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By Ernesto66

Chapter Seven: Are We There Yet?

I gratefully thank the many authors online who have inspired me by posting their work. In trying to emulate their stories I started "Homecoming," which helped me through the hardest period of my life.

"Homecoming" is dedicated to my husband David; I began writing it before I even knew him but with his love and support he greatly influenced its direction.

The younger man, in the towel and wet trunks, shrugged and said "Okay."

The older man in the boxers smiled. His flash of anger at Kevin was gone. The sorrow at the news last night, that anger, his apprehensiveness at returning to town... Those were nothing compared to what he was feeling now. What would he call it?

Anything. Nervous energy, happiness, excitement, fear, relief. What the fuck ever. This might be it, right? My debt paid.

Michael said "Truth or Dare?"

Jeremy hesitated for only a second. "Dare." Michael blinked. He'd been sure the kid would choose the other, but-

"Wait, Truth. Sorry."

"Okay. If you're sure then Truth."

The boy nodded. "Sure."

The older man steeled himself. "Are you gay?"

Jeremy sighed and narrowed his eyes. Surely he'd expected that one by now, so Michael was positive he was just toying with him again.

"What if I refuse to answer?"

Michael shrugged, playing along. "I don't know why you would, but if you did I'd let it go, it's not that important. I'll hold on to my override for later. Who knows what more I could still have up my sleeve?"

Jeremy grinned. "Psych, ha." Then he sobered and added "Okay yes, man, I am. Far as I know, I am. Yeah, why not."

Michael hmmed and nodded. "I don't need a definitive answer right now. Take the weekend and think about it."

He turned away, smoothing out his robe. Well, that was that.

He threw the garment over himself and looked around the room as he tied it. A big pillar candle sat on top of his dresser, and he wondered if there was something in the bedroom he could fire it up with. The overhead fixture was a little bright, so if they were going to stay in there for a while it could be a little mellower.

Michael opened the top drawer of the dresser and pulled out a long-nosed candle lighter. He flicked it and held it to all three wicks. In a second he could tell it was a good one (but of course), a rich French vanilla.

Jeremy spoke up. "No, I was playing with you. I definitely am." Michael, impressed with the boy's honesty, turned around in time to catch him almost comically swallow. He looked like he was waiting for lightning to strike the room.

Jeremy waited a second and repeated, as much to himself, "I am, I'm gay." Who was he trying to convince?

"I said that to only two other people in the world, my mom and dad. That's, uh... That's more or less why I did what I did Wednesday. And why I was in therapy all summer. And why I hate both my parents these days."

He exhaled slowly. "It's a long story. Not as long as yours, or nearly as interesting, but still."

Michael crossed to the doorway and turned off the overhead light, bathing them in the flickering yellow glow from the candle. "I wish you wouldn't say that, Jeremy." He put up a hand. "Not to lecture you, and I'm only assuming I know what the problem even was.

"But see it through your mom and dad's eyes. It can be hard for parents to accept new information. Up until the moment they find out, they thought they knew every single thing about you, from back before you were born. Everything about you. Telling them you're gay can sound like you were plotting it behind their backs.

"I've given this a lot of thought over the years. Saying you hate somebody can be really hard to live with later, or take back."

"Right, fine." Jeremy grumbled but accepted his words, stubbing his toe into the carpet. Michael pulled his tray over and lowered himself cross-legged on the bed in front of it.

"You answered my follow-up question too, so I'm done. Wait, no," he corrected himself. "I also wanted to tell you I know how hard that can be, to say those words out loud. It gets easier the more you do it. You should be proud of yourself."

He was afraid he might have stepped over the Too Much Advice line again, but Jeremy shyly smiled.

"Thanks, man. I mean you made me say it, but I think I wanted to."

Michael picked up half his sandwich and eagerly bit in to it. It was very good. "I thought you might. And wow, you didn't screw anything up, this roast beef is terrific. Why don't you change out of that and split it with me? That robe there's for you. They feel great."

Jeremy took the other robe and started out the door, then paused, like he might be thinking... "Change in your bedroom. Leave your trunks over the shower stall to dry, then get back in here. I want another Truth."

Jeremy took off and in a minute he heard the wet shorts slap against the shower glass. The boy returned to the doorway with the white robe wrapped snugly around him. He sat on the chest with one leg underneath, and cleared his throat.

"Truth. What is it with gay guys and candles?"

Michael laughed and said, "You'll learn to love them too one day, it's in the fine print. And to put your hair in a towel when you get out of the bathroom. Listen to Streisand. Dial the phone with a pencil." The kid chuckled but not too much. "I'm kidding, Jeremy."

"That's funny, truly. Ha ha." Jeremy grabbed the other half of the sandwich. "Here's the real one then." He munched most of the roast beef away in two bites, keeping his eyes on Michael the whole time. "Are you attracted to me?"

Michael, his own mouth full of sandwich, tried to gulp but couldn't. He cracked the Coke and downed about a dozen swallows of it. Again, he'd more or less asked for that. Why not own up? If he was tired of having his secrets revealed, how about trying this: No more secrets.

He put the can back on the tray and answered "Yes."

