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Riding Lessons II: Lessons Learned

by Andrew Todd

Part 9

Interlude: Dylan

Dylan Summers walked through the barn looking for his missing glove. The thirteen-year-old had been riding at Sanders Farm since he was six and was one of the winningest riders they had had in recent years. He was also incredibly absentminded, so it was not unusual to see him running around the barn looking for something or other that he had misplaced. Today it was a glove, tomorrow it would be his helmet or crop or something else.

Tanner Collins laughed as he watched his best friend hunt high and low for his glove. The two boys had been best friends since the day they met at the farm. Dylan had been riding for a year already when Tanner came for his first lesson. These days they were each other's biggest cheerleader and chief competition.

Dylan was average height for his age--about 5'6"; he was just beginning his dance with lady puberty, and as a result his feet and hands were disproportionately large compared to the rest of his body. Dylan had brown hair that was always just a little too long and shaggy. He had worn contacts for the past few years. His eyes were a vibrant green, with gold flecks that sparked when he was up to no good, which was often when he and Tanner were together.

Tanner was six months younger than Dylan, but he was just finishing his encounter with puberty and was therefore several inches taller than his friend. Tanner had jet-black hair that he kept very short, almost buzzed, and ice-blue eyes. While Dylan's skin tone tended to be darker, especially when he tanned during the summer, Tanner was pale and always stayed that way. He was fond of saying his skin only went two ways--pasty white and sunburn red.

"Found it!" Dylan called out as he pulled his wayward glove out of an empty water bucket.

Tanner laughed, "How did it end up in there?"

Dylan just shook his head. He was famous not only for losing things, but for finding them in the most unusual of places.

His afternoon entertainment taken care of, Tanner went to get his horse, a flashy thoroughbred named Keystone, ready for practice. Keystone was a Bay that Tanner had had for the past three years. He was a speed demon in the ring and routinely gave Dylan and his horse, a black Arabian named Dodger, a run for their money. Unfortunately, Tanner lost to Dylan in competition most of the time. While Tanner was an excellent rider and Keystone was a strong competitor, they found the combination of Dylan and Dodger to be unbeatable. As much as Tanner loved his friend, he wanted nothing more than to beat Dylan in one competition.

Tanner and Keystone would often beat Dylan and Dodger when they practiced, but when there were real stakes involved, Dylan always managed to push things up a notch and beat Tanner.

Dylan and Dodger had been a team for almost five years. When his parents had first purchased the horse for the then-eight-year-old Dylan, many people, including the farm's owners thought they were crazy. Dodger was an excellent jumper but he required a strong and steady hand. He was a horse that was very empathic to his rider, reacting to their energy and emotions. He had been disqualified from his last competition for refusing several jumps. His rider in those competitions was a college-aged girl who had been riding almost since birth. General consensus was that if she could not control Dodger then an eight-year-old had no chance.

Dylan shocked all the doubters, by climbing on his new horse and running an extremely difficult course clean and in record time. Dylan was always incredibly focused. He put all his energy into his rides. He was calm and controlled in his movements while in the saddle. This calming influence kept Dodger under control and as a result the two became an unbeatable tandem.

Dylan and Tanner spent the next couple of hours running the course that had been set up for practice. They would go a few times at a slow pace to get the horses used to the course and the jumps; and to make sure they had the correct number of strides between jumps, and their hands and body positions were correct.

After practicing the course a few times, they would move to a more 'serious' competition mode. They would each run the course and then spend a few minutes critiquing each other. They did this for several rounds. They would switch horses several times. Both boys were used to riding the other's horse. There was a challenge to riding a different horse. For Dylan, Keystone was more reckless; it took more of his energy to keep the horse in check, making sure he didn't run the course too fast and knock down rails. Tanner loved riding Dodger, but he and the horse were never actually in sync. Tanner knew he would never win a competition on Dodger, but the horse made him focus more on the course and really pay attention, where when he rode Keystone the two just went balls out.

Finally, the two boys would go back to their own horses and they would have a timed jump-off. The goal of the jump-off was to have the fastest time around the course with the fewest faults. Dylan almost always won these. Tanner and Keystone would have the fastest times, but would always be good for at least two or three downed rails. Dylan and Dodger would only be seconds behind their competition's time, but they almost always jumped clean, which would lead to Dylan's winning the round.

As they finished their last jump-off round and walked the horses around the ring, they heard the sound of applause over by the rail. Both boys turned and smiled as they saw Cody McGill standing at the rail watching them.

Seventeen-year-old Cody was Dylan's and Tanner's idol. He had been riding at the farm for years and was without a doubt the best rider there. Cody was about six-feet tall with perfectly coifed blond hair and brown eyes. When he smiled, his toothy grin was blinding. Both Dylan and Tanner craved Cody's attention. He would often spend time with both boys critiquing their riding and giving them pointers.

"Hey, Cody," Tanner called. "How did we do?"

"You guys are doing great, but Tanner, you need to get Key more focused on the course. He's got the speed, but his focus is all over the place. Dylan, you need to get Dodger going faster. You two are winning but you're too careful. If you can keep the accuracy and take a few seconds off the round, you'll be unbeatable."

The two friends looked at each other and grinned--praise from Cody was something they each sought.

"I'll tell you what guys," Cody interrupted their thoughts. "There's that big competition two weeks from tomorrow. I'll work with you guys after school and then the day before, Saturday, we'll have a mini-completion here. Whichever one of you wins gets a prize."

"What's the prize?" Tanner asked.

"Hmmm…" Cody thought for a moment. "How about a ride home?" he suggested.

Dylan's and Tanner's eyes lit up like it was Christmas. Cody drove a bright-red Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. The two friends each would have sold the other into slavery to get a chance to ride that bike with Cody.

"What do you say, guys?" Cody asked, barely able to conceal his grin; he knew the two younger boys were dying to ride his bike.

Both boys nodded furiously at Cody.

"You're on," Dylan answered for both of them.

"Ok, I'll meet you both Monday afternoon after you get out of school," Cody offered. "And we'll start training. But, right now, I gotta go do some practicing of my own."

Cody turned and walked away. Tanner and Dylan were literally shaking with excitement. The idea of Cody actually coaching them was great, but to have him offer to give one of them a ride on his Ninja was more than either had ever hoped for.

The two were talking a mile a minute as they cooled down the horses in the showers. They groomed the horses and put them up.

As they passed a deserted tack room, Tanner grabbed Dylan's arm and pulled him into the room. Before Dylan could react, Tanner had shut the door and pinned Dylan against the wall.

Tanner leaned in and locked his lips onto Dylan's.

While most of those at the farm saw Dylan and Tanner as the best friends that they were, what almost no one knew was that they were also boyfriends. They had both realized they were crushing on each other a few months ago and had begun to fool around whenever they had the chance.

They usually did not get up to anything at the farm, since there were too many people around and things could get back to their parents, but Tanner was so hot right now he couldn't control himself.

Dylan's eyes bugged out as Tanner literally attacked him in the tack room. Dylan felt Tanner's tongue licking at his lips and he parted them to allow Tanner entrance. The two tongue-wrestled and groped one another in the dark room.

