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tutoring jerry

Chapter Nine Rainy Days And Mondays

Raindrops clattered on the window, desperately trying to get in out of the thunder & lightning. Tyson already held me close in his sleep, but I backed myself in tighter, feeling his warm chest and morning wood against me. I felt it pulse a couple of times as I pushed my ass against it. God what a wonderful feeling! But I had to pee so bad.

'I'll just lay here for a while longer.'

His breath on my neck felt so good, his arm around my chest felt so comforting, protective. 'Ahhhhhh. Man, I wish I could wake up like this every day. Is there a cup or something I could scoot to the edge of the bed and aim my aching hard on into and pee? I don't want to step on the cold floor to get dressed and go down the hall.

Nothing in sight. Fuck it. I ain't goin' nowhere. I can hold it.'

I lay still, focusing on each area of body contact, one at a time. His left big toe was buried in my right foot arch, calf laying on mine, knee crushing my bony knee-- I wasn't about to move it though-- his warm thighs layered behind and on mine, his occasionally throbbing cock buried in the crack of my ass pointing up-- heavenly-- and his stomach, so hard and tight it almost felt like hot stone against my tailbone.

His chest, full of hot blooded warmth like a fire on a cold winter's night-- you may feel cold on the other side, but this side is toasty, and oh-so-content to measure the even flowing rhythm of the breath of life feeding that gentle fire, nose pressed in, filtering moistly through the hair at the nape of my neck, feeling as though his breath was somehow nourishing my soul through my pores.

'I never want to move.'

Rain, I realized, doesn't have to be sad. I drifted in and out of consciousness for an hour or more, the staccato of the intermittent drops on the windowsill playing to the steady beat of our synchronized, peaceful hearts.

Everyone deserves to have someone to sleep with, to snuggle against. Everyone in the world. How could anyone not be happy if they had this to wake up to every morning?

Yeah, of course I thought of Jerry at some point. Of course I remembered waking up in this same position with him. His image forced itself smack into the middle of my peacefulness, kicking my heart around for a minute or so. Finally I shuddered and pulled Ty's arm tighter around me, drifting off again.

I awoke to Ty crawling over me to get out of bed.

"Sorry, I was trying not to wake you up," he said in a hushed tone. "But I gotta pee so bad my eyes are floatin'."

"It's ok, I'm seein' yellow too." I watched him find his jeans and pull them on, drinking in the sight of his body flexing, pee-hard bobbing.

"What a shitty lookin' day." He peered through the opening at the bottom of the curtains from across the bed.

"It's fantastic snuggling weather though," I offered.

He looked at me and smiled. "Yeah, it is that," he said as he buttoned his pants.

"I wish I could wake up everyday with you like this."

He stopped in mid motion, picturing that. "Ya do? Man, that would be so awesome." His eyes twinkled. His sexy smile increased my heart rate and my cock twitched, reminding me how badly I needed to pee.

"Man, I need a shower." He looked down at his stomach, all shiny with cum/lube, moist from the heat of being against my back, and looked at me. "We could both use one."

"Oh for sure, I'm so sticky." I took my eyes off of his body-- big fat pee-hard straining up behind the buttons-- and pulled my jeans on over mine as well. I looked at his stomach, treasure trail darkly matted with the remnants of our night of passion, and it still made my pee-hard twitch some more.

We tiptoed down the hall on the cold linoleum, and locked ourselves into the large, old-fashioned bathroom, with its alligator-leg tub and separate hot and cold faucets on the sink. We aimed our semi-hard cocks at each other across the toilet, making the streams duel as we giggled at one another, letting Ahhhhh's and Oh yeah's out as we felt the pressure release. It's amazing how much the bladder can hold. I stood on a frayed rug by the tub while he dug for a towel.

"Ah, last towel. Lucky us!" He beamed, then gave me a devilish grin, "Wanna conserve water and shower together?"

I smiled back. "Gotta save the planet," I sighed, shaking my head like it was just our duty. He chuckled and stepped in, pulling me over the side by my peter.

We pulled the curtain around the tub, tucked it inside, and shivered and jiggled on the cold porcelain until the hot water arrived. Then we did just about everything but shower. Yeah, we soaped each other up, like on our stomachs and cocks and butts and balls-- all the important areas-- but we mostly just rubbed around on each other, kissing and licking after rinsing the soap, getting each other too hot to just finish showering.

I couldn't resist sucking his big fat dick, and he didn't seem to mind. I tried looking up his stomach, chest and face as I made love to him, but the shower spray splattered off his body into my eyes; so I had to be content with hoping his view of me wet and naked on my knees in front of him, water flowing down from him onto me as his member pistoned in and out of my mouth would turn him on as much as I turned on to being down there pleasuring him. But I didn't get him off, because I didn't know how long it would be 'til we could do this again, and my sore ass was itching. I figured if I bent over and held the stainless steel shower-head pipe and rubbed my ass against his throbbing cock, he would figure out what I needed, again.

He was sharp, and figured it out quickly. I braced myself for the pleasure as I felt him push into me slowly. I reached back and held his left hip, urging him in with my fingers, feeling the sinewy muscles tensed and straining, so, so male, so, taking me, so, loving. I was afraid we'd wake everyone on the block up. He had me moaning and grunting and begging for more, the sounds echoing around the big steamy dark gray bathroom as he slowly longdicked me. I could hardly make my trembling legs keep my body in place as I felt the shape, size and texture of his shaft boring slowly in and out of me and I whispered pleadings for it to keep going, keep going, just keep on going...

Gradually, his friction got to both of us as he gave up trying to resist the need to go faster and harder and I forced my ass back and up into him, raising onto my tip toes, giving him all I had, begging him to give me all he had. He banged my ass 'til I nearly collapsed from sheer pleasure. He erupted into me as he felt my first spasm, the long stream shot directly into the drain-- I couldn't help but notice with amusement-- and I collapsed onto my knees, bringing Ty down with me, still thrusting into me in the throes of orgasm as I twisted back to kiss his face and lick the water from his cheek, pleading for him to leave it in me, don't take it out, just leave it in me, let me lick the water from your face, feel your heaving chest on my back, squeeze your cock with my muscles.... God, it just got more incredible every time!

Let it be said, that shampoo is not the best lubricant there is. It kinda burns, but not for long. Probably not good for the anal lining, either. Anyway, they must have had a big water heater, cuz the hot water lasted 'til we came and rinsed again. Then we washed our hair as quickly as possible, me fawning all over him as he washed his. I worried that I was maybe being too clingy, but I just couldn't help myself-- he was just so beautiful and sexy I had to keep touching and kissing him. I noticed he had a lot of little scars all over his body, and I asked him about them,

He just muttered, "Hard livin' dude, hard livin'," and laughed.

Back in the room we got fully dressed, and just before he opened the door, he pulled me into a tight embrace and smothered me with a long and very passionate kiss.

"Wow!" I gasped when he pulled back to look into my eyes. I was hard as a rock again, gazing into his face and massaging his strong back muscles.

"I figured this is the last time we'll be in private for a really good one today, since ya gotta go home," he grinned.

"I think that one'll hold me over 'til next time, as long as next time is soon," I smiled into his twinkling eyes.

"I hope so," he put his hand on my cheekbone and rubbed his thumb lightly from under my eye to the bridge of my nose. "I really hope so."

How could I NOT fall in love with this guy? Why do I, how can I hesitate? He's so warm and tender and loving and sexy...