Jeremy looked like he didn't know how to take that, dropping his gaze as if he hadn't expected to even possibly hear an affirmative answer. He'd said he wasn't crazy about his appearance - being small for his age, having to wear the glasses. He'd said as much. Did he not want to hear that? Had no one ever told him he was attractive?

"And no," Michael added.

The boy rolled his eyes. "Come on, man, we said the truth."

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not Michael Jackson. I date adults, if you can call them that. But even if you were twenty years older you still wouldn't be my type exactly. You know the story about Billy now. I think fucking things up with him so badly at the very beginning kind of screwed my sense of what was right for me, forever. I've been attracted to nothing but frat boys so far. Losers, drunks, an long list of babysitting jobs. Billy, uh..."

Jeremy jumped in, startling him. "He challenged you."


"Don't get mad, but I think you all were equals at the time, on the same level. So when he shut you down, and did such a spectacular job at it, maybe you've been looking for guys who can't do that to you again. Like they're, um, they're all beneath you."

Michael wanted to make a joke there on "beneath you," or just say No and laugh it off, forget about it. But he couldn't. What the kid said rang too true.

Think of them: Todd, Gene, Bryan, Chris... All the way back to college. He couldn't dismiss it that lightly. He felt like King of the Stupid People.

Maybe I do need a therapist.

Jeremy said "Please don't be mad at me. I don't know what I'm-"

Michael waved him off. "No, forget it. You're right. I never put it into so many words, but I think you're absolutely right. I've dated twenty-five different guys over the years, and my mother would have loved them all. They'd have made terrific grandchildren."

He glanced over at Jeremy, who was now looking like he wanted to give himself a pat on the back for thinking the thought. "So thank you. That was a long way around saying 'Yes, no, but.' You're strong, and you're independent and smart..."

The boy beamed at that. "Can I say one more thing then?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Coming from just my own therapy, I could be completely wrong, but I think you're doing it to punish yourself, too. Sheila says people who break the rules want to get caught. You got away with what happened, you escaped, not that it was a crime or anything. But maybe you didn't want to, is all I'm saying. Don't beat yourself up, your brain is doing it for you enough already."

"Okay, that's fair." He smirked and chugged another drink of Coke. "I can't believe I'm talking intelligently about relationships with an eighteen-year-old." He paused. "Listen, as much as it makes me a dirty old man to say so, you're cute, and smart, and about fifty other things that guys fall over themselves to get to."

"No, no they don't." Jeremy shook his head once, No. Michael wondered where that had come from. "And I bet there was one more 'but' after that?"

"I hate to tell you, but you're wrong. Yes they do. I think mainly I'm attracted to what you represent, which is the polar opposite of everything I usually go for, and I know I've always been wrong about."

The boy's face fell a little. "Gee, thanks."

"Jeez, don't take it that way. What I'm saying is, you're exactly what any guy in his right mind would want in a relationship. You'll see.

"And what I have to say... isn't even on the table." Michael shook his head. "I'm not only not in my right mind today, I'm twice your age. And in a bad place to be tempted into, um, speaking, any more. I'm done."

Jeremy sat up straight. "I have a follow-up question." Michael gestured Go on with what was left of his sandwich.

"Then was that you watching me in the shower, Mister You're Not My Thing?"

Shit! Michael hurriedly downed the last of the roast beef and brushed his hands on his robe. "Shit. Yes. I can explain-" he answered, spraying the bed with crumbs.

Jeremy chuckled at his panic but didn't look offended at all. "I don't care, man. I mean, really... I don't care."


He explained, "Leaving the door open was my fault, but when I finally noticed it didn't really surprise me to see you out there. And, I didn't bust you for it when I had the chance. I closed my eyes and played dumb instead of stopping you. Truthfully I respect that you didn't make a move on me. Like walk in and act all surprised, or make like you needed a roll of toilet paper. I could have never noticed you at all. I guess that means I can trust you."

"Of course you can, Jeremy. It was an accident, really, you have to believe me."

He rolled his eyes. He seemed to be doing that a lot. "Dude, own up. If you drop a drink on the carpet, that's an accident. If you stand there and watch it soak in for fifteen minutes, that's-"

"Intentional. You're right. I apologize. I did try to even the score-"

"With the strip show when I brought the food up? Weak, dude."

"I wasn't even sure you'd be there when I turned around. It was a stupid idea, I didn't give it much thought."

"Or any. Actually though... I'll give you a free one. I kinda liked it."

Michael looked up to see that Jeremy's face was beet red and he'd turned his head to watch Miss Cat playing with something out on the landing. He spoke more to her than to Michael. "You're, uh, the first grown guy I've seen naked in person, except for my sixth-grade PE coach, he used to walk around the locker room in his jockstrap with his butt in our faces. I think he got a thrill out of that, the perv."

"Not your dad?"

Jeremy shook his head. "He's way too private. I've seen other guys in Gym, of course, and horseplaying at summer camp. My cousin Eric showed me the scar on his ball once, where he got spiked with a cleat when he was sliding into base. He covered everything else up. He did let me touch it, though. But.

"The strip show wasn't awful. Kind of awesome really."