Dylan felt his breeches shrinking as his cock hardened. He finally had to push Tanner away.

Tanner had a flash of disappointment on his face.

"What's gotten into you?" Dylan asked with a grin, like he didn't know.

Tanner grinned back. "Probably the same thing that's gotten to you… Cody."

Dylan nodded. "He is hot."

Tanner nodded. "Oh, my god. I love you, but I'd give my left nut and yours to spend just a few minutes with him."

"Gee, thanks."

"You know what I mean." Tanner hugged Dylan. "I said I love you and I do. Cody is just so…"

"I know," Dylan agreed. "I'd probably do the same thing."

"Then, just thinking of getting to sit behind him and the Ninja and have my arms wrapped around him." Tanner's eyes rolled back in his head as he was overwhelmed by his fantasy. "Oh, shit, I'm ready to shoot just thinking about it."

"Well, get yourself under control. You know it's not safe here," Dylan admonished.

"I know," Tanner agreed.

"Let's go watch Cody practice for a few minutes," Dylan suggested. "My mom will be here at five to pick us up."

Tanner nodded and the two boys straightened themselves up and exited the tack room.

They found Cody practicing in another arena that had a jumping course set up. This course was much more difficult than the one that Dylan and Tanner had been riding earlier.

Dylan and Tanner both climbed the rail and perched on the top. Cody's horse was a big tan-colored Warmblood named Chance. Cody had had Chance for years and the pair had won many competitions.

The two younger boys watched every move that Cody and Chance made. They filed everything away to help themselves later, at the same time admiring the way Cody moved the big horse around the course.

When he had finished his latest run, Cody rode over to where the two younger boys sat.

"Looking good, Cody," Tanner said to his idol.

"Yeah, Chance's doing great," Dylan agreed.

"Thanks, guys," Cody grinned as he patted Chance's neck. "He's doing pretty good on this course. Hopefully, we'll be ready for that next competition."

"Sure you will," Tanner said. "You guys'll kick ass."

Cody laughed. "Hey, you guys want to give it a go?"

Dylan's jaw dropped. "Are you serious?" he asked.

Cody hopped down from Chance and walked over to the fence. He handed the reins up to Dylan. "Sure."

Dylan was beside himself. He leapt down from his perch and grabbed the reins from Cody.

Cody laughed at Dylan's excitement. "Slow down, Dyl," he admonished. "He spooks easy. I don't need to explain your ass flying through the air."

Cody gave Dylan a leg up and helped Dylan adjust the stirrup lengths.

"Ok," Cody said as he hopped up onto the rail next to Tanner. "Just take him around the ring to warm him up and then try the course."

Dylan started Chance out around the ring; after two warm-up laps he spurred the horse into a canter and ran the course. Chance was a stronger horse than Dodger and he took all of Dylan's strength and concentration to handle.

Dylan completed his first round of the course knocking over four rails. In a real competition a performance like that would have taken him far out of the running.

Dylan looked at Cody; his expression was one of disgust with his performance.

Cody grinned at him and hopped down to reset the rails.

When he had reset the rails, Cody walked over to where Dylan waited with Chance.

Cody reached up and rested his hand on Dylan's leg. He absently rubbed Dylan's thigh with one hand while he spoke quietly to the younger boy.

"Ok, Dyl, you need to breathe. You are thinking about it too much. Chance will do whatever you want him to do, but he's a speed demon. He wants to go fast. Give him his head and let him run the course. Guide him and keep a tight hold on the reins." Cody demonstrated with his free hand the position he wanted Dylan's hands in.

Cody patted Dylan's thigh and stepped away. "Now, show me what you can do," he instructed Dylan.

Dylan again had Chance take a couple of warm-up laps around the arena. When Dylan spurred Chance into action this time, he was ready for the horse's sudden burst of speed. He kept a tight hold on the reins, while allowing the big horse to maintain his speed.

Cody and Tanner whooped it up as Dylan ran the course several seconds faster than his first try, but most importantly, with no faults.

Cody and Tanner both jumped off the rail as Dylan rode up.

"That was awesome, Dylan," Cody said.

Dylan swooned as Cody's praise went to his head.

Dylan slid down from Chance. "You gonna give it a go, Tanner?" he asked his friend.

Tanner shook his head. "No, you did good, but I gotta figure out how to get that kind of performance out of Keystone."

"We'll work on that next week," Cody said.

Dylan saw his mom drive up. "Hey, my mom's here," he said. "Cody, thanks a lot, but we gotta jet."

"Ok, I'll see you guys Monday," Cody laughed as the two younger boys ran off.

"Seeya," both boys yelled over their shoulders to Cody.

Cody kept to his promise and worked with Dylan and Tanner every day for the next two weeks. Both boys stepped up their game under Cody's tutelage. Tanner was running his courses cleaner but still maintaining the speed that Keystone was known for. Dylan was getting more speed out of Dodger while still holding onto the control that the horse needed.

Cody was pleased with both his pupils. He showered them with the praise he knew they both craved.

Finally, the day came for the big jump-off between the two boys.

Cody had spent most of the afternoon creating a course that would challenge the boys and their mounts. He wanted them to succeed, but he wanted them to work for it as well.

"Alright, guys," Cody addressed the two boys who were waiting excitedly to start. "I want you each to walk the course, get a feel for it and pace out your run. You will have ten minutes to walk it and make a plan of action. There will be no practice rounds. You will get one bite at this apple. Once your ten minutes are up or you feel that you have a plan for the course, then you are to go over to the practice ring and warm the horses up. Take a few practice jumps. You will then run the course one at a time. The runs will be timed. Fastest time and fewest faults combined wins. Any questions?"

Both boys shook their heads.

"In that case, let's flip for spots." Cody pulled a quarter from his pocket and flipped it in the air. He caught it and slapped it on the back of his hand. "Tanner, you're the youngest, you call it."

"Heads," Tanner said.

Cody lifted the hand covering the coin and showed it to the boys. "Sorry, it's tails. Dylan, first or second run."

Dylan grinned. "I'll go second."

"Ok, your ten minutes starts now," Cody said as the two boys walked briskly to the first jump of the course.

After they had walked the course, pacing the strides they would need between jumps, the two walked to where Cody waited with their horses. Cody first gave Tanner a leg up and then Dylan. He opened the gate into the practice ring he had set up. It was an open ring with several jumps that the boys could use to warm up the horses.

After the boys had gotten their horses warmed up, Cody called them over and led Tanner and Keystone to the starting point for the course. He told Dylan to wait at the entrance and when Tanner finished and left the ring, then Dylan could start his run, unless Tanner had any rails down; in that case Dylan would have to wait for Cody to reset the course for him.

Cody climbed up on the fence rail around the arena. He motioned for Tanner to get ready and signaled him to start.

Tanner and Keystone took the course like the speed demons they were. Keystone's hooves brushed a couple of rails, rocking them, but leaving them all in place.

When they finished, Tanner was beside himself; it was the first clean round he had jumped with Keystone. Jumping clean had always been their problem and now he had not only run the course fast, he had jumped it clean.