Darren and Julie were the only ones awake downstairs when we entered the kitchen. Darren was this hyper guy, cute in an emaciated way, with scraggly black hair and bright green eyes, perfectly balanced by his plump, laid back girlfriend, Julie, who didn't seem to have any energy to do anything. I got this picture of them in my mind: Julie, reclined on a chaise lounge, feather boa draped across her body, with a long leash around Darren's neck as he scampered from person to person, bringing back food and drugs and whatever, with her cataloging it all for some reason... I don't know where that came from, but they were both very nice people. I mean, that flash image of him and her like that wasn't derogatory or anything; it was humorous, as if they were in on the joke.

"Anything here for breakfast?" Ty asked as we approached the island counter.

"No idea, man, just got up," Darren replied. "Someone was fucking or something in the upstairs bathroom and it woke..." He looked at our wet hair and snapped. He blushed, but just went on as if nothing had been said, "I might go get us some Mcmuffins or something. I'm fuckin' starved," he groaned, pacing the room, eyes darting nervously, but smiling at the picture of us in his mind, or because he'd said something about it.

"Could look in the icebox." Julie offered.

"Well, they might get pissed, if we go gettin' in their shit." Darren hesitated at the refrigerator handle.

"I used to live here." Ty justified as he reached around Darren, opening the door. He eyed the contents and grinned, pulling out an eighteen flat of eggs, then a jar of picante sauce, some cheese and sour cream. He went to the pantry and came back with a big bag of tortilla chips.

"Viola!" He exclaimed triumphantly. "Alright vato's y vata's, si te gusta chiliquiles?" He arched his eyebrows and held the eggs up.

Yes, we all wanted chiliquiles. We didn't know what they were, but we eagerly gave our consent-- we knew it was food, and that's all that mattered.

Ty took charge of the kitchen and had me fix coffee, as Darren washed some dishes, and Julie sat and supervised. Just as the coffee finished, Celia glided into the room in a flowing blue nightgown like a movie star would wear. I didn't know women could look so beautiful and perky first thing in the morning-- especially without make-up. And I don't know why I was so fixated on her breasts. They didn't turn me on sexually, they just looked so-- perfect. Every time I saw her, I was drawn to them, I don't know why.

"Oh baby, thank you," she purred at me as I handed her a fresh cup of coffee. I sipped on my Coke. "Tyson makes the best chiliquiles in Galveston County! I swear, I know a half dozen Mexican mamma's who would give their first-born to have his recipe," she announced as she kissed Ty on the cheek.

And it was fabulous!!! Oh shut up, I can use that word and still not be a sissy. We lounged around for awhile. Jet joined us for coffee and a huge bite of Ty's dish, moaning his approval loudly, wagging his eyebrows cuz he couldn't talk. I actually drank some coffee, with a lot of cream and sugar, and liked it. Conversation was light and easy, a lot of laughing.

"So you're a great cook too, huh?" I grinned at Ty.

He laughed heartily, "Oh dude, I'm a one-trick-pony on that one. I can't cook shit in snot sauce, besides that one dish. A friend of mine's mom taught me that one."

We all moved to the den, and Darren even settled into a chair, too full to move. His distended belly, on his extremely skinny frame-- I mean this guy made Karen Carpenter look fat-- was comical to see as he moaned and rubbed around on it.

It was thrilling to me to sit there on the couch, in a room full of straight people, with Ty's arm around me, my right arm casually draped over his thigh, my shoulder snuggled up in his armpit, and no one even noticed, or cared. How do I express what a thrill it was? I didn't know there was such a place, like Oz or somewhere you have to go over a rainbow to find. Such a simple thing. Such a simple fucking thing as that made me so happy, made me feel like a regular human being.

None of them were aware of how much that meant to me, and Ty took it for granted, casually kissing me on the temple at one point-- no one reacted, no one blanched, no one averted their eyes. I looked into his eyes and saw a whole other life, a way of living.

The rain let up around noon. Ty and I looked at each other and knew it was about time to go. I didn't want this to end-- the whole scene, the atmosphere-- I wanted to live there, with these warm friendly people, with Ty. It was like they had their own little rose-tinted world, where it was always fun, the people all accepting each other, loving each other. I just didn't want to leave.

"I guess it's time to go, huh." He said solemnly.

"Yeah. Shit." I looked down at my hand on his knee, getting depressed at the thought of leaving.


"Man, I just don't wanna go. I wanna stay here like this forever. With all these great people, with you..."

"Aw, man, we can come down here whenever we want to. This place is home. Remember how I said these were the most awesome people I've ever known? They're my real family, ya know? My biological family is just fucked, and Jet & Celia love me. They already told me how much they like you, both of them. You're welcome here any time-- you don't even hafta be with me. They love you already," he pulled me into him, smiling.

You could see he was so happy that the two most important people to him had accepted and liked me. He was proud of his choice.

"See, it's like, fucked up people-- and I mean bad people-- don't get along here. They can't take the energy, they just leave. Jet never has to tell anyone to go, they just do. I've watched it happen, especially when Jet was dealin' speed. That's what he used to make and deal all the time, and sometimes, these pretty rough characters would come over to buy some. They would just, like, hafta get outta here and they didn't know why. By the way, that's where he got the name Jet, cuz he made jet fuel, crystal meth." He chuckled and whispered in my ear, "His real name is Avery. Don't you dare tell him I told you that though, he hates it."

I looked at him and grinned, "I won't, and I definitely wanna come back."

"We will, baby, we definitely will," and he kissed me again, a peck on the lips. I glowed.

We'd been talking quietly, while Jet was animatedly telling a story, and someone had already turned the stereo on low, so I don't think anyone overheard our conversation. A couple of new people had arrived who knew Ty from before, so he talked with them for a bit. And Mickey stumbled down the stairs, eyes not open. Literally. He felt his way to the coffee pot. He was a big guy, and you couldn't help but notice his very large dick-- and I mean large-- hanging down his right thigh in the baggy gray sweatpants he wore.

At least, I couldn't help but notice. 'I'm such a freak! Surely other guys aren't like that about guys. I'm sitting in the arms of the hottest guy around, just had another round of incredible sex with him, and I'm thinking about this guy's dick! I mean, it wasn't like I wanted to go suck it or something, well, if he offered-- shit listen to me! I'm afraid I'm becoming some kinda boy-slut, or tramp or whatever...'

"Well ya'll, we gotta go back to Friendswood." Ty stood up and went around the room shaking hands, hugging and saying goodbye to everyone, and I followed suit. Jet stood up and hugged him, then me, demanding we come back soon. When he came to Celia, last, she stood up and hugged him tightly. She released him and asked,

"Can I talk to you before you go?"

Ty furrowed his brow, "Uh, yeah sure, Celia," he let her go haltingly. Her request unsettled him for some reason. She gave him a reassuring look and came over and hugged me.

There was that electric charge again, coursing through me. Wow! Fucking amazing woman. I think under any other circumstances, she would have freaked me out, but I loved her. I mean, you couldn't not love her.

She looked at me and smiled, "Danny..." She put her arm around my shoulder and walked me toward the front of the house. When we were alone in the foyer, she resumed,

"I... I want you to know that the things I 'see' are mostly like sketches, they're the way things have been, and the way things might be. If I say something might happen, it's not set in stone. Things change, thoughts change, feelings change." She stood facing me, cloudy gray light from the frosted windows beside and above the door casting her in an eerie light in the dark wood paneled room. Her dark eyes seemed to have a light of their own.