He turned back to Michael and ran a hand through his hair. Now mostly dry, it fell over his forehead in the usual way, tangling in curls around his glasses frames and covering the nape of his neck. The light of the candle made the gold frames glint against his pale skin. His eyes had deepened to slate blue under those dark lashes. Michael saw all this and wondered how he could ever doubt his own attractiveness. Teenagers.

Jeremy lifted one shoulder. "So shoot me."

"No thanks. And thanks for the compliment. I'm forty, not the greatest age for a guy's ego. I try to stay in shape. I'm not tall, I'm losing my hair in the back - just a little - and some days I look like... dogcrap, I don't know what.

Stop babbling. "I don't get to hear things like that very often. Thanks." Michael asked himself what the hell was happening. It felt like they'd somehow taken a left turn into Datetown.

"There are worse people to look at," Jeremy teased. "Seriously, though, I think you look like Anthony Edwards. You know, used to be on 'ER'? He's pretty cute... for his age."

Now it was his turn to blush. "No shit? I mean I agree he's good-looking, so okay. Thanks. Hmm. You remind me of a couple of guys... Did you ever see Cinderella Story?"

"Sure. I like Hillary Duff. She's got a brain."

"That guy who played her friend-"

"Dan Byrd?"

"Yeah! Or Paul Dano maybe. Have you seen-"

The red hadn't quite left Jeremy's cheeks yet and saying that made it flare up again. "I know both of them. God, I do not!"

"Yeah you do, just trust me."

They sat there, sneaking looks at each other and feeling their embarrassment slowly cool. Neither could quit grinning for a couple of minutes. Michael, his hands clasped, was also feeling his pulse beat like a drum inside him. He drained the last of the Coke and sat it aside. "Okay, so, Tru-"

"Do me a favor?" Jeremy interrupted. "I think you're gonna ask me something I don't want to answer right now if I say Truth. But if I say Dare instead please make it something I won't hate?"

"Okay..." Michael picked up his tray and put it on the nightstand beside the bed. Now there was nothing between them. "We don't have to keep on playing." Jeremy shook his head. "Then Truth or Dare?"


Michael looked him in the eye. "I dare you to kiss me." He said it with no hesitation, and it got very quiet in the room suddenly.

If this is going where it's going, this has to be the first step. Has to. We've already taken every other one, and there's no sense dancing around it if it's what we both want. For my part now I admit it is. I want to do this with him. Just this. Just kiss.

The boy opened his mouth to protest, then thought better of it. He pushed himself off the chest and settled again on the duvet in front of Michael, one leg under him. "I could refuse. Like I said before."

Michael clapped both hands on his knees and tilted his head left and right, cracking his neck. Oh, God. He'd moved closer, therefore it was going to happen.

"Like I said, I'll hang on to my override. It's totally your decision."

Jeremy seemed about to say one more thing, but it turned into him leaning forward to meet Michael halfway.

The boy's eyes stayed open and his lips closed. Michael kept his gaze on him as they came together; even if it was up close and out of focus he didn't want to miss a second of this. Their lips met. There was a tiny spark between them at first, then slightly more pressure, soft and innocent. He let the boy take the lead and do what he wanted, pretty much what you'd try on the back of your hand in your room with the door locked.

When it seemed like he'd had enough to satisfy him, letting the kiss go slack, Michael gently took control. He pushed his tongue forward, from his mouth into Jeremy's, and the boy let him, finally dropping his eyelids, parting his teeth and allowing him inside. Michael kept his hands firmly on his knees, holding himself and the boy together with nothing but his will to make this work. He sensed Jeremy wanting to break from him and take a breath but he made him stay, sucking his bottom lip, licking the top and sides of the inside of his mouth, using the muscle of his tongue to pull the kid closer by pressing it against the back of his teeth.

He heard himself start to hum, a moan with every little thrust further into the boy, feeling the vibration travel across their connection, and Jeremy soon followed suit and did the same. In fact he was now totally following his lead - as Michael's mouth moved over his he caught on and began returning the thrusts and hungrily chewing the older man's lips, not letting him go. Some of his bites were too hard and stung, but Michael didn't complain. He was too busy savoring the taste of the new saliva running over his tongue and feeling warmth spread inside him, from the crotch up.

When Michael thought they'd barely passed the point of it being okay not to breathe any more, he broke it off and slowly sat back. A long string of spit stretched between their mouths and popped. Jeremy gasped at him being gone, and stayed leant forward as if expecting more. When he noticed Michael wasn't coming back he opened his eyes, dazed. His glasses were slightly tilted and his lips looked bruised.

"I'm sorry if I was hard on your mouth, I shaved this morning but I've got some beard now," Michael apologized, smiling. "Take it out on me if you want to, I won't mind. In the game."

His words only just seemed to get through to Jeremy. "Oh, my... God." He wiped his mouth on his sleeve like he expected to see blood there when he took it away. "I, uh, wow. That was intense. It was like a dream, I mean a really great dream. My heart was exploding."

"Mine too. You're a very good kisser."

"I didn't even know what I was doing! I didn't know what to expect at all. It wasn't like in the movies. It felt... so good." He closed his eyes again and smiled. "I want to remember every second of it."

Michael silently agreed, taking a minute to adjust himself in the guise of tightening his robe's belt. "You will. I remember my first time kissing Billy. If you have time for one more story."