Dylan was happy for Tanner, but he was determined to win this thing. He knew that Tanner had conquered his problem, which was his control. Now, Dylan had to conquer his, which was speed. He never had a problem getting Dodger to jump clean, but since Tanner had jumped clean, the only way to beat him was to do it faster than him.

'Good job, Tanner," Cody yelled from his perch. "You ran that course in 29.5 seconds with no refusals. Dylan, you're gonna have to run it clean and faster to win," he said as he looked over at Dylan.

Dylan had a look of determination on his face. He was surprised how much he wanted this, since it was not a 'real' competition. He knew that he wanted the ride on Cody's Ninja, but more than anything he wanted to impress Cody and show him that he was the better rider.

"Ready, Dyl?" Cody asked.

Dylan nodded. Cody motioned for him to start and Dylan spurred Dodger into action. Dylan and Dodger ran the course like no one had ever seen them do it. Dylan kept Dodger going as fast as the horse could and yet maintained complete control.

As he passed the finish line, Dylan was thrilled; he thought he had beat Tanner's time, but more than that he knew that he had taken the course as fast as Dodger could run it and he had still maintained the control that he always had--they had jumped clean and fast.

Tanner met him at the rail and the two shook hands from atop their horses.

Tanner grinned at Dylan. "Good job, bro," he said. "However it turns out that was a great ride."

"You, too," Dylan said.

Both boys rode over to where Cody waited for them.

"Ok, guys," Cody said as he jumped down from the rail. "That was great work from both of you. You should be really proud. If one of you doesn't win on Sunday, then it won't be from a lack of doing everything you could."

Both boys smiled broadly at Cody.

"Thanks for all the help, Cody," Dylan said.

Tanner nodded. "Yeah, I feel like I've hit a new level and we are going to do great this weekend. But, Cody, who won?"

Cody laughed. "Alright, Tanner you jumped clean in a time of 29.50 seconds. That was awesome, especially the fact that you made it clean. Dylan, you jumped clean, of course, but your time was 28.78 seconds. So not only did you jump clean, but you beat Tanner's time, which you usually don't do. So Dylan, you win."

Dylan smiled broadly. He looked over at Tanner. There was no disappointment in his friend's eyes; Tanner was happy for Dylan, because they had both done all they could to win the competition.

"So, Dylan, let your mom know that I'll give you a ride home on Monday night." Cody grinned at Dylan who was beside himself with happiness.

"Alright," Dylan agreed. "Thanks for everything, Cody." Dylan rushed over and hugged the older boy.

Tanner walked over and did the same thing. "Yeah, thanks a lot, Cody."

Cody hugged each of the boys back. "Hey, you guys are welcome. It's been fun; now go out and kick some ass on Sunday."

Both younger boys laughed and nodded. They high-fived each other and Cody.

The boys hurried to get the horses taken care of and put up before Tanner's mother came to pick them up.

The competition on Sunday went better than either boy expected. Dylan ended up winning, with Tanner coming in a very close second. Both jumped clean, Dylan besting Tanner's time by a mere tenth of a second.

Both boys were still on their winner's high when they got to the ranch Monday afternoon.

They were expecting to get in some practice, but were surprised to see Cody waiting for them with Chance, Keystone and Dodger all tacked up.

"Hey, Cody, what's up?" asked Dylan as they walked up.

"Well, guys, I know that Dylan won our little competition and he's getting his ride home this afternoon, but after your performances yesterday, I thought you deserved a reward for the both of you. So, I got the horses all ready and we are going to take a break from training today and take a nice long trail ride."

"All right!!" Tanner exclaimed. He and Dylan both loved to trail ride, but they spent so much time training that they rarely had the extra time.

The boys had a great afternoon riding the trail with Cody. A couple of times Cody had them cantering and flat out running through the open fields. He took them over a cross-country course that had been set up for practice. Neither boy had ever done one and they loved the feeling of running cross-country and taking the jumps and obstacles on.

They returned to the ranch two hours later; the boys were completely exhausted, but exhilarated from the ride.

Cody led the boys to the shower stations by the barn and they each washed and groomed their horses before putting them up for the night.

By the time they had finished, Tanner's mom had arrived to pick him up.

"Have fun, guys," Tanner yelled over his shoulder as he was running to his mom's car.

Cody turned to Dylan. "So, hot shot, you ready to go?"

Dylan was smiling so wide all he could do was nod.

Cody grinned back at him. "Then let's go."

He led Dylan over to where he had parked his Ninja.

"Hey, I told your mom we wouldn't be home until later. I thought we'd go to Sue's and get something to eat."

Dylan was about to pass out he was so excited; not only was he going to get a ride on Cody's awesome motorcycle, but Cody was going to take him to Sue's!!

Sue's was a local diner. It had a fifties style to it and was the most popular hangout in town for the high-school kids. Kids Dylan's age didn't get to go there much, because it wasn't the type of place your parents would take you to. Dylan had never been but he had heard many stories from his friend's older siblings, especially from Casey, Tanner's older sister who was a junior in high school. She told them things that went on at Sue's that only made Dylan and Tanner want to go more. Tanner was going to shit himself when he found out Dylan had gone to Sue's.

"Cool," was all Dylan said, since he wanted to appear to be just that.

Cody handed Dylan a helmet and made sure it was secure before he got on the bike. He started the bike and motioned for Dylan to climb up behind him.

Dylan scrambled up onto the bike behind Cody and leaned forward and wrapped his arms around the older boy. Since it was a warm spring day, both boys were dressed in only t-shirts and jeans. Leaning against Cody this way, Dylan could smell a mixture of cologne and sweat coming off of Cody. The scent and being in such close proximity to the handsome boy was making Dylan achingly hard.

No matter what he tried, he knew that his dick wasn't going down anytime soon. Most days the thing had a mind of its own and in this situation--hot older boy, touching him, sitting on a motorcycle--he was amazed he wasn't shooting non-stop in his pants.

The bike started moving and Dylan felt his dick lengthen again.

Cody kept them at a slower speed to give Dylan a chance to get used to the bike. When he sensed that Dylan was comfortable, Cody opened the throttle and went tearing down the street.

Dylan was doing everything he could to keep from going over the edge. If this had been a month ago, he wouldn't have cared. But now he'd had his first wet dream. Before that he would have come a hundred times and not cared; now he had to be worried about wetting his pants when he came. The last thing he wanted was to walk into Sue's with Cody McGill and have a huge wet spot on his pants. He'd die of embarrassment and Tanner would find out and crucify him.

It was the epic amount of panic and fear that Dylan felt over his predicament that probably saved him. He was so scared that he would shoot, that his dick quickly deflated and retreated. It probably would have hidden halfway up Dylan's ass had that been possible.

By the time they pulled into the parking lot at Sue's, Dylan was finally calming down. The rush of the motorcycle ride was still coursing through him.

Cody pulled into a space near the front door. He turned off the motorcycle and laughed as he felt the death grip that Dylan had on his abs.

"Hey, Dyl, you ok?"

