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reclaiming austin

Chapter Thirteen

By BillyTK

When I got to work, everyone was cool; turned out everyone from my boss to the ladies in accounting planned on watching Marika and me the next day. I wondered if they could see my panic or the puppies in my stomach.

That night Phil brought dinner over and Marika arrived with a wildly tall black skinned man with a huge grin...

"Alex, Phillip, this is Robert. Robert, Alex and Phil."

I shook Robert's hand, which made mine seem like a small white charm. But he was so friendly and outgoing even his 6'8 presence wasn't intimidating. Well, ok, it was, but only because of his size.

As we talked and got to know each other a little better, I learned that Robert had played piano and organ since he was 8 and he was in college to get a degree in Church Music. I also learned that his favorite groups were CSNY, Simon and Garfunkle, and Mamas and the Papas. Apparently my eye brows arched so far Marika said I looked like "that alien dude from Star Trek."

"We lived in Seattle and my parent's were these ex hippies... and I grew up with all that music." It appeared that Robert was older then he looked.

Phil and Robert went down to bring Robert's keyboard and equipment up while Marika and I set up what we had already.

Robert set up an entire sound system in a few minutes. With his machines we could get drums and any type of special effect we wanted. Most important though, when he began imitating a piano, it sounded like a baby grand. And BOY, could this guy play!

With Robert's help and musical talent, we not only got preacher man and Bridge Over Troubled Water done, We quickly worked through a few other songs like a gospel version of Magic Man and a nice piano accompaniment to Behind Blue Eyes by the Who, Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust. By 10 we were all buzzed with excitement and exhausted from such feverish work. We'd get a little practice in before we went on tomorrow, but we were all massively excited about our folk, gospel, hip-hop, fusion.

After they left, I quickly threw stuff together and took everything I'd need for the next day as well. Before 10:30 I was on the road to Jason's. Stress? Who me? Why, just because I had to tell my current boyfriend that I needed to talk with my ex-boyfriend? Maybe it was because I was performing with friends in front of a large crowd, or because I still hadn't spoken to Ryan yet? Whatever it was, I about got a ticket on the way down to see him.

I decided to call Ryan. And got his answering machine and told him I was performing if he wanted to see, and would be around Sunday if he wanted to talk.

Jason had left a message to pick up a bottle of wine at his favorite spirit shop near his house. Which I did, it was a chilled bottle of Riesling, as soon as I walked in, the cute young guy behind the counter fetched the bottle and said "This is Jason's favorite." I was a little taken back as to how he knew this, or me, but figured Jason knew everyone worth knowing.

When I walked into his apartment, I was dumbfounded, the place was covered in peach colored candles all lit and making the place glow. It had a sweet fruity aroma too. No sign of Jason, but music was coming from the hallway. So I sat my bags down and uncorked the Riesling, as I mischievously suspected this was a set up. The candles had been lit recently, so the store clerk must have alerted Jason. The music was coming from the master bathroom, so I had to walk through a shou-lin temple to enter a bathroom with so many candles it was actually hot. I quickly noticed the tub ringed with candles and this gorgeous, bronzed, sexy, magnificent man relaxing in a warm bubble bath. He looked up from his beard of bubbles and cocked an eyebrow at me with all the sex appeal of a Greek hero.

No words were spoken. I handed him the wine; which he proceeded to pour into two glasses as I kicked off my shoes and removed my shirt. I dropped everything on the floor, as any other place would have ignited it. He relaxed with a playful grin as he watched me slide out of my shorts.

When I was naked, I stepped between Jason's legs and sat down in his lap facing away from him. He handed me my wine and kissed my cheek as I relaxed onto my living recliner. Two big arms wrapped me up like twin hunting pythons. It was so relaxing just lying here, silent and bathed in warm water, warm skin and flickering golden light. Kate Bush didn't hurt either. When my wine was done I sat my glass down and rolled over to face Jason so I was chest to chest and my feet dangled over my ass as I squirmed up his submerged body.