"It was in the back of our station wagon riding home from King's Island, like I told you. We were supposed to be asleep, under this godawful smelly wool blanket we kept behind the seats." He relived the night in his head for a second. "We'd spent three years fooling around behind everybody's backs, jerking each other off, then one Friday Billy got an 'invitation'" - he made quotation marks with his fingers - "to this football player's party. Scott Something. Kissinger, Kinder, Keller. I don't remember.

"Nobody popular had anything to do with the nerds or the AP students, especially neckheads like the athletes. I knew there had to be some reason for it. I said he should go and either make a complete ass of himself or mix in and put in a good word for the rest of us. He went, alright." His jaw clenched. "The next time I saw him was early Saturday morning. He'd called and he was hiding under our deck, crying and bleeding on his elbows and knees. I begged him but he wouldn't tell me what happened, so we had one more secret from our parents. He'd had an 'accident' on his bike.

"I didn't want to go to the park the next day, but he insisted. It was this end-of-summer treat from my mom and dad. I held him close, without being obvious, every time we sat together on a ride. He got it, and did the same thing to me, all day. It hurt him to ride some of them but he wanted to pretend everything was normal."

Michael's vision blurred as he drifted back in time. "Normal. On the way home, in the back of the car, he whispered to me that he wanted to be closer from now on, that something might happen to one of us and end it all. Closer the same way our parents were close. Well, except that we would get along with each other." Jeremy smiled crookedly.

"I said yes and he kissed me. It was so unlike him. We'd done almost everything else together except kiss, he had a thing about it, so we were pretty jaded by then. But that first kiss... Oh, man, was that sweet. Like we were just meeting. We started everything over again, and took it slow after that."

Michael shook his head, scattering memories and bringing himself back to the present. He touched Jeremy's knee for a second.

"I'd be really flattered if your memory of this was-" But Jeremy's smile hadn't stuck; he looked sad and kind of lost, and Michael wondered if it was just his story that had done it. No way of knowing. He never had yet asked the kid the Big Question.

"It's gotten heavy in here again, my fault. Sorry."

"No, no biggie. Was what?"

"If your memory was half as good as mine."

Jeremy poked his knee back. "God, ego much? I'll get back to you in a few years. Meantime, is it Truth or Dare?"

He laughed. "God, okay, we're still playing. Umm, Truth."

And no pause. "Do I remind you of Billy?"

Michael flinched, he couldn't say why. He'd been thinking the same thing since this morning, of course, but at some point had pushed it aside, rationalized it out of his head. "No, you don't look anything like him."

The boy frowned. "Bad joke. I know what you meant. Yes and no. This isn't the same situation. I don't want to save you. You don't need saving, far as I can see.

"But I hope after all this you're still my friend-" Jeremy nodded yes, wiping a finger under his glasses- "and I do my best to hold on to friends once I've made them. In any case, if you're anybody in this parallel universe, then obviously-"

"You're me./I'm you," they finished together.

Look at him grinning, like he's just won Final Jeopardy. Score one more for the big therapy veteran. It must have been good for him. What a story he'd have to tell Sheila if he saw her today.

"Pretty obvious, isn't it? You don't know what I would have given for someone to show me the way back then."

Jeremy shrugged, as if to say Of course. His eyes shone in the candlelight. "Then I'd like us to be friends. I haven't seen any of my friends since school ended and I don't expect to for a long time. Most of the guys my age that I've known... They sound like your crowd. A lot of drinking and weed, not a lot of responsibility."

"They'll be the crowd, one day. There're always more. The bars are full of them."

"That's really depressing. I think I'd like a mentor, or whatever that would make you, and not turn out like that."

"You wouldn't, with or without me. You're too smart," Michael said. "No follow-up question? Okay, Truth or Dare."

Jeremy frowned, obviously balancing one against the other. "Trust me," Michael reassured him.

"Truth then."

"Truth. Do I remind you of someone you've known?"

The boy squirmed a little at the question. "Y-y-yes," he finally answered.

Michael didn't want to drag them both down again so he let it go. "Okay. Your turn." All he'd wanted was to prove he was interested and would listen when the time came. And maybe give out some good advice of his own, for a change.

"Oh. All right. Truth or Dare?"

"Dare. Make it good, this is getting slow."

Jeremy grinned like the devil. "Oh, I will dude. I've been planning. You have to stand up for this one." He gestured and Michael followed his hand, up off the bed and into the middle of the room, beside the chest. He wondered if he was going to need props or something.

"Okay, I'm standing up. What next?"

"Dare. I dare you to drop the robe and your shorts." Michael gaped at him. "No, I'm deeply serious. What you did before in front of me was voluntary, so it wasn't the same thing as mine. At all. This'll make us even."

"You said you liked-" Michael gritted his teeth and reminded himself the boy had a valid point. He'd done it with no thought for the consequences, and now here they were.

Fuck. He began to untie his belt.

"Okay, I swore I'd do whatever you wanted, but just see if I ever save your life again, bud."

"Ha." Jeremy stuck his tongue out and wagged it at him playfully. Mmm... the same red tongue he'd been chewing on a while ago, inside that mouth, behind those teeth... Michael stopped. That had been a bad thing to think of right then.

