower to clear the head," he said. "What happened last night?" he wondered out loud. 'How did you wake up with a mega-hunk in your bed?' his mind inserted.

"Megahunk?" he asked himself.

"You called?" a masculine voice answered.

"Uhm ... I thought I was talking to myself," Andy said, blushing brightly.

"Cool," Sean laughed. "Want any company in there?"

"I ... uhm ... I," Andy stammered, getting dizzy from nerves. "I'm gonna," he started, but then Sean heard a thump as he collapsed.

"Andy," he said, concerned as he drew back the curtain and knelt by him. "Are you alright?"

"It's just ... the shock, and the hangover," Andy said.

"Let the water cool you off," Sean said. "I'll get out of your hair."

Andy heard Sean walk away and at last called, "SEAN!" Then, "Sean?"

"Yeah?" the man asked.

"Please, stay? We need to talk," Andy said.

"Sure," Sean said.

"Sean?" Andy said.

"Yeah?" the man asked again.

"I think I'm gonna need your help to get up," Andy said. Sean knelt by him and put an arm beneath Andy's and hoisted him up. Then he helped the man into his robe and back to bed.

"Mind if I take a shower?" Sean asked.

"Please, go ahead," Andy said, and couldn't help but watch the man's ass as he walked back into the bathroom. He twiddled his thumbs nervously while the water ran, and his gut clenched up when he heard it turn off.

Sean emerged from the bathroom with a towel around his waist looking sheepish. "So...."

Andy smiled weakly and asked, "Where are our clothes?"

Sean looked around and said, "I guess the living room...."

"You don't have to stand there," Andy said, patting the edge of the bed. Sean sat down but gave him his room. "What happened last night?"

Sean blushed and said, "We were talking about the old days, and about how neither of us had gotten any in so long. I guess one thing led to another.... I remember making out on the couch in our underwear."

Andy ran his hand through his hair and looked at the man. "I need some coffee...."

Sean said, "I'll bring us some. Just rest!" He walked out into the living room and said, "Clothes are here by the way!"

In a few minutes he returned with a couple of mugs of sweetened, creamy coffee. Andy sipped his and said, "I don't really remember any of it."

Sean smiled and said, "You don't remember telling me you used to think I was cute?" Andy blushed and shrugged.

"I was drunk," Andy said.

"In my experience, people don't act out of character when drunk, but more according to their real drive," Sean replied. He turned so he was facing Andy more directly and said, "We can pretend like this never happened...."

"But?" Andy asked.

"No buts," Sean replied. "Just a favor."

"What?" Andy asked.

"Since you don't remember it, before you decide we're just going to pretend this never happened, I want you to kiss me. Sober," Sean explained. Andy blushed, but set his coffee on the side table. Then he took Sean's and put it down as well, prompting the man to exclaim, "Really?"

"Why not?" Andy said. He reached out and put his hand on Sean's cheek and guided him in. Their lips met in an electric moment, and Andy groaned in pleasure. As he did, Sean's tongue slipped between his lips and into his mouth. The man leaned into him more and ran his hand down Andy's chest and slipped around his waist so he could pull him closer. Andy pressed his body up to meet Sean's passionately. And then he realized what he was doing and collapsed back into the bed, breaking the kiss.

Sean smiled down at him sadly and nodded. "I'll get dressed in the living room," he said as he stood to go.

Andy watched him walk to the door, a war in his chest raging back and forth. "Sean!" he said. "Come here!" The man looked confused but returned. "Are you sure you aren't just seeing my brother in me? That isn't what this is, is it?"

"Seriously?" Sean said. "My crush on you was always independent of your brother," the man grinned. "Except for this one fantasy where the two of you took me out to the lake and kept me as your shared pleasure boy," he added with a wink.

"Yuck," Andy laughed. "Sean, I always thought you were cute too...."

"Really?" Sean asked. "I never guessed."

"Until last night at least?" Andy laughed.

"Well, yeah," the man responded.

"So," Andy said, letting the question hang in the air, "what are we doing here?"

"How about breakfast?" Sean joked.

"THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT," Andy replied. "But I am hungry."

"Want to ride over to Waffle House? We can talk over breakfast?" Sean asked. "Or we could go to Paulie's?" he teased.

"Right.... Waffle House will be fine, if I can find something light. Stomach's doing flip-flops," Andy said. Reaching up to put his hand on the man's neck, he added, "But first, help me remember a little more about last night.

