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What We Are II

Summer Heat

by Richie Ryan

Chapter 4: Loving and Learning

The rain had stopped completely, and the wind was little more than a breeze by the time Richie put this thoughts of TJ aside to rejoin his friends in the main room. As the last of the clouds drifted off to the east, the bright glow of a full moon pierced the darkness to dance across the gentle waves on the surface of the lake.

They spent the next half hour talking about their plans for the following day, but as the combined effects of the alcohol and the lateness of the hour began to take its toll, all four boys found it difficult to keep their eyes open.

"Well, it's late," said Kyle as he looked at his watch. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat on my ass. If we want to get in some water-skiing before we head over to McCarthy's tomorrow, we're gonna have to get up before the crack of noon."

"Yeah, I'm ready to hit the sack, too," agreed Kevin, stifling a yawn. "How about we split up the showers again like we did last winter. Me and Lindy can shower tonight, and you guys can shower in the morning."

"Works for me," said Lindy.

Kyle and Richie quickly agreed as all four of them stood and carried their empty glasses into the kitchen. Splitting the showers up would not only tie up the bathroom less, but would allow each to have more time without worrying about running out of hot water.

As soon as Richie and Kyle were behind their closed bedroom door and began to strip out of their clothes, Kyle asked about Lindy's strange behavior earlier.

"No big deal, really, he was just scared," said Richie, "He was all worried that he was a wuss, that he was so scared that if we needed his help he wouldn't be able to do anything. Sometimes he just lacks self-confidence, is all. Sorta like how I felt last winter."

"So, what did you tell him?"

"Pretty much the same thing you told me last winter. I told him we were all scared, even you. I'm not sure he believed me when I said that about you, though, so if he asks, tell him you were, OK?"

"Sure, no problem. It's true, ya know, I was kinda scared."

"I know," said Richie with a grin.

Since neither one of them had put on underwear after their boat trip, they were soon standing naked and facing each other. The heat of the fire had done its job well in warming the chill from their rain soaked bodies, and their balls hung low beneath their flaccid dicks as they took a moment to look each other over.

"Whoa," said Kyle with a grin, "I don't think I've seen you soft in months."

Richie was somewhat surprised himself that he wasn't hard. Usually, just the thought of getting into the same bed as Kyle had him hard as a rock before he could get his pants off. With just a trace of sarcasm, he said, "Hey, I'm under control, man. You know, since my being horny seems to bother you so much."

"Yeah?" said Kyle with a devilish grin on his face. "Well I like being bothered if we have the time to do something about it."

Immediately catching on to what Kyle had in mind, Richie thought he would jerk him around a bit. Using sheer willpower, he fought off his desire to be seduced and turned toward the bed to fluff up his pillow.

"Yeah? Well since we're both kinda tired - and like you said, we gotta get up early to go water-skiing - I guess now wouldn't be the right time either, would it?"

Kyle knew Richie was fucking with him now, and found it to be a real turn-on. That, along with the beer and beamers he'd had, caused his dick to begin rise. With Richie leaning over the bed, Kyle moved up behind him to where his stiffening member pressed against the crack of his ass. Bending over, he reached down to place his left hand across his lover's chest, pinching his right nipple between his thumb and forefinger. While sliding his cock along the crack between his ass-cheeks, he began to fondle Richie's balls with his right hand, rolling them around in their silky soft purse as he spoke seductively into his ear.

"I'm not that tired, but if you are, then just relax and let me do all the work."

Richie loved the feel of Kyle's strong hockey player arms, wrapped around his body, holding him tight. No longer able to resist, he quickly gave in to his lust and groaned quietly as he stood up, allowing Kyle to pull their bodies even closer together. With his dick now standing nearly straight up, he reached both of his hands around behind Kyle to cup them under his firm, well-toned ass cheeks. When he pulled Kyle's body tighter against him, Kyle responded by pressing his cock firmly against Richie's crack, sliding it up and down as he ground his hips into his ass. This action caused the pre-cum that leaked from Kyle's cock to become a natural lubricant, spreading itself around with each slow but forceful thrust.

They remained in this position for several minutes, sweat streaming down their bodies from the heat of their passion. While Kyle alternated between fondling Richie's balls and stroking his dick, he gently nibbled on his earlobe, then kissed and sucked on his neck. As their passion continued to rise, Kyle could feel the pulsing of Richie's blood increase with his excitement... coursing though his arteries... pounding against Kyle's lips.

Their bodies were in constant motion now, grinding and sliding against each other. Their sweat mixed with the still present sunscreen to make their skin slick and slightly scented with the essence of coconut oil. Straining to reach back as far as he could, Richie slipped his middle fingers between Kyle's sweat covered cheeks where he prodded and poked at his tightly puckered hole. Soon, the tips of his fingers were inside, and Kyle groaned with pleasure each time he moved them around within the tight, flexing muscular ring of his anus.

In silent agreement they loosened their grip just long enough for Richie to turn around and face his lover. When their lips came together they kissed deeply and passionately, their tongues wrestling each other for dominance. Both pairs of hands found their way to the other's ass cheeks and spread them apart as they pulled their bodies tightly together again. Taking advantage of their sweat slicked skin, they ground their chests, stomachs, and cocks together while they massaged and stimulated each other's hole with their fingers.