"I can't believe you did all this Jas!" I said nuzzling his neck.

Jason ran a wet hand over my back and pulled me in for a kiss.

"It's all about relaxing Alex, I'm teaching you to relax."

With that he ran his warm hand over my ass and let his other hand join it and watched my eyes with a smile.

We finished the bottle and made out till the water started to get cold. Suddenly as I straddled Jason kissing him and letting him finger fuck my ass, he cupped my ass tightly and stood up carrying me with him. It was quite a feat in a tub of water.

Jason carried me out and grabbed two large towels and had me hold on to his neck as he tossed the towels on the bed. I was laid down and rolled on my belly while he put on some new age singer who reminded me of Enya. Suddenly I felt him straddle my ass on his knees and instinctively arched my ass for his convenience.

He chuckled and gently pushed my ass back down, which confused me till I heard him say, "Relax".

A moment later I felt warm oil on my back and a large set of hands began rubbing it in. God, to be so close to heaven and not see angels...

I wished for a long night of passionate lovemaking, but the truth is he relaxed me too much. I woke up the next morning wrapped up in a set of large arms wishing to hell I'd brushed my teeth last night. But I just snuggled back against Jason and relaxed as I waited for him to wake up. Eventually I heard a soft moan and felt his arms pull me tightly against him.

"Morning baby," I said hugging his large bicep.

"Have a nice sleep sugar pop?"

"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, you are amazing, Jason. I'm hoping heaven has guys like you with wings running around making everyone feel this good..." I said with a grin...

"Naked guys" I added cheerily.

"You have a one track mind Mr. Johnson," Jason said as he kissed my neck.

"Which reminds me Jas, you DID molest me after I passed out didn't you?" I asked with a smirk.

"MMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm, several times. Now why don't we get ready? I have a long day planned for us," Jason said nuzzling my neck.

Slowly I got up and dragged Jason with me to the shower. First we brushed our teeth and kissed a bit before we climbed in the tub. We soaped each other up and I hugged the wall while Jason did some deep cleaning. He deep cleaned me twice before we were done, which was fine because I shot both times. Ah to be twenty-seven again.

Afterwards we had our coffee and cereal and then got ready for a nice relaxing day doing whatever thing Jason had planned and given me no clues about.

So I poked and prodded and laid my head on his chest and whimpered until he finally told me something.

"OK! Ok, well, I'd love to introduce you to a few of my friends from work, just for an hour or two... Oh, but you have to wear this under your shorts."

Jason said as he tossed a small package my way. I got all happy and grinned up at him as my fingers quickly tore the paper away. It was a bright neon blue set of Speedos.

"Ummmmm, baby, YOU'RE the fashion model, not me. But thanks..." I said smiling and not wanting to seem ungrateful.

"We're going backstage at Sea World Alex, your chances of getting wet are exponentially high. Besides, I was boasting about my boyfriend's ass to a few of the girls... Oh, and Alex... Please sugar?" he pleaded sweetly.

I was trying to protest but he was grinning and any protest I had was fighting upstream. And when he came over and started to nuzzle against the back of my neck and undress me from behind, I just moaned and gave myself over to him

"And you don't have to go to the park in just them, wear them under your shorts," Jason added in what became a deal Maker.

We went in the back to Sea World and I was taken through areas that weren't meant to be seen by tourists. Eventually we came to a sign that said "Dolphin stadium" And followed it till we arrived in a locker room and I saw three other people.

"Hey Matt, Genia, Cara. This is my boy friend Alex."

They all smiled and came up and shook my hand and Jason found out who was managing. Then Jason took me to his locker and began changing into a wet suit as I shucked my shorts self-consciously.

"Why are you wearing a wet suit to show me around?" I asked, oblivious to his plans. I

"I told you, I wanted to introduce you to my friends, C'mon," Jason encouraged as he grabbed 2 pairs of fins.

I followed not understanding what we were about to do.