As Sean stretched out next to him, his towel fell open as they began to make out. Sean's hand likewise slipped inside Andy's robe, tickling him sensually. "Mmm," Andy said. "This IS nice...." And for a while, the little voice screaming, 'WHAT?' was silenced.

***

After breakfast, Jim and Paul cleaned up the kitchen and then went out onto the back porch to do some studying. Phil and Molly stood shoulder-to-shoulder unseen. "Do you think they'll figure it out now that Billy's out of the picture?" Phil asked. As they watched, the boys were secretly watching each other, catching a glimpse here and a glance there.

"If they don't," Molly said, "I'm going to tell Paul I saw Jim kiss his neck the other night while he was asleep!"

"What?" Phil asked, with a laugh.

"After what happened at school the other day," she said with a nod.

"What a clueless couple," Phil said.

"You're one to talk!" Molly said. "Where does he get that from?"

Phil smiled and nodded at the first woman he'd ever kissed. She'd had to ask him out; that's the only reason he'd even realized she was interested. "You just liked me because you knew my eye would never wander," he teased, and she punched his shoulder.

***

Andy and Sean sat across from each other and stared at their menus. With their clothes on, in the daylight of the public, it had gotten awkward again. They both ordered breakfast; Andy got juice, while Sean, less hung over, got coffee.

Sean looked over Andy's shoulder at the room. No one was close. "There've only ever been a few guys for me, Andy," he said. "A handful of couple-of-month things. I tried to open up, but," he broke off, shaking his head.

Andy looked down at the table and said, "This morning was definitely a first for me," with a deep blush.

"Technically," Sean teased, "last night was a first for you!"

"Whatever!" Andy laughed. "I've never kissed a guy before...." Seeing Sean blush, he asked, "What else?"

"Heavy groping?" Sean said. "That's all, I promise!" Andy looked skeptical and Sean said, "How's your jaw? Ass sore? If not, I can guarantee we didn't do anything else!"

"Okay," Andy said, blushing.

"What happens now?" Sean asked, but a surly waitress with two plates of greasy food interrupted them momentarily. "I mean, the offer still stands. After we walk out of here I can go back to my place and we can pick right back up with our other lives."

"Sean," Andy said. "I just ... it's so confusing!"

"I don't mean to pressure you," Sean said, shaking his head. "I've known who I am since I was a kid. No doubts, no thoughts of pretending otherwise. I can't imagine what must be going on in your head. I just want you to know ... if you decide to run, I won't hold it against you."

They ate in silence, Sean occasionally watching Andy's face as the man sat in deep thought. Sean finished his breakfast first and pulled out his wallet, putting a $20 on the table. Then he got up to leave. "Bye, Andy," he said and began to walk away.

But as he walked past the man, Andy's hand shot out and grabbed his. "Sean, wait.... Please, stay?"

Sean squeezed his hand and resumed his seat with a smile.

***

About two in the afternoon, Robert rolled off his futon in the basement and went to the bathroom. Upstairs, there was no noise. No one else would be up for hours. He grumbled as he got in the shower. Sure, he didn't mind missing finals, but expelled again?

It never occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, if he didn't want to get kicked out, he shouldn't beat the crap out of other kids. More importantly, maybe he shouldn’t hurt boys weaker than himself.

He'd been kicked out before. He was lucky he didn't go to jail actually. The kid had been thirteen, a young freshman. Small, cute, a little femme. His blond hair wild in that carefully controlled way. Robert had begun by tormenting the kid, pranks, teasing, and harassment. After a few months of this, he followed the kid after school; he walked home as he lived close. On an empty street, he grabbed him and dragged him into some bushed and pushed him to the ground.

Pressing his arm into the boy's neck, Robert growled lowly, "How's it going, faggot?"

"Please, just leave me alone," the boy cried, tears streaming down his creamy skin. Robert felt his cock harden and he thrust it into the boy's abdomen.

"Not going to happen," Robert grinned evilly. "But...."

"But what?" the boy trembled.

"You're going to suck my cock and like it," Robert growled, "and then I'm going to let you go!"

"I'M NOT GAY," the boy protested, his tears flowing freely.

"Sure," Robert said, grabbing his face in his big hand. "Whatever, pretty boy. Just watch the teeth." Robert straddled his chest and unzipped his pants, pulling out a rock hard cock. He rubbed it on the boy's soft lips and said, "OPEN UP!"

