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What We Are

Richie's Story

by Richie Ryan

Chapter 19: Coming Out

Both boys were sitting on the edge of Richie's bed, occasionally sipping on their sodas. Before continuing, Richie thought for a moment about what Lindy's reaction was going to be to his next statement. He was still as confident as ever that Lindy wouldn't punch him out or anything, that he'd be OK with what he was going to tell him, but he also knew that this revelation would mark a permanent change in their relationship.

Gathering up all of his courage and resolve, he looked his friend in the eyes.

"Lindy, I know I don't have to say this, but what I'm about to tell you is for you to know, and nobody else. It's probably the most important secret I've ever asked you to keep. That's why I want to make sure you understand this. OK?"

"Sure, bro, my lips are sealed. So what is it?"

"I'm gay, Lindy. I'm as gay as it gets."

A long moment passed as the two friends sat next to each other with their eyes locked together. It was Lindy who spoke next.

"You're serious, aren't you."

"Yeah, man, I am... serious as a heart attack."

"But how... when... how could you... " said Lindy, stumbling around for words. Finally, still looking at Richie he said, "Are you sure? How long have you known?"

"Oh yeah, I'm sure all right. I've wondered about it for a long time, but it was what happened a week ago Friday that pretty much convinced me."

At this, Lindy looked away for a moment, obviously in thought, when suddenly he snapped his head around to Richie again.

"You mean the night when you and I... when we jacked each other off?"

"Yeah. I liked what we did too much for me not to be gay. I mean, I really liked it, ya know? So after that, I couldn't hardly deny it any more. I had to accept it as a fact of life."

"Whoa," said Lindy. "Do you think what we... Do you think that I like, turned you gay because of what we did?"

"No, dummy," chuckled Richie as he playfully punched his friend in the arm, "You can't turn a person gay. I've been doing a lot or research on it, and I believe being gay is like genetic or something. Now I don't know for sure cause I still have a lot to learn about it, but I think it's in us from the day we're born, just like being straight is. So if it hadn't been that night that convinced me, it would have been something else. In other words, it's always been in me, it just needed to be woke up."

"So what you're saying is that I woke this gene, or whatever it is that's in you, up?"

"Well, let's just say you shook it a little, and got me to seriously consider the possibility."

With that, Lindy looked away again and just sort of stared off into space.

Richie knew that this was a lot for Lindy to take in, so he wanted him to think about it for a while - to let it sink in before he went any further. After what could have been five minutes or so, he finally broke the silence.

"So, bro, what d'ya think. Are you OK with this? Are we still OK?"

When Lindy remained silent and continued to look off into space, Richie started to become a little anxious, thinking for one horrifying moment that maybe he was wrong about how Lindy would feel about this. Needing some reaction from Lindy, he put his hand on his friends shoulder, squeezing it gently to bring him back from his thoughts.

"Yo, Lindy, talk to me, man. I gotta know how you feel about this."

"What," said Lindy as he turned back to his friend. "Oh, yeah, sorry, man. I don't know what to say. I mean, like you kinda put my brain into overload, ya know?"

"I know, man, that's some pretty heavy shit that I just laid on you. So if ya need some time to think about it, I understand."

"Oh, no, I was just wondering why I didn't see it. I mean, I thought I knew you pretty well... and now this. It just shook me up a little is all. No, that's not true either, it shook me up a lot."

"Then you're not OK with it? Is that what you're tryin to say?"

"No, Rich," said Lindy with a serious look on his face as he regained control of his thoughts. "I'm fine with it. Just because you're gay doesn't change a thing between us. You're still my best friend, and it'll take a hell of a lot more than you being gay to change that. Actually, I think it's pretty cool having a gay dude as my best friend."

"Really?" asked Richie, very relieved at Lindy's answer, "Why's that?"

"Because, now anytime I get horny, I know there's a 'for sure' blow job waiting for me just two houses away," answered Lindy with a devilish grin on his face.

"You fucker," said Richie as he pushed Lindy so hard that he nearly fell off the bed.