"It's rare to feel a depth of love like I feel within you. Your ability to love so deeply makes you special. You're past the worst part of your heartbreak, no longer at the "abyss". You're getting a lot of what you need from Tyson, and he's giving it willingly. He's a beautiful person, Danny. He's a very special person too, and he's falling..." she paused. She looked away and I saw a glow around her head. I know I did.

"I ask you to please, um..." She fidgeted, "Please be careful with him. I know you wouldn't hurt him intentionally..."

"What? Why do you say that? What do you mean?" I was shocked at what she was saying, but asked the questions with concern, not angrily or defensively. I was shocked, because I actually thought she was heading toward telling me to be careful of him, not the other way around. I mean, considering his image was so wild and free and all...

"Danny, you're not over your love for that other guy. You know that. It doesn't mean you won't get over it. It doesn't mean you can't fall in love with anyone else. All I'm asking is that you be honest with yourself and Tyson-- which you have. I know you have. You have so much love to give, Danny, and you give it so willingly. Love like yours is a gift. It makes people stronger. And it will make you stronger too, don't worry. You gave me a boost!" Her eyes laughed.

Then her eyes grew darker, "He needs your love at this time as much as you need his, and your strength will help him get through a rough, painful period."

She gave me another hug and kiss, "You're a beautiful person and you will be happy. I'm so glad we met in person. I'll see you in a happier dream."

She smiled, let go of me and glided back to the den. You could always feel anyone walking on the creaky hardwood floors of the old house, but she made no impact or sound as she moved.

I stood there in my own silence, trying to figure out what she had said, what she had meant. Was she saying I was going to hurt Ty? I could never hurt Ty. No way! But she also said I would help him. It was very confusing to me. I sat down on a wooden crate in the dim gray light and pondered what she had said, the whole two days, Ty...

After about ten minutes, Ty came to meet me. When he looked at me, he had the strangest look in his eyes. It took me a moment to read it as a melancholy look, not sad, just kinda wistful. She must have had a similar conversation with him, only warning him about me. I didn't want him to feel that way. I kinda panicked.

"I won't hurt you I swear to God, Ty!" I blurted out as I jumped up and threw myself into his arms and kissed him. He hugged and kissed me back. Even I realized I was being overly dramatic, and tried to get control of myself.

"I know you won't, baby. I know you won't," he sounded calm and reassuring.

We held each other tightly for a minute, then he said in my ear,

"We better go, It's gonna be a slow drive in this rain."

It was pouring like hell again when we left, thunder and lightning all across the sky, the windshield wipers barely able to keep up. We drove in silence, lost in our thoughts.

Along about Texas City, as I looked up at the huge "Gay Pontiac" dealership sign, the rain let up, but the freeway was still slow moving. I couldn't take it any longer. I had to ask:

"So, what did Celia tell you?"

He was silent for a moment, thinking of what he was going to say, "Ummm, she said... You know she loves me way more than my own mother, and that's no shit. She's got nothin' but love in her heart, man," he paused, looking out the window at the flooded cow pastures lining the road, the herds huddled together in the distance, then went on,

"She... told me to keep my eyes open. She said you wouldn't do it intentionally, that you would never hurt me on purpose, but that it could end up that way. It doesn't have to. It just could. Lots of things could change it all, at any given time. She just told me to be careful," he settled into his seat, looking at me with that same wistful expression.

"She hates to tell anyone anything bad, especially to anyone she loves. She didn't want to interfere, or, influence us, ya know? Tellin' people things makes them worry, or be afraid when they shouldn't be. It's kinda hard to explain. She'd rather see us work things out for ourselves, but she said she just had to say something. Like, it was one of those times, when saying something would help us be careful, that's all. That's why she spoke to both of us, not just me," he added.

"Yeah, she told me to keep it honest with you."

I couldn't think of anything else to say-- not wanting to talk about hurting him any more. After a few minutes, Ty broke the silence,

"How do you feel about me right now?" I glanced at him and back at the road, then tried to keep my eyes on his, glancing at the road every couple of seconds. I found it easy to talk honestly with him,

"I think I'm falling in love with you. I know I don't wanna lose you. I don't want you to be afraid I'm gonna hurt you. Seems like that would kinda stand in the way of... Like it wouldn't let you, you know, love me. You're the most wonderful person in the world to me. You're so nice to me-- you're such a good guy, ya know?"

"Whoa, Danny," he chuckled. "I ain't no angel. You don't know `bout all the shit I've done. I'm not this super-nice guy you seem to think I am. I've done shit to survive-- shit I ain't proud of."

"Like what?"

"Well, since Celia said we should be honest with each other, I guess I should tell you about me. It ain't a pretty story, Danny..." He lit a cigarette, reclined the seat and laid back, looking at the roof of the car like he was on a psychiatrists' couch.

"Where to start? First, my dad is a drunk, who beats me, my little brother, and my mom. He raped my big sister and she left with a trucker a year ago, and hasn't called or been back since. I don't even know if she's alive. My mom is a drunk too, and addicted to Valium. They really hate us kids. Hell, they hate each other. I think they blame us for makin' them the way they are," he had a twisted smirk on his face, flicking his ashes into his palm so he didn't have to sit up to reach the ashtray.

"When I was sixteen, my sister caught me suckin' off her boyfriend in the back seat of his car, and went and outed me to my mom. So my dad went ahead an' put me in the hospital with three broken ribs, a broken finger and a concussion-- in a real loving way," he chuckled. "I know the halls of John Sealy Hospital backwards and forwards, dude, it wasn't the first time he put me there."

He laughed a strained laugh that revealed a depth of pain that could never be erased. It was hard to understand how he could tell all this in a humorous way, laughing about such horrible things, but I figured it was just his way of dealing with it. I pictured all the little scars I had seen on his body. My stomach started knotting up and chills went down my spine.

"When I got out, Mom told me not to come home. So I got a ride to Houston from this friend and crashed at this other guy's house for a while. He was straight, but lived in the Montrose. I sucked him off sometimes, like for rent, ya know? But that was only for a month, cuz he got busted in some kinda drug sting, so I was out on the street. I couldn't get a job, with no place t' stay, and no phone, so I did what I had t' do-- I started hustling."

"You mean like, like a hooker?"

"Yeah, but when you're a guy you're a hustler, not a hooker. Chicken is what we are. I learned pretty much everything there is to know about sex, though," he chuckled again and winked at me.

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Yeah. I got beat up a few times, OD'd once and thought I was dead for sure a couple a times. I quit doing it after this one big fuckin' leather freak tied me up in his basement and used cattle prods and chains an' whips an' shit on me. The only reason he let me go, is cuz he found a younger, cuter boy six days later and needed his rack space. So that night, he drove me up north I-59 to Humble and let me out on the side of the freeway, pointed a gun at my head and told me to hitchhike to Dallas," he held one hand like a gun pointed to his head, while making the traditional thumbing gesture up and down rapidly over his crotch like he was jacking-off with his other as he said it.

Tears were flowing down my cheeks. My stomach wrenched at the thought of all that terror and pain he'd been through. I couldn't believe there were people like that in the world. I was so naive.

"He said if he ever saw me again in Houston, he'd kill me. I really thought for sure he was gonna do it right then with it aimed right in my face. I saw my life flash in front of my eyes... and in some way, I kinda wanted him to, ya know? An' I know he would if he saw me again," he contemplated that for a moment. "I dunno if you noticed those spots on my ass. Well they're cigarette burns, courtesy of Big Bill," he added nonchalantly.