As their passion became more heated, they groaned into each other's mouth when first one, then the other, easily slipped the tip of his middle finger into the tight, hot confines of his partner's rectum. Although from this position they couldn't probe deep enough to reach the prostate, it still took them to a higher level of pleasure.

Time had lost all meaning for them while they stood like this, mirroring each other's actions as they slid and ground their slippery, pre-cum coated dicks together. Their sweat was beaded up all over their bodies now, and their hair, soaked with it, clung to their foreheads.

Whenever Richie flexed his finger in Kyle's rectum, Kyle's body responded with spasms of pure pleasure, each new spasm causing him to pull Richie even tighter against himself. As spasm after spasm gripped Kyle's body, the powerful muscles in his arms and back tightened to drive his rock-hard cock even harder into Richie's sweat-slicked pubic hair.

Richie loved it when he did this, and his excitement always increased when Kyle used his strength aggressively. Even though Kyle's size and strength could pose a threat to the younger boy if he ever lost control, he would never allow himself to go that far. He knew his strength well, and just how much of it to use to give Richie exactly what he wanted.

Again, without speaking, they separated and moved onto the bed. Leading the way, Richie stretched out on his back, then Kyle moved on top of him in the sixty-nine position.

With Kyle's low-hanging balls resting heavily on his chin, Richie caressed and massaged his partner's inner thighs while he licked, then sucked on his scrotum. From time to time he would press his mouth firmly against the soft skin to suck at the stiff member within, slowly working his way back to its root at the edge of his perineum.

While he did this, Kyle wasted no time burying his face in Richie's balls, breathing in the sweet essence that was all Richie. Moaning with animal-like pleasure at what Richie was doing to him, he sucked one, then the other, then both of Richie's balls into his mouth where he rolled them around with his tongue. A few minutes later, he licked and nibbled his way up Richie's cock. Starting at the base and moving to the tip, he swirled his tongue in and around his piss slit, relishing the taste of his pre-cum.

Their current position was Richie's favorite because he could put his mouth anywhere - from Kyle's hot pulsing cock to his tight puckered anus - simply by moving his head around on the pillow. Whenever his passion moved him, he could easily reach whichever of these areas he wished to suck into his mouth, or lick with his tongue, or stimulate with his hands and fingers.

Reaching up to stroke and squeeze Kyle's dick with his right hand, Richie sucked one of his nearly hairless balls into his mouth. While he sucked, he pulled down on it, poking and jabbing at it with his tongue through its soft covering of skin. Then he released it to repeat his action on the other one.

While Kyle sucked and stimulated the tip of Richie's cock with his tongue, he squeezed and rolled his balls around within their hot, sweaty sac. At the same time, Richie licked his tongue across Kyle's perineum until he reached his tightly puckered anus. After lavishing large amounts of saliva around edge and on top of the entrance to Kyle's hole, he spread it open with his fingers, then plunged his tongue into it as far as it would go.

The incredible sensation that Kyle felt as Richie did this caused him to groan loudly, then rock back on his haunches in an attempt to get even more of Richie's tongue inside him. After a few moments of writhing and grinding his puckered hole against Richie's probing tongue, Kyle returned his attention, and his lips, to Richie's cock. This time he engulfed it, taking it all into his mouth at once until his chin was resting on Richie's pubic hairs, his nose pressed tightly into his soft scrotum.

Somewhat to Kyle's disappointment, Richie moved his mouth from his anus to his dick. Wrapping his lips tightly around the tip, he massaged the sensitive area at the underside of his glans with his tongue, feeling his dick jump with excitement each time. Kyle's pre-cum flowed freely now, and Richie could feel it pulse across his tongue before it spread throughout the rest of his mouth. Kyle's earlier disappointment was replaced with ecstasy when Richie quickly buried his middle finger as far into his rectum as it would go. He did this in one swift stabbing motion, driving it directly to his prostate. Kyle's body responded instantly, jerking with spasms of pleasure that caused the powerful muscles of his hot anal ring to clamp tightly around Richie's finger.

Knowing he was dangerously close to orgasm, and wanting them to come at the same time, Kyle copied Richie's action, plunging not one, but two of his fingers deep into Richie's ass. Soon, both boys were sucking with abandon, their bodies writhing with pleasure each time they felt their lover's finger press against their prostate. When Kyle's body began to jerk uncontrollably above him, Richie knew it would be only seconds before he came. Opening his throat wide, Richie took all of Kyle's thick six inches into his mouth until his nose was pressing into his ball-sac, and the head of Kyle's cock pushed against the back of his throat.

That was all it took as first Kyle, then Richie, went over the edge. While Richie's juices began to fill Kyle's mouth, Kyle's began to spew directly down Richie's throat. Even though he knew how much Kyle loved it when he deep-throated him, Richie wanted desperately to savor the taste his cum. Pulling his head back a little, he felt Kyle's cock pulse and jerk against his tongue as his balls drew up close to his body to empty themselves into his hungry mouth.