"Huh; yeah, I'm good," Dylan answered as he let go of Cody and sat up straight. "Stay cool," he kept telling himself. He threw his leg over the back of the bike and stepped onto the ground. The excitement of the ride was still with him and his leg was like jelly so he wavered a little as he tried to get off the bike. He grabbed the back of the bike for support and thus missed landing on his ass.

When his leg muscles seemed to be working, he stepped away from the bike and Cody dismounted. Cody took off his helmet and held his hand out for Dylan's. Dylan handed his helmet to Cody and Cody left them both on the bike seat.

Cody held the door for Dylan as they entered Sue's. Dylan was floored--the inside of the restaurant was even cooler than Casey had described. It had a retro-Fifties look. The décor was straight out of 'Arnold's' on the old 'Happy Days' show that he and Tanner watched on cable. There was an old juke box in the middle of the diner and kids were dancing around it.

Many kids came up to greet Cody. Dylan knew he was very popular in school and Cody made sure he introduced Dylan to everyone that said hi to them. Cody kept introducing Dylan as his "little bro"--that made Dylan swoon even more.

The whole evening was amazing. Cody got them a booth off to the side where he held court all night. He made sure that Dylan had most of his attention. Cody ordered them loaded cheeseburgers and chili cheese fries for dinner and huge banana splits for dessert. The whole meal was great. Dylan couldn't wait to tell Tanner about it.

As they were leaving the diner Cody was stopped by even more people. Lots of kids stopped to talk to Dylan too. Most people assumed that since Dylan was hanging with someone as cool as Cody he must be a cool dude, too.

When they finally made it back to the motorcycle, Cody asked Dylan if he would like to go to his house for a bit. Cody's parents were out and he wanted to show Dylan some of the ribbons that he had won. Dylan thought that it would be cool to hang out some more with Dylan, so he readily agreed.

Cody drove them straight to his house and within a few minutes of leaving Sue's they were in Cody's room looking at Cody's ribbons and trophies that he had amassed in his time riding.

Dylan was impressed; he knew that Cody was a great rider, but he had no idea he had won so many prizes.

"Hey, Dylan," Cody said. "Come sit with me over here." Cody was sitting on his bed and he gestured for Dylan to sit there as well.

Dylan went over and sat next to Cody on the bed.

"So, did you have fun tonight?" Cody asked.

"Oh, yeah," answered Dylan; "it was great, thanks a lot."

Cody grinned. "You're welcome. I'm glad you had fun. You're a cool kid, Dyl. I was actually rooting for you to beat Tanner."

"You were?"

"Sure, you're the better rider and you are a really cool kid. And you're cute as hell."

Dylan's head was swimming; did Cody McGill just call him 'cute'"??

"You really think I'm c-c-cute?" Dylan stuttered.

Cody grinned down at him and started rubbing his thigh. "Oh, hell yes. You are one of the cutest guys around." Cody's hand began to creep up Dylan's side. He stopped every few second to rub whatever spot his hand was on.

Dylan was starting to become uncomfortable. He liked Cody--he was a cool guy; but he wasn't sure what Cody had in mind for them.

"Relax, Dylan," Cody said as he noticed Dylan start to tense up. He placed his hands on Dylan's shoulders and turned him so his back was to Cody. Cody rubbed his shoulders to relax him. All the touching was actually having the opposite effect on Dylan.

Dylan jumped when he felt Cody's lips press against his neck.

"Cody! What are you doing?" Dylan asked nervously as Cody continued to kiss and lick his neck.

"Just relax, dude; I've seen you and Tanner go at it. I'm just gonna show you how the big boys do it," Cody replied as he kissed Dylan's earlobes and turned him so that he could kiss at the hollow of his neck.

"What do you mean?"

"C'mon, Dylan, don't be a tease." Cody was getting irritated. "I've seen you and Tanner sneak off at the farm and I saw the two of you making out in the tack room week before last. I figured you'd like seeing what you could do with a real man."

Before Dylan could respond, Cody grabbed him and looked him in the eye. The hungry look in Cody's cold eyes scared Dylan.

Cody lunged forward and locked his lips onto Dylan's. Dylan tried to resist, but Cody held him tight and forced his tongue into Cody's mouth. Dylan panicked; he couldn't breathe. He bit down on Cody's tongue.

"OW!!" Cody screamed. "You little bitch!!" Cody backhanded Dylan so hard his head rattled.

Dylan lay on the bed dazed from the blow. He felt Cody reach for his belt and undo it. He tried to push himself away, but he couldn't focus.

Dylan felt Cody's hands grab the waist of his jeans and pull them and his underwear off. A cold rush of air hit his bare ass. He needed to get out of here; he didn't want this. Not this way.

Cody stood up to undo his pants and Dylan saw this as his chance. Dylan tried to get up and run for the door, but his feet got tangled in his jeans and he fell to the floor.

Cody laughed cruelly and grabbed Dylan.

"Alright, enough hard to get," he said as he shoved Dylan down onto the bed.

Cody dropped his pants and Dylan found himself eye to eye with Cody's huge uncut cock.

"Suck it," Cody instructed.

Dylan had no intention of putting that monster in his mouth.

Cody backhanded Dylan a second time. "I said 'SUCK IT!!'" he ordered. "And if I feel so much as one tooth, you're gonna be sorry."

Dylan leaned forward and started to lick at the head of Cody's dick. Cody had no patience and grabbed the back of Dylan's head. Cody pushed his hard cock into Dylan's mouth and fucked himself in and out of Dylan's throat.

Dylan thought he was going to throw up. He started to gag.

Cody pulled out. "Nope, none of that," he said, "You puke in here and I'll kick your ass good."

Cody grabbed Dylan under his armpits and hoisted him off the bed.

He turned Dylan around so his back was to Cody and Cody pushed him onto the bed.

Dylan lay face down on the bed dreading what Cody might do to him next.

Dylan felt Cody's cold hands grab his asscheeks and pull them apart. He felt something wet probe his hole. Was Cody really licking his ass? he thought with a feeling of revulsion. Cody continued to work his tongue into Dylan's asshole as Dylan squirmed and tried to get away.

Cody reached under Dylan and grabbed hold of the smaller boy's ballsack. He roughly pulled and squeezed at the delicate orbs. Dylan moaned in pain, which Cody took as a cry of passion and he continued to manipulate Dylan's balls and shaft.

Dylan felt himself hardening from Cody's manipulations. He was disgusted with himself; he knew he didn't want any of this, so why was his damn dick so hard.

Cody kept stroking Dylan's cock as he ate Dylan's ass out.

Dylan was temporarily relieved when Cody released his cock and pulled his tongue out of his ass.

Then, Dylan felt Cody crawl up over his body and lay his entire weight on Dylan's back. He felt something warm and hard against his asshole. He hoped and prayed that wasn't what he thought it was.

Cody's head was against his. "Don't worry, Dyl," Cody whispered in his ear. "You're gonna love this," he said as he drove the full length of his hard prick into Dylan's tender hole.

"AARRGGHH!!!" Dylan screamed as he was violated. Tears came to his eyes. He strained and pushed to get away from the invading piece of flesh, but Cody held him tight. Dylan saw stars as the excruciating pain ran through his ass and lower extremities.