"Wait, wait, give me a minute." He turned his back and put his head down.

Dead baby ducks, dead nuns, Republican first wives. You're doing this, because it's right and you know it, but not with a hard-on. Think of Rush Limbaugh's dirty underwear. Bill O'Reilly's toilet brush.

That did it. "Um, waiting?"

"Okay." Michael sighed, turned back and undid the loop on the belt. His robe fell open and he let it drop to the floor. He did his best to wipe his mind clean, looking up to the ceiling instead of at his torturer. He took both hands and pushed his boxers over his hips, down his legs, let them go to join the robe laying around his ankles. "God, I feel ridiculous. How long do I have to do this? It's cold in here." He reflexively put his hands together over his crotch, then parted them and put them at his sides.

Jeremy snorted. "It is not, it's like eighty degrees. Not too long. I have a follow-up."

He looked down and glared. "What? That's only for Truths."

The boy shrugged. "Okay, you want to go changing the rules..."

Michael protested. "I'm not changing anything, it's you!"

"Dude, I could have made you take a whole naked shower in front of me, or given you some weird-ass Dare that would've really killed you, like 'Dare you to... stick a thermometer up your butt and do the Macarena!'"

"I'm so sure. To be followed closely by me saying 'Dare you to bend over my knee and beg me to forgive you for breaking all the good china.'"

"Right. 'Dare you to pretend to burglarize the house and let me catch you. With a rope. And scissors.'"

"Wow, you play for keeps. How about 'Dare you to drink a whole twenty-ounce Coke and then keep it zipped until I say you can go.'"

"Wimp. 'Dare you to-' Hey, man." Jeremy broke off with a giggle, pointing down at Michael's dick. Which was getting more upright with each dare they threw out. So much for acting shy.

Michael's face flamed. "There is so going to be payback for this." He laughed after a second. "On the other hand, I'd say this has been a very interesting exchange of ideas. For, uh, what exactly. A new line of Hallmark greeting cards?"

"A new kid's show on PBS. The Pervles." They laughed together for a second, until Jeremy abruptly stopped and melodramatically whispered "Come on man, follow-up!"

"Shit. Okay, you know, bring it on."

"Since you're like this already. Dare you to bend over, here in front of me. As far south as possible, grab your knees and count slowly to ten-"

There you go, his erection would never return now. "God, I knew it would be something-"

"-like I did for you, when you were spying on me? In broad daylight? Remember my show?" Michael shut up. Fair was fair. And it was pretty dark in here with only the candle, what could he even see?

The older man exhaled deeply and then did as the boy demanded, bending at the waist and cupping his hands around the backs of his knees, exposing everything behind him to the world.

"Wow," Jeremy said after a second. "I can't believe I got you to do that for me. And a grown guy, ha. Could you go about forty-five degrees to your left? I can't see anything."

Michael grumbled but complied, counting all the while. "Happy?"

"Cool. But that's totally not what I thought it would look like up close. It's all pink."

"That's because it's so virginal. Nine... Ten." He straightened up again, breathing in and at the same time sucking in his stomach. "I don't bottom. I mean when I have sex I'm a top, like, the man and not the woman. Generically speaking." Jeremy nodded, looking unsure. "Anyway, it's the final frontier. Where no man has gone before. Some guys don't do that, and I'm one of them."

"Okay, no big deal."

Michael intentionally let his clothes lie on the floor where he'd left them, crossed his arms on his chest. If this was what the kid wanted then let him take a good look. It was warm and he was already naked, why should he mind letting his cock hang out and take a breather for a little while. He sat down on the bed again, bumping Jeremy's knee. "Sorry. Truth or Dare?"

The boy seemed to know it would be asking for trouble to say Dare so- "Truth."

But Michael didn't intend to let him off lightly, not after that last one. "Truth. This was your idea, so imagine you were naked right now too, along with me. Tell me, in your own words, what you'd like me to do."

Jeremy half-heartedly chuckled, which turned into kind of a cough, then a laugh again. "Are you- Do you mean To me, or With me?" He couldn't keep a tremor out of his voice. "I mean, what, uh, what am I supposed-"

"Whoa," Michael stopped him, reaching out and put his hand on the boy's shoulder. It was the first real physical contact they'd had since under the bridge on 265. "Relax, I was just curious. I'm not going to do anything 'to' you. I only wanted to know if you'd ever thought about what you would like to do. You know, if."

He barely tightened his grip, to make his point. "If you had your way. I was curious. Relax." Only he noticed that the kid was leaning toward his hand, rocking his head to that side.

Jeremy smiled and purred, "God, okay, that right there. I was going to say your whole Coke scene, that sounded like it could be interesting, a little messy maybe. But you know I'd love a back rub." Michael increased the pressure with his thumb slightly, enough to make him moan with pleasure.

"Naked," he added.

Of course. It was the next step, right? First talking, then kissing, then the physical stuff... "Well, okay. I'll try. I don't know how... good I am at that."

The boy slid out from under his hand and off the bed to stand in front of him. "No worse than I am at making sandwiches, I bet." He unhooked his glasses and laid them on the nightstand, then started to pull one end of the knot at his waist. "Be honest with me?"