At the pool, Jason hopped in the water like an otter and came up near me.

"You a good swimmer?" he asked.

"I can keep my head above water," I answered modestly.

"Toss me a pair of fins and get your pair on, then I'll introduce you to Bebe."

Already I could see a dolphin at a small gate leading to the pool I was going to enter.

"Ok, sit on the side with your the feet in the water, I'll introduce you before I let you swim together."

I did so and realized I had a grin from ear to ear... What a fantastic gift to give someone! How amazing was this? My heart was rippling from excitement.

Jason came out of the water and went to the gate area then came back with a bucket of fish.

He sat it behind me and warned me to keep it there, and then he dove in, came up, and whistled. The gate lifted and a moment later a gray streak torpedoed towards us.

"Alex. This is Bebe, Bebe, can you say hi to my friend Alex?"

Bebe, made a laughing noise then tossed his head back and used his tail to lift himself out of the water and wave his right fin.

I suppose it could have been frightening, a creature so big towering over you, But Bebe just made me want to smile... Jas gave him a fish and then brought him up to me and he rubbed against me as he swam around me and got a fish from Jas.

After having him swim around the pool by his fin, Jas brought Bebe's daughter, Celeste in. Celeste was nearly full-grown but very playful.

The four of us played in the pool, diving, rubbing against each other, talking with each other in words the other likely didn't get, though the mood and ideas apparently got across to each group. As Jas held onto Bebe, and I to Celeste, and we raced around the pool stopping for mackerel snacks and to laugh.

"I wanna work here!" I exclaimed..

"I've been waiting to find a guy I felt I could bring here that would understand why I love these guys so much." Jason said with a hand on my shoulder while we swam. Then he stopped and caressed Bebe saying,

"They don't judge, they don't care about your past... All they do is play and take care of their own. So much we could learn from them..."

I wasn't sure what brought this contemplation on, but it lasted only a minute before he turned to face me with a smile.

"But then, you don't seem to either Alex. Maybe that's why I trusted you so much that first night," he said touching my face.

As I moved to kiss Jason, Celeste squirmed in between us and trittered and chirped. The three of us began laughing.

"A dolphin cock block! Duuuuuude!" I said in my best surfer speak.

"Just be glad I didn't let Alvin in here, he'd have tried joining in and he gets rough when he plays."

I looked at Jason quizzically a moment. "Alex, dolphins and chimps are the only animals besides us that have sex for enjoyment. Dolphins are HUGELY sexual and it sounds kinda funny, but dolphins have actually been known to rape people. We don't let menstruating women in the pools with male dolphins. And I've never seen one, but I'm told some dolphin's are actually gay,"

Jason said in a voice I can only say must have been his stage/teacher voice.

"Well damn it, I want to swim with those dolphins!" I said as Bebe broke the water next to me and twittered his opinion.

"Alex. Have you ever seen a dolphin penis?" Jason asked with a funny look on his face.

"Well No Jason, you wouldn't believe how bitchy gay dolphin's can be in bars," I said as I petted Bebe.

"Man, I want to see your face when you see a dolphin erection for the first time," Jason smirked as Bebe made another whistly, clicky, sound next to me and nodded his head quickly.

"Apparently Bebe does too," I said as I reached over and got a fish from Jason for him.

We swam all afternoon riding, petting, and relaxing with Jason's friends. I think every city should be built with huge dolphin parks; the national stress levels would plummet.

Finally Jason said we needed to go and get ready for that night. I gave Celeste and Bebe the rest of my fish (I had one of those cute belt pouches too) and hugged them as best I could and got out feeling high and alive.

We went back to Jas's house and I got showered, screwed, and shaved. Got on my 501s, a red A&F rugby shirt, a backwards cap, and my favorite Sketchers. And we headed out by 4:30.

When we got there Robert and Phil were already there setting up lights and a bunch of equipment I hadn't seen before, Henna saw me and came over to give me a kiss.