As soon as they stopped laughing, and Lindy returned to his spot next to Richie, they did their slap-tap handshake. This, above all else, convinced Richie that Lindy was being completely honest - that their friendship was not only intact, but closer than ever.

"Thanks, man," said Richie. "You don't know how much that means to me."

"Well you must have thought I'd be OK with it, or you wouldn't have told me."

"I wanted to tell you last week, but I just had to be sure about it myself first, ya know? I'm sorry it took me this long."

"Hey, I understand, and that's cool. Course, I only have about a bazillion questions to ask ya now. Like have ya told your mom and dad yet?"

"No, I haven't, and I don't plan to... not yet anyway. I got a lot a shit to think about before I tell anyone else. That's why I'm so happy that you understand, and that we're still best friends. Now I have you to help me figure out what to do and when to do it, ya know?"

"Shit, man, you know I'll always be here for ya, no matter what you decide to do."

"Thanks, man, that's what I needed to hear."

"So, does anyone else know?"

"Well, that's the next thing I was going to tell you. But ya gotta promise me you won't say a word to anybody. I mean, I know you won't, but this is like super important. It's one thing if you get pissed at me, and out me at school or something, then you just fuck up my life. But if you say anything about what I'm going to tell you now, then you fuck someone else's life up, too."

When Richie said this, Lindy put both of his hands on his shoulders, looked him square in the eyes, and said, "Look, Rich, if there's anything about this that you don't want to tell me, I'll understand... but you gotta know that anything you do tell me is safe. I would never do anything to hurt you... and for sure I would never say anything to anybody that could possibly hurt you or anyone else, for that matter. OK?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry, I know you won't say anything."

"Good," said Lindy as he pulled his hands from Richie's shoulders. "So, c'mon, fill me in, man. Who else knows?"

"Well, Kyle knows."

"Kyle! You told Kyle before you told me?" asked Lindy with a hurt expression on his face.

Then, when Lindy saw the smile on Richie's face, and the gleam in his eyes, it suddenly dawned on him.

"Oh my God! Kyle? You and Kyle? You mean Kyle's gay, too, and you and him had sex together?"

"Yeah," said Richie as he smiled at the look of total surprise on Lindy's face. "But there's more to it than that, Lindy. I think I'm in love with him. I think we're in love with each other."

"Whoa," said Lindy as he looked away, slowly shaking his head from side to side.

"Sorry, man," said Richie, "I kinda put your brain on overload again, didn't I?"

"Well yeah! I mean, this is like fucking unreal. I let you out of my sight for just two days, and you come back and tell me you're gay... then you tell me you're in love with some dude you've known for less that a week. So yeah, my brain is kinda on overload."

"This doesn't change anything between us, though, does it?"

"No, hell no. It just means that now I have another bazillion or so questions for you."

"So ask away, bro, I got nothin to hide from you."

"Does Kyle know you're telling me all this?"

"Yeah, he does. He knows that if I can trust you, then so can he."

"Well that answers the other question I asked earlier."

"Which question is that?"

"What you guys did for fun the past two days," said Lindy with a huge smile on his face.

"Oh yeah, we had fun all right," said Richie as he laughed at Lindy's seemingly endless upbeat sense of humor.

"So what did you guys do?" asked Lindy with his devilish grin.

"Whoa, dude, now you're starting to get personal. I won't give you any details, but let's just say we did just about everything, and it was awesome. I mean it was absolutely fantastic. I'm sure I'm in love with him, Lindy. I've never felt like this about anybody before. It's like I can't stand to be away from him... and not just because of the sex either. I mean, as great as it was, the sex was only a small part of the time we spent together. We just have so much fun no matter what we do, ya know?"

"So how small of a part was it?" asked Lindy, the devil's grin still on his face, "How many times did ya do it?"

"Man, you got a one track mind, don't ya? Well, if ya must know, we only messed around three times."