"Oh God, Ty, I'm so sorry..." I cried. He was the one who should have been crying, but my heart just crumbled at the thought of him being brutalized so horribly by his parents. And by that man.

"Hey, you didn't do anything, baby, don't cry. It was a bad time, ya know? I mean, I had some good times too, and I partied a lot, before that fucker," he said, trying to calm me.

"Anyways, that night I hitched rides back to my folk's place, and found out my little brother, Chris, had ran away. I guess they needed someone there to fuck with, so they let me stay."

Then, the only time so far he sounded sad, he said, "And ya know, that's the worst thing-- I feel like I let my little brother down so totally, like I couldn't protect him from all that. He's in Boystown over in La Porte now, for crackin' a guy's head open and stealin' a car with some so-called friends about eight months ago. You know, watchin' his big brother do that kinda shit... I fuckin' ruined him. He's only sixteen now, and he'll probably end up in prison."

He reflected for a moment, then went on, "So, I was breaking into houses with a friend from school back then. I was goin' to Clear Creek High School in League City then, cuz that's where we live. Anyways, we got busted, and I got sent to Juvie for six months. When I got out, I went home again." He paused again, then went on, looking out the window as he spoke.

The sad tone crept back into his voice, "Well, one night, my dad was drunk and in a bad mood and started beating me up, calling me a little faggot and shit. Then he held me down and tried to make me suck his dick, rubbin' that big nasty thing in my face an' all, yellin' "Earn your keep, cocksucker!". My mom was sitting there laughing..." he trailed off.

"Did-- did you?" I was afraid to ask, but did.

"Nah. I got away, cuz he was so drunk, but that's when I tried, you know, to kill myself," he got quiet.

I couldn't keep from crying, and I couldn't believe he could tell me all this and not cry too. So much pain and emotional torture to happen to someone so young, and so undeserving of it all.

"God," I choked out. "Here I've been wallowing in self-pity over a broken heart, and it doesn't even begin to compare to what you've been through. And you're still such a great person, still so nice, and, still have a good attitude. That's like, amazing to me. I feel so selfish." I sobbed.

He put his hand on my knee. "Well, we can thank Jet and Celia for me having a good outlook now. They saved me from myself, dude. After I got out of the hospital, I was like, daring people to kill me, I was lookin' for it. I put myself in every dangerous situation I could find, and got in fights a lot an' shit. I still can't figure out how I lived through that period," he smacked his lips and shook his head. "Shit, I even played Russian Roulette with this biker's .38 one time on Quaaludes, and I played chicken with a car over on West Beach one night, and the guy I was challenging rolled his car over a sand dune to miss me, barely."

I looked over at him, wiping the tears from my eyes, "God that's so awful! I want to make you happy. I don't want you to ever feel pain like any of that again."

He smiled at me, reaching up to wipe away a new tear from my cheek, "You do make me happy, Danny. Celia said we could be happy together. That's what I'll focus on, what she said about that-- hey, there's the exit!" He pointed urgently.

I reacted automatically, swerving into the off-ramp, barely missing the bright yellow barrels. Ty laughed and whooped-- my heart missed a beat or two, or three. When I caught my breath, I asked him where he lived.

"In a trailer over in the po' folks section. I didn't tell you I was trailer trash, did I?" He laughed, "Hell, it's pretty fuckin' obvious though."

"Hey, I've lived in trailers too. We even lived in a run down residential hotel in Tulsa when I was nine, kinda like skid row. All three of us in one tiny room. The Bel-Air. Sounds so elegant. I remember when my parents wanted to get it on, they would drop me off and pick me back up from the movies at the mall. I saw more movies that summer..." We laughed. "So, how is it you go to Friendswood High? It's not even in the same county."

"Well, hell," he snickered, "I guess I gotta tell you all my bad-boy shit, huh?" He grinned, "I got kicked outta League City High for hitting a teacher. A fuckin' dumb ass coach teaching American History, and he didn't give a shit about it, which was ok with me, cuz I didn't give a shit about it either. But one day, I got there late, and he started raggin' on me about disrespecting him and the class and shit," he made mocking faces as he talked.

"So then he starts goin' off on me, telling me what a loser I am, saying I'm stoned all the time in class-- which wasn't true-- and saying shit like I couldn't think with all this hair pullin' on my brain and shit, makin' everybody laugh at me." He was telling it light-heartedly, but I could see the anger just below the surface.

"He told me I'd never amount to anything, that I'd be working at Burger King when I'm fifty. So, like, everybody's laughin' at me, and I just lost it. I fuckin' hauled off and decked him. He got up and slammed my head into a desk, then some jocks broke it up. I got kicked out, and he got suspended for a month-- with pay. Mother fucker," he muttered.

"So, my cousin lives in Friendswood, and she got me enrolled there. I go when I can, but it's kinda pointless. I mean, I don't have near enough credits to graduate, and I ain't gonna be goin' to high school when I'm nineteen, no fuckin' way."

"Wow! You are a bad-boy, aren't you?" I grinned at him, "Maybe that's what draws me to you. Maybe I need some bad-boy lovin'." We both cracked up, as I surreptitiously reached over and squeezed his big ol' dick through his jeans, drawing my hand away quickly as we came to a stoplight beside another car.

"MMMmmm..." He moaned and grinned widely at me.

He directed me to the edge of town, not far from the high school, to a run-down trailer on it's own lot, with several car and truck hulls perched at odd angles on blocks, amid parts, refrigerators, stoves, and several piles of beer cans in the tall weeds. I spotted the remains of a tree house, and thought of Ty as a child, growing up in that horrible "family". I parked on the road, instead of pulling in the rutted muddy driveway. We sat there for an awkward moment.

"So, when will I see you again?" he asked, timidly.

"Umm, tomorrow I gotta help my dad with some shit... Oh hey, my birthday is Monday! I wanna go to a bar! I'll be legal!"

"Yeah, that sounds good, but what kinda bar you wanna go to? I mean, there ain't no gay bars out here, dude."

"Oh wow, I hadn't even thought about that! Holy shit, we could go into Houston and go to a real gay bar!"

"Yeah, I know all the bars in the Montrose. I'll take ya to the good ones," he winked again. "Wanna go to a leather bar and piss on some guy in a bathtub?"

He saw my shocked expression and laughed, "Just kidding... But really, it's there if ya wanna see it, at Mary's."

"What, a woman runs a bar for gay men who piss on each other?"

He laughed so hard he had to hold his side, "Yeah, Fanny Farmer-- only Fanny is a leather dude-- he ain't no drag queen! Oh baby, you got a lot to learn!"

I saw the door to the trailer open, and a really big, rough looking man in a greasy blue work shirt stepped onto the sagging wood porch. I knew it was his dad, but he didn't look anything like Ty. He had a big beer gut, and short dark hair. He stood on the porch and looked at us. I wanted to run over and punch him in the face.

No, that's not true. What I really wanted to do was cut his throat. There. I admit it. In my heart, I really thought at that moment, that I would be capable of something like that, with such a horrible, cruel and evil person. I was seething with rage at him, while trying to look calm and casual, so he wouldn't start anything with Ty when I left. Ty had been facing me, and looked that way when he saw the anger in my eyes.

"Yeah, that's him. It don't look like he's drunk-- yet. Kinda unusual for a Saturday."

His dad saw it was Ty, gave a scowl and went back inside.

"Fucking asshole." I muttered under my breath.

"When did I tell you his middle name?" He chuckled, drawing my eyes back to his, "You got a pen to write your number?"