"Well finally sweetheart, beginning to think you went awol on us. Pretty fancy stuff huh? She asked. I asked where it had come from and Robert called out that he had brought it since there was nothing set up already.

After about 20 minutes, Marika arrived and we finished the set up and decided to practice. Marika brought one of the flyers in with a mock scowl and handed it to me with a dismissive "whatever" flip.

"Alex Johnson, the MAGIC finger of Alex Johnson.... And FRIENDS!" she said turning to face me.

"But they already know who "I" am baby," I replied in playful appeasement.

She did that sideways bob of the head black girls do in the south, "Well honey, after tonight it's gunna read, "Marika Williams, her friends, and Alex somebody or another.""

Playing along I dropped into my sista vernacular, "Oh, no, no, no, no. NO. I don't THINK so Mrs. Wearin her bedroom slippers and night shirt to a performance with them nappy ash legs!"

She lost it at that and we both started laughing. "Child, I got all my performing clothing in my car, I thought we was gunna practice first," she said still laughing. Then she stopped smiling and looked me slowly up and down. "Now tell me you brought something besides your college clothing to wear tonight" she asked seriously.

I hadn't thought about dressing up so much since it was a coffee house and I played folksy stuff mostly. I looked at Jason with a slightly panicky look that brought him right over.

"What's up baby doll?" he asked Marika as he touched me.

"What's wrong is Donnie Docker here is performing tonight, not going to a keg party." Marika said with folded arms and a slight bob of her down turned head.

Jas looked from me to Marika and back again. "Ok, show me what you're wearing honey and I'll get something for the boys. Go ahead and start on time if I'm not back Alex."

So Jason followed Marika to her car and I panicked for a second then got an iced Latte and chilled while Robert finished setting up.

Phil came over and we chatted awhile when Marika came in and looked at us with that "Lord strike all these losers down" look then grabbed a mike and did a scale climbing exercise. She had a wonderful alto and my tenor worked well with it.

Each of us spent a few minutes tuning and getting into our zones.

Suddenly Phil broke out laughing and said, "I got a name for us."

"If it's Phil Zimech and friends, forget it, we need something more inclusive," I said with a grin to Marika.

"The Tellers?" Phil asked.

Robert, Marika, and I all made faces at it at first, then I began to think about the fact that Marika and I were tellers, and then Robert said, "Ya know, that would be a perfect Gospel name..."

We all grinned and decided to go for it. We had a name.

So we rehearsed and Marika and I did an a cappella version of a song from West Side Story called "Somewhere." She had preformed it at a wedding, and I had sung it in a school version of West Side Story.

At 8:00 the place was half full and I had already greeted Ryan and Brandon. Then Ryan used his hand to guide a tall guy with light brown hair and blue eyes and this suave face up to me.

"Alex, this is Michael Waters, Michael, this is the little tornado I call Alex."

I Shook Michael's big hand and gave him a warm smile that he shot back. 'very nice Ryan' I thought to myself. Ryan was right, if I hadn't met Michael and known who he was, I'd never have guessed he was gay. Well, I wouldn't have guessed Ryan was gay either. WHY the hell did everyone know that "I" was gay without asking!?!

"Michael, I'm so honored to meet you!" I said with a warm smile but wishing Jason was holding me.

"I't's really nice to meet you too Alex, Ryan's told me a lot about you." His bass voice rumbled out. Wow, I never thought a voice could give me a hard on!

We talked for a few minutes and then I excused myself to mingle before the show.

A lot of the Phil crowd:, Cynthia, Glen, Jen, Steven, and Dan were there early too. Mr. Riley came in and talked with us a bit before taking a table with Marika's mother. A while later Mrs. Tremere entered and I sat her next to Mr. Riley after I introduced them. I was upset that I was dressed like a frat boy and about to perform, and also that my boyfriend wasn't there yet. God he was sweet.