Kyle was always amazed at the amount to cum that Richie could produce, and this time was no exception. When Richie's sperm began to fill his mouth, it was all he could do to swallow fast enough to keep it from leaking between his lips and Richie's rock-hard member. They continued to suck each other until the last few drops of love juice dribbled from their piss slits and their members began to deflate.

Exhausted and covered with sweat, Kyle rolled off of Richie to lie on his back next to him. They remained that way, head to toe and motionless while they regained their strength. As Richie came down from his trip to orgasmic heaven, he moved his tongue across the surface of his teeth to savor the taste of what was left of Kyle's cum.

A gentle breeze drifted in through the open window, caressing Richie's sweat covered body, cooling it as he lay beside his lover. When he was finally down from his sexual high, he became aware of the muffled sound of the shower. Running his hand over his slippery chest, he smiled when he thought how it might have been better for him and Kyle to shower tonight rather than to wait until morning.

Since Kyle hadn't stirred or spoken yet, Richie wondered if he'd fallen asleep. Opening his eyes as he turned his head slightly in Kyle's direction, his line of sight had him looking along the inside of his legs to his balls and now flaccid penis.

"Kyle, you awake, bro?" he asked softly.

"Uh huh," answered Kyle just loud enough for Richie to hear.

Richie always loved the look and feel of Kyle's large, low-hanging balls. As he looked at them now, with his beautiful soft dick lying next to them, still glistening with cum and saliva, he couldn't resist the temptation to hold them in his hand. Reaching his arm out, he slipped his fingers under them, feeling their weight though the softness of their covering.

"Anybody ever tell you that you have huge balls?" he asked in a soft voice as he fondled and moved them around with his fingers.

"Yeah, you have... like at least once a day."

"Then you know it's gotta be true," said Richie with a grin.

Raising himself up on his elbows, Kyle looked down at his crotch to where Richie was gently fingering his balls, then looked up at him and smiled.

"What?" asked Richie as he continued his gentle fondling. "I'm just playin. You know how much I like these bad boys. Look, I'm not even hard, so you know I'm not trying to get us goin again."

"True that. OK, so how bout we talk."

Richie had forgotten about their aborted attempt to discuss their relationship earlier, and although it wasn't a discussion he was looking forward to, he knew it needed to happen and that now was as good a time as any. Drawing his hand away from Kyle's crotch, he sat up, leaned his back against the headboard and sighed.

"Sure, let's."

This time, Kyle wasted no time in getting to the point. After pulling his legs up to sit more comfortably in the cross-legged Indian style, his gaze drifted down to his hands where they rested on the bed between his thighs.

"You asked me earlier what was the matter with us and our relationship, and up until then, I thought I was the only one who wondered about it. Tell the truth, I've been asking myself that for a long time now. I've been trying to get up the nerve to ask you about it, too... but every time I thought I could do it, I chickened out."

After a brief moment, he looked up into Richie's face.

"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, Rich, and I never, ever want to do anything to hurt you. That's why I've been wrestling with this by myself... cause I didn't know how you'd take it."

Pausing again to gather his thoughts, Kyle looked back down at his hands. He'd been over this a hundred times before in his mind, each time concluding that there would be no easy way to say what he had to say. Despite his fear of hurting Richie, and maybe losing him completely, he knew in his heart that he had to tell him honestly how he felt. As painful a task as it was going to be, he also knew that in the long run it would be better for them to get everything out in the open now. Looking up again, he took a deep breath before he continued.

"I don't think our relationship can go on the way it is, Rich... I don't think it can survive like it is. I think one reason is the difference in our ages. Now that isn't such a big deal, cause I know we're only a year and a half apart... and if we were in college or somethin it probably wouldn't matter at all... but right now I think it does. If I'm gonna make a commitment to another guy, I think it would be easier for me to keep that commitment if he was my own age... you know, someone I could like, relate to in everything we do.

"Now don't get me wrong here, cause you and me have a shit load of fun together. I guess it's the commitment part that I'm having a problem with. Hell, truth be told, I don't really want to commit to anyone right now, no matter how old he is... and I wonder if, deep down, you don't feel the same way. Having an active sexual relationship with someone is new for both of us, and I don't think that either one of us wants to be tied down with just one other person yet.

"I keep thinking about what it would be like for us to be able to explore other things and meet other guys without feeling guilty because of a one on one commitment. We're both still young, and there's a whole lotta world out there for us to explore.

"Now I know I'm really horse-shit at explaining myself, cause I don't have the smarts or the vocabulary to say what I feel all the time. What I'm trying to say, though, is that I don't think it's good for either one of us to be in a... what's the word, magnaminous relationship?"

Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Richie had to use all of his willpower to suppress a chuckle at Kyle's attempt to use a four syllable word. Although he didn't actually laugh, he did smile when he answered.

"I think the word you're looking for is monogamous."

"Yeah, that's it, monogamous. Well, I told you my vocabulary sucked," said Kyle, blushing slightly when he saw the grin on Richie's face. "Anyway, that's what I mean. I don't think it's good for either one of us to be in that kind of relationship right now. That's why I'm telling you this, to get it all out in the open before something happens. You know... before one of us meets someone else that he's attracted to.

