Plan A: A Kiss at Night

by Driver

Chapter 8

If you do the right thing, even with the wrong attitude, you've still done the right thing

July worked its way into August. That didn't mean much to me personally. At work, the maintenance crews worked shorter hours because things were dry. Aaron, and everyone else outside of work, was thinking about going back to school, though not too much.

Harlan threw a picnic for the employees at his house one Thursday, and I fell in love with his place. It was an old colonial farmhouse about ten feet off the road, but he had twenty eight beautiful acres out back, and his land butted right up to a state park.

The picnic was catered, with just about anything you could think of for munching on during the afternoon, then giant steaks for dinner, cooked to order. There were games and prizes in between, and I had a lot of fun playing horseshoes, volleyball, and softball.

It was interesting for me, because by then I fit in just as well with the office people as I did with the maintenance guys and the field crews. Aside from Harlan, I was probably the second most popular guy in the company, and I loved it. These guys, any of them, could look to Evan Smiley when they needed something, and I could usually take care of them right away. Even when things couldn't happen immediately, I never made anyone feel like I was shutting them out personally. I was Evan and I'd make it happen, no matter what it took.

Well, to temper things a little, I did manage to lose the contents of my pockets when I tried to play poker that night. My last twelve bucks went out when I got scared and folded my three tens to Hokay, who turned out to be holding a pair of fours.

I made most of my money back making idiotic kid bets with guys who should have known better, but I was taking a dollar each from lots of them instead of cleaning out anyone in particular, and they'd get it back from their own friends someday, if they stayed sober enough to remember how I'd fooled them.

There were door prizes, too, and I won the big mama of all boom boxes. It came complete with a five inch color tv, cassette player, dvd player. I'd gotten away from television because Eli monopolized the one in the apartment, but maybe now I could at least watch the news.

I had a good time at that picnic, good enough that I'd called Aaron to tell him I was staying late. That was a first, and probably a disappointment for Aaron, but he'd be ditching me in a few weeks for family vacation. I didn't want to hold evil thoughts, like I was getting even in advance, but that's kind of how it worked out.

Aaron's father's family owned a lake house about two hours away, and they took turns using it in a disorganized kind of way. The last two weeks of August were a family reunion type thing, and this year Aaron's parents were in charge. That meant they'd be gone for two full weeks and three weekends, coming back on Labor Day.

I'd known about that for some time, and figured I'd deal with it when the time came. I loved Aaron, and I'd miss him, but I was used to people having plans. People went places, it was a fact of life. Billy and I were invited up for the middle weekend, so it wouldn't be that bad. I'd had fifteen years without Aaron, so I was pretty sure I could survive a week without him on either side of a dedicated weekend with him.

I anticipated that weekend, though. I spent a lot of time with Billy and Dean during the first week, and on that first Sunday we killed in baseball, winning by fourteen to two. Ironically, we had our best game without Justin. I'm no slugger, but I got a two-run homer myself. Blame it on the weather, maybe. It was hot and dry, but that was the same for both teams. Justin was our best player, and he wasn't there. I think the rest of us just took up on that. We ran a little faster, threw a little harder, and stepped into a few pitches that we would have ordinarily watched go by.

My homer came on a two-strike pitch, and both strikes had been swinging. The third pitch was a chest high fastball that had been on my Christmas wish-list since I was ten years old. I tagged it, and knocked it out to hit the right field foul pole and bounce into play. It wasn't anything to write home about, but that's how the whole game went. Things were all in our favor for once, and we were all taking chances to make it happen. It was what my Jr. League coach called a 'striving' game.

I was striving for sure, and even got to play third for three innings. I managed two good plays to first and one to home from there, so when the game ended I was one smiling Smiley.

Baseball's a game, and it's often frustrating, but once in awhile it comes together on both ends, and it had been one of those good days.

A bunch of us went for ice creams, then to Billy's for a swim. By then everyone knew my name, and I knew who they were, too.

It's easy enough in sports. Play well and you're a good guy. You get to screw up, of course, just not too often. The good news was that I fit right in with the other players, and I did because I played well. I liked the guys okay, but there wasn't much friend material there, mostly because of different ages and interests. Billy and Huck were friends, though, so I was doing fine.

I'd gotten pretty close to Huck because he liked to sip coffee at the book store with me, and he liked to talk about things he was reading. It was new for Huck to do that, but he really had fun with it, and I liked having someone to go with. Neither Aaron or Billy were much interested, so it was something Huck and I could have by ourselves. He was a natural, too, and he had fun. Huck was a big kid, and very black, and just his being in the Attic generated some interest in our table.