At 8:15 Marika walked out of the supply closet looking for all the world like the diva that she was; a queen. She wore a sheer black dress adorned with black and blue sequins, held tenuously to her body with a single thin sequined strap. She had Ruby heels Dorothy would have coveted, her hair was done up on top of her head, and her make up made her look more like a glamour shot than a girl I worked with at a bank. As I was saving her and Robert for a surprise set at the end, I basically waited for 8:30 and then began with Phil beside me on 'Let it be' by the Beatles. She stood out like a beacon in that crowd but didn't seem the least bit self-conscious.

We wove in and out of Neil Young, Carly Simon, The Dyvinals, We even did Jose Feliciano's version of Light My Fire with Phil on Spanish guitar. Then we got our first break and I got another iced Latte and mixed a little with the crowd for a while, and met a couple from my last performance that wanted to hire me/us for their wedding, I smiled and told them to keep watching the show cause I had a few surprises. When I checked to see that Mrs. Tremere was ok and see if she wanted anything, I found Mr. Riley and her were sitting together laughing. 'Cool' I thought, relieved neither was sitting alone. A few People had noticed the lights and the keyboard set up but said nothing. Marika and Robert, or should I say, the Queen and her 6'8" guard, were getting lots of attention from the mostly white, gay or granola crowd.

Phil and I did one more set and Jas came in beaming and sweating in the middle of it carrying bags. When we finished he came up and gave me a peck on the cheek and said

"Here, go change quickly while I get your latte. All three of you, Go!." Jason ordered Phil, Robert and me.

I looked in the bag and he had Dark jeans, a white long sleeve shirt made of nice silk material, and three pairs of matching black vests. We went and changed and I smiled cause Jason knew my size and every dimension of me, god I was glad I was dating a gay man sometimes. When I walked out I got a few wolf whistles; mostly from Dan and Phil. I walked on stage with Robert and Phil. I took the microphone and said,

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, You've been listening to me and my good friend Phil play so far tonight, and I hope you enjoyed the performance, but now I have something special for y'all. This evening I have had two fantastic musicians in the audience, and I'd like to introduce them. Please help me in welcoming Marika Williams and Robert Henders to the stage. Together we are the 'Tellers.' A mix of Gospel, folk, R&B and music that makes us feel good."

When Marika took the stage every eye was glued on her and when she turned slightly to give me a smile, I knew she knew this.

"As I have held the stage so far this evening, I think it's time to pass the mike to someone who owns it, and I mean that in every possible way" So I smiled and handed the mike to Marika and grabbed my guitar.

After a minute of tuning our instruments, I nodded at Henna and the lights went low except a spot light on Marika. Robert set a programmed drum beating and played a few soft notes. In a low cool Alto that crept out and engulfed the audience like a fog of sound and mist, Marika took the mike and began crooning.

Billy Ray was a preacher's son And when his daddy would visit he'd come along When they gathered around and started talkin' That's when Billy would take me walkin' Out through the back yard we'd go walkin' Then he'd looked into my eyes Lord knows, to my surprise

The only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, ooh, yes he was

Bein' good isn't always easy No matter how hard I try When he started sweet-talkin' to me He'd come'n tell me "Everything is all right" He'd kiss and tell me "Everything is all right" Can I get away again tonight?

The only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, ooh, yes he was (yes he was)

How well I remember The look that was in his eyes Stealin' kisses from me on the sly Takin' time to make time Tellin' me that he's all mine Learnin' from each other's knowin' Lookin' to see how much we've grown and

The only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, oh yes he was

(The only one who could ever reach me) He was the sweet-talkin' son of a preacher man (The only boy who could ever teach me) Was the son of a preacher man

(The only one who could ever reach me) Was the sweet-talkin' son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, ooooooohhhh yes he was. (Dusty Springfeild)

The audience was so wrapped up in her spell it took them several seconds to realize she was done singing. Only after a few souls began clapping did the place erupt in a maelstrom of applause. She had won every person with that performance. And the power and electricity that we were getting off the audience was intoxicating.