"I love you, Rich, and I care about you more than anyone else I know, and that will never change. It's just that I think we should loosen up our relationship a little. I think we should give each other the freedom to... I don't know... explore new worlds so to speak, without worrying about hurting each other.

"A good example of what I'm talking about is your reaction when you saw me talking to Steve tonight. Like I said, nothing happened between us, we were just talking. Hell, as far as I know he's straight as an arrow. But you can't deny that it made you feel jealous, and that caused a problem for us."

Kyle paused again while he tried to read how Richie was taking all of this. When he saw nothing in his expression, and Richie didn't speak, he finished what he wanted to say.

"I hope I managed to explain how I feel so you can understand it, and I hope to God that I didn't hurt you by saying it, but I felt it was important that it be said, and I need to know how you feel about it."

All the while that Kyle was talking, Richie was carefully taking it in, considering the possibilities as well as the consequences.

"Whoa," he said finally. "You really have thought a lot about this, haven't you?"

After saying this, Richie sighed, looked down at his arms folded across his chest and paused for a minute to think. He was frightened by what Kyle might mean by 'loosening up their relationship'. He couldn't help thinking that it might mean he'd lose him completely, maybe never see him again, and his eyes began to get moist at the thought. As much as he was afraid of the answer, he had to know exactly what Kyle had in mind for them, so he took a deep breath to prepare himself for the worst, then looked up.

"What exactly do you mean by loosening up our relationship, Kyle?" he asked, his voice beginning to crack. "You want to break up, don't you?"

Hearing the edge of panic in Richie's voice, Kyle spoke to him in a quiet, reassuring tone.

"Whoa, Rich... I mean yeah, I guess that's what I'm saying... but it's not as bad as it sounds. I love you, and I don't ever want us to stop seeing each other, or hanging out with each other. We've got too good of a friendship going for me to want that to end."

Richie barely heard what Kyle said this time - he couldn't get past his wanting to break up. Even though he said it was because he didn't want to be tied down, Richie couldn't help but feel there was something else, something Kyle wasn't telling him. As frightened as he was of the answer he might get to his next question, he knew he had to ask it, and it took all of his strength to hold back his tears when he did.

"Is there someone else, Kyle?"

"No, Rich... I swear to God, there is no one else. That's why I wanted to talk about this now... before one of us does find someone else."

Richie's relief at hearing this showed in his face, but he still felt there must be some other reason why Kyle wanted to break up. Wracking his tired, alcohol soaked mind, there was only one other reason he could think of. Again fighting to keep his panic under control, he asked.

"Is it me, Kyle? Is it something I did?"

"No, Rich, it's got nothing to do with you."

"If it's not something I did, and you haven't found someone else, then why are you dumping me?"

The tears that Richie fought so hard to control were now threatening to spill from his eyes. Noticing this, Kyle tried his best to calm him.

"Whoa, man, I'm not dumping you. I only want what's best for both of us... that's why I think we need to break off our one to one commitment. It's like I just told you, I love you, and I wanna stay friends with you. I don't ever want that to end... it's just that I'm afraid that if I'm tied down to a commitment with you, sooner or later I'll end up cheating on you. I just don't want to take the chance on that happening because I know how much it would hurt you. That's all it is, I swear."

"For real?" asked Richie with renewed optimism, finally beginning to understand where Kyle was coming from.

"For real, Rich, I swear to God."

Calmed and thinking clearly again, Richie thought back to what Kyle said in the beginning. As much as a big part of him didn't want it to be true, he couldn't deny the fact that a lot of what he said made sense. It made him think about his own increased attraction to other guys, especially TJ. Then another question came to mind.

"Does this mean we won't be having sex anymore?"

When he asked this, Kyle looked down at his hands again. He was sure that Richie was right on the edge between accepting his proposal, or telling him to go to hell. Remembering his resolve to be totally honest, to get everything out in the open, he decided to tell him the truth. Fully expecting a negative reaction when he answered, he continued to look at his hands, his voice quietly pleading, yet at the same time filled with hope.

"Well, that's something else that I've been thinking long and hard about. I know this may sound weird, or selfish, but I don't want to stop having sex with you... at least not until one of us finds someone we do want to commit to."

As soon as he heard himself say this, he regretted it, thinking he sounded lame and totally self-serving. Already unsure if Richie would want to stay friends, which was most important to him, he now feared that he might actually hate him. He worried that Richie might interpret what he said as wanting to keep him around as his boy-toy to have sex with whenever he felt horny. In order to reassure him that this wasn't true, that continued sex was not solely for his own benefit, but good for both of them, Kyle looked into Richie's eyes to explain his reasoning.

"When we started having sex together, both of us had practically no experience. All I'd had was a couple of simple one night blow-jobs, and you were a virgin. Well, except for the one time you swapped blow-jobs with my best friend, that is."

Kyle made this last statement with a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye. His hope was to lighten the mood a little, and Richie turned beet red when he heard it. Even though Richie's one time experience with Kevin never bothered Kyle because it was before they became a couple, Richie still felt guilty whenever it was mentioned.