"Jesus, I've been seeing Nancy for a week now, haven't even felt her up yet, and you've already had sex three times. I must be doin somethin wrong."

Richie thought for a moment before he spoke again. He had already told Lindy everything he had set out to tell him, but he wanted his help in solving his problem with Kyle and Kevin. Realizing that he would be giving Lindy's brain another jolt, he decided to tell him about what he and Kevin had done Friday night.

"Well, that's not exactly true either. I mean about me having sex three times. Think your brain can stand another hit?"

"Say what?" asked Lindy.

"I kinda had sex once before we went to the cabin... on Friday night."

"Friday night?" asked Lindy with a 'cant be true' look on his face, "But how could you? You were at Kevin's Friday night."

Seeing the sheepish grin on Richie's face, Lindy's brain finally reached the inevitable conclusion.

"Holy shit, man! Are you saying what I think you're saying? You and Kevin? Kevin's gay, too? And you and him had sex Friday night?"

"Well, It's not exactly like that, and I'll have to explain it to ya... but yeah, we did."

"Whoa," said Lindy before falling silent for a few moments.

Then, shaking his head, he took a swig from his Pepsi before he looked at Richie again with a wide grin that stretched from ear to ear.

"So, that's four times in four days. Well, that tells me two things for sure. One is that you're defiantly gay, and two is that you're definitely a slut."

Richie couldn't help himself and began to laugh uncontrollably which quickly got Lindy laughing just as hard. When finally they regained control of themselves, and did the slap-tap, Richie explained in more detail what happened at Kevin's. He also explained about the conversation he and Kevin had Saturday morning about how Kevin was still attracted to girls but thought he might be bisexual.

Wanting to make sure that Lindy knew everything, that there would be no more secrets between them, he went on to relate the conversation that he and Kyle had at the cabin. Not only did he tell him about Sean Mullins, but he also told him exactly how he and Kyle came out to each other, including what happened at the party.

When he was finished, Lindy slowly shook his head as he looked down at the floor between his feet. Speaking in a quiet, thoughtful tone of voice, he said, "Whoa, what a time for me to be passed out."

"Yeah, well I'm sorry about that, man. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I was just drunk and horny is all. You're not too pissed about it, are ya?"

"No, I guess not, but do me a favor, will ya?"

"Sure, man, what?"

Looking up at Richie with a gleam in his eye, he said, "The next time you're tempted to do something like that, just make sure I'm not passed out, and don't stop, either."

"Whoa, and I thought I was horny," said Richie as he pushed his friend over onto the bed. "Anyway, that's it, bro, just another five days in the boring life of Richie Andrews."

"Yeah, right," said Lindy, "I'd be happy to be half that bored."

"Well, now that you know all my secrets, maybe you can help me out with a small problem. See, Kyle doesn't know about me and Kevin, and Kevin doesn't know about me and Kyle, or even that Kyle's gay. I told Kyle at the cabin that I thought he should come out to Kevin since they're best friends, and all. I also told him that I was sure that Kevin would be OK with it, but I didn't tell him why I was sure. At first he said he didn't know if he wanted to come out to Kevin at all... but then, on the way home, he told me he decided he would, but that he didn't know exactly when... he said he wanted to wait for the right moment. Anyway, I was hoping that if Kyle came out to Kevin, they would both find out about me and I wouldn't have to say anything."

"Sounds like a cop-out to me, Rich. I think you should tell them both."

"You're probably right," said Richie after a moment of thought. "But who do I tell first? I mean, I don't think I should out Kyle to Kevin, that would be like Kyle outing me to you before I had the chance. Know what I mean?

And if I tell Kyle about Kevin, that's kinda like ratting him out or something. Maybe he wouldn't want Kyle or anybody to know about what we did. Now I did tell Kyle that I'd had sex once before, but I didn't tell him who with, and he didn't ask, so that could be left alone. It was kinda funny, though, when he thought it was you."

"Well I'm glad you cleared that up."

"Oh yeah, so am I. So help me out here bro, what should I do?"