Cody was violently pumping into Dylan's ass. He was in his own world. No one said 'No' to Cody. Not any of the neighborhood kids, not the girls from the farm and certainly not this little shit. It had taken weeks of planning to get Dylan where he wanted him. He'd even had to fix the stopwatch so that Dylan 'won' the competition with Tanner. Tanner was next on Cody's list, but there was something about Dylan that really got him going.

Cody kept thrusting into Dylan. He didn't even notice when Dylan stopped struggling. He was used to them calming down once he got down to business.

When he finally came, Cody thrust himself balls deep into Dylan's tight ass and shot his load.

He lay on Dylan's back and kissed the younger boy's neck. Dylan wasn't even crying anymore.

"See, Dyl," Cody said. "I told you you'd like it."

When Dylan didn't answer, Cody rolled himself off Dylan and stood up beside the bed.

Cody reached down and turned Dylan over. He looked at Dylan's unconscious form.

Cody was pissed that Dylan had passed out--that usually did not happen. He watched as his warm jizz leaked from the kid's ass. It was pink, having mixed with some blood. It gave him a warm tingly feeling to break in a new kid. Dylan was tight and really cute--he'd have to have another go at him. But there wasn't time tonight for round two.

Cody pulled off Dylan's shoes and then his jeans and underwear. He sat Dylan up and pulled the smaller boy's t-shirt off.

Cody carried the naked and unconscious boy into the bathroom. He set Dylan on the toilet and started the shower.

Cody always made sure the boys and girls he was with showered before they left. Didn't want Mom or Dad noticing anything out of place.

Cody leaned over Dylan and began to lightly slap the boy's face.

"Dylan, wake up," he said quietly.

Dylan started to stir. "Wha..." he stuttered groggily. He was trying to focus.

Cody grabbed Dylan roughly and dragged him under the shower. As the scalding hot water hit him, Dylan started to wake up.

Tears started leaking from his eyes as Dylan remembered what Cody had done to him.

"Why?" he whispered. "Why did you do that?"

Cody sneered at Dylan. "Man up, dude! You loved it. If you play your cards right, there'll be more in your future. Your tight ass is great."

Dylan felt nauseous. His head was spinning. As much as Cody touching him made his skin crawl, he knew if Cody released his grip he would fall straight down.

Cody washed Dylan, like the smaller boy was a rag doll. He roughly scrubbed at every inch of Dylan's delicate skin leaving him red-raw. Cody aimed the shower nozzle between Dylan's ass cheeks and washed away any evidence of their encounter.

Dylan groaned as Cody shoved a washcloth-covered finger up his hole. He was so sore. He didn't see Cody remove the blood-stained cloth from between his legs.

Once he finished cleaning Dylan, Cody dragged him out of the shower and roughly dried him off. He led Dylan back into the bedroom and helped him to get dressed.

Dylan was still dazed and out of it as he felt Cody pull on his clothes.

On autopilot, Dylan bent over to pull on his sneakers.

Cody roughly grabbed Dylan by the elbow and led him out of the house.

Dylan started to come out of his daze as he sat on the back of Cody's motorcycle. The pain in his rear was horrible, especially with the vibration of the motorcycle.

Dylan stopped the bike in front of Dylan's house. He helped Dylan down and took the helmet from him.

Cody leaned in to Dylan; from the front window anyone seeing them would think that Cody was giving Dylan an innocent hug.

Cody pulled Dylan close and whispered in his ear, "Remember, you say anything about this and you are dead." He pulled back and looked into Dylan's terror-filled eyes. "Do you understand me?"

Dylan nodded; he turned towards the house and walked away.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Dylan," Cody waved cheerfully as he hopped back on his bike and sped off into the night.

Dylan stopped at his front door, his hand hovering above the doorknob. He took several deep breaths. He was fully awake now and remembered everything that Cody had done to him, but he knew that he could not let his parents find out what had happened. If they knew then they would know he was gay and he couldn't deal with that.

He opened the door and walked into the house.

"I'm home," he called, like he always did.

His mother came out of the kitchen.

"Hey, sweetie," she said as she hugged him. "How was your afternoon?"

"It was good," Dylan answered.

"Dylan what happened to your face?"


Dylan's mom turned him towards the hall mirror; Dylan saw that there was the beginning of a bruise on his cheek.

He felt his cheeks go red with shame.

"Oh, it was Dodger," he lied.


"Yeah, the big dope got too excited when I was getting him ready and he lifted his head real fast and caught me in the face. It's a little sore but I didn't think I'd get a bruise."

His mom laughed. "Well, it looks like you're going to have a pretty good bruise there tomorrow," she said as she lightly rubbed the mark on his face. "Are you hungry?"

"No, we had dinner out," Dylan answered. "I think I'm gonna just grab a shower and then head to bed. It's been a long day and I'm really tired."

"Ok, sweetie, good night."

"'Night, Mom," Dylan called as he climbed the stairs.

When Dylan got to his bedroom, he stripped and went into his bathroom. Even though he had showered at Cody's, he felt an overwhelming need to wash away everything that had happened to him.

He turned on the water as hot as he could get it. He stepped into the shower and grabbed his washcloth. He squirted some shower gel on the cloth and gently began to wash himself. He ran the cloth between his cheeks and gently touched his swollen hole. The pain was incredible.

As he stood under the spray, Dylan relived every moment of the last few hours. He slumped into the tub and began to cry. He wanted all the pain out of him. He would never think of this again, never speak of it. It didn't happen. Cody couldn't have done this to him.

Dylan sat in the tub, water spraying down on him until the water was too cold to tolerate.

He reached over and turned off the shower and pulled himself out of the tub. He toweled off and walked back into his bedroom.

He pulled on a pair of sweatpants and an old t-shirt and crawled into bed.

He fell into a fitful sleep.

The next morning, Dylan's mom came into wake him for school. He was awake but very tired and lethargic. She leaned over and felt his forehead.

"Oh, Dylan," she said. "You're a little warm around the edges. How do you feel?"

"My head hurts and I feel like I'm gonna puke," Dylan said. He wasn't lying, he did feel that way; he knew it wasn't the flu, though.

"Well, you stay in bed then," his mom ordered. "I'll call you in to school when I get to work. Your dad has already left for work--will you be ok by yourself?"

"Mom, I'll be ok; I'll probably just sleep anyways."

"Ok, sweetie. I'll call you later to check on you."

After he heard his mom drive away, Dylan reached into his pillow case and pulled out the heating pad that he had placed there and turned on full blast to heat his head up. He felt bad lying to his mother, but he could not face going to school today.

Dylan ended up missing three days of school. By the time he had to go back he was an emotional wreck.

Tanner sought him out right away to see how he was and Dylan pushed him away.

Dylan stopped riding and going to the farm. He couldn't deal with seeing Cody. His mom questioned him and he just told her that he had tired of riding and he was too old for it anymore.

