Dan awoke cold, damp, and alone.
"Sam, Sam where are you?"
Dan climbed out of the sleeping bag and pulled on some shorts and a T-shirt.
"Sam? Where are you?"
Dan looked around, he noticed a pot of hot water was sitting on the Coleman but the heat was off.
Sam had found a small hill, climbed up and sat down on top with his tea. Looking across the valley he sat, sipped, and thought. The words of his Aunt ran circles in his head. Suddenly two strong hands were on his shoulders.
"Hey baby." Dan's voice was soft and low.
"What's wrong?" Dan asked as he sat down next to Sam.
"Did you sleep alright?"
"Sure, you were there."
"You don't ummm... you weren't uncomfortable about the whole sleeping naked thing were you?"
"Oh no I wouldn't trade last night for anything."
"Okay." Dan said smiling.
"Sam sweetheart." Dan put his hand on Sam's knee, "I'll go make breakfast."
"No...ummm...yeah alright, okay."
"You sure?" Dan sensed that something wasn't right but he was also very sure that Sam wouldn't tell him yet, not until he felt it was right.
"Yeah, sorry...go ahead."
'Dan can't be gay. Gay's act different than Dan, they act...fruity. Dan's too masculine to be gay. Then again Tate in grade 11 is gay and he seems pretty straight acting. Dan never had been really interested in girls though...maybe Tonya was right...nah Dan would have told me. What if he thinks I wouldn't understand? What if he feels like he's been lying to me all these years? Nah, he knows me better than that, and besides why would he go on this girl quest if he wasn't straight?' Beau stared at his ceiling for a while longer thinking then sighed and got out of bed.
Dan had been right, the path ahead was very narrow, only about a meter wide along the edge of a very steep gravel hill. Sam was walking in the lead.
"You okay?" He called back.
"Yeah, its not that bad yet just don't look down."
After a few minutes Sam slowed down and Dan looked past him and saw that the path ahead became still narrower.
"Maybe we should go back." Dan suggested.
"No, I can do this." Sam insisted.
Sam seemed determined for some reason so Dan thought it best to say nothing and simply try to keep up as Sam navigated the narrow path and grew farther and farther ahead of him. Unfortunately because of Sam's lead there was absolutely nothing that Dan could do when Sam suddenly lost his footing
"Whoa!" he shouted and flailed his arms as he disappeared over the edge of the steep gravel hill.
Sam was sliding down the gravely slope pumping his feet desperately trying to slow himself down. Dan could only watch helplessly as a huge cloud of dust engulfed Sam.
As fast as he could, Dan tried to safely follow Sam down the steep hill but it was very hard, he crawled as fast as he dared.
"Sam!" He cried.
"Sam please say something!" Dan shouted, he was so afraid he felt sick and dizzy. It took almost 5 minutes before Dan was able to see Sam lying at the bottom of the hill at the edge of a small stream.
"My leg." The voice was weak.
Sam was dirty, his clothes torn, his backpack gone, and he was covered in scratches and bruises, but the only thing that Dan saw was that Sam was holding his leg below the knee about half way down and blood was seeping between his fingers.
"I'm bleeding Dan." Sam's face was white and there was panic in his eyes.
"Okay, hold the wound tight." Dan pulled out his knife and some stuff from his backpack at lightning speed.
Dan cut off Sam's torn up pant leg. "Hold up here, that's it, squeeze." Dan instructed. "You're doing good, that's it, you'll be fine." He reassured as he wiped away the blood and looked at the cut; almost 20cm long and still bleeding despite the pressure Sam was applying to try to stop the blood. "Its just skin deep." Dan said hoping that he was right.
"I know, just hang on." Dan grabbed his pot and poured water from the stream over the wound to try and clean it a little. He inspected it to see if what had made it was somehow stuck inside but it didn't seem to be. Then he used the piece of pant leg he cut off to wipe away the blood and water, he applied an antibiotic and starting at the top of the wound, he held together the skin with his fingers and using his other hand, and a tube of super glue from his first aid kit, he glued the wound shut.
"Okay, just breathe, I'm almost done." Dan said. He pulled out another tube of super glue and insured the bond was strong enough to hold the skin together and stop the blood. As soon as the leg wound was taken care of Dan checked for other injures, Sam was banged up but nothing else seemed bad. He started to cry. "Shhhh, it's okay you just got scared." Dan said as he took Sam in his arms and held him tight. Sam remembered a time when he was little when he'd fallen off his bike and cut his knee and his mother held him until he stopped crying. He felt so safe and loved just as he did know, a feeling he'd not known for years. Sam cried on.