"I don't know, Rich," said Lindy with a chuckle, "Why don't ya call one of them TV soap opera writers and ask them, cause that's what ya got here ya know, a fucking soap opera."

"I know, but this is real man, not some fucking TV show, and I don't know what to do."

"Do you think Kevin would get pissed if you told him about Kyle?"

"No, not at all. I think he'd be happy for both of us."

"Then tell him first and maybe not even tell Kyle anything."

"You better explain that one, bro," said Richie

"OK. First, tell Kevin about you and Kyle. Then tell him what you told me... about how you didn't tell Kyle about you and Kevin because you wouldn't do that behind his back. That way, when Kyle comes out to him, he can be the one to decide if he wants to tell Kyle about him and you. If he does tell Kyle, then everything's out in the open... only thing is, if he decides not to, then you won't be able to tell him either... probably never. If you could live with that, then that's the best thing I can think of."

"So how long have you been writing soap operas, bro," said Richie with a laugh, "I think you may have something there. It's sure as hell better than anything I can think of."

"What's important, is timing," said Lindy. "You have to get to Kevin before Kyle does in order for that to work."

"You're right," said Richie as he looked at his clock, "Look, it's almost five and I gotta eat supper with the rents tonight... you know, since I've been gone so much lately, and they want to know about the trip and all. I'll call Kevin and see if we can't get together later tonight. I know Kyle's dad came home from his trip today, so maybe Kyle will be spending the night at home with him and won't talk to Kevin till tomorrow. Then it should work out perfect."

"Sounds like a plan, bro. Don't forget to keep me in the loop, too. I wanna know how you get yourself out of this tangled web you've wove, woven, or weaved, or whatever the hell the word is."

"Hah," laughed Richie. "You know I will. After all, it's your plan, so if it blows up in my face, I'll be blaming you for it."

With Richie's coming out to Lindy out of the way, and a plan in place for the Kevin - Kyle problem, Richie asked Lindy about Nancy.

"So how's that report for English class coming? You know, the one you and your partner are working on."

"Oh, you mean Nancy? It's going great, man. I think we really got something going here. I mean, she is so cool, I just like being around her, ya know?"

"That's great, Lindy, I'm really happy for you. Just make sure ya tell me when you get to first base with her... and second, and third, and of course the home run, if ya catch my drift."

"Now look who's getting personal," said Lindy with a grin.

Then, as he stood to leave, he said in a serious voice, "I'm real happy for you and Kyle, too, Rich, and I hope things work out for you."

"Thanks, bro," said Richie as he stood to walk him down to the door. "That means a lot to me."

As soon as Lindy had his shoes and jacket on, he stepped through the door and got to the driveway before Richie stopped him by saying, "Oh, and Lindy?"

"Yeah, Rich?"

"About that 'for sure blow job' you were talking about for when you get horny? Anytime, bro, any time," said Richie with a big grin.

"I just might take you up on that, man," laughed Lindy as he started for the street. Then, with an afterthought, he turned to face Richie again. "And don't forget, I still got about half a bazillion questions for you, too, you shameless slut."

Richie laughed as he closed the door, and was still smiling when he reached for the cordless phone with the intention of calling Kevin. Before he had the phone six inches from its base however, it rang in his hand, startling him so much that he nearly dropped it on the floor. Regaining his hold on it, he punched the on button and put it to his ear as he sat in his chair at the table.


"Yo, Rich, what up, dude?"

"Kevin, I was just gonna call ya, man. What's goin on?"

"Just called to see if you guys were back yet. I heard ya got snowed in... did ya have a good time?"

Richie had forgotten how much he enjoyed the sound of Kevin's voice, and the recollection made him smile.

"Fuckin-A right we did! You ever been up there?"

"In the summer a couple of times, but never in the winter. You'll have to tell me all about it."

"How bout tonight? You gonna be home?"

"Actually, I'm taking Stephanie to her baby-sitting job about seven, but I could stop over at your house after, how's that sound?"

"Like a plan, bro."