"Okay. I always will. What?"

He seemed to have a little trouble taking a breath. Jeremy breathed out and asked "This really is what I think it is, right?"

Michael was still for a long moment, trying to think.

Trying to think if he'd done it, touched the kid, with that in mind. Had he? Was it a crime if he had? He nodded yes hesitantly. To which question, he didn't know. But the answer was yes.

Jeremy said "Honestly, I was looking forward... I was hoping we could do something like this but I didn't have the nerve to put it in words. I'm just like so so nervous, I can't even say. But I'm ready. I really am, I promise."

The knot at his waist unraveled and the robe came open, revealing a snug pair of black briefs underneath. He put both thumbs under the briefs and started to push them down. The top of his pubes appeared over the waistband.

"Wait. Wait!"

The boy stopped, his eyes flickering. It was Michael's turn to stutter. "I didn't, uh-" He couldn't take his eyes off Jeremy's body. Up close his skin was so smooth, not like Michael's at all. Pale, somehow delicate, although it was muscled enough. Long and lean, half of it covered in dark hair. He couldn't believe he was going to have the chance to touch the boy like this.

"I don't think I've done anything, until just this past ten minutes, to get to this point with you. I mean this was so not my goal. I wanted to help you out, not get in your pants. I swear."

"Well duh, I know that. You've been like I had Bubonic Plague most of the day."

"I mean it really is so what I'd like right now, to touch you, you have no idea. Your body is beautiful. But you're half my age. Less. It's not-"

Jeremy put his finger to his temple like a gun. "Don't say it isn't right, man! Don't. Didn't you just tell me you'd have busted a nut to have somebody show you the ins and outs? And ins?" They both nervously laughed. "Back in the day. When you were my age, if you'd suddenly known what was what, would something in your bio change? Just so I know."

"I don't know. I'd have..." He looked up into Jeremy's eyes, shining with reflected light. "Known how guys could be. Not expected to be Billy's savior, or for him to drop everything and join me right then just because I was ready to leave. Known that the end isn't always the end. Good things wait for you."

Jeremy slapped his forehead. "Oh, well, then, this must be wrong." The robe fell off him and landed at their feet. There was everything just like he remembered it from before, save the underwear. The little nipples, the flat stomach, all that fur covering his legs. "I'm gonna be smarter and better-prepared for life, you'll get to heaven faster for being such a good Samaritan, and..."

He smiled. "And you're gonna get to grope me all you want, in the meantime." He left the briefs in place and stepped to the edge of the bed. "And vice versa. If it hasn't occurred to you yet, Michael, I want you to grope me. In fact, I'm dying for a lot more than that."

He stood there a second. Michael couldn't make himself move, his heart had stopped in his chest at those words. It didn't get much plainer than that, did it? What the hell was he waiting for?

Jeremy bent and kneeled onto the bedspread, pulling one of the pillows from under its sham and hugging it to his chest before laying face-down flat on the bed. He rested his head to one side and closed his eyes. A swatch of hair fell across his face and he pushed it back with his hand. Once that was done he stopped moving. Michael paused to admire the length of the boy's legs, his thin waist, how he could count each rib along his side, the triangles of his shoulderblades, the gloss of his hair against the pattern on the pillowcase. God.

Jeremy spoke without opening his eyes, and made sure to pronounce each word clearly: "I'm asking. I'd like you to get on top of me and rub my back.

"I am asking," Michael heard him say.

"We're both guys, y'know, men. Anyway, I am an adult. Between the two of us we have on one piece of clothing. We're totally alone in the middle of the woods, so no one besides us has to know. I trust you, and if something happens, it happens.

"But I'm ready, seriously ready, to go there."

Michael nodded and leaned to one side to open the nightstand drawer. It was as simple as that. Time to get started.

True to Kevin's nature, everything they were going to need was in the nightstand. One - no, two - good-sized tubes of lube, lotion, condoms, body oil and a couple of velvet pouches that looked like they might hold vibrators or who knew what. Ugh.

He grabbed a couple of the items and laid them out on the duvet, then got up on his knees so he could straddle Jeremy's prone form. He noticed again how hairy the kid's bottom half was compared to the smoothness above his waist. He got a knee on either side of him and lowered himself, settling his weight half on the boy's thighs and half on his own calves. The hair on their legs met and rustled as he drew his knees in to hold the body underneath him in place.

"Too heavy?" he murmured.

"Huh-uh." Michael did his best to slow down and experience the moment, make it last and enjoy the sensation. Being naked, atop a willing, all-but-naked, cute eighteen-year-old.

He could feel his mind start to swim with all the images flooding it, but he made himself get down to business. He popped open the bottle of lotion and held it over Jeremy's back. His heart was pounding.

This is not going to be easy to do for long. My dick is laying right on the crack of his ass. Those shorts... God, I want to see his bare butt again so badly, but knowing I will soon is enough. And Jesus Fuck, how many chances do you get to do this in one lifetime?

Drag it out as long as you can. I'm naked. The more I rub his back, or anything else, the more the head of my cock is gonna slide up and down there... Oh God does this feel great!