"Anyway, our sexual prowess, if that's the right word for it, has grown from our sex together. We've learned from each other, and practiced on each other, and now we're really good at what we do with each other. We know what turns each other on the most, and we know how to please each other."

Throughout his explanation, Richie never once looked away from Kyle's eyes, and the expression on his face gave no indication of what he was thinking. Knowing that Richie seldom made even the simplest of decisions without first thinking it over, Kyle wanted to make sure he understood that he could take all the time he needed for this one. He compared Richie to a jury in a murder trial - the longer they took to decide on a verdict, the better it looked for the defendant - and after tonight, Kyle, the defendant, felt he needed all the time he could get.

"This, of course, is all up to you. It depends on what you decide you want to do once you've thought it over... and I want you to take as much time as you want to think about it, too. But I know that I don't want it to end - either our friendship, or our sex. I guess what I'd like to have a is a relationship like you have with Lindy, or Kevin... only with sex in it."

There was a long silence in the room when Kyle finished. Both boys looking into each other's eyes as if trying to find some sort of a clue as to what the other was thinking. It was Richie who finally broke the silence as he looked down at his folded arms again.

"It seems kinda weird, ya know? Like we're breaking up, but we're staying together."

He paused again as he wondered if what Kyle was proposing could possibly work. Before he said anything else, he thought about how he felt the day after he and Kevin had sex.

"Tell the truth, that's kinda like how I first pictured me and Kevin's relationship after... well, after that night."

After saying this, Richie recognized the one big difference between his feelings for Kevin then, and his feelings for Kyle now. When he continued, he looked into Kyle's eyes again, his prior fears creeping back into his voice.

"But that was before you and I found each other... and I wasn't in love with Kevin like I am with you."

"Well, maybe you're not 'in love' with me either. I mean, you love me, I know that... and I love you, too... but maybe neither one of us is 'in love' with the other. Like maybe we're 'in lust' with each other, instead."

Richie looked down at his arms again. This put a whole new twist on the subject - one that he'd never heard of before. He didn't understand what Kyle meant when he said there was a difference between 'loving' someone, and being 'in love' with them - and just what the hell did he mean when he said that maybe they were 'in lust' with each other, instead. Thinking about these things, he knew he would need plenty of time to sort them all out. Stifling back a yawn, he knew he was too tired to dwell on it anymore tonight.

"Well, like I said before, it all sounds weird, ya know... breaking up but staying together. Give me some time to think about it, OK?"

"Sure, Rich, no problem. I know I just dumped a load of heavy shit on you, so take as much time as you want. Just remember, no matter what you decide, or what happens to us, I love you, and I always will."

With that said, Kyle leaned over and kissed Richie on the lips with the same tender affection that he'd shown him in the boat earlier.

Unable to fight off the sleep that threatened to overtake him, Richie smiled with a sigh when Kyle pulled away. Then, yawning again as he stretched his arms and legs, he slid himself down on the bed until he was flat on his back where he immediately went to sleep.

Smiling down at his sleeping form, Kyle watched as Richie's chest rose and fell with each effortless breath. As he did this, he prayed that he'd done the right thing, and that everything would work out for them. He truly loved Richie, and he didn't know if he could handle it if he ever did anything to hurt him. Leaning over him once more, he stroked his hair a couple of times, then gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead before moving quietly off the bed to turn out the light.

The light of the full moon shining through the window cut through the darkness of the bedroom to bathe Richie's nude body in its soft, ethereal glow. After pausing for a moment to take in this sight, Kyle slipped back into bed where he pulled the sheet up to keep them warm against the cool night air. Gently laying his arm across Richie's chest, he snuggled up close to him and was soon fast asleep.


It was nearly three in the morning before Kyle and Richie went to sleep. Because of this late hour, Richie didn't begin to wake up again until almost ten o'clock. After he rubbed enough of the sleep from his eyes to be able to see clearly, the first thing he looked for was Kyle in the bed next to him. When he found him gone, he stretched his arms above his head, then out of habit more than anything else he squeezed and stroked his morning hard-on. Feeling horny as usual and wanting to jack off, he remembered his vow to keep himself under control, so he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat up instead.

A moment later he stood up to stretch the rest of sleep from his body when the door to his room burst open. There stood Lindy, dressed in his cutoffs, a Green Bay Packers T-shirt, and wearing a huge smile on his face.

"Damn it, Lindstrom, don't you ever knock?" yelled Richie as he sheepishly tried to cover himself with his hands.

"What's the big deal, bro? It's not like you've got anything I haven't seen before. Or are you just embarrassed cause you're so little compared to me?"

"Fuck you, man. Besides," said Richie as he dropped his hands away from his still stiff dick and proudly pulsed it up and down in Lindy's direction, "mine's grown since the last time we measured, so ya probably can't say that anymore."

"Yeah, well I've grown, too, bro. We'll have to measure again sometime... and I'll bet I'm still bigger'n you."

"Yeah? Like how much, a quarter inch maybe? Besides, it's not how much ya got, bro, but what you can do with it," said Richie, flashing Lindy a wide grin.