I dug in my backpack and wrote my number on a piece of paper.

"What about yours?"

"It wouldn't do any good to have it. I never answer the phone there, and if my mom answers, she'll treat ya like shit, and won't even tell me you called."

"Oh. Well... Oh, on my birthday, it's kind of a tradition, that I go out to eat with my parents. Will you come with us? Please?"

He looked askance at me, "You gotta be kidding! You want your parents to see you with this trashy longhaired stoner? I don't think that's a good idea."

"Sure it is! My folks are nice, and I want them to meet you. They aren't like, judgemental like that."

"Danny, the first thing they're gonna think is I'm corrupting you, and getting you t' do drugs-- which I fucking did! Oh shit, what am I doing?! I am corrupting you!"

I thought he was joking and laughed. Ty didn't even crack a smile.

"It's not funny, Danny. Man, I'm nothin' but fuckin' trouble to everyone I meet. Man, I started dragging you down the first fuckin' day I met you. You don't deserve that, you're too sweet and nice. What was I thinking? I wasn't fucking thinking, I never do. I'm sorry, Danny..." He looked down glumly at his knee.

My head was reeling. He was serious! I had trouble getting my words together fast enough, "I-- uh-- BulLSHIT!" I yelled in the confines of the closed up car. He jerked his head up. I looked him in the eyes and tried not to sound pissed, "Bullshit. I didn't do one fucking thing I didn't want to do. You rescued me. You have no fucking idea how much you did for me in these two days. I'm falling in love with you, Tyson, don't back away from me now!"

"But, but you would never have done acid, and skipped school, and all the other kinda shit I do, 'cept the sex," he flashed a grin he couldn't help, but the serious look quickly returned.

I gripped his arm and nodded my head. "And I was just waiting for you to come into my life and show me all that. It's not like I wanna take acid again. I mean, I might someday, but I'm not like, drooling for drugs or some shit now. You haven't "Corrupted" me! You expanded my world some, but that's a good thing! And you loved me, you made love to me, and I made love to you. That's not corruption, Ty. I want to be with you, a lot." I tried to drive the point home, and continued, "And I want you to meet my parents. I'll, set it up, like, tell them about you-- none of the bad stuff-- just what a good guy you are. I'll play on their sense of, you know, fairness, so they don't see just the hair and that image. It'll be fine, trust me."

"Oh man, I don't know. That could be real uncomfortable," he said pensively.

"They're really nice, Ty. They'll do everything they can to make you feel comfortable. Like I told you, I don't have any friends, and they know it. And, after the last few weeks, they'll be so glad I'm happy, they'll like you before they even meet you. Please say you will?" I pleaded.

"Ok, ok. I'll do it, if it's that important to you-- but we might hafta stop at the first bar we see afterwards, straight or gay!"

I laughed. "Oh wow. It's like, my first date! My first date is with a gorgeous, sexy guy who I'm falling in love with!" I gushed and giggled like a silly schoolgirl.

"Hey little boy, you know I'm just gonna try t' get in your pants, dontcha?" He leered at me.

"Boys only want one thing! I'm so fucking glad I'm a boy too!"

When we stopped laughing, he opened the door and stepped out, leaning his head back in, "So what time should I call you?"

"Well, call me tomorrow? I don't wanna go a whole day without hearing your voice."

"I wanna kiss you so bad right now..." He gazed longingly at me.

"I wanna kiss you too-- among other things." I blushed.



He stood watching as I drove away. I watched him shrink in the rear view mirror, standing in the mud, watching me disappear.

When I got home, my thoughts were on my birthday date with Ty, so I was bubbly and up. The folks were so glad to see this, they didn't press for details of my stay the night before or anything.

I chatted happily with Mom about where we'd go for my birthday, and we settled on Louie's On The Lake, in Clear Lake City.

"Uh, Mom, I want my friend Tyson to go with us, 'k?

"Sure hon, that'd be nice."

"I'll buy his dinner, I know Louie's is expensive."

"Daniel, don't be ridiculous! We wouldn't dream of inviting a friend of yours without buying his dinner too."

"Great, Mom. Um, Ty is a really great guy, so, uh, I don't want you to think differently when you see him..."

"What do you mean?" she turned her head to look at me, holding the whole chicken up to cut, knife poised in her right hand.

"Well, he has real long hair, but he's a good person."

"Oh." She turned her eyes back to the chicken. "Does he, do drugs?"

"Honestly, yes he has. But I don't want you to think that just because he's done some that I will too," I mentally crossed my fingers. "He's been through a lot of bad stuff, with his family an' all, and he's turned his life around. He's getting it all together, so, you know, don't like, grill him with questions or anything, ok?"

She leaned against the counter and looked at me, trying to figure out what I was working toward. Fact is, I'd never had a friend I brought into a situation like this, so she'd never had to try to figure out my motives in this context, like a parent would. She considered it all, and looked at me with a look I couldn't figure out from her either.

"Ok, hon," she pulled some skin off the chicken and continued, cautiously, "So, you just met this boy Tyson?"

"Yeah." I went ahead and sat on a barstool and watched her. I knew she just had to ask me about him-- it was in her nature-- and I figured it was better to get it over with now, than wait 'til Monday night.

"Do you know any of his friends?" she asked, and casually added, "Do you know his girlfriend?"

"What?" I couldn't figure out what she was after. "Yeah, I've met some of his friends. I don't think he has a girlfriend right now. He talked about one from before, but I don't think he has one right now."

I was getting suspicious and defensive and very uncomfortable lying to her. Why the hell would she ask me something like that?

"Do his friends do drugs?"

"I don't know, Mom, it's not something I go around asking people," I retorted.

She picked up on the defensive tone in my voice and let it drop. There was an awkward silence, then I excused myself and went to my room.

Ensconced in my bed that night, I hosted a conflict convention. How could I possibly sort all this out?

First, there was Jerry and all that. The heartbreak, still loving him, the suicide spell, the rescue by Rachel, that whole period, even Mr. Janke and his kindness.

Then there was Tyson, the weekend, the wonderful feelings, the uncertainty of falling in love again, while knowing I still had a problem with Jerry, which is what Celia talked about. There was Tyson's past, the terrifying ordeals he'd been through, the physical and emotional abuse. It's like I took it on myself. It hurt like hell just to think about it.

But I had to admit, I really was turned on by Ty's "Bad-boy" persona. I kept picturing over and over in my head: Tyson standing shirtless on the beach that night, fist raised in the air defiantly, challenging the speeding car barreling towards him, snarling like Billy Idol and throwing his head back, arms open wide, waiting for the impact, hair blowing in the ocean breeze and lit afire by the headlights. The car-- I pictured as a `70 Dodge Charger for some reason-- swerves, barely missing him and rolls over the dunes a couple of times-- no one hurt, of course-- and Ty is standing there in the moonlight, conflicted with the sense of power from winning the challenge, and the sense of defeat from the car missing him at the same time. I understood it. I identified with it. And it just turned me on: My guy, living on the edge, strong and wild, fighting the world... A survivor.

The other things he'd told me were too scary to contemplate, like playing Russian Roulette, and the man tying him up in his basement, and his dad... Those images sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to my eyes.

But, at least there's one conflict that's been sorted out: I'm not conflicted about being gay anymore. I'm real happy about that now that I've sampled the wonders of gay sex and love. There's no way I can ever dream of denying how much I love sex with guys ever again, after Jerry and Tyson.