A half hour latter Sam would try to get up to walk to the stream for some water only to discover that he'd done something to his ankle. He couldn't put any weight on it at all or it would hurt immensely. He explained his ankle to Dan who calmly started setting up camp across the stream and behind some trees where they would be safer should anything come falling down the steep hill.
It was 8:30 Pm. Dan had just finished Making Sam comfortable by the fire after they'd eaten.
"It was my mom." Sam whispered. "That nightmare I had, I really dreamed about her."
For a moment Dan was unsure what Sam was talking about but then he realized.
"Why was that so scary?"
"Well for starters she's dead."
"Oh sweetheart, I'm sorry." Dan turned around.
"She died when I was 11 years old."
"So your dad took care of you?"
"No, make the tea and come sit with me."
"Will you tell me the story?"
Dan dropped a tea bag in the pot and waited.
"How's your leg?"
"Need another Tylenol?"
"Nah, not yet."
"Alright, well when you do I found the extra strength ones, two of these babies and you won't know who you are anymore." Dan smiled weakly.
Dan finished cleaning up, poured the tea and sat down with Sam. Carefully he put his arm around Sam and held him close.
"Yes." Sam smiled; Dan's kindness was worlds away from what he was used to.
"When I was 11 they died in a car accident both my mom and dad. My baby brother was in the car too, he died in the hospital." Sam spoke like a robot to keep his voice from breaking.
Dan tightened his grip around Sam but remained silent.
"It was rainy and we were all driving home from a trip to the lake, my aunt and uncle were driving with us but they had their own car and I was with them. Dad was in front, his red truck. We were behind. I saw it all. The headlights as the guy crossed the median, the squeal of tires, the crushing of metal." Sam winced and paused as he heard the sound in his mind. "Before I knew it we were in the ditch. My uncle swerved hard and avoided another collision. I fought to get out of the car but my aunt held me. Finally I broke out and I ran to the truck, upside down on the road...burning." Sam's voice broke.
Dan squeezed Sam closer not knowing what to say.
"I saw mom, her bleeding face against the window, she was unconscious...maybe dead, and I like to think she was by then because as I watched, I saw the fire and I couldn't look away." Tears streaming down Sam's face he turned to Dan. "Oh God Dan, I couldn't look away...I just watched, I saw her...I still see her...burning."
Dan couldn't say or do anything, he wanted more than anything to tell Sam how much he hurt for him but there just didn't seem to be any words, or any action that could do that, he just held him tight and listened.
"My uncle pulled my brother out of the truck's back window...he was burned and had too many broken bones." Sam paused for a while to stop his crying. Dan held him close and said nothing. "Stupid fucker, drunk out of his mind, he lived, broke a leg only." Suddenly Dan was angry. "He killed my family Dan. Why? Why? Why?"
"I don't know baby. I don't know." Dan held Sam tight; he'd stopped talking and was now just crying. Dan gently turned Sam's head so they were facing eye to eye, "I'm here for you, I love you." He said as he gave Sam a kiss and then pulled him into a hug.
Some time after Sam had stopped crying and the two boys had sat in silence for a while, Dan spoke up.
"Let me help you to bed sweetheart."
"Okay." Sam was standing on one foot and put his arm around Dan for support to limp to the tent but to his surprise Dan bent down and picked him up. He set Sam down on the big sleeping bag and kissed his forehead.
Once Sam was tucked in Dan wrote a long entry in his journal, he had lots on his mind to write about.
'...His leg is probably only sprained but I don't know for sure. It's swollen and bruised. There's no way he's walking out of here. I checked the map, there's a small town 5 km from here, I'm sure they'll have a doctor. I just have to carry him there...'
Dan closed his journal then took a look at Beau's phone to see if it'd work should he need it. When he turned it on he was surprised to find that not only did he have cell service, though just barely, he also had a text message from Beau.
"Hey Dan, I hope you're doing well. I really need to talk to you as soon as you get this. Thanks, Beau."
Dan checked his watch; it was 10:30 so he debated a moment then decided to call.
"Dan, how are you?"
"Dan I'm sorry but you're father knows."