His parents became concerned that their once mischievous and happy-go-lucky son had suddenly become moody and sullen. Dylan would lash out at almost anything. They didn't know what to make of his change of behavior. As they talked to friends, most told them to write it off as the moods of the 'Great American Teenager'.

Since they saw no other reason for his behavior, Mr. and Mrs. Summers came to accept this as a rite of passage for every parent.

By the time school had let out for the summer, Dylan had managed to alienate every friend he had at school. Tanner kept trying to pull him out of the shell that he had constructed around himself, but he finally gave up when Dylan told him off one final time.

Hardest for Dylan was the day his dad told him that if he was really going to give up riding then they needed to sell Dodger. For Dylan this was one more thing that Cody had taken from him. He couldn't ride anymore, because he couldn't face Cody and he didn't feel like he had any reason to do something that only made him happy. He didn't deserve to be happy.

Dylan spent most of the summer alone, holed up in his room. He would sleep most of the time, occasionally playing X-box. Since his parents worked all day, they didn't realize that he was not getting out of the house at all. They assumed he was out and about during the day. They would have been very concerned had they known he had become a virtual recluse.

At the end of the summer, Dylan's mother insisted that they go to the mall so he could get some new clothes for school. Dylan had grown two inches in height over the summer, but he had also become very thin. His mother was concerned that he wasn't eating right, so she had made an appointment for him to see his doctor for a check-up.

Dylan stumbled through the mall with his mom. Trying to get her old son back, she dragged him through all the stores he usually loved. They went through Aeropostale, American Eagle, Pac Sun and Hollister. Dylan would try on anything his mother suggested and then just nod when she told him how good it looked. Since he was so miserable, his mom decided to pull out the big guns and took him over to Abercrombie and Fitch, which had always been Dylan's favorite store.

They spent over an hour in A&F, Dylan trying on almost every conceivable outfit in his size. He was trying to be pleasant for his mother's sake, but he just did not want to be here. He didn't care about his clothes or about going back to school. He just wanted all the pain to go away.

When they left A&F, his mom suggested they go to the food court and get lunch. Dylan decided he wanted pizza so his mom gave him some money and he got in line at Sbarro while she went to Panda Express.

Dylan got his pizza and went over to the table that his mother was holding for them.

When he finished his pizza, he excused himself to run to the rest room.

He came out of the rest-room stall to find Tanner standing there waiting for him. He had not seen Tanner in a few months and was shocked by his appearance.

Tanner's face was even paler than usual. He had large dark circles under his eyes. His usually short and neat black hair had grown down to his shoulders and was an unruly mess. The look on Tanner's face was one of pure hatred.

Tanner lunged forward and grabbed Dylan's t-shirt. He shoved Dylan backwards into the stall until he had Dylan pinned against the wall.

Tanner leaned in and got right in Dylan's face.

"Why didn't you say anything?!?" Tanner raged.

"Tanner? Say anything about what?" Dylan was not in the mood for this.

"CODY!!" Tanner screamed in Dylan's face. "Why didn't you warn me?!?"

Dylan almost collapsed onto the restroom floor. Cody had done it to Tanner, too. He had been so busy thinking about himself he had never considered that Cody would do this to someone else.

Dylan looked into Tanner's hate-filled eyes. He began to sob. "Oh, god, Tanner, I'm sorry."

Tanner pushed Dylan harder into the wall and then cocked his arm back and drove his fist into Dylan's gut.

"Keep your 'sorry'," Tanner spat. "You could have stopped him, you didn't."

Tanner let go of Dylan and stomped out of the rest room.

Dylan slumped to the floor. He felt nauseous. He turned and knelt at the toilet just in time for his stomach to empty its contents in the bowl. When he had stopped vomiting, Dylan sat down on the cold tile floor and began to cry.

It was his fault. It was his fault that Cody had done that to him and it was his fault that Cody had done that to Tanner. He couldn't do anything right. He still loved Tanner and knowing what Cody had done to Tanner hurt more than what Cody had done to him. He was a horrible person. He let Cody do that to Tanner.

The thoughts kept spinning in his head as he sat on the floor. Finally, he picked himself up and shuffled out to the food court.

His mother had a panicked look on her face. "Dylan, are you ok?" she asked. "You were in there an awful long time."

"I think I'm coming down with something," Dylan answered. "I just threw up and I really don't feel good."

"Well, let's get you home then."

The last week before school started saw Dylan falling further and further into his despair. He barely even got out of bed. He couldn't stop thinking about Tanner and what Cody had done to him. It was all his fault; he had been too much of a coward to tell anyone and Tanner had paid the price.

He dreaded having to face Tanner at school. He knew it was inevitable--what was he going to do, drop out at thirteen?

The Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Dylan's parents were invited over to some friends for drinks and dinner.

Dylan was up in his room miserable as usual. He was trying to figure out a solution to his problem when it hit him.

He ran downstairs to his parents' liquor cabinet. He grabbed the first full bottle he could find. He didn't know what the stuff was; just that it was going to help him.

He took the bottle and went into his parents' bathroom. He rummaged through the medicine cabinet until he found the bottle he was looking for. His mother had trouble sleeping and she was prescribed a very strong sleeping pill; lucky for Dylan she had just had the prescription filled. His parents always had their medications filled up three-month's worth at a time.

Dylan returned to his bedroom. He set the liquor bottle on his nightstand and dumped the sleeping pills onto his bedspread.

He opened the liquor bottle and took a deep swallow. The liquid tasted awful and burned his throat all the way down. He deserved the pain and misery that it brought him.

He picked up five pills and swallowed them with another swig from the bottle.

He kept on for a while alternating swigs of alcohol with handfuls of pills. He was starting to get dizzy and nauseous. He thought he puked at some point, but he wasn't sure. The whole room was spinning.

Tears came to his eyes as he thought of his parents and how they wouldn't forgive him for what he was doing. He just needed the pain to end. They'd all be better off without him.

"Tanner, I love you…" was the last thought he had before he passed out.

Beep, Beep, Beep…

The annoying sound was driving Dylan crazy. What the hell was beeping at him?

He slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus. He didn't have his contacts in or his glasses on, so things were fuzzy at best.

He tried to speak, but his mouth was covered. He tried to reach up to see what was covering his mouth but he couldn't raise his arms. It felt like he was tied down.

He looked around the room and felt a strong feeling of disappointment. He was in a hospital room, which meant he couldn't even do this right.

He rolled his head to the side and saw his mom and dad sitting in some chairs. His dad looked like he had fallen asleep but his mother was staring right at him.

His mother jumped out of her chair and rushed to the bed.

"Dylan!!" She started to cry. "Dylan, you're awake." She leaned down and hugged him, her tears falling on his face. "Oh, thank God, you're awake. Henry!! Henry!!" she shouted over to Dylan's dad. "Henry!! He's awake!!"

Dylan's father stirred in his chair. Dylan thought he looked awful--he had never seen his dad look anything less than dapper. His dad was always clean-shaven, impeccably dressed and ready to take on the world. The man looking at Dylan hadn't shaved in days, was wearing crumpled clothes and looked as if he had been here for days.

Dylan tried to talk to his mom, but there was still something over his mouth.