And believe me, I knew how lucky I was that both of them were so phenomenal in bed! I had read articles in some of my mom's Cosmo's. One woman described most men as "Monkey-fuckers", hop on, hop off, oblivious to the wide spectrum of pleasures lovemaking has to offer-- and high school boys, with their inexperience, I was sure, would generally fall in that category. So I was lucky as hell there. Love, well, that's a whole `nother matter... So far, it just hurt, or was confusing.

But when I think about all the people now in my life-- I'm a lucky motherfucker! Knowing what Ty's family, or even Jerry's, for that matter, are like, I'm so lucky to have my parents. There's Rachel and Ron, Mr. Janke, Celia and Jet-- all these wonderful people suddenly helping me along. And there's Ty. I really don't have that much to be conflicted about.

Well, I have two major things: Being in the closet to the world and my parents, and Jerry. I can handle the closet thing and my parents for awhile, but Jerry is causing me way too much anguish, and it's only him that stands in the way of my loving Ty completely. Yeah, it all comes back to Jerry.

If I can just get over him completely, if he'll just stop haunting my dreams and waking thoughts, I could open up and be happy, with Tyson.

Quarter to four in the morning. Thought maybe I'd stop having this dream after the last couple of days. Don't remember having it at Jet and Celia's house. Shouldn't have to keep having it.

He has a tear in his eye, every time. Every night the dream, sometimes twice. He's sitting, towel around his waist, forlornly facing away, on a tile bench in a large steam-room. I call his name and it comes out mangled sounding, like "Eirie" echoing lazily around the room. Jerry slowly turns his head toward me, looking back over his shoulder, and there's the single tear escaping his eye. He looks so sad, and my heart just cries and physically hurts, and I can't make myself move toward him and I don't understand why I can't move and it just-- hurts. It hurts so bad.

I try to think of myself as becoming an adult, but I feel like some helpless kid, and I really don't understand what's happening at all. Oh I guess at it, but, man, I don't really understand a fucking thing. And it just doesn't seem fair, and I can't handle this roller coaster of pain and joy, discovery and heartbreak, and all my other fears and worries. I'm whining here, I know, but shit...

All I want is a little happiness. I don't need to be happy a lot. You know, here and there, a period of real happiness, even if it only lasts a month, or a couple of weeks solid. Something to balance out all this other. Then I could handle the pain and loneliness, knowing I'll get a little joy down the road.

And I really don't think it's too much to ask. I'm not a bad person. I haven't done anything bad to anyone. I've never been mean or spiteful. I think I deserve some happiness.

Maybe I even deserve Tyson. But that probably is too much to ask. I know I can't expect love to sweep me off my feet twice in a row, in the space of a month. Surely what I'm feeling is lust, infatuation, desperation. My history tells me I'd better not expect it to work out well for me. Celia as much as said it probably wouldn't work out.

What about Jerry? What the hell do I do? I feel like I need to talk to him, get everything out. Like, if I could say what I feel to him, it might settle it once and for all. But I get the feeling he's not letting go of me. It nags at me, it's the feeling of that dream. Like unfinished business.

Ty called Sunday evening from a pay phone. I took the call on my parents phone in their bedroom. I had never needed a phone of my own. I decided to go get one Tuesday. We talked for a couple of hours.

When I asked him how it went when he got home, he didn't want to talk about it. But we laughed and talked about all kinds of other things. It was wonderful. I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a casual, rambling conversation with a friend, or anyone, on the phone. Actually, I never had.

My schoolday Monday was definitely different. It was like I was floating on air through it. For one thing, at least five people said "Hi!" to me-- I guess because I was glowing in anticipation of my date-- which was amazing to me, and lifted me even higher. I even carried on conversations with two people I didn't know. I was disappointed that I didn't see Tyson, though. Mr. Janke noticed my happy mood and I told him it was my birthday, and may have said something vague that may have indicated in some vague way that I'd met someone.

After I ate my lunch, I went out to the commons and sat in the shade of a scrawny little tree by myself. I heard someone walk up behind me and turned my head to see Jerry, towering over me about two feet away-- well I saw his bulge, then looked up into his eyes. When I saw it was him, I reflexively shrunk away from him-- like I expected him to hit me for some reason-- then I nearly fell over twisting around to face him. I'm sure the look on my face was just stupefied-- or maybe just wary.

"Happy birthday, Danny," he said softly with a strained smile. It sounded like he meant it, but there was a sad tone to his voice-- and he must have noticed my initial reaction of shrinking away from him, because he backed up a foot or so.

I was caught completely off guard and nearly speechless, nearly. My heart fluttered and sped up as I looked up into his deep brown eyes, losing my perspective. Finally I responded,

"Uh, thanks." My eyes involuntarily trailed down his body and back up into his eyes. I blushed at my inappropriate behavior and looked down at his feet. Then I got the courage to look back up at him.

"Uh, how did you know today was my birthday?" I asked cautiously. Was that the best I could come up with? I had so many fucking things to say to him!!! And that's all I could get out.

"Mr. Janke told me."

"Oh." I couldn't put together anything else to say. He stood there in the uncomfortable silence for a moment, the chatter of other students twenty yards away wafting into our space at times. He shifted nervously from foot to foot and spoke,

"Umm... Maybe..." He squinted off into the distance, trying to figure out what he wanted to say, and apparently gave up. "Well, look, I gotta go... Happy birthday, Danny." He glanced down at me, turned and walked away.

I sat there, dumbfounded, watching his graceful stride carry him away 'til he vanished around the corner of J building. I had blown the chance-- the first time he'd been ready to talk-- though I had no idea what he wanted to talk about.

'What was that about?! He actually sought me out to wish me a happy birthday? Mr. Janke just happened to tell him? What-- did it just come up in conversation? He was nice to me! Why? He was trying to say something else and couldn't quite get it out... "Maybe..." Maybe WHAT? Jerry was nice to me! That doesn't really mean anything though, I guess... I'm going out with Tyson tonight. Ty's my boyfriend now. Yeah, Ty is my guy.'

I kept telling myself that over and over again. And over again. And so on and so on...

We had arranged for me to pick Ty up at the Winchel's Donuts about a mile from his house, at five, Monday evening. It had been a beautiful day, and was dusk when I got there twenty minutes early. He was sitting at the back of the parking lot, almost behind the building when I pulled up. I was so excited I could barely contain myself-- until he turned to face me. My heart fell into my stomach.

The whole left side of his face was every color of the spectrum, eye swollen shut. I just lost it. I sat there in my car and broke down, unable to let go of the steering wheel. He limped over and got in. My crying set him off, and he began crying too. I couldn't even look at him. I reached over and squeezed his hand, but I couldn't look at him. It just killed my soul to see it.

I didn't know how to deal with this. It was one thing to know it had happened before-- it was entirely different to see the immediate results of it.

After a couple of minutes, he gained control of himself and spoke to the window, "I got here a couple a hours ago to call you and tell you not to come, but then I didn't have a fucking quarter... and I just couldn't make myself go inside and ask anybody for one," he sobbed.

"Man, I didn't want you to see me like this..." He was obviously still in pain. "He started in as soon as you left on Saturday, but I thought that was it, and it wasn't bad. Yesterday he didn't fuck with me... Ya know, I tried to stay away from him all I could. I left after I talked to you last night and didn't come home 'til late. But he didn't work today, and I didn't have a way to school. He found me and just started in on me. I tried to fight back, but he's so fuckin' big, and when he's not drunk..." he faded off.