Dan's heart raced for a second then he realized Beau was talking about his father knowing about where he was, not who he was with.
"I had to tell him about what you're really doing. The circumstances were such that I had little choice."
"It's okay Beau."
"Good news is, your mother doesn't know. However, you dad wants to talk to you as soon as possible."
"I thought he might. I'll phone him first thing in the morning. Beau, Sam is hurt, we had an accident and I don't know what to do."
"Sam? He's the guy you're traveling with right?"
Dan was momentarily shocked, Sam had become such a huge part of his life that it actually shocked him that Beau didn't even know who he was. "Umm yeah, well anyway he's hurt..." Dan explained all the injuries.
"How does his ankle look?"
"Your probably right. He won't be walking again for a while."
"Shit. Well we'll figure something out, I'll carry him if I have to."
"Just make sure you take him to a place where a doctor can look at it as soon as possible."
"I will. I should go Beau I don't want to drain the battery."
"Okay Dan. Remember, just stay calm no matter what happens, you're the most responsible person I know, you'll get through this."
"Thanks Beau. Talk to you soon."
"Take care Dan."
Dan lay awake with Sam in his arm. He stared up at the inside of the tent. Suddenly he became aware of the illogic of what he was doing. 'Why bother? I've found the love of my life, and he's injured.' Dan checked if Sam was asleep and upon finding that he was, He chose to wait until later to tell him his plan to quit.
Dan's mind wandered off into the depths of time and space and was suddenly jarred back as Sam wiggled closer to him. Dan held him tight and thought, only a few days ago he was a lonely straight teen boy desperate to find someone to love. Now here he was with the most wonderful person in his arms who loved him back.
'It won't last forever, this trip will end and then what? Go home, introduce Sam to the parents? Kiss him in front of Beau, or mom, or dad? What about Sam's family? What will his uncle and his aunt think of me?' Dan sighed. He had to stay with Sam and he had every intention of doing so but he wanted his alone time with him to last longer also.
Sam, the beautiful smiling blond haired boy who'd entered Dan's life as if by magic and made him happier than he ever thought he could be. Even Sam had problems, 'Does no one have a perfect life?'
"Good morning dad.
Yes I'm fine.
About 100 km west of Field.
Yes he's a great traveling partner.
Not much, we'll make it though.
Yes I will, thank you.
Yeah I might need it, you never know.
I love you dad, see you then."
Dan hung up.
"Dan? Everything okay?"
"Yeah I just phoned my dad."
"How is he?"
"Fine, worried. How's your leg?" Dan asked with concern.
"Sore but I think some of the swelling has gone down. The cut's good, how'd you know to use super glue?"
"Dad taught me that. They invented super glue for sealing wounds on the battlefield. This isn't normal super glue though, it's actually made for sealing wounds but it's basically the same as super glue."
"Umm Dan? Can you give me a hand?"
"Always, what's up?"
"Well I need to get out of the tent and have a pee."
"Wanna get dressed first?"
"Ya think." Sam said sarcastically.
Dan stepped back into the tent and grinned at a naked Sam trying to get clothes on. His smile quickly faded as he saw the bruises and cuts all over Sam's body.
"Hang on baby, let me check these sores."
Beau's time with Tonya was becoming more and more wonderful each day. She was everything he'd ever wanted in a girl. Being with her brought out the very best in Beau. The most wonderful part for Beau was that she seemed to feel the same way about him.
Beau sat thinking about his great relationship when suddenly she phoned.
"Beau, there's something we need to talk about."
"Sure. Umm, what's wrong?"
"Well you'll see..."
"No I'll be fine, you carry the essential stuff." Sam insisted.
"No, I can come back for all this junk, you're the essential stuff."
"Look, I still have one leg and I can carry a back pack. What if this stuff gets stolen?"
"What if you get hurt more?"
"I'll be careful."
Dan grinned suddenly.
"This isn't a fight, it's a discussion." Sam said with raised voice.
Dan raised an eyebrow.
"Compromise?" Sam asked.
"Wear the back pack with the essentials and we'll leave the other one behind, you can give me support and help me to walk. Okay?"
It took 4 hours to hobble into town but when they got there they couldn't find a doctor's office anywhere. Dan stopped a local. "My friend's hurt we need to see a doctor."
He directed the boys to a house down the street where a friendly looking woman opened the door.
"Yes, how may I help you?"
