LONDON, 3 May, 2021 - In the last decade, the Amazon forests of Brazil released more carbon into the atmosphere than they absorbed, thanks largely to human activities that cleared or degraded the canopy. Those activities make it impossible for affected forests to stave off climate change. And a survey of the cooler forests of North America has revealed that these, too, could be surrendering more carbon than they soak up from the atmosphere, thanks to human-triggered climate change and the ever greater hazard of wildfire.
( https://climatenewsnetwork.net/only-intact-forests-can-stave-off-climate-change/ )
For the first half-hour after we dived into the pool, it was the same as the previous day with lots of dunking and splashing. Then I came up in front of him while he was treading water and he encircled me with his arms. I tensed up ready to be drowned, but he just held me tighter and looked into my eyes. I relaxed and melted into him. We stayed like that for a minute, then he said, "Float on your back."
The pool had a gentle circular current. It entered at the upstream end and flowed around the shore of the pool before rejoining the river at the downstream end of the pool. He put his arms around me and we floated slowly around the pool. Just before we entered the river current he held me tighter and frog-kicked us gently across the pool until we were on the upstream side again. Again we floated around the pool and when we reached the exit point, I took over and frog-kicked us back across the pool while he lay on his back in my arms.
"Do you jerk off a lot?" he asked.
"Is that your fourth question?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Me too," he said. "Can I have another question?"
"Only because I like you a lot," I said.
"What do you think about when you do it?"
"You," I said.
"You don't have to ask," he said. "I think about you too. I think I love your freckles most of all, those ones scattered across your nose. I love every one of them. I think I've got them memorized but I'm wondering: do they change, do they move around, do they come and go?"
"I don't know," I said as we reached the top of the pool and exchanged positions.
"I'll let you know," he said.
"I love that gap between your front teeth," I said. "I'm really glad you don't wear braces to make it like everybody else's teeth."
"That's the Mason family gap. Granddad had it and so did my dad. One dentist I went to suggested I get braces to pull those teeth together. Granddad switched me to another dentist."
He squeezed me and frog-kicked us into the center of the pool. Both of us were treading water and hugging each other. He had his chin on my shoulder and said, "I don't just love your freckles. I love all of your parts. It's really fun. I never felt this way about anyone before."
"You think you're the only one?" I said. "When I look at you I want to be you; I want to be inside you; I want you to be inside me. Your feet are so beautiful I feel like crying when I see them."
"Okay," said Marcus as he slowly propelled us over to the riverbank. "It's time to lie in the sun." He was right. I had begun to shiver.
When the sun had dried and warmed us, we turned on our sides facing each other and he said, "I've thought about this a lot, Bumper, and what I'm going to say might sound weird or stupid, but it's what I've been thinking about, and I've been wondering what you'll think about it."
"Anything you think about is interesting to me," I said.
"What you said about wanting to be me, wanting to be inside me, wanting me to be inside you, that's exactly how I feel about you, too. And I want to do all those things with you more than I've ever wanted anything."
"Yeah," I said. "Me too."
"But something I don't understand," he said, "is that the intense desire I feel when I'm around you is somehow connected to this wonderful feeling of happiness I get, just from being near you. It's more than sex. It's not separate from sex but it's more, it's bigger."
I thought of how I wanted to dance on the table while having supper with my parents the day before, how happy I felt with everything, and I began to understand. "I think it's love," I said. "I mean, I don't know, but when people talk about being in love, or falling in love, I think they mean something like this…."
"I've never been in love before," he said.
"Neither have I," I said. "But I really like it."
"Yeah," he said. "I'm in love with you and it's the best feeling I've ever had."
"Me too, Marcus."
"But I'm afraid, too. I'm afraid that if we just jump into a lot of sex like we both want, that we might lose touch with that happy, loving feeling, and it could just turn into a bunch of glorified jerking off."
While he spoke we had been edging toward each other and our naked bodies were touching here and there along their length.
"When I'm close to you like this," said Marcus, "it's like you're this incredibly strong magnet and I'm just pulled toward you." he rested his hand on my hip. "And I really want to jerk you off and suck you and just make you melt with pleasure in every way I can."
"Me too," I said, but I knew there was more. "But…?"
"Okay. Yesterday and today have been the best days in my life. Right now, I think most boys our age would just rush to the next step immediately and start squirting all over each other in every possible way. That's what we both want. But I think this 'before' time, the time before we do all that, may be the best time. I think that if we don't have sex right away, maybe we can learn to live with each other inside that bigger feeling, that loving feeling."