"Hold on, sweetie," his mom said. "I'm going to call for a nurse."

His mother pressed the 'call' button over and over until the exasperated nurse finally poked her head in the room.

"Ma'am?" the nurse asked.

"My son is awake," Dylan's mother cried.

The nurse suddenly became more alert. She walked over to Dylan's side. "Well. Look who decided to join us," she said. "I'm Carly; I'm going to take your vitals and call for the doctor. You can't speak because there is an intubation tube down your throat. It was there to help you breathe. The doctor will remove it when he gets here."

Carly paged the attending physician and then went about taking Dylan's blood pressure and pulse. She fiddled with a few of the machines that Dylan was hooked up to.

Dylan looked at his mother and father. He moved his eyes towards his wrists which were bound to the sides of the bed.

Dylan's mother reached down and took his hand. "They had to restrain you, Dylan. Since you…you know…they had to be sure that if you woke up you wouldn't try to hurt yourself."

Dylan's dad reached over and put his hand around Mrs. Summers' shoulder and held her. Dylan stared at both of his parents, wracked with guilt. His failure to do this right had hurt his parents even more.

He hated himself.

A balding man in a white coat came in. He walked over to Dylan's bed. "Well, Dylan, nice of you to join us this afternoon," the man said with a grin. "I'm Dr. Clinton. I'm going to remove the intubation tube from your throat, but first, are you in any pain or discomfort?"

Dylan shook his head gently.

"Ok, that's good."

Two nurses rolled a cart into the room and gently guided Dylan's parents away from the bed. They handed the doctor a pair of rubber gloves and got some other instruments ready.

Dr. Clinton looked back at Dylan. "Buddy, this is going be a little uncomfortable," he explained. "I need you to relax your throat muscles so I can slide this tube out of there."

Dylan tried to relax, but it felt like the tube was ripping his throat open as the doctor removed it. When the last of the tube was out, Dylan took a deep breath and began coughing.

When he stopped coughing a nurse held a small paper cup of water to his lips with instructions to sip it.

Dylan slowly sipped the water. It stung as it flowed down his dry throat, but as it moistened his throat he started to feel better.

"Wha…, Whe…" Dylan tried to talk, but not much was coming out.

"Take it easy, Dylan," the doctor said. "Don't try to talk right now, just sip the water. You've been out of it for a few days and it's going to take you some time to get your strength back."

The doctor nodded to Dylan's parents and the three adults left the room.

Dylan could hear them talking outside the door, but he couldn't make out what was being said. His father was raising his voice, which was very unusual for him.

Finally, all three voices stopped.

Dylan lay alone in his bed. His wrists were still in the restraints and he was sore all over. He was so tired, closed his eyes and fell back to sleep.

Over the next few days, Dylan was visited by several psychiatrists as well as Dr. Clinton. The psychiatrists were there to evaluate him and Dr. Clinton was making sure there was no long-term aftereffects from the overdose.

On the fourth day after he awoke, Dylan was deemed medically ready to be released. 'Released' was a relative term--Dylan was being moved from the medical area of the hospital to the mental ward.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Clemmons, and the therapist, Elaine, had determined that Dylan was still a danger to himself. He refused to even talk about the suicide attempt and after talking to him at length the ladies felt they had no choice but to admit Dylan.

Dr. Clemmons began prescribing several different anti-depressants for Dylan and Elaine met him for intensive therapy sessions twice a day. Or, the sessions would have been intensive if Dylan had wanted to participate.

Dylan withdrew further and further into himself. His parents were beside themselves with grief trying to figure out what had caused this change in their son. They had been willing to write off his moody attitude over the summer as teenage blues, but for him to be desperate enough to try to take his own life was something they just did not understand.

Dylan was starting his second month in the ward. He was going to group- and individual-therapy sessions daily. Dr. Clemmons had been closely monitoring his medications and making slight changes in the dosages to try and help Dylan overcome his depression.

Dylan's doctors and parents started to see subtle differences in Dylan. Occasionally, he would smile or seem happy, then he would backslide into the darkness. Over time the periods of happiness would start to last a little longer.

It wasn't until midway through his second month in the ward, that Dylan had the first of several breakthroughs.

Access for visitors was limited at the ward. Guests had to have the permission of the therapists and a minor patient's parents to visit. So when Dylan was told there was a visitor he expected it to be his parents as he had severed all his friendships prior to the end of the school year and he knew no one at school missed him or wanted to see him.

Dylan stumbled into the small visitor's room--it was a private meeting room that had several chairs set around a round table. Dylan was looking at the ground as he walked in. Today was not a good day and he wasn't sure he could take his parents.

Dylan was shocked when he looked up and saw Tanner standing on the other side of the table. Tanner looked like his old self.

Dylan cringed as Tanner walked towards him. Tanner grabbed Dylan in a hug.

"Dylan, I'm so sorry," Tanner cried as he hugged his friend as hard as he could manage.

Dylan was stunned. "What are you sorry for?"

"It's all my fault you're here," cried Tanner. "I never should have blamed you for what happened with Cody. I should have been there for you when it happened to you."

"No, Tanner, you were right; if I had said something to someone about what happened then he wouldn't have gotten you. I never even thought about him doing it to someone else."

"Dylan, you didn't know. I should have known something bad happened to you when you started acting so differently. At first I was mad cuz I thought you just didn't want to be friends anymore and then you stopped riding and I got even madder cuz we had always done that together. Cody started asking me to hang with him and he started coaching me. One night he offered to drive me home and we stopped at his house and…" Tanner began to sob.

Dylan broke down as well. The two boys just cried and hugged each other for the longest time.

When they finally calmed down, Tanner led Dylan over to the table and they both sat down.

"Why, Dylan?" Tanner asked. "Why would you try to hurt yourself?"

"I couldn't think of another way for the pain to end." Dylan looked over at Tanner. "It wasn't just what happened to you, Tanner, it was everything that Cody had taken from me. Not only did he take my virginity; because of the way he made me feel I gave up riding, I gave up Dodger, I walked away from my friends and then he went and did the same thing to you. I couldn't take any more of it."

"What happened to me and to you was not your fault," Tanner said sternly. "It was all Cody's fault--he's the one to blame."

"I know that's the way I should feel, but…"

"No buts; it's not your fault; you didn't ask for Cody to do that to you anymore than I did. And you couldn't have stopped him anymore than I could."

"I should have told, just like you said."

"Dylan; I was angry, I was hurt, I wanted to blame someone, like you did. Instead of blaming myself, I blamed you. I took all my hurt out on you and I was wrong. When my mom told me what you had done, I couldn't believe it. I thought about that day in the mall and I was so afraid that if you had died it would have been my fault--I would have driven you to that. I couldn't live with that." Tanner sniffled as he continued, "When I stopped and thought about it I knew that I was wrong to blame you. I never told anyone what Cody had done, either. He could just have easily done it to someone else. But, I was too ashamed to say anything and I know now that that's how you felt as well."

"Did you say anything about Cody to anyone?"

"No. It's too late now."

"What do you mean?"

"Cody ran away."