Next the light spread out to take in both of us and we waited for people to quiet down before Robert did a long gospel piano intro to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkle as reinterpreted by Aretha Franklin. But we did a true fusion, she took Aretha's part and I took Garfunkle's and we wove and danced in and out of melody and harmony.

We had them; this is what rock stars mean when they claim to 'own' an audience. Marika glowed as she moved on our small stage. We next broke into a version of The Who's Behind Blue Eyes, then a gospelized version of Magic Man by Heart, and then Diamond's and Rust by Joan Baez. To end we did a duet that really spoke from our multi cultural group,

There's a place for us Somewhere a place for us Peace and quiet and open air Wait for us Somewhere There's a time for us Some day a time for us Time together With time to spare Time to look Time to care Someday, Somewhere We'll find a new way of living, We'll find a way of forgiving Somewhere There's a place for us A time and place for us Hold my hand And we're halfway there Hold my hand And I'll take you there Somehow Someday Somewhere

Marika and I brought the house down with this song from "West side Story." Jason was almost crying as he came up to kiss me even before Robert had ended the music. After kissing him briefly, he stepped aside so we could bow.

We ran out of coasters to write our contact info on, and had agreed to perform at 3 weddings, a Bar mitzvah, and a country club. I saw Marika holding two cups with money in it and both Robert and I had one each. In all we'd made $311.85 in just tips. As I left the stage I saw my Michael sitting alone at the coffee bar, his eyes were red like he'd been crying. I walked over with Jason in toe to see if he was all right. "I hate you Alex, remind me never to come to one of your dumb concerts again!" Michael said with a smile. He'd gotten too emotional at the music and was embarrassed. "I don't know why they wanted you in the group anyways, Marika was the star." Jason and I hugged the big guy and I said,

"Behave and I'll get you a lollipop."

He stuck his bottom lip out then wiped his eyes. I hugged him then moved on to circulate.

"Ya know, he has a lot of love for you Alex." Jason said as he lead me through the crowed.

"I know, For such a prickly grouch he's really a big sweetheart, most people get scared off and never see it though." I said hugging Jason. As I walked around with my arm around Jason I heard Robert and Henna talking about sound systems, I saw Mrs. Tremere and Mr. Riley laughing together over cappuccinos, and I finally got a chance to meet Michael Waters, Ryan's 'secret' athlete boyfriend. We didn't get a chance to talk long, mostly because of the animosity between Ryan and Jason, but we agreed to go out to dinner later that week. Walking around after a performance like that felt like incredible and I leaned over and said to Jason,

"I feel like I have a superconductor strapped to my ass feeding me raw power! How do you do this everyday? I feel like I should have a hangover." Jason smiled and moved in close.

"That's not a superconductor," he reached down and squeezed my ass. "That's just my hand, baby!"

I laughed and hugged him before dancing around the room to talk to everyone again. When I was done I waltzed over to sit on Jason's lap on a couch. A lot of our friends helped Robert pack his car and he and Michael got in a long conversation about guys assuming they played basketball just cause they were tall. When I got closer Michael introduced me as the elf he hired to walk under his bed to clear out the dust.

With a snarl I said, "Don't forget my other duty Sir."

Michael arched an eyebrow inquisitively as Robert laughed. "I'm the one guy here that can take your ass down and make you beg for mercy," I sneered.

As soon as I got up to walk away assuming that the discussion was over, Michael bolted up, got a hand under each of my armpits and began to tickle me from behind. If I have an Achilles heel, this is it and Michael knew every way to exploit it. I was mercilessly tickled to the ground while everyone stood around and laughed and I thrashed and tried to get away. A 5'4" guy who's screaming and flailing, has virtually no chance of getting away from a 6'6" guy with long arms and reasonable strength... Ryan finally stopped him before I peed my pants.

"So why didn't you try to help me?" I scolded Jason on our way to his car later.

"Dude, I was taking pointers." He teased back which made me shudder involuntarily.