"Great, cause I got something I been dying to tell ya. See you about a quarter after then, OK?"

"I'll be here, man, see ya then."

After Richie hung up the phone, he wondered what Kevin had on his mind. What ever it was, he sure seemed excited about it.

The supper conversation in the Andrews household that night was understandably dominated by Richie's recount to the past two days at Gull Lake. Although many of the actual details were left out, he still had much to relate about their adventure, and they were done eating by the time he finished.

When Richie had the last of the dishes in the dishwasher, and the table wiped off, he noticed it was nearly seven o'clock. Thinking that Kevin would be over at any minute, he was about to go to his room when his mother came into the kitchen carrying a pair of boxers.

"Richie, are these yours?"

"Um, no, they're not," he answered as he looked at the pair of boxers that Kevin had lent him Saturday morning, "Those are Kevin's. He let me borrow them after I stayed at his house Friday night so I could shower over there, and have clean ones to put on. He's gonna be here any minute, so I'll give 'em back to him. Thanks for washing 'em."

"Oh, no problem, dear, I was just curious who they belonged to since I was sure they weren't yours. I think you have a pair of socks that belong to him, too, don't you.?"

"Oh yeah, you're right, they're in my drawer. Thanks."

As soon as Richie took the boxers from his mom, Kevin rang the back doorbell.

"What say, dude," said Richie as he opened the door for his friend, "C'mon in."

As soon as Kevin had his shoes off, Richie handed him his boxers, then led him up to his room. Once they were inside, and Kevin was comfortably settled on the bed, Richie fished the borrowed socks from his drawer and tossed them to his friend as he sat down on his desk chair.

"I think that's all the clothes of yours I have, now what's the big news you been dyin to tell me?"

"OK, you remember the talk me and you had the other night about me breaking up with Stephanie?"

"Yeah, you were gonna talk to her today about it."

"Well, I already have... talked to her that is. But ya know what? We didn't break up."

"No shit? That is so cool, man. So tell me what happened."

"Well, we went Christmas shopping on Monday, and I guess I was a little pissed that I was stuck in town instead of going with you guys. Anyway, when we got back to her house, she asked me why I was in such a bad mood. That's when it all came out."

"Whoa, I hope you didn't start yelling at her or anything."

"No, I didn't... but she asked, so I just started to tell her. You know, like how I felt like she was too demanding, and made me feel guilty every time I wanted to do something with the guys. Then, when I was finished, she told me what it was about me that pissed her off. I guess you could say that we both laid our cards out on the table, so to speak."

"Good. So what happened?"

"Well, I guess we talked things over for another hour or so, then we went over to my house to continue our discussion cause my mom was out of town and we wouldn't disturb anyone."

"So then you came to an understanding, and kissed and made up, right?"

"Oh yeah. It was about midnight, and we more than kissed and made up. We went to bed, Rich... and between you and me, we fucked our brains out. I mean, like all night. I couldn't believe it."

"No shit?" asked Richie.

"No shit, and it was unbelievable. I think I'm truly in love with her, Rich. The sex was great... no, that's not true... the sex you and I had was great. This was better than great, this was almost too good to be true."

Richie thought about this for a minute. He could tell from the expression on Kevin's face, and the sparkle in his killer eyes, that he was totally hooked on Stephanie. Right at that moment he was sure that Kevin's feelings for Stephanie were as strong as his were for Kyle.

"I suppose this means that you and I won't be practicing our technique any more then," said Richie with a grin, genuinely happy for his friend.

"No, we won't," said Kevin, looking a little guilty. "I still feel an attraction to you, I probably always will. I'll never forget that night together, either, but I know what I want now, what I need. It's like we just discovered each other for the first time, and I'm totally in love with her. I hope you can understand this, and that you're not hurt by it. I really want us to be friends still, but we just can't do that again. I'm sorry."