"After school let out for the summer--he was supposed to go work at a summer camp as a counselor."

Dylan shuddered thinking about Cody turned loose in a camp full of younger kids.

Tanner noticed Dylan's reaction. "Yeah, pretty sick, huh? Well, he was supposed to go there, but according to his parents he never made it to the camp. They figure he ran away. He took his Ninja and some clothes and I guess he had quite a bit of money put away and he took that too. No one's heard from him since June."

"So, he's probably out there doing this to more kids," Dylan said.

"Or, he picked the wrong kid and he's sharing a jail cell with a fat guy named 'Bubba'," Tanner said.

Both boys laughed at this idea. For Dylan it was the first time he had truly laughed in months. Knowing that Tanner did not blame him for what happened made him feel so much better.

Tanner reached over and grabbed Dylan's hand.

"I want you to promise me something."


"I want you to do everything they ask you to do so you can get out of this place…it's creepy here."

Dylan nodded. "Try living here." He shuddered. "I'll try, Tanner," he promised.

"Good, I want my friend back."

Dylan smiled at Tanner--he wanted his friend back too. He knew the ship had sailed on him and Tanner being anything more than friends. They were never actually in love, just two friends experimenting with each other; but they had been friends long before either realized they liked boys, and that friendship had a chance to continue.

After his first visit from Tanner, his therapists started noticing a marked improvement in his attitude and demeanor. The sullen, depressed Dylan was giving way to a more pleasant, sometimes even happy Dylan. To his parents, he was still not the son they had had, but it was a step in the right direction.

Dylan's second breakthrough came at the start of his third month in the ward.

He was in his daily therapy session with Elaine. He had been more open and animated since his visits with Tanner had started. Elaine listened carefully as Dylan chattered on about Tanner's and his adventures on the farm.

When Dylan paused for a moment, Elaine looked at him curiously.

"Dylan?" she asked. "Who's Cody?"

Dylan blanched when she mentioned the name. "What?"

"Several times when you spoke about Tanner, you mentioned someone named Cody," Elaine said gently. "Every time you mentioned this name, you seemed to slip away for a few seconds. Who is he?"

"Uhh, just a guy that used to ride at the same farm."

Dylan was becoming visibly agitated so Elaine proceeded with caution.

"Tell me about him."

"What do you want to know?"

"Was he your friend?"

"I guess so; he was older than me and Tanner."

"Did he ride with you guys?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes he would coach us."

"Was he a good coach?"

"Yeah. He was a really good rider and he helped me and Tanner with our riding."

"What else can you tell me about him?"

"He had a motorcycle. A Kawasaki Ninja, cherry red."

"Did he ever let you ride his motorcycle?"

Elaine watched as Dylan's demeanor changed; in seconds he went from the increasingly confident and pleasant boy he had been becoming back to the sullen, quiet and terribly sad young man she had first encountered.

"Yes," Dylan whispered.

"Yes, what?"

"Yes, he gave me a ride on his bike once." Dylan started to tear up. "He was coaching Tanner and I and we had a jump-off and I won and the prize was a ride home and I won so he took me out to dinner at Sue's and gave me a ride on his motorcycle and then we…"

"What happened then, Dylan?" Elaine gently prodded.

"He brought me to his house," Dylan whispered.

"What happened at Cody's house?"

"He kissed me."

"Why did he kiss you?"

"He had seen me and Tanner kissing; he knew I was gay, so he thought I would want him to kiss me and…"

"And, what, Dylan? What did he do to you?"

"He raped me…" Dylan said almost inaudibly as he started to sob.

Once he had said the word that he had avoided for months, the flood gates were opened. Over the course of the next few days, Dylan told Elaine in detail everything that had happened from the day he was attacked by Cody until the moment he decided he'd rather be dead.

Gradually, Elaine was able to get Dylan to understand that he was violated and attacked and that it was not his fault. She explained to Dylan that although it was natural that he felt guilty for not preventing the same thing from happening to Tanner, it was too much for him to expect that he could save everyone. Even if he had told Tanner, there was no guarantee that Cody wouldn't have attacked him or another boy.

Every argument that Dylan had to prove that everything was his fault was quickly shot down and discounted by Elaine.

The hardest part of the therapy was when Dylan sat down with Elaine and his parents and related what had happened with Cody. Dylan was still convinced that his parents would hate him for being gay and they would think it was his fault Cody had raped him.

Dylan looked at the table they sat at while he quietly related his story. When he finished the room was dead quiet. He looked up at his parents. His mother had her hand over her mouth with a look of incredible sadness in her eyes. His dad was crying openly. He had never seen his dad cry, not even when his Nana had died. His father walked around the table and knelt in front of Dylan. He stroked Dylan's cheek with his hand and then pulled Dylan into him and hugged him as tight as he could. For the first time in months, Dylan felt safe and loved.

Eventually, between his sessions with Elaine and the medication that he was now taking regularly, Dylan's mood and attitude began to change.

Finally, after three-and-a-half months in the ward, Dylan was ready to be released.

It was mid-December, a week before Christmas when Dylan finally went home.

His mom was taking a leave of absence from her job so she could stay with Dylan and homeschool him for the remainder of the year. He had missed too much school and too many people knew what had happened to him.

The only person Dylan kept up with from his school was Tanner. They still saw each other at least once a week. Usually they would meet up at Dylan's house and talk or play video games. They were still good friends, but things had changed too much between them.

Tanner tried to coax Dylan into visiting the farm and going riding, but for Dylan it held too many painful memories. As much as he missed riding, he could not go to the farm without thinking of Cody and what he had done to him.

That spring, Dylan's parents told him that they were moving. His dad had been offered a job at a large law firm in the same town that his cousin Denise lived in. Denise didn't know why her favorite cousin had tried to hurt himself, but she was bound and determined to make sure that he was well and that he never tried it again.

For Dylan, it would be a new start. He would be starting high school in the fall. Denise would be a sophomore there and she would look out for him.

When Dylan and his family got to town, she immediately dragged him to the mall. Denise took him to Regis and had a friend of hers cut, style and dye Dylan's hair. The cut was still longish but very much in style. The stylist added a few highlights to Dylan's hair to liven it up.

Dylan had given up wearing his contacts when he got out of the hospital, so Denise took him to Lenscrafters and made him get a new, more stylish pair of glasses. Dylan picked some round wire-rim frames that looked like the glasses Harry Potter wore.

Finally, Denise took him to several stores to get new clothes.

By the time Dylan's mom dropped them off for the first day of school, Dylan was almost back to being the same boy he had been a year and a half ago.

Even though they had talked about everything else, Denise still didn't know why Dylan had done what he did, but she knew she never wanted him to feel that despair again.

Dylan had confided to Denise that he was gay, but that that was not the reason for his overdose.

She believed him and promised to take care of him.

Dylan went through his first few classes without incident. Most of the people seemed nice, especially a tall Hispanic boy in his first class. The boy was so handsome and smiled at Dylan.

Dylan met up with Denise at lunch time. She was with her best friend, Carmen.

"C'mon, Dyl. I'm gonna introduce you to some great guys."

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