We were pretty much regulars there, and we had met some interesting people. It was a neat place to begin with, especially with the rooftop deck in the summer. Huck and I were the only high-school-age kids who were regulars, but that didn't mean much. There were people not that much older than us, college kids who stayed in town to work during the summer, and they were good to meet.

It was the older people I liked best, and I sensed that Huck did too. They'd been around, living things that were taught in our History classes, and they'd read books when they were new that were now considered classics. When one of them talked to us, it was special to both Huck and me, and we'd go home thinking better things about the world than we brought in with us. We had some good times there, anyhow, and with Aaron away we killed two nights in the book shop, and had two good times.

I missed Aaron a lot, but I kept busy, and each night I'd eat a kiss at bedtime. It wasn't an empty gesture, either. The kiss, even a chocolate one, had real meaning, and it helped me feel at one with Aaron even in his absence. It had been Aaron's idea, and the simplicity of it held real beauty for me.

When the Friday for my weekend with Aaron came, I hurried through my after-work cleanup, checked quickly on Shane, then hurried up to Aaron's house with my bag, which had been packed the night before. Billy was already there waiting, and Dean was with him.

We all had gym bags full of clothes and whatever, and Dean had his guitar with him, and seemed in a really excited mood. I was glad to see that, and anxious to see Aaron after a week without him.

We didn't wait long, then Aaron's Aunt showed up with her big Mercury. This was the aunt, Lilac if you can believe it, who gave Aaron a hard time for being gay, but it was hard to believe when I met her.

She was pretty, friendly, and funny, and obviously looking forward to a good time at the lake. I'd chipped in with Billy for a lot of expensive hot dogs, and Lilac wanted to know about those. She wanted to know if Dean was still writing music, if Billy was still playing ball, anything at all about me. I thought she was really a charming person and a lot of fun, at least on the surface.

I was in the front seat with Lilac, and as the ride went on the conversation died out. I looked at her, and she was really a nice looking woman, probably no more than thirty. I didn't look back there, but I had the feeling that Billy and Dean were asleep in the back. I said, "I'm friends with Aaron, you know. He thinks you don't like him."

Lilac gave me a quick, sharp look. "I like Aaron just fine, Evan. He's decided that he's a homosexual, and I can't deal with that. It's immoral, sacrilegious, and it's just wrong. That says nothing against his abilities as an actor or anything, just about him as a person."

I winced. "Aaron's a great person. I love him."

She glanced at me again, saying coolly, "You're the boyfriend, then? I've heard about this."

She put her attention on the road, and I waited for her to say something else, but she didn't, so I watched the scenery go by. I didn't really know what to think, much less what to say, and silence seemed like a good choice. A relative handful of Aaron's family and friends knew about me being gay, about our relationship, and Lilac's reaction was the first bad one I'd encountered.

I was absolutely positive it wouldn't be the last such reaction, and it could have been a lot worse than a cold shoulder. I wanted to ask her some things, but figured I'd save it for another time rather than risk ruining the weekend.

The boredom of the highway had me almost asleep when I heard Lilac say, "I don't like that Aaron's a homosexual, Evan." She looked at me again, "You seem like a nice boy. You should be more careful of who you choose for your friends."

I sat in disbelief for a second, then gasped out, "You're wrong, Lilac! Aaron's safe with me, and I'm safe with him, because I'm just like him." I smiled grimly, "Nobody has any worries!"

I could see her jaw drop, and I kept it up. "Aaron's a wonderful person, Lilac. I don't know what you think gay means, I really don't. It's just same-sex as far as I can see, and I don't see how it can compromise anything for people who aren't gay. We don't run around eating your babies, we leave that for crocodiles."

I could see her face stiffen, so I kept it up. "I don't get it! You're all friendly until you find out who I love." I was making myself upset, "Stop the car here, lady. Let me out, okay?"

To my marginal surprise, she pulled over. Billy and Dean woke up as I was getting out, and I gave them a very quick explanation.

They got out of the car, too, which gave Aunt Lilac nothing to go on with, so she pulled completely off the road and sat there in the driver's seat for awhile, then got out and walked back to where we were sitting on the guard rail. She glared at me for a second, then lightened up. "Listen, you do what you want, I'm just your ride." She rocked her head back and forth, "We'll survive this," she giggled, "I'm pretty sure of that." Her look got a little more serious, "It's different generations, I suppose. Get in the car, boys. I'm not judging you, just reacting."