A silence surrounded the boys as Richie thought long and hard about what Kevin had just told him. All and all, things couldn't have worked out better for everybody. This unexpected turn of events, however, caused him to rethink his decision to tell Kevin about Kyle. It was obvious that he and Kyle had not talked yet, so he decided not to say anything, at least for now. Under the circumstances, he felt it best to give Kyle a chance to break the news himself. Noticing the look on Kevin's face, though, made him feel he had to say something to reassure him that everything would be all right between them. Before he said anything, he stood up, walked over to where Kevin sat, then put a hand on his shoulder while he looked into his killer eyes.

"All I can say is that I'm happy for you, Kevin... for both of you... and as far as we're concerned, I'll never forget that night, either, but it's not as if we had any commitment to each other because of it. I mean, it's like what we talked about on Saturday morning... that we were both looking for what'll make us happy, and you found it, and I'm totally cool with it. And just because you're in love with Stephanie, it doesn't mean we can't still be friends. No way, hockey player, good things can never mess up a good friendship."

After Richie said this, Kevin stood. With his eyes beginning to mist over, he faced his friend and said, "Thanks Rich, I'm so glad you feel that way."

Without another word, they fell into an embrace and hugged each other tight. It wasn't a sexual embrace, but one of true friendship, a friendship with mutual understanding that could well last forever.

When they finally separated, Kevin wiped his eyes on his sleeve before asking Riche about his trip to Gull Lake. Even though this was the third time Richie told the story today, he did so with just as much excitement and enthusiasm as he did the first two times. When he finished, it was nearly eleven o'clock, with both boys tired and ready to call it a day.

After he watched Kevin pull out of the driveway, Richie went straight to bed, and with a huge smile on his face, quickly fell asleep.


Richie slept late the next morning, so it was nearly ten o'clock when he began to stir. The sky was overcast, but the lack of sunshine didn't affect his mood any as he first stretched his muscles, then snuggled deeper into the covers. He was happy about his relationship with Kyle, and he was happy that Kevin and Stephanie had patched things up, so even the dreary weather couldn't bother him today.

Moments later, his bladder full, his morning hard-on tenting his boxers, he made his way to the bathroom to relieve himself and take his morning shower. When he was done, he quickly dressed in clean clothes before heading for the kitchen to make himself some breakfast. Eating his breakfast while he scanned the morning paper, he thought about how he missed having Kyle there to keep him company, and decided to call him as soon as he was finished.

Twenty minutes later, Richie punched in Kyle's number on the cordless. When, after about eight rings, there was no answer, he pushed the off button, briefly wondering where Kyle could be at this time of the day. Shrugging it off, he next punched in Lindy's number. After three rings, Lindy's brother Brad answered, quickly telling Richie that Lindy wasn't home. He had left about a half hour ago without saying where he was going. After thanking Brad, Richie hung up the phone, wondering where Lindy was since it was very unusual for him to not be at home. Feeling a little lonely, and not sure what to do with himself, he cleaned up his breakfast mess, then continued to thumb through the newspaper. At about eleven thirty, he got an unexpected phone call from Kevin.

"Hey, Kevin, what're you up to this morning?"

"Not a lot, Rich. Say, are you busy right now?"

"No, not at all. Why, what's goin on?"

"I kinda got somethin I wanna show ya. How bout I pick you up in about fifteen minutes."

"Um, yeah, sure, I'll be here"

"Great, see ya then."

With that, Kevin was gone, leaving a very perplexed Richie to wonder what he could want to show him that had him on his way over right away.

A little less than fifteen minutes later, Kevin pulled into Richie's driveway behind the wheel of Kyle's car. Totally confused, and somewhat anxious now, Richie climbed into the front seat. As he buckled up, he asked the inevitable.

"Hey, Kevin, where's Kyle, and what're you driving his car for?"

"Relax, Rich, we gotta stop at my house for a minute, then I'll explain everything to ya."

"What d'ya mean, man? What's goin on? Has something happened to Kyle?" asked Richie, his anxiety edging on panic.

"Chill, bro. Kyle's fine, you'll see."