When the boy shook his head, Robert reached back and hit him in the stomach, knocking the air from his lungs. Robert pushed his cock into the boy's mouth and said, "Bite me and you're dead!" Tears flowing down his face, the boy did what he was told, and Robert didn't last long. To add insult to injury, Robert pulled out and gave himself a couple of quick jerks until he came all over the boy's face and in his hair.

Robert grabbed a handful of hair on the back of his head and jerked. "Don't tell anybody about this, and you'll be okay. See you in a couple of days." Seeing the boy's look of shock, he said, "Oh yeah, we'll be doing this some more!"

Robert chuckled to himself as he washed in the shower, remembering. He still didn't feel guilty, just pissed at getting caught. And horny thinking about that boy crying while sucking him. He closed his eyes and began stroking himself beneath the warm water. But now the face was Paul's, and in addition to tears there was a little blood. Maybe he'd make Jim watch? He felt his gut clench with pleasure at the thought. Yeah, he'd make Jim watch.

***

Sean took Andy back to his place to talk that afternoon, and they caught up a bit -- sober this time. Sean grabbed them some sodas and they settled in to the couch on opposite ends while they talked -- college, family and the like.

"Why did you decide to become a coach?" Andy asked, laughing.

"Well, I was studying education at college," Sean smiled. "I'd grown up and been lifting weights since junior year of high school, so my freshman year, I decided to try out for a walk-on position with the football team. Mostly I figured I'd be a benchwarmer, but I'd keep in shape. Turns out I had a good head for it," he added with a shrug.

"And a good body," Andy said. Then he realized what he'd said and blushed.

"Thanks," Sean said. "You too," he added with a wink. "So, anyway, I had this teaching license and got a job teaching English here. When the football coach quit to take a better job, they were in a lurch mid-season, so they asked me to be a caretaker coach for the rest of the season. Turns out the old coach wasn't very good, and we won more than we had in the past ten years!"

"The way those jocks used to treat you, it's sort of ironic," Andy said.

"Yeah, that had occurred to me!" Sean said. "But I've been able to help a few kids, turn a few would-be bullies onto the path, so it's been good too. But what about you? PAROLE OFFICER?"

"Yeah," Andy said. "I didn't see it coming either!"

"I always figured you'd become a famous author, or a politician, or something ... big!" Sean said. Andy laughed and the man said, "WHAT? I was in awe of you? You two brothers were like kryptonite to me!"

"I did study English," Andy said. "I wanted to do creative writing in graduate school, but ... I met Gloria and then there was Jim and there was an opening in parole...."

"A few more years and you could take an early retirement and do something else! Jim'll be in college soon, and you'll be what?" Sean asked.

"I'll be 41 when I've got 20 years in," Andy said. "To old to change...."

Sean laughed and said, "Really? You're 38 and sitting across from the first guy you ever kissed -- this morning -- and 41 is too old to change?"

Andy smiled. "I HAVE been alone too long." Sean raised his eyebrows questioningly, and Andy explained, "I've gotten into a rut; I do what I think is best, but I don’t have anybody to tell me when that's just stupid!" With an anxious look, Andy stood up and took a few steps before sitting down right next to the big man, leaning into him. He sighed as Sean wrapped a couple of strong arms around him and squeezed. "Thanks...."

***

Jim got home that evening around 6 to study and was surprised to find himself alone. His dad NEVER went out, particularly on Sunday! "Oh, well," he said as he grabbed a soda and went to his room to read.

A couple of hours later, he heard the door shut and was ready for a break, so he came out of his room and grabbed another soda. Leaning in the kitchen doorframe, he nodded and said, "What's up?"

Andy smiled at his son and shook his head. "Not much!"

"Where you been?" Jim asked, smiling. His dad's smile was so ... strange. His dad rarely smiled, and never grinned. So now his curiosity was piqued.

"I just spent the day with Sean," Andy replied, walking past his son.

"Oh yeah?" Jim asked. "Have fun?"

He didn't see his dad blush as the man grabbed a drink from the refrigerator. "Yeah, we did. Mostly we just talked the day away," Andy said. "To be honest, except for you, I'm a pretty lonely old dude, Jimbo....   It just took reconnecting with an old friend to realize how much!"

Jim put his arm across his dad's shoulders and said, "I'm sorry, dad. I know you've done a lot for me, and ...."

"Hush that," Andy said. "I may have used that as an excuse from time to time, but I've just been afraid to put myself out there, afraid of getting rejected." Jim looked at his son and said, "You know I'd never, never ever turn my back on you son. No matter what?"

Jim nodded and sniffed. "Dad, I," he began and then stopped.