I groaned. No matter who I dated, who my friend's were, gay, straight, male or female... I was tickled eventually... And Michael loved to show them new and cleaver ways he'd devised to do it.

"At your own risk Jas, I won't be responsible for taking your head off ," I warned. My smile though was threatening the severity of my lips. Jason just grinned ear to ear with those amazing dimples.

It was past two am when we got in and I grinned at him as I began undressing at his front door and finished in his living room. Jason grinned back and walked up and held me tightly against him as he reached around me. Suddenly there was a Righteous brothers album playing. So we danced as he pressed my naked body to his and I wrapped him up in my arms swaying with him.

"You were amazing tonight Alex. I'm just blown away by you and Marika and the rest. I felt like you were singing some of those songs to me... I mean me personally," Jason said wistfully, his chin resting on my head.

"I 'was' singing them to you Jason," I said into his chest.

"Yeah......" Jason's voice sounded lost and far away just then, whistful like a bearded man on an island with a palm tree. He released me and walked to his kitchen. I was so confused, I had no clue where this came from so I followed and hugged him from behind as he had a beer.

"What's with this mood baby?" I asked cheerily. Hoping my energy would infect him. It didn't though; he hardly talked, as he got ready for bed. I finished and got to his bed as he was staring straight up at the ceiling. I was quiet for a while, curled up to his body before I finally asked,

"Jason, what's going on, I don't know if I should be scared, or worried or patient? I'm so freaking confused." Jason took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Wish I hadn't given up smoking right now," he said clearly.

"Are you breaking up with me Jason? Are you trying to tell me something?" I asked, terrified of the answer.

"No, no I'm not planning it... but in all likely hood you will or will soon," he said mysteriously.

More confused, I sat up and looked down at him. "Why would you say that? Is this because those others are trying to make me go back to Austin?" I asked.

"No, It's because we've been going out over a month and you haven't asked me yet about being a hustler... You will soon and then you'll find a reason to stop seeing me." He said prophetically. I fell on him hugging him and telling him how much I cared. He lifted his head then wrapped an arm around me and pulled my head to his chest.

"I know you do Alex, I really believe you do. And this time I actually care back... That's what's hurting so much this time."

"Jason, you're freaking me out... We had such a great day today, god Jason; this has been the best day I may have ever had. And most of it, all of it really, is because of you... All of it." I repeated as I tightened my grip on his chest.

Again we were quiet for a long time before he started to talk in a low voice, almost devoid of emotion.

"I don't know why Alex, but you never asked about my past, you never tried to moralize why I became a hustler..." Jason said simply.

"Cause you are who you are, the guy I love is here now, and that's his past, not his present." I said as Jason stifled a sob... I was panicking and scared, I had no clue what to do.

"Remember when I told you about good looks being a curse?" he asked. I vaguely recalled it even though I didn't understand it.

"Yeah, still not sure I understand your point," I said honestly.

"My dad... he was a very successful business man, top of his game in sales and getting accounts for the home electronics place he worked. It was a big company with offices all over the country, and several in Japan." Jason said like a voice over to a horror film.

"All our lives my older brother Scott, my middle sister Eve, and my mom were drilled over and over with "Do it for the job." We were expected to clean our rooms, clean the yard, all of it so if customers or other employees came by, there would be a perfect appearance. We were all expected to keep ourselves in perfect condition. " Jason said sans emotion.

"We used to hear over and over how Scott got my dad's looks and would be a quarterback, and I got my mom's looks and would be the most popular kid in school. My sister had my mom's looks too." Jason said pensively,

"When I was 10, I remember my mom and dad getting into a terrible fight, my mother was screaming and throwing dishes. My dad just kept saying he had no choice, it was for the job and could mean a promotion. Scott and I looked at each other confused. There was a dinner party later that night and Mom said she was sick and locked herself in her room so the three of us got dinner ready and served it. I-I Don't recall seeing my sister later that night, but when I saw her the next day she was different. She didn't laugh or smile for months. A few months later almost the same thing happened, only it was Scott now, he was 16 and a high school quarterback. When I saw him the next day it looked as if he'd... lost his family, all his friends. He refused to talk about it. He-he-he got into drugs soon after and moved out... I've never seen him again... Mom, she was impossible to talk to, like a sad robot... My sister began spending night's away, and getting nice clothing and stuff I know we hadn't bought in the family. And then I was 14," Jason said almost unconsciously holding my hand.