"So, what the hell did ya bust in here for, anyway, just to get a look at my dick?" he asked as he dug a clean towel from his bag.

"No, if that's what I wanted I'd have brought a magnifying glass. What I wanted to tell you is that Kyle thinks it's too windy to water-ski so we're gonna put in the raft instead."

"OK, cool," said Richie as he squeezed past Lindy on his way to the bathroom.

Playfully slapping Richie on his bare ass as he passed, Lindy said, "Me and Kevin already ate, but Kyle's cookin up some eggs for you guys. So hurry up and wash that crusty body of yours so we can get goin."

Rubbing the sting from his butt where Lindy had slapped him, Richie smiled as he entered the bathroom and closed the door. 'Shit,' he thought, 'I wish I'd gotten up earlier and had breakfast with those guys.'

By Kyle's own admission, the only food he knew how to cook was scrambled eggs. Even though he did a great job with them, having the same thing every morning can begin to get old. As he stood under the shower to let the soothing spray cascade over his body, he decided he would have to teach Kyle how to cook something else. Then he remembered their conversation from last night and wondered if, after all was said and done, he and Kyle would have any kind of relationship left.

Temporarily putting their talk out of his mind, he quickly showered, brushed his teeth, then returned to his bedroom to dress. After putting on his cutoffs, again without underwear, he fished through his bag for one of his favorite Vikings T-shirts. Pulling it over his head while he padded his way barefoot toward the kitchen, he smiled as he thought that no way was Lindy going get by with wearing a Packers shirt without him showing support for the Vikings.

As he rounded the corner of the kitchen, he could smell the familiar aroma of Kyle's scrambled eggs, but there was something different in the air this morning. He soon realized that what he smelled was bacon frying.

"Whoa, Kyle, you makin bacon, too, this morning?"

"Yeah, man," said Kyle with a grin, "I'm branchin out here, dude. Hatch showed me how to do it and I can't believe how easy it is. I'm gonna be a world class chef before ya know it."

"Yeah, well it sure smells good, and I'm so hungry I could eat Lindy's cooking."

Overhearing this from the recliner, Lindy said, "Shit, Andrews, you only wish you could cook as good as me."

Richie and Kyle ate their breakfast while the other two just hung around to wait for them. When they were finished eating, and the kitchen was cleaned up, they all headed for the beach to check out the raft.

The raft itself was a ten by ten foot platform supported by four plastic 55 gallon drums, one on each corner. There were also two ladders that they would bolt on once they had the raft in deep enough water.

Although for obvious reasons the raft was pulled out of the lake at the end of each summer, the large block of concrete that served as an anchor remained on the bottom year round. Consequently, each spring when the raft was put in, the anchor had to be located by diving down and searching for it.

The temperature was about eighty degrees and the sun shone brightly through a nearly cloudless sky. Although the wind was almost as strong as it was during the storm the night before, it was steady, and had shifted to the east. Even though the humidity was still high, the wind coming in off the lake was enough to keep the boys cool and generate plenty of whitecaps.

"I think the guppies should be in charge of finding the anchor," said Kevin.

"Sounds like a plan to me," laughed Kyle. "Like that's what guppies do, ain't it?"

"Yeah, right," said Richie. "You guys just don't wanna get wet until you have to."

"Aw, c'mon, Rich," said Lindy. "It'll be fun, man. I'll bet you a buck that I find it before you do."

"OK, dude, you're on! And get your money out, too, cause it's as good as mine."

The four boys made their way to the garage where Richie and Lindy found a pair of diving masks, snorkels, and a buoy made from a plastic milk jug to mark the anchor once they found it. While they were doing that, Kevin and Kyle searched for the hardware and tools they would need to mount the ladders.

When the younger boys returned to the dock, they dangled their feet in the water while they adjusted the fit of their snorkeling equipment.

"Holy shit, this water's cold," said Lindy.

"Well duh... why d'ya think those guys wanted us to do this shit? I think it's probably colder here than it is out deeper, though, cause of all the springs. Actually, it's not too bad once ya get used to it. Me and Kyle were in yesterday and it was OK."

Once they had their equipment properly adjusted, they spit on the inside of the glass in their masks to prevent them from fogging up while they dove, then took a deep breath before making the plunge. Following Kyle's directions, they swam straight out from the dock for about fifty feet, then started to search the bottom of the lake for the anchor. The waves weren't as big where they searched as they were further out, but they were still big enough to hamper the operation to some extent. This fact didn't bother these boys, though. Being the fierce competitors that they were, they would have gladly swum through a typhoon if necessary to be the first to find the anchor and win the bet.

The water where they searched was twenty feet deep but incredibly clear, and the bottom was sandy with very few weeds. After only a few minutes, Lindy popped up on the surface and cheered, declaring himself the winner. Diving down at the spot where his friend tread water, Richie cursed the fact that he'd lost the bet as he attached the buoy to the stainless steel ring embedded in the concrete. When they returned to shore, Kyle and Kevin were waiting for them by the raft.

"You should know better than to bet against me and my eagle eyes, Andrews. You never had a chance," laughed Lindy as they climbed onto the dock.

"Bite me, Lindstrom, you were just lucky."