"I like the 'squirting all over each other' scenario," I said. "I'm a big fan of squirting. But go ahead, I'm listening."
"These days have been so good because I'm with you and I want you so badly, not because I'm coming all over you. All that wanting without taking, wanting without getting, seems somehow to turn into loving, into this beautiful feeling of loving another person, of loving the world, of loving life."
I thought again of how happy I felt with everything since I had met Marcus, and I began to understand. I felt he was right but I still had a niggling doubt. "But are we never going to do it, then?"
"Oh no," he said. "I expect we're going to do it and do it a lot and for a long time. But, if I'm right, we'll both know when it's the right time. We have to grow that love first. It's started now but it's something we need to nurture and protect. I hardly know you. I mean, I love what I know, but I don't know much. And what do you know about me? Maybe you won't like me much when you get to know me better."
"I doubt it," I said. "So how did you come up with this idea?"
Marcus was quiet for a minute, then said, "I really loved my granddad, and there was no sex involved. I mean, I liked it when he hugged me and I liked the way he smelled. I liked to cuddle up under his arm when we watched a film together, but there was nothing sexual about it. When he was alive, I always felt safe and happy. And when he died I just felt empty inside, this huge emptiness where he used to be. About the same time I started to be interested in sex. And when I was jerking off and thinking about some perfect, beautiful boy, like you, I felt okay. But as soon as I had a squirt, I felt empty again. It didn't last. It wasn't love. It's like sex can fill that empty hole but only for a few minutes. That's why I'm a little bit afraid of sex. It feels like a feast but it's just a snack."
"Yeah," I said. "You're right. I never lost anyone I loved but I think I understand. Jerking off is really great, but when it's over, it's always a little like you've lost something."
"So, now, with us," said Marcus, "we both have this hunger for each other's body. What I imagine is that we can ride that hunger, like surfing an enormous wave, and use that energy to learn to love each other totally, everything about each other, all our weird ideas and stupid little habits, and we can ride that wave as long as we don't milk it just to have a cum."
By this time we were pressed tightly against each other. We leaned our heads on our arms and laced our legs together.
"So," I said, "No sex?"
"Not right away. I'm sure we'll know when the time is right. Of course, we can jerk off. We're thirteen, after all. Just no sex together. But I haven't really thought out all the details. I've never done this before, but I want to get it right because I know it's the most important thing I've ever done, and I really don't want to screw it up. I don't think you get too many chances to be in love."
"We can hug?" I asked. "Like this?"
"Sure," he said. "But look, I don't want to be the policeman here. It's gonna be really hard for both of us if you're not on board one hundred percent with this idea. I think we can be familiar with each other, we can touch each other, but we pull back before we start to push each other towards an orgasm. And always remember that I want you at least as much as you want me, but I want us to have more."
I lay back, looked up into the cloudless sky, and imagined what it might be like to live like he was proposing. He let me think.
"Yeah, you're right," I finally said, as I got up on one elbow. "I understand. I'll try to control myself. Marcus, I'm with you one hundred percent."
He pulled me over to him and hugged me. "Hugging is fine," he said. "I love putting my arms around you. Kissing, too. Can I kiss your freckles?"
"Can I kiss your nose?"
We exchanged little kisses and separated. My boner was standing straight up and stretching fit to burst. His was too.
"What are we going to do with these things," I said.
"I'm sure we'll figure something out," he laughed. "But for now let's just ignore them and have a little snooze in the sun."
As usual, he was right. I went into a dreamy state as the sun's warmth penetrated through to my bones and a half-hour later I joined him in the pool for a final dip and splash. I felt good, and though it was hard to admit it to myself, I was beginning to understand how this new way of looking at things was better than weaseling around for a squirt. The future looked like it might be hard, but it was exciting to think about. I knew we were going to have fun. I was in love and I wanted to be like that forever. Damn! Marcus was right.
When we walked back through the forest to the workshop, I suggested it was time to leave for my place.
"No rush," said Marcus. "I asked for a car so I don't have to ride my bike back here in the dark."
We entered the workshop again and dug around in a storeroom for the bucket seat and seat belt for my cart. We unboxed them and laid them out ready to install the next day.
When we walked down to the road, a car was parked in the lane. The driver got out and walked around to the rear hatch, lifted my bike inside, then opened the rear gull-wing doors for us to enter.