Still not fully convinced, Richie knew he would just have to wait since Kevin wasn't about to tell him anymore. Ten minutes later they pulled into Kevin's driveway.

"C'mon in, Rich, I need your help with something."

"Sure, but I wish you'd tell me what this is all about."

Without another word, Kevin led Richie to the front door instead of opening the garage door as was the usual custom. When they reached the top of the stairs, Richie was in for the surprise of his life. There, sitting on the couch, was Lindy with a shit-eating grin spread across his face.

"Lindy, what are you doin here?" Then, turning to a smiling Kevin he said, "All right, man, what the fuck is going on here? And where the hell is Kyle?"

Just then he heard a loud pop coming from the kitchen. As he turned in that direction, he saw Kyle step into the doorway holding a frothing bottle of freshly uncorked Champagne.

"Right here, bro," said Kyle with his devilish grin. "We're having a 'Coming Out' party, and thought we should invite you."

"A what?" asked a shocked and confused Richie.

"A coming out party, man," said Kevin. "Since we all know everything now, we thought we should celebrate, and we just couldn't do it without you. Even though you are a bit of a slut, you know."

Beginning to understand what was happening now, Richie turned to Lindy with an accusing look on his face. "Lindy?"

"Hey, don't look at me, man. I didn't say nothin to nobody," said Lindy as he began to laugh.

"Then what..." started Richie as he looked at Kevin.

"Don't blame Lindy, Rich, he didn't say anything," said Kevin. "It was Kyle. He came over at nine o'clock this morning and rousted me out of bed. Said he had something important to tell me that couldn't wait. Well, after he told me about you guys, I felt I just had to tell him about what we did. I sure hope you're OK with that, man, but I figured it was best to get everything out in the open... no secrets to pop up later and fuck things up, ya know?"

"Wow. I mean, um, I'm fine with it, sure but..." fumbled Richie before cutting himself off to look at Kyle for his reaction.

Still smiling, Kyle came out of the kitchen. Carrying the Champagne and four glasses, he walked up to Richie.

"Don't worry about me, Rich, I'm totally cool with it. Only from now on, if we're going to be a couple, you're going to have to quit being such a slut."

Then, with Kevin and Lindy looking on, Kyle leaned his head in to give Richie a tongue probing kiss. When he finally stepped away, he casually proceeded over to the coffee table where he started to pour the wine.

"OK then," exclaimed Richie as he threw his arms up in the air to cover his slight embarrassment over the kiss, "I won't sleep around any more, I promise."

This caused everyone to start laughing, and in spite of the early hour, the celebration was under way. The bottle of Champagne wasn't very large, but since it was meant for toasting instead of drinking, it would serve its purpose well. After distributing most of the bottle between the four glasses, Kyle made the first toast.

"Gentlemen, I'd like to propose a toast," he said as he raised his glass, "To the best friends anyone could ask for."

"To friends," said the others in unison.

After they all took a sip of wine, a strange quiet descended over the room. It was Lindy who finally broke it.

"An unlikely group of friends, too, if ya think about it."

"How's that, Lindy?" asked Kevin.

"Well, just look at us. Two freshmen, one gay, one straight, who've been best friends like forever... two juniors, one gay, one bi, also long time best friends... then throw in how one pair met the other pair, and how much stranger can it get?"

"I gotta admit that the way we met was strange," said Kevin. "I guess we can thank Rich for putting his balls in front of my slap shot for that. I mean, if it wasn't for that, how would two guppies ever hook up with two hockey players?"

"A toast," said Kyle, "To Rich's balls."

"To Rich's balls," said the everyone but Richie, who smiled with embarrassment.

After another brief moment, it was Richie's turn to make an observation.

"I think it's what happened to us after that night that's important, and I think Lindy said it all he called us an unlikely group of friends. I mean, we learned a lot about each other, that's for sure, but what's most important is what we learned about ourselves in the process. We learned that we don't care about what sport someone plays, or how much money someone else has, or who's gay and who's not. We learned that for a true friendship to work, none of that matters. It's what we are inside that really matters. That's why we like each other - that's why we're friends - because of what we are."