"Well, lucky or not, I'll still take that dollar you owe me."

In spite of the problem that the waves caused in controlling the position of the raft while they attached it to the anchor, within a half hour it was in place and well secured. Ten minutes later, both ladders were firmly mounted on opposite sides.

Standing silently on the raft to catch their breaths, the boys enjoyed the feeling of the sun on their backs while the stiff but warm, humid wind, slowly dried their bodies. Kevin and Kyle stood close to the edge, staring out across the lake in the direction of McCarthy's, while Richie and Lindy were next to each other near the center. After about five minutes of warming themselves in the sun, they were almost dry when a devilish grin crept across Lindy's face. He gently nudged Richie with his elbow.

Looking up at his friend, Richie was just about to ask 'what' when Lindy put his finger to his lips to shush him. Then, pointing at Kyle and Kevin, he made a slight pushing motion with his hands. Richie quickly caught on and when Lindy silently counted down from three to one, they charged their friends from behind, pushing them both off the edge of the raft into the water.

The two younger boys were laughing hysterically when the others broke the surface, sputtering and choking on the water they'd inhaled.

"You dicks!" yelled Kevin when finally he could speak, "You better give your souls to God cause your asses are gonna belong to us when we get back up there."

Knowing that they were in big trouble now, the two younger boys began to plan for what was surely going to happen next. They knew that if their friends ever got back on the raft they would be dead meat since neither one of them was any match for the larger, stronger hockey players. Deciding that keeping them off the raft was their best defense, each went to a ladder to guard it and hopefully prevent either Kyle or Kevin from climbing up.

This worked for about three minutes, with Richie fending off Kevin and Lindy doing the same with Kyle. Suddenly, due to a split second lapse in concentration on Lindy's part, Kyle managed to grab his wrist and pull him off balance. Before he knew what was happening, a surprised Lindy found himself sailing over Kyle's head into the water behind him. That was all they needed as Kyle was soon on the raft, charging the defenseless Richie from behind. Effortlessly picking him up in his arms, he quickly tossed him over the side to join Lindy.

Before Richie had a chance to come up for air, Kevin was on the raft standing next to Kyle. They were both smiling as they slowly shook their heads while looking down at the younger boys.

"Maybe that'll teach ya not to fuck with us, you pint sized guppies," said Kyle as Richie and Lindy made their way over to one of the ladders.

"Yeah, fuck with the bull and ya get the horn," added Kevin.

Since all four knew that the pairing as it now stood would be an exercise in futility for the younger two, Kevin decided to make it an 'every man for himself' contest by quickly pushing Kyle into the water with the other two. This action started a no-holds-barred game of King of the Raft. Richie and Lindy caught the worst of it, of course, but soon everyone was exhausted and stretched out on the raft to catch some rays.

Tired out from their horseplay, the warmth of the sun and the gentle rocking motion of the raft on the waves soon had all four of them quietly dozing. Forty-five minutes later, Kevin gently nudged Kyle.

"Yo, Jake, what time do ya think it is?"

"Don't know... probably around one or so... why?"

"What time are we planning to go to McCarthy's?"

Fully awake now, Kyle said, "I figured we'd go over around three or four. That way we'll have plenty of time to eat and fuck around over there before the show starts."

"Cool. Well, I'm goin back up to the cabin to call Stephanie. Besides, I don't know how much of this sunscreen's washed off and I don't wanna fry myself out here."

"Good idea, bro, I'll go with ya."

Before standing up, Kyle looked over to Richie and Lindy. Noticing that they were still sound asleep, he turned to Kevin with a grin on his face while he nodded his head in the direction of the two younger boys. Instantly knowing what he had in mind, Kevin smiled back at him. Slowly and quietly, they got to their feet and moved close to the sleeping forms, with Kyle standing over Lindy while Kevin stood next to Richie. On Kyle's silent command, they quickly picked the two boys up in their arms and carried them over to the edge of the raft. Before either one of them knew what was happening, Richie and Lindy were airborne and headed for the water. Giving each other a victory high-five, Kevin and Kyle laughed as their friends coughed and choked their way to the surface of the water.

"You fuckers!" yelled Richie as soon as he could breathe again. "You could've given us a heart attack or somethin doin that!"

"Aw, poor baby," mocked Kevin. "You guys looked so overheated lying there, we figured you needed cooling off."

"Yeah? Well cool off on this," said Lindy as he flipped their two friends the bird.

"Well, we're goin in," said Kevin. "And I suggest that you two do the same. At least get some more sunscreen on if you're gonna stay out here any longer."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," admitted Richie. "I can already feel my shoulders getting warm."

With that said, Kevin turned to Kyle, grabbed onto his arm, then flung him into the water. He quickly dived in to join him, and the two of them swam for shore with their friends following close behind.

When they reached the dock, Kevin and Kyle picked up their towels and continued on up to the cabin, drying their hair as they went. Richie and Lindy, on the other hand, decided to sit on the dock for a while and enjoy the warm weather. Richie quickly dried his hair and his face, and was running the towel over his arms when he looked at Lindy who was still trying to get his hair dry.