I was crying and trembling and didn't know what to do or say. I felt so utterly helpless. He turned his head way around so he could look at me out of his good eye,

"Don't think I can go to no fancy restaurant like this," he laughed through his sobs, trying to smile at me. I made myself look at him and winced, visibly. He turned his face back to the window.

"I like t' think I can take care of myself, ya know? I ain't no pussy, ya know? I've kicked guys asses that were bigger than me before. But, man, he's just a big mean motherfucker since he was a kid. I'm gonna kill him someday, Danny. And Mom. I'm serious. It's like she loves to watch him do it to me, like she's so fucking glad he's not hittin' her, she like, promotes it."

"Ty, you gotta get outta there!" I was just short of hysterical.

"Yeah, no shit. I was plannin' on goin' on back to Jet & Celia's house Friday, before I met you. When she talked to me on Saturday, before we left, Celia warned me I shouldn't go back home, she told me it would be real bad," he folded his hands, brought them up under his chin, and mumbled, "but I didn't wanna stay down there and be that far away from you." He bowed his head and cried silently.

I leaned across the console and buried my face in his chest and cried more-- unaware I was pressing against more bruises. He didn't let on. I couldn't say anything. I was in shock. I was devastated, and felt like it was my fault somehow. I felt his teardrops fall on my hair and just held onto him.

It was getting darker out, and I realized we had been in that position for a good while. The donut shop had been empty almost the whole time, so the parking lot was deserted. I released Ty slowly from my grasp and sat up. I made myself look at his face and maintain.

"Let's go," I said as I started the engine.


"First to my place. I gotta talk to my parents. Then, I guess I'll..." I didn't know what the hell to do.


"Well, I first thought, just get you outta there, like to Jet and Celia's-- but I don't wanna be that far away from you either."

"Got any ideas?"

"Well, you could at least stay tonight at my house."

"You outta your fucking mind?! It was bad enough to think of meetin' them like I always look-- what the fuck would they think of me like this? How would you explain this?" He pointed at his face.

"I don't know, I guess just tell the truth. They can call the cops on him..."

"Look, Danny... I'm, kinda... I can't let people know about this. No way I can go to th' cops-- they don't like me an' I don't like them-- an' he'd tell 'em I was a faggot, so they wouldn't do anything anyway. It's like he has the right t' do it to me cuz I'm queer. Hell, they'd probably join him in kickin' my ass. But I can't let people know my old man beats the shit outta me. I got my pride, ya know? I always told the doctors I got in fights with guys my own age, or beat up by gangs and shit. One time when he broke my leg by stomping on it, I told them I got hit & run by a car. When I was like, twelve, a neighbor called the cops and I just lied like hell and told them I got beat up by a group of kids-- 'course, I knew he'd kill me if I told the cops then. But there's no way I could tell anyone my dad does this to me."

"Why do you stay there?"

"I don't fucking know, man. I was goin' through a kinda mind-fuck period when I went back. It's like I'm beggin' for it or something, like I deserve it for being queer... I mean, It's not like I've ever been a good son or anything. I've always been trouble," he sighed. "I'm just a fuckin' bad seed, dude, just a fuckin' black hole that sucks everything good into some kind of oblivion. Danny, I destroy everything good that comes near me. I don't mean to... I mean, I don't do it on purpose, it just happens, cuz of me... I don't understand my fucked up mind sometimes," he shook his head slowly.

"This last time, Jet And Celia told me they wanted me to stay, and I just fuckin' left, like I couldn't handle things goin' smoothly for a long period, ya know what I mean? But I think it was also that I get afraid I'm gonna cause somethin' bad t' happen t' them if I stay around too long-- and they don't deserve that. And he only fucked with me once or twice in all this time, until we got back Saturday. I don't know what it is about me, like, do I just have to have some kinda bad shit goin' on in my life just to know I'm fuckin' alive or somethin'? Man, I never should've dragged you into my life. I'll just drag you down with me..."

"Would you stop that shit already? Look, I may be innocent and naive or sheltered, but I'm not just plain stupid. You've told me enough about you t' know what I'm gettin' into. I know it's gonna be different than anything I've known, but I care about you, and I think I love you-- so stop pullin' away and thinkin' you're 'ruining' me!"

We drove toward my house. I had no idea how to handle this situation with my parents, I just hoped there was something they could do to help. All I knew was that I sure as hell couldn't leave him there, and selfishly, I wanted him with me. We pulled up at my house and sat there for a minute. He didn't want to go in. I understood why, but felt the trade off, of having him safe, where he could get help and I could be with him, was worth the embarrassment he would only feel at first. I finally convinced him to come inside.

The folks had only arrived from work a few minutes before we arrived, and I could hear them in their bedroom getting ready for our big evening. I helped Ty to my room, sat him at the desk and told him I'd be right back. I knocked on my parent's door.

"There he is! The birthday boy! Where's your friend?" Dad started in a real happy tone, trailing down as he saw the look on my face.

I didn't answer him, looking around for Mom. I could hear her in their bathroom.

Dad tried again, "What's wrong, Bud?" He stopped laying out his dress clothes to pay full attention.

"Ummm... I don't think-- I can't go out tonight, Dad. Something's come up."

"What? What's the matter?"

Mom came out of the bathroom and stood there in her robe, with a towel around her head, looking alarmed.

"Mom, ya know how I told you Ty had a rough time-- a rough family life? Well... He's hurt pretty badly..."

"How bad? Where is he?" Dad started to move around the bed with urgency.

"He's in my room. It's pretty bad. I don't think he needs to go to the hospital, I hope, but it's bad enough he can't go anywhere, and I don't wanna leave him alone. He's gotta stay here tonight. He's got nowhere to go right now."

"Let me have a look at him." Mom started toward the door. I stepped in front of her,

"Look, Mom, he's really embarrassed at how it looks, and ashamed for anybody t' know his own dad did this to him. So, kinda go easy with him, like, don't question him about any of it, ok?"

She saw the tears building in my eyes and hugged me.

"I understand what you're saying, Danny, don't worry."

She tossed the towel from her hair onto the bed and followed me to my room. Ty had his back to us when I opened the door. All we could see over the chair back was his disheveled hair.

"Ty? Can my mom look at your bruises? She wants to see if there's anything she can do for them."

He didn't turn around. "I'll be ok. I've had worse. Please, please don't worry about me, it's your birthday. You guys go to dinner, ok? I'll be alright. I can wait outside `til you get back."

"Tyson? Hi, I'm Lidia Dresden. I just want to look you over. I just want to see if there's anything serious, ok?"

He didn't move at first, then he turned his head slowly toward her. I watched the color drain from her face as her head jerked back.

"Oh my God in Heaven!" She gasped. "Come here. Come to the bathroom." She turned in panic and saw my dad in the hall, "Ben, we need to get him to a hospital!"

"No! No hospital! I'll be ok," he stood and limped over to me. "It's not as bad as it looks. Believe me, I've been through this enough times, I kinda know when something's seriously wrong."

Mom stood there with tears flowing. Dad stood in the doorway, eyes wide in shock I think. He just moved aside as Ty put his arm around my shoulder and I helped him to the bathroom. Mom recovered and ran after us, digging furiously in the linen closet for first aid stuff, sniffling and wiping her tears away.

In the bright bathroom light, I saw that some of the array of colors on the side of his face was dried blood, and there were several small gashes. It seemed to me that either his dad hit him with some object, or he had to have hit him many times in the same place with his fist, to cause this much damage.