"Jason," said Marcus. "This is my friend, Bumper. Bumper, this is Jason. Jason takes care of all the vehicles and lots of other things, including me."
Jason and I nodded to each other.
"Nice car," I said as Marcus and I belted ourselves into the rear seats.
"Yeah, granddad was always keen on electric cars and he bought one of the first Teslas that were produced," said Marcus. "This is a new one, a Model X, I think. Are you interested in cars?"
"Yeah, a bit," I said.
"It's got all sorts of special features," said Marcus. "like it's got a thousand horsepower motor or two or three motors, I don't know." Then he leaned forward, tapped Jason on the shoulder, gave him directions to my house and said, "Tell him about the car please, Jason. You know a lot more about it than I do."
I don't remember all the specifications Jason listed, but I do recall how perfectly quiet the car was and the incredibly smooth ride.
We got out at my place, unloaded my bike and the Tesla drove away like a great jungle cat slinking gracefully through the evening.
Marcus may not have learned to relate to other kids but he was adept at charming adults. Over the supper table, I could see that he had won my parents' approval completely. He was cheerful and respectful and, when he and my father jousted playfully on environmental issues, he was much more diplomatic than I ever was. I was proud of my parents too. My mother had gone to a lot of trouble to make a vegan feast and my father did without his usual serving of meat without comment.
"Marcus," said my father during a lull in the conversation. "What's your last name?"
"Mason," said Marcus.
"You wouldn't happen to be related to Merlin Mason, would you?"
"Very closely, sir. Merlin Mason was my grandfather and pretty well brought me up after my parents died."
"I met him once," said my father, surprising me. "He was a fine man, a real gentleman. I wish I had got to know him better."
"Thank you, sir. I admired him greatly and miss him terribly."
"The reason I asked was that you remind me of him, something about your face," said my father.
"I've been told that, sir, that I look a lot like him when he was young."
After supper, I took Marcus up to my room and showed him my books and other things. I entered his e-mail address and messaging information into my contacts, so we could chat when he got home. He threw himself down on my bed and said, "So, this is where you think about me?" and he laughed while he buried his face in my pillow.
I jumped on him and held him down. "Yes, here is where I do you and you probably can't even imagine what fun I have with you. You're totally uninhibited when you're here in my dreams. I get really dirty with you and guzzle your cum by the gallon."
"It's a nice room and this bed smells like you," he said. Then he took the pillowcase off my pillow, folded it up small and said softly, "Can I take this home with me? It smells like you and I can sniff it tonight when I go to bed, and dream you're there with me."
We had a long hug. Then he pulled out a pager and pushed the button. "That'll bring Jason, soon," he said.
We went downstairs and he bade my parents good night and thanked them for their hospitality. He knew how to say all that stuff that parents love and he did it well. I could see I was going to have to up my game when it came to social interaction. When we went outside, Jason was waiting by the curb, and a few seconds later Marcus was gone.
When I rejoined my parents, they both commented on how much they liked Marcus.
"How did you meet his granddad?" I asked my father.
"He sat on the Board of Directors at the bank. Usually I have to attend board meetings to report on some aspect of our bank operations. After the board meeting, sometimes we would have some refreshments and chat a bit with the Directors, so I met him like that, maybe twice." My father paused here and then asked, "Do you not know about Merlin Mason?"
"I don't know anything about him except what Marcus has told me, that he used to make car parts in a factory then made some good investments," I said.
My father laughed. "Yes, he made some good investments. That's pretty much an understatement. When he died, his estate was valued at about five billion dollars, but that would be a very conservative estimate of its current value. It's probably closer to seven billion now. He invested heavily in green energy firms—wind and solar power—that have been doing very well lately."
"Goodness," said my mother. "That's a lot of money. But wasn't there some problem with his will? I seem to remember something in the papers about a dispute."
"Oh, yes," said my father. "Pretty well all of his estate was left to our dinner guest this evening. Some went to charities and environmental groups as well. But there's an uncle who felt he should have gotten more. Gossip has it he's pretty much of a playboy and never got on with his father, Merlin. But the old man doted on Marcus and left such a tightly drawn up will in his favor, that his uncle could do nothing about it. He took it to court several times and tried to break it, but didn't succeed."
When I went to bed I thought about what I had heard, that Marcus was rich, really rich. I think that if I had known that before I met him, we would not have become friends. I would have been nervous and acted stupid. But now, knowing that he was rich didn't seem important. Everything I loved about Marcus had nothing to do with money. Marcus was just Marcus and he was my friend.
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