Body oil usually felt greasy, so he'd grabbed the lotion first. "This might be cold." He squeezed and the milky liquid ran out like honey onto Jeremy's light skin. The boy hissed through his teeth when it hit him.

"Sorry." Michael rubbed his hands together vigorously to heat them up, then put them both palm-down on either side of Jeremy's spine. The lotion wasn't thick and his hands efficiently spread a thin wave of it under them. After a couple of more passes it was almost like there was nothing between the two of them at all. His hands glided up and down Jeremy's smooth back, his own back arching and releasing with each trip. The kid began to moan each time he dug his thumbs in, then draw breath as he relaxed them.

"That feels sooo good, man. No joke, you could do this for a living." Jeremy smiled and raised his arms above his head, cracking the joints in his neck. He hugged the pillow to himself again and signed contentedly.

"Thanks, but for now I'm happy to have just one customer." Michael concentrated most of his energy on Jeremy's shoulders, which kept him bent forward and well north of the territory covered by the black cloth sitting under his testicles.

He glanced down at the briefs and how tightly they clung to the curves of the boy's ass, two smooth mounds, separated by... Well, you couldn't exactly see the divide between them for that underwear, but you knew it was there. He was already half hard, his dick sliding up and down the groove of the boy's back with each of his thrusts, his balls just behind. No way Jeremy couldn't feel them back there.

Jeremy said "Um, can you lift up for a second? Something's a little uncomfortable and I need to..."

"Sure." Michael pushed up so Jeremy could reach underneath himself, adjust, then resume his position on the bed.

In a more subdued voice the boy said "Thanks. So anyway, Truth or Dare?"

"Good grief... All right, I've got my hands full, so you can't give me anything too complicated to do, right? But you're tricky with the Truths too, so maybe that's what you want me to say. I dunno."

"You give me too much credit," the boy mumbled into the pillow. "This isn't like high-stakes poker, you know."

"Depends on what you mean by stakes, I think."

Michael pressed the heels of his hands into the small of Jeremy's back, feeling the cords and ridges of muscle underneath shift as he passed over them. What did they call this one, the latissimus? He barely remembered that single Biology class he'd had. Whatever it was called, the sheet of muscle stretching all the way down from underneath each armpit, going south to gather at a point just above his tailbone.

And below that... God, he couldn't stop thinking about the boy's ass.

The lotion made everything as smooth as silk the longer he worked it in, dissolving somewhere between the heat of his palms and the warmth rising off Jeremy's skin. He let it guide his hands lower till his thumbs stopped, at the end of each downstroke, just touching the crescent-shaped dimple in the bone at the very top of Jeremy's butt. It was exactly thumb-sized, a dent that looked made to press something into.

With every additional pass he let his hands go lower, until he came up against the black waistband and couldn't go any further. Michael watched what he could see of the boy's face, waiting for a reaction. He tentatively put his fingertips under the band. Nothing. He took the elastic between his fingers and slid the briefs downward, still watching. When he'd gone two more inches he couldn't stop himself from looking, he'd held off too long.

His eyes went down. There, that was what he'd been waiting to see.

Those patterns of dark hair, covering the creamy hills of his ass. The black shorts, half off, framed by both his hands. Elastic, fitting as close to the skin as possible. Underneath them, the line that marked that way inside his body...

He pulled the briefs down until everything was exposed, careful to maneuver them to avoid snagging on anything... below. He only took them so far, leaving the cloth wrapped around the meat of the kid's thighs. That was far enough for now.

Michael started the massage again, working his palms in circles at the bottom of Jeremy's spine, now daring to go as low as he wanted.

He went all the way down to the dimple, the thumbprint, then lower. The tips of his fingers brushing inside the cleft between the boy's cheeks, just where the serious hair started. Then lower, next time his thumbs and pointer fingers along into the crack, snug and warm inside. And lower still, spreading the lotion over the dark whorls covering all of Jeremy's butt. His hands kneaded the big gluteal muscles, working the mounds, matting the hair to the skin. Lower.

He'd scooted further down the boy's thighs until they were right back where they had started. A drop of sweat ran down Michael's jaw to his chin, fell and landed in the valley where the kid's legs came together. Where it hit, it would now be running down toward his balls-


Michael squeezed and released each half of Jeremy's ass, making the skin pink and warm to the touch. The longer he spent here, the more he had to think about the possibility of going deeper. Taking him further than this, even if it was only to plant his mouth-

Michael was perspiring like he'd run a race. When had it gotten so hot in there?

Jeremy cleared his throat, barely loud enough to get his attention. Michael was preoccupied, still picturing the exact path of that drop of sweat. Down, around-

"Dude. Hello?"

Michael blinked. "Yeah? Oh, right. Okay. Dare."

Jeremy smiled lazily. "I dare you to kiss me." Michael frowned. That wasn't anything. What-

The boy went on, "I'm not turning over for this one. I want you to kiss me somewhere back there. You choose the spot." Michael's hands came to rest, each cupping one of the mounds of muscle from below, both his thumbs (and if he cared to look, his dick too) pointed right at the most obvious choice.

Was he ready for this? It was one thing to play date night, or do the teacher-and-student thing, fantasize about it, watch from a distance... Another thing completely to take that last step.