I kept having to wipe the tears away from my eyes as I watched my mom gently clean out the cuts. Dad stood in the doorway, a mixture of sympathy and anger in his eyes. I don't think he'd ever been exposed to this sort of thing, and didn't understand it any more than I did. Mom was in her element now, nurturing and saying comforting things to him as she spread salves and ointments on his injuries. He was sitting on the toilet lid. At one point, Mom was stooped over ministering his cuts and she started losing her balance, putting her free hand on his side to steady herself. He winced and grimaced in pain.

"Ooh, sorry hon," she stood up and looked knowingly at him. "Take your shirt off, Tyson," she ordered soothingly.

He looked up at her with his open eye, debating whether to comply, then resignedly gave in and unbuttoned the stained and blood spotted shirt, letting it fall off his shoulders behind him, looking down at the floor in shame and embarrassment.

Mom gasped and covered her mouth. A pained expression overtook my dad's face as he squinted and held the doorjamb. His ribs and entire left side were a mosaic of purple, red, black and blue. Fortunately, Ty was looking at the floor and didn't see any of our reactions.

Mom started applying salve to his side immediately. He jerked away at first, then settled into letting her apply the medicine.

I had to run out of the room. I didn't even see his back. I ran into my room and stood crying, just unable to conceive of brutality like that. Dad came in and put his hand on my shoulder, tears running down his cheeks.

He choked back his rage and said quietly, "My God, what kind of Goddamn animal could do that to his own son?"

I turned and threw my arms around my dad, so grateful for him and my mom. I cried into his shoulder as he held me tightly.

Mom did all she could for Ty, applying all kinds of salves and antibacterial stuff to his injuries. Her and Dad kept trying to get him to let them take him to the hospital, but he adamantly refused. She told me to help apply some more salve to his chest, side and back before he went to sleep, and instructed me to help him take a luke warm shower.

Since we weren't going out for dinner, Mom got busy in the kitchen and fixed a great dinner. We all sat down and ate in awkward silence. No one could think of much to say. Ty was very polite and thanked Mom, for looking after him, and for dinner.

And since she had ordered a cake at Louie's, but had cancelled the reservations, Mom improvised and found a candle and stuck it in a Sara Lee coconut cake that had a piece out of the corner already, and they all sang happy birthday to me. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. I was overjoyed to be with Ty and my parents on my eighteenth birthday on the one hand, and just devastated over what Ty had been through on the other, so it was a mixed bag.

Dad had already asked me if Ty was eighteen, and since he was, they couldn't call Child Protective Services and have his dad arrested for beating his minor child. I already knew, from what Ty had said, he wouldn't press assault charges against him. I promised Dad I'd ask again, to be sure, but I just knew he wouldn't.

After dinner, Ty and I went to my room and sat on my bed. We talked, and I got him to tell me some of the details of what had happened. He tried not to let on, but apparently, seeing him with me in a nice car and all had set his dad off, like he couldn't stand to see Tyson having a friend. And of course, he was calling me a little faggot too and goin' on and on about Ty sucking my dick and taking it up the ass, while kicking him in the ribs and head...

"That's one of his favorite things, t' punch me in the face and stomach `til I fall down so he can start in kickin' me with his steel toed work boots. He just loves doin' that, especially when he can land a good one to my head. I still can't hear out of this ear yet," he cupped his right ear to see if he could hear anything out of the left one, cocking his head to listen to the radio, which was on fairly low. He made a face, like `nothing yet'.

"I'm so sorry I ruined your birthday, Danny," Ty's voice was low and I could tell he was struggling to keep emotion out of it.

I shook my head, "Having you here made it the best birthday I've ever had, Ty." He raised his functional eyebrow and I had to laugh. "I'm serious! Yes, it was hard to feel good about anything, knowin' what you just went through-- and Mom and Dad were just about as torn up about it as I am-- but just having you here and safe with me is the best birthday present I could have, even if my present is `damaged'," I smiled at him. "At least I can look at you and not cry now, but it's just so hard for me not to be able to hold you."

"Man, I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't of been there for me, Danny. I definitely don't deserve you, but God I wanna hold you too and..."

I kissed him, carefully. His lips were hardly bruised at all, so he was able to return the kiss. I wanted so badly to hold him and take away his pain and never let him go, and it was so frustrating to have him right there and not be able to.

I noticed the kiss was different. It was a soft, tender, loving kiss, and there was no doubt we both enjoyed-- needed-- it. It was afterward that I realized the difference was something like: every time we'd kissed before, I had subconsciously given each kiss some level, or degree, of sexual association. Even a peck on the cheek had a little sexual tag to it for me. That's not a negative, or anything like that; it's just that every kiss he'd given me ranged anywhere from an instant mild arousal, to unbridled passion.

But this kiss was just loving, and caring, and sharing. Different qualities to it, not better, or less, just different. I had to do it again. Apparently, Ty felt it and needed it too. We kissed for a long time. Yeah, I got hard, but it was still the same kind of kiss, and I appreciated the difference for what it was. I don't know, I just felt like it was a little step forward for me, a growth thing. Probably silly of me, but it just struck me that way at the time.

"Well you must love me if ya still wanna kiss me when I'm broke down and ugly," he chuckled and caught himself when it hurt.

He'd been holding icepacks to his face and I had been holding a cold water bottle to the worst area on his side. I helped him to the bathroom and helped him take a luke-warm shower, gently, lovingly soaping him up and rinsing his body with a weak shower stream. I kissed every single bruise and cut, hoping my loving would help them heal faster.

I dried him just as gently, and-- with my parents sitting in the den-- I sucked on him in the middle of the bathroom. It was just a little gentle nursing, and I wasn't trying at all to get him off-- I don't think he could have gotten into it quite like that anyway-- it was just to comfort him and express my love, since I couldn't hold him. I applied more salve to his battered body-- the bruising extended down his butt and legs as well.

"I love you Tyson."

My doubts were gone.

Around ten o'clock, I went out to get us a couple of Cokes. Mom and Dad were watching the news.

"How's Tyson doing?" Mom asked as I passed by.

"He's doing fine, Mom. Um, thanks for all your help, and for bein' so nice to him-- you too Dad."

"We were glad to help, Bud, but he really needs to get to a doctor to have all that checked out. It really looks to me like there's some serious damage there. We can't foce him to go, but maybe you can work on him until he agrees-- just to be on the safe side," Dad was still so worried.

"Lord, you hear about this sort of thing all the time, but it's just horrifying to see it up close and in person, the poor boy," Mom shook her head slowly. "Are you sure he won't press charges if we call the police?"

"Yeah, he just refuses t' do that. I don't really understand why..."

"Oh! With all this happening, I almost completely forgot..." Mom got up and dug an envelope out of her purse and handed it to me, "This was wedged in the screen door when I got home. It looks like a birthday card for you! But it was hand delivered, 'cause there's no stamp, sender name or return address on it."

I looked at the envelope. It said "Danny Dresden" in careful cursive writing. I opened it up to find a picture of a sad dog, tail tucked between its legs on the front of the card. It said "Sorry I have to miss your birthday bash..." and I opened it to see, "I hope it's a real tail wagger!" with a cartoon-style drawing of a tail wagging, with "Happy birthday!" written below it. Then, handwritten in capital print letters below that: "Happy 18th birthday Danny! I need to talk to you. I came to talk to you today, but when I saw your reaction when you saw me, it really shook me up. It made me realize even more how badly I've hurt you. I'm sorry Danny. I really am sorry." And below that, in a barely legible scrawl, "Jerry"