I knew where this was going, My eyes were already tearing up. I kept mumbling over and over, "No... oh god no!"

"So... we had a dinner and dad introduced me to this young administrator from the main office named Mr. Riggio, a medium sized, dark haired, bookish type with sharp clothing, this sweet musky smell, and a fake smile that made me cringe. I was reminded several times by the both of them to keep my dad's job in mind. Then he sent me home with Mr. Riggio."

I was weeping all over Jason's chest hugging him tightly as if my small arms could squeeze the past out of him. He put a hand over mine before he continued.

"As we got to his house I began crying and screaming. Nothing...nothing stopped him. He wouldn't stop till he was done. And then it became regular and I understood what had happened to my brother and sister. Eve moved out soon after and got pregnant with some old co-worker of dads. Last I heard Mom was in a home."

I was quietly sobbing, trying to hold Jason tighter, hoping my revulsion at his father could shield him from the pain that filled the room.

"Two of dad's "clients" that asked to see me after dinners, were high up in the administration, and from them I began to get presents, money.. One even said he wanted me to live with him so he could take care of me and keep me safe from the other guys. He said my dad was evil for doing this... I never asked him what that made him. So I started to have all this money, expensive clothing, great drugs... And one day I met a college student at a Starbucks and we hit it off, and I figured that since old men were screwing me no one would care if this young hot guy did... Except dad walked in and blew a gasket, he threw the guy out and kept saying he wouldn't have a fag in his house. So I packed, stayed at a friend's house till I was 18, then got my own place... as I had all my stuff I could get in touch with those older guys and they kept me busy and well equipped. I told them all about my dad and had him fired with no severance. "

Jason sounded hollow now... Pain punctuating his words occasionally, his chest was soaked in my tears and he absentmindedly stroked my hair.

"So... that's basically it, two of the guys hooked me up with other rich guys... And I've tried a few times to date, but... not many people want damaged merchandise."

"Ohhh god Jason, I don't have any idea what to say... I want you to feel safe and loved, I want to grind your fathers ball with a weed whippier, I-I-I-" I fell on his chest sobbing. My brain couldn't make sense of how a parent, how any person could do that to a kid.

"And you aren't damaged Jason... God, your so fucking amazing... Your dad was put together wrong, not you." I said. As I was wracked with pain and horror at what my beautiful, wonderful, guy had endured, I felt his arms around me and felt him whispering over and over that it was alright now, but it wasn't. How could that ever be alright? I did calm down finally and lay on his shoulder as he stared at the ceiling.

"They're right you know," Jason finally said.

"Who are?" I asked, drained.

"The ones who said you needed to talk things over with Austin." I turned and looked at him... I wasn't sure he knew what he was saying.

"Yeah, I know it might mean you don't come back... But-but how can we have a chance if you don't clear all that up? Jason said matter-of- factly, staring at the ceiling

"I had to get all my demons out so we would have a chance." He said softly before he added. "Now you have to face yours sugar pop."

I didn't want to see Austin that night, I didn't want to sleep, I wanted to take Jason's pain away. How could such a twisted childhood have produced such a great guy? How could anyone live with this kind of pain?

What sleep I got that night was short and troubled. I didn't want to abandon him but Jason had made it clear, I wouldn't get to see him again before I saw Austin. Every time I had a great time with a guy, some kind of fucked up problem followed.

"This Sucks!" I said looking in the mirror the next morning. And that summed it all up.

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