Anything more than laying his hands on the boy, yes like this, was stepping over into a different dimension. Even a simple massage was the kind of thing that could make the six-o'clock news. And this definitely wasn't "just" that.

"Jeremy, this has been fun, but I don't know..." Michael really didn't want to risk offending him again so he tried to choose his words carefully. The boy sighed and raised an eyebrow, his smile fading, and waited for the older man to finish.

"I'm not sure you know what this means. I'm not being condescending, I swear. I can't believe I'm trying to talk you out of this."

He stopped, exasperated with himself. "What this is leading to... Your first time, it's supposed to be special."

"God, did I say anything about this being my first time?"

He stumbled, "No-o, I guess I was assuming."

"Ass, you, me." Jeremy lifted up on one elbow to look over his shoulder at Michael with sleepy eyes. "You're right, though. It is the first. It will be. You say you don't know-" He broke off, brushing his fallen hair back and stifling a noise in his throat. "Get up off me. Please."

Michael complied and hunched aside as the kid sat up. Jeremy twisted the briefs off himself and dropped them, then put one knee under his chin. Like that he looked very young indeed. The older man would not look down.

"You don't know my history," the boy started. "That's partly my fault, and partly yours for not making me tell it. You had your chance. I will tell if you want, but trust me for now, whatever my first time's gonna be like, it will be special. I swear it will. Like nothing else in my whole life, and I'll remember it until the day I die. I know this."

He pointed at Michael and laid his finger on the older man's chest. "So don't get me wrong. I. Want it to be. With you."

Michael gulped as Jeremy took a breath and laid his head to one side so his temple rested on his knee. "I couldn't say what I wanted us to do, before. I should have, I'm a freaking adult, but I just couldn't. I can play games but I have absolutely no idea what to do here. I'm so stupid about this."

"That's understandable-"

"Shut up. I mean I need to be shown. You have to show me, emphasis on Have to. But if I can ask you something-"


Jeremy squeezed his eyes closed and a single tear bled out. "All I want... Just don't hurt me. I know it will hurt, just not on purpose, please. That's all I ask."

Michael put his hand out and took hold of Jeremy's shoulder, which the boy took as a signal to lean over and bury his face into the man's bare neck as he began to quietly sob. They pulled close together, Michael murmuring nothing into his ear and stroking the back of his head.

Jeremy clung to him tightly but his cries stayed soft and subdued. As Michael felt the tears run down his neck and over his collarbone he hoped that this was a good sign; it might be the very last of whatever the kid was working through. He let him ride the jag out.

Michael could have gotten emotional, or tried to pry something more out of him, but he resisted the temptation and stayed calm. He'd had plenty of his own moments that day, so the boy was entitled to at least one he could call his.

Sure enough in a minute Jeremy had fallen silent and still in his arms. Michael whispered "Lay back" into his ear and gently let him down flat on his back on the bed. He disentangled them and then settled alongside him, stretching out and pulling the free side of the duvet over both of them like a cocoon. The massage lotion, lube and condoms bumped down onto the floor.

Michael rested his head on his fist so he was looking down at Jeremy. He put one hand on the smooth flat of the kid's stomach and pressed them as close together as he could.

"How are you doing?"

Jeremy wiped his eyes and sniffled a couple of times. "You said you were a mess. Look at me, I'm the mess. I can't go six hours without having a nervous breakdown."

"I don't see a nervous breakdown. Just a little crying, and I know there must be a good reason for it. Other than that you look fine." This got a snort. Michael hesitated before he said what he did next, trying not to make things worse.

"You're a wonderful guy, Jeremy. I wish I was twenty again, but I'm not, and I'm... I'm the one who's not ready for this. I totally blame myself for pushing it, and I should have known better. Everything was moving too fast. I should have said 'Stop' but I was having too good a time and I didn't. This is my fault."

Jeremy, looking into the gloom, frowned. "Even if you're not ready, Michael, I am. I want you to... Make love to me, man. Fuh-" He gave a twisted smile. "I can say it. Make love to me, fuck me. Everything in between.

"I'm asking you to. I'm saying the words. I know that has to be scary, 'cause you're always the one in the driver's seat, right? I'll make the first move, if it that's what you want." He unfolded his arm and his right hand went back toward Michael's crotch. Before it could go too far the older man held his wrist.

"I'm saying stop, now." Michael kept ahold of the wrist as he curled his arm up toward Jeremy's chest.

He went on. "You know I'm right. If it's my karma that I'm meant to do something here, then that's what I'm doing. I lost sight of that. I want to, God do I want to. But it isn't about me. You're the one not ready. I give you enough credit to know that's what I was really saying just now."

The boy nodded and sighed, his whole body deflating against Michael's. He squeezed the older man's hand and pulled him closer, rolled onto his side. In a second he began to draw his knees up and tuck his arms into himself. As he curled like this Michael enveloped him, his legs along Jeremy's, his bare chest pressed into Jeremy's back, his chin in the nape of Jeremy's neck. His cock, soft, filled the space between Jeremy's naked legs. Nothing more. There wasn't anything erotic about it, and nothing more for them to do that night except hold each other in the candle's weak light. Soon they were both asleep.

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