Before he could walk away, Andy grabbed his shoulder and pulled him into a hug. "It's alright, son! I promise, I promise it's alright, whatever it is!"

"Dad," Jim sighed, beginning to sob, crying on his dad's shoulder.

"Are you ashamed?" Andy asked, squeezing. "Cause you shouldn't be!"

"I'm just afraid to say it," Jim said.

"How long will Seamus wait around for you to get your head on straight?" Andy asked.

"What?" Jim laughed. Andy shook his head, and Jim said, "Dad, I'm in love with a boy!"

"No shit?" Andy asked, laughing and sarcastic. "I totally thought you just wanted a puppy!" Andy looked at him and asked, "Is it Dean?"

"Shut up, dad," Jim laughed and blushed. "Your son just came out! Be nice!"

"So, who is it?" Andy teased. "Is it that boy down at the market who always wants to help with the groceries unless I'm alone?"

"DAD!" Jim said. "You know who it is!"

Andy smiled and said, "Are you hungry?"

"Nah," Jim said, "my stomach is actually all messed up with nerves, thanks to you!"

"Well, if you're not going to eat, and you're already anxious, why don't you go over there and tell Paul what you just told me?" Andy asked.

"I couldn't," Jim said, blushing at the thought of it.

"Why not, son?" Andy said. "What's left to be afraid of?"

"What if he doesn't ... say yes?" Jim asked.

Andy laughed and asked, "Have you ever met Paul?" Jim looked confused and he added, "Son, Paul adores you ... and NO not just as a friend. He has consigned himself to being your friend because he thinks you aren't interested!"

"Really?" Jim asked.

"He stares at your ass all the time, son!" Andy laughed. Jim grabbed his keys and his father said, "I only have one concern!" Jim stopped and looked nervous. "When you tell him, don't let him get you alone! Otherwise I can't guarantee your safety!"

Jim laughed and shook his head. "DAD!"

"GO!" Andy said, waving him off.

***

Paul was in his room when his phone rang. "Hello?"

"Paulie?" Jim said.

"Hey, Jim?" Paul said. "Everything okay? You sound funny...."

"We need to talk," Jim said nervously.

"What?" Paul asked, sounding afraid. "What's wrong?"

"Paulie," Jim said, hesitating, "can you come outside? I'm in the driveway. I don't want to do this on the phone."

"Okay," Paul said, trembling. He had no idea what to expect.

"What's wrong?" Molly asked from the living room as he walked by.

"Jim's outside," Paul said, pale. "He says we need to talk...."

"Are you okay, honey?" she said.

"Just scared," he admitted with a tight-lipped smile.

Phil looked up at his son and said, "Kid, it's Jim...."

Paul smiled and said, "Thanks, dad." Then he opened the door and walked out onto the porch. Jim was standing by his car fidgeting nervously. He didn't move to come up to the house, so very slowly Paul walked down to the car and stood in front of him, looking at the ground.

"Paul," Jim said, nervously, "these last few weeks, hanging out and stuff, have been great. Really great. You're ... I've never met anyone like you before, and...."

"Jim?" Paul asked, confused. This was beginning to sound like a break-up speech.

"What I'm trying to say is ... you're a good friend and all but," Jim said, getting mixed up and confused with his nervousness.

"WHAT?" Paul asked, angrily. "Decided you couldn't take the heat after all? Being friends with the campus queer too much stress? Too much work?" Jim was stunned by the angry outburst, and stood there as if slapped. "Let me guess, it's not me, it’s you, right?" Then Paul stormed off toward the house.

He was nearly to the steps before Jim came to his senses. Jim broke into a run and caught him on the porch. He grabbed the boy's shoulder and spun him around and grabbed him by both arms. Paul looked afraid for a moment, and then Jim dragged him into himself, hugging him tight, and said, "Don't be such a drama queen!"

With an arm over his shoulder, he led the crying boy back down to the car and reached inside. When he stood up, he was holding a rose and a king-sized Mounds Bar, which he handed to Paul, who looked totally confused now. "I, uhm ... every time we get ice-cream, you get something with chocolate and coconut, so I figured," Jim began mumbling nervously. "And the rose.... Well, it was the nicest things I could think of on Sunday night, and get at a gas station," he said with a scared smile.

"I ... don't," Paul said, still confused. Jim leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips, stroking his cheek with his thumb.

Paul gasped and brought his hand to his lips, a look of surprise lighting up his eyes, which still glistened with tears. "I thought you were going to tell me we couldn't be friends," he whispered.