When he was finished, a long silence filled the room. It wasn't an awkward silence, but one during which each boy thought about what Richie said, and how it applied to their own personal experiences over the past week and a half. It was Kevin who spoke next.

"I don't think anybody could have said it better, Rich." Then, raising his glass high, he proposed another toast. "To what we are."

"To what we are," said the rest before emptying their glasses.

"OK," said Kyle, as he poured what was left in the bottle into the four glasses, "Enough for one more toast."

It was Lindy who raised his glass to make the final toast.

"On this very special occasion, I would like to make the most important toast of all," he said. Then, with a huge trademark Lindy grin he added, "To Rich's balls."

"To Rich's balls!" came the loud response. Even Richie joined in on the toast this time, which sent all four boys into a fit of laughter that lasted for several minutes.

"Well guys," said Kevin, "I'd love to keep partying, but I gotta take Stephanie to do some more Christmas shopping."

"OK, but one last thing before we break this up," said Kyle, "We have one more week of vacation after Christmas, so think about reserving at least two of those days for a trip up to Gull Lake."

"Yes!," exclaimed Lindy. "Any time is fine with me."

"Great," said Kyle, "I'll call everybody tonight and we'll set it up. I got a feeling It'll be a blast."

After that, Richie and Lindy piled into Kyle's car for a ride home. They hadn't gone far before Richie turned to Kyle with a smile on his face.

"I told ya Kevin would be easy to come out to."

"Yeah, ya did... and ya know what? It was just like I said, he's suspected it for a long time."

"Really? Well this bozo didn't," said Richie as he indicated Lindy in the back seat.

"What's that?" asked Lindy when he noticed he was a part of the conversation.

"You didn't suspect that I was gay."

"No, I didn't. Hard to believe, too, ya know it? What with your natural ability to pick out clothes and all," answered Lindy as he cuffed his friend on the back of the head.

When they arrived at Richie's house, Lindy squeezed out from the back seat, said his good-byes, then headed for his house leaving Kyle and Richie alone.

Looking at each other for a moment, Kyle smiled, then glanced out at Richie's house as he asked, "Anybody else home?"

"No," said Richie, a grin spreading across his face, "Wanna come up to my room?"


All four of the boys and their families had a wonderful Christmas. Richie's dad was thrilled with the snow blower he got, and yes, Richie finally got his own phone. The day after Christmas, the four boys piled into Kyle's dad's Suburban and went up to Gull Lake for three fun filled days together.

Richie went in to see his family's doctor, and after a few tests, was given a clean bill of health. This didn't surprise Richie very much, since he was pretty sure all of his plumbing was in tact. The letter from school had arrived on Monday while Richie and Kyle were at the cabin, but after what Kyle had told him about Sean's suicide, Richie no longer felt a need to seek counseling.

After vacation, they all returned to school, and life went on. Although Richie, Lindy, Kevin, and Kyle weren't completely aware of it at the time, their lives had been forever changed since that Friday night on a darkened hockey rink. They would all have their ups and downs as the pages of their future were turned for them, but they had learned tolerance, acceptance, and most of all, true friendship, at an early age. These qualities would serve them well as they met the challenges that life would give them each and every day.

I wish I could tell you how their lives turned out, but that would be impossible for me to do at this time as that story has yet to be written.


I would like to thank each and every individual who has supported me throughout the writing of 'What We Are - Richie's Story', but that would rival the longest Academy Awards acceptance speech ever made, so I'll try to be brief.

First, I want to thank Nifty Archives along with all the webmasters who've been so kind to host my story. Secondly, I wish to thank all of the readers who have stuck with me for so long. I hope I've held up my end, and that 'What We Are - Richie's Story' has lived up to your expectations. Lastly, I want to send a special thanks to all of you who have responded to me via email. Without your kind words of support and encouragement, I'm sure that I could not have completed this project.

Always take care,

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