"My friend is hurt, could you look at it?"
"Sure boys, please come in. Sandy! Come help me."
"Coming mom." A voice answered and a second latter a boy about Dan's age with curly Sandy colored hair, tan, shorts, T-shirt, and that funny characteristic of some tanned boys were their lips and hair are lighter colored then their skin came around the corner.
Both Dan and Sam thought the same thing in the same instant but wouldn't admit it to each other, 'Damn.'
"Sandy, help get...what'd you say your name was?"
"Sam. And this is Dan."
"...Sam to the other room."
"Sure mom. How can I help you dude?"
"It's my ankle, this one." Sam had been standing the whole time with his foot elevated but now he gave a kick. Sandy helped Sam to the other room where he helped him onto the bed. Doctor Todd pulled off Sam's shoe and sock.
"Give us some room boys." She said looking up at Dan and Sandy.
"But, Sam? You gonna be alright."
"Don't worry, my mom's the best." Sandy said and Sam nodded that it was ok.
Dan followed Sandy out of the room.
"So what happened to you guys?"
"We're on a hiking trip from Vancouver to Calgary. He slid down a steep gravel hill as we dropped into the valley here."
"Ouch, yeah the little stream flows along there just south east of the town site, I think I know the one."
"Yeah that's it. I should really hike back and grab our gear."
"Want a lift?"
"Great...oh no wait, I'll have to wait for Sam." Dan said as he touched the disk on the back of his neck. Dan told Sandy that their hike was a sort of race and they were being tracked. They weren't allowed to move out of range of their partners.
"No worries, how much gear is it?"
"Bag, pots, pans, clothes. It's all packed I just need to grab it."
"I can get it dude."
"No I don't want to do that to you."
"Nah its no prob. Tell you what; I'll grab your gear if you agree to visit with me for the rest of the afternoon. Your hike sounds cool and I don't get to meet many new people in a town like this."
"Well okay, are you sure its no trouble?"
Dan gave directions and Sandy was off. As Sandy walked to a red truck parked in front of the house Dan's eyes fixed on his backside and he watched for a moment. 'Damn he's cute, there's only one other person I know who looks better, and I should go check on him.'
"It's a severe sprain dear. He won't be walking anywhere for a while, at least not hiking. I'm going to put this brace on so the damage doesn't get worse. Then I'm going to clean these wounds."
Dan hung around the house and in a short time Sandy was back with the gear.
"Thank you so much Sandy."
"No problem man, now for your end of the bargain." Sandy left the bag just inside the door of the 'doctors office' next to Dan's bag. Then they left for a walk. Dan noticed Sandy seemed excited about something but he couldn't figure out what.
"So you and Sam been friends for a long time I guess."
"Actually no, we met for the trip but we've become fast friends. I never thought two people could become so close so fast."
"Your really concerned for him huh?"
"Yeah, I hope he's okay."
"Why'd you enter the race?"
"Well it's really complicated but basically to find love. You see..."
"I knew it..." Sandy interrupted and Dan interrupted back.
"Whoa, I'm not done, this is complicated. See I entered so I could, wait...what did you know?"
"Umm...nothing." Sandy was red and Dan smiled.
"Sandy?" He asked softly.
"T's nothing, never mind."
"Sam and I, we're umm..." Dan hesitated; he couldn't find the right words. "...An item, you know, boyfriends."
"Kewl, I knew it."
"I see. How'd you guess? About me and Sam I mean?"
"The looks you two exchanged, the way you touch. Its all there to see if you look."
"Dan? I'm gay too." Sandy said softly.
"How long have you known?"
"Oh like forever, I told my mom last year. She's cool with it but she cautioned me to be very careful in a small town like this."
"You told her?! Cool."
"I guess. It's not like it helped. I'm so lonely Dan, and I'm so tired of feeling this way. It's the most horrible empty feeling in the world."
Dan glanced over at Sandy for a moment, it was just so hard for him to imagine someone as cute as Sandy being lonely.
"No one else in town is umm...eligible?"
"Not that I know of. I love how people don't ever talk about the most important things in life."
"Well, try the internet. There's bound to be someone out there for you. Or if you've got $1,500 to spare then I may have another solution for you."
Dan got back to the 'doctor's office' at 9:00 PM with a big smile.
"Sam, all's not lost, Sandy helped me find a way to get us home."
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