"What I wanted to tell you is that I didn't want to be JUST friends anymore," Jim said, pressing up against the boy with a shy grin.

"Well, I see that NOW," Paul said happily. "I'm just glad I kept myself from smacking you before I stormed off...."

"Might've kept me from standing there stunned by your Streisand impression," Jim said, arching his eyebrows.

"Hey, now! No need for gay slurs," Paul said, laying his cheek on the boy's chest and letting Jim hold him. "No wonder you needed some space after finding me with Billy...."

"And the whole Seamus thing," Jim added. Paul nodded and Jim continued, "All I can say is I want to be with you pretty much all the time. You're all I think about most days."

Paul squeezed him and said, "I ... never thought this would happen," squeezing Jim tight.

"I hoped," Jim said. "I hoped from the first day I talked to you after Danny asked me to watch your back."

"Liked what you saw, did you?" Paul teased.

"No," Jim said. "Yes. I mean, I'm trying to be serious here!"

"Sorry," Paul smiled up at him and batted his eyes.

"No you aren't," Jim said. "What I saw was a strong boy hurting, but who was willing to trust me. I felt like I wanted to just hold you."

Paul squeezed him again and said, "You were always different."

Jim leaned in and kissed him, again softly and on the lips, chaste but sweet. He felt soft skin on his neck as Paul's hand grasped him. "Easy," Jim whispered shakily as Paul's fingers grasped at him hungrily, trying to pull him in for more.

"What?" Paul asked innocently.

"I'm an old fashioned kind of boy," Jim said. "Let me enjoy my first kiss," he asked with a blush of embarrassment.

"YOU've never been kissed?" Paul asked, sizing up the sexy boy in front of him.

"Never brave enough with a guy 'til now, and no interest in practicing on girls," Jim said. "I was waiting on you...."

"That's so ... romantic," Paul said, his eyes watering. He diffused that rush he felt with humor, "Sad ... but romantic!"

"Paulie, these two little kisses made it all worth it," Jim said, grasping Paul's hands and holding them tight to his chest. He exhaled and said, "As much as I hate to ... I've got exams in the morning. We've got exams in the morning."

"It's gonna be hard to study now," Paul said.

"Sorry," Jim smiled sheepishly.

"NO!" Paul said. "Don't you dare even suggest you should have kept me waiting another day!" Jim laughed and hugged him tight one last time for the night. Paul shivered from his feet to his forehead on feeling warm, wet lips on the base of his neck. "You missed that the other night when you were asleep," Jim whispered.

"What?" Paul asked, smiling. Jim's eyes twinkled as he repressed the urge to say, 'Ask your mom!'

When Paul stepped back into the house, he leaned back against the door and clutched a single, long stem red rose and Mounds Bar to his chest, wearing a smile of thanks as he murmured, "Thank you, God!"

"Well?" his father asked, leaning against the doorpost of the living room. "I take it that things went ... better than you hoped?"

Paul nodded and said, almost incoherently, "He brought me a candy bar," with a silly grin.

"I see," Phil said. "And the flower?"

"That too!" Paul said, as he began to walk to the stairs dreamily.

***

Andy was sitting in his chair watching television when Jim arrived. The boy was shaking with nervous energy and excitement. "So?" Andy asked. "It looks like he didn't say no?"

"Yeah," Jim said, "I mean no, he didn't say no! Oh dad, it was awesome! I took him flowers and candy and at first I was so nervous he thought I was 'breaking up' with him, but then I grabbed him and kissed him and then he realized and.... Oh my God," Jim said, his eyes widening. "I'm dating a guy...."

Andy rolled his eyes and said, "And?"

"I just ... what happens at school tomorrow? Am I, like, out or something now? What's it all mean?" Jim asked, collapsing onto the couch, his adrenaline rush spent.

"You take it slow, or tell everybody. Paul will support you; Danny's got your back. You've got me and Sean watching out for you. Besides, when you weren't dating, you never worried about people thinking you were!"

"But now we are!" Jim reiterated, "I'm dating a guy!" This time there was more excitement and less 'oh-fuck-what’s-going-to-happen' in his voice.

"I know how you feel buddy!" Andy said, laughing.

"Yeah, okay dad," Jim said. Then he looked at his dad with shock and asked, "WHAT?"

"I said, 'I know how you feel,'" Andy replied with a shrug. "Watch out for scotch, Jim! It's powerful shit!"

 

*****************

 

Thanks to Bruce for a correction.

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