"When you gonna get that mess cut, bro?"

"Soon as I figure out how I want it to look, I guess."

"Well, ya better hurry up and decide, dude, or swimming season will start and you'll wanna get it shaved again. I think you should get it frosted like Kyle's, then shave it on the sides and spike it on top."

"Yeah, right, Rich. The rents would love to see me do that, for sure."

"Fuck yeah," laughed Richie. "Your old man would freak."

"Yeah he would, and my mom would hold me down while he shaved it, too."

Once his hair was as dry as he could get it, Lindy wiped off his face, then started on his arms while he made idle conversation.

"You and Kyle were awful quiet last night. Hell, me and Kevin expected to hear the headboard slam against the wall all night long."

"You are so fucking crude sometimes, ya know that, Lindstrom?" said Richie without trying to hide the irritation from his voice.

"Whoa, sorry, bro, I was just funnin with ya."

"I know," said Richie after a moment's hesitation. "Sorry, you just reminded me of somethin I gotta think about, and it's the kinda shit I really don't wanna think about at all."

"Whoa, sounds like a real mind-fucker to me. Is it somethin I can help ya with? Does it have somethin to do with you and Kyle?"

"Yeah, it does, but I don't know if you or anyone can help me with this."

"Well, ya know I'm always here for ya if ya think I can help any."

"Yeah, I know... thanks, man."

Then, without hesitation, they went through their 'slap-tap' handshake that always confirmed their close and very special friendship.

Even before they could finish their ritual handshake, they were aware of the high pitched whine of a jet-ski coming off the lake and getting closer. Since this end of the lake was so sparsely populated, it was rare to hear a boat or a jet-ski come this close. The majority of the water activity remained at the other end of the lake where McCarthy's, a few resorts, and most of the other cabins were located.

As the sound became louder, both boys looked up in search of its source, and before long they found it. Heading at full speed in their direction was a lone jet-ski, about the size of the ones that Kyle had, with a single rider on board. Because of the high winds the surface of the lake was choppy, and the waves in the middle of the lake were at least as big as they were during the storm the night before. It soon became obvious to both Richie and Lindy that the rider was having trouble controlling his machine as it bounced from wave to wave.

"That dude's gotta be crazy to be out there on this kinda water," said Lindy.

"For sure," said Richie. "He's gettin the shit beat outa him on those waves."

As the figure drew closer, Richie could just make out the blonde color of his hair. An image of TJ flashed through his mind.

While they watched from the end of the dock, the jet-ski suddenly plunged out of sight between two particularly large waves. A moment later it reappeared as it launched itself over the second wave and became airborne. Even from this distance the two boys could see that the rider was hanging on for dear life as his machine headed nose-first for the surface.

It all seemed to take place in slow motion, like one of those action scenes from a James Bond movie. But this was no movie! The nose of the jet-ski hit the water with such force that even Richie and Lindy seemed to feel it. Not surprisingly, the unexpected launch, and the crash that followed, proved to be too much for the rider to handle and he was thrown into the water several yards in front of his machine.

"Holy shit, did you see that, Rich?"

"Yeah, I did, man," said Richie with serious concern on his face.

A moment later they saw both machine and rider bobbing up and down among the waves.

"Good thing he's wearing a life jacket or he'd be toast," said Lindy.

"Yeah, but he ain't movin, Lindy. He's not swimming back to his machine."

"Maybe he's just dazed or somethin. I sure as hell would be if I was him."

"Yeah, maybe," said Richie. "Or maybe it's something worse, like maybe he's really hurt."

If what Richie feared was true, he knew that every second was crucial, so he made a quick decision as he turned to face his friend.

"If he's hurt, we gotta do something to help this guy, bro, and we gotta do it now. You run up and tell the guys what happened while I take one of Kyle's machines out to see if he's OK."

Before Lindy could say anything, Richie finished his instructions while slipping his arms through the straps of one of the life jackets that was lying on the dock.

"Then, you guys follow me out in the boat... and tell Kyle to bring his cell phone."

Glancing quickly out at the scene of the accident, then back to Richie, Lindy tried to warn him about the wind and the waves.

"Whoa, Rich, wait man, the... "

Sitting astride the jet-ski now, his life jacket securely fastened, Richie ignored Lindy's warning and yelled back at him as he started the motor.

"Go, man! Go! You're wasting time!"

"OK!" yelled Lindy at the top of his lungs as he started to race for the cabin. "But be careful out there!"

Lindy's final words of caution never reached Richie's ears through the roar of the jet-ski as he throttled up and headed away from the dock.

When Lindy burst through the front door of the cabin, he found Kevin and Kyle on the couch watching something on the big screen TV.

"Hey you guys!" he yelled, almost out of breath. "Some dude just took a header off his jet-ski and he looks like he might be hurt. Rich took off on one of our machines to help him and he wants us to follow him out in the boat."

"Jesus!" said Kyle as both boys jumped to their feet. "Did Rich take a life jacket?"

"Yeah, he did... oh, and he said to bring your cell phone, too."

"Alright," said Kyle as he grabbed his phone off the coffee table. "Let's pony up, guys, and see what the hell is going on."

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