I found it in me to smile at her, "That's pretty smart to say."

She smiled back, "Maybe I just got smarter." Her smile softened, "I'm not your judge, Evan. Don't throw this in my face and maybe I'll get used to it someday. My upbringing has prepared me for none of it. My sister and her husband seem to accept it as nothing out of the ordinary." She suddenly grinned, "They're strange dudes, though. They deal with people every day, they're more used to it than me."

I looked at her on the way back to the car, and asked, "What do you do for a living?"

"I work on a computer help desk," she shrugged.

I laughed silently to myself, wondering what kind of service she gave. Or maybe people's little failings with their computers had nothing to do with them as people. What would a help desk person know? Nada, really. They'd figure out male or female from just the voice, after that it was a computer problem and it probably didn't matter much who was having it.

Aaron's father was a claim person with an insurance company, and his mother worked in the office at a private school. They both worked with people problems all day long, and at least Lilac understood that much. When people called Aaron's father, it could be for almost any reason, and often enough it was a broken windshield or something. Other times, though, it was a house fire or a serious accident where people had been hurt and maybe killed. He had to have the people skills to deal with all of those things and more, and to give the appropriate responses.

It's too bad when a vandal breaks your window, quite another thing when you've run over someone, or your house has burned to the ground. I knew Aaron's dad was good with people, because he'd always been good with me. Both his parents just accepted me as Aaron's friend, even his boyfriend, and they did it like it was a good thing. I was making Aaron happy, and that served to please his parents.

If I ever brought Aaron home, my parents would have court orders out in a minute to keep him away from me. They'd revile him, kick him out of the house, make me promise to never see him again.

I knew all that, and I was happy to be away from it. Aaron and I knew how to behave in public, and it was kind of sad that we had to know, but that was reality. That was the thing. We didn't really talk about it, we just knew where we could be a couple and where we could just be friends.

Aaron got figured for gay by most people right up front, but like I've already said, if I wanted people to know I'd have to tell them. That's something that has to be taken in context, too, because I didn't want to waste my time running around telling people I was gay, not anymore than I wanted to spend time explaining why I was hanging around with Aaron.

People could use their own heads to put two and two together if they felt some need to. It didn't feel like my duty to explain, and if anyone watched me and Aaron together for more than just a few minutes, there would be nothing left to figure out. The way I felt, it was our business, our way of existing. How Aaron and I felt about each other had absolutely nothing to do with how either of us dealt with the rest of the world.

It also had nothing to do with Aunt Lilac, who had been talking while I paid no attention. Not a rude person by nature, I apologized by way of saying, "I'm sorry, I was thinking about Aaron and not paying attention."

That elicited a little laugh from the back seat, and I turned around to see both Billy and Dean grinning at me, Dean with his right thumb up. I smirked and turned back to Lilac, who was just pulling off the exit. I said, "I'm not rude like that, and I'm really sorry for not listening. You said something, and it went right past me."

She shot me a glance, then looked forward. "It wasn't anything important, believe me. We're just minutes away, so save your thoughts for someone who wants to hear them."

I turned my head to her, and she was focused on the road again, and I just kind of steamed for awhile. Asshole, I thought. That's what she is. Then it dawned on me that I didn't know what I was dealing with that weekend. It was Aaron's extended family: uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents. For all I knew, Lilac could have been the best of them.

I felt defiance building up in advance, and crossed my arms over my chest. It could be a tough weekend, when all I wanted from the whole world was to see Aaron again, to spend a million moments with him.

That's how our time was, just moments usually. Moments where we could hold hands, sneak a kiss, maybe a little sex. It was all we could do, what with everything else going on. I had my job, Aaron had his acting and his other friends.

We were something to each other, and it was hard to define, but still real enough. We were two boys who loved each other. We had no idea where it would all lead or how we'd get there, but I think we both felt a future together, even though it was an undefined one. It was good on one side, with Aaron's parents and his brother, but it got weak fast as we moved away from that. His own aunt was a case in point, against us just on principle.

I'd abandoned my own family in advance, certain that they'd fall into the Lilac column or worse. There would be nobody pushing the Smiley family towards acceptance. Well, Aaron's dad had promised to try. I was stuck with Avril Lavigne's 'Complicated'. Chill out , what you yelling for? If you could only let it be, you would see.

That's how I felt; complicated. Is a same-sex attraction all that weird? Does it not happen in nature? It's just a human thing? So what? Who cares?

Well, Lilac cared for one, though it didn't really bother me too much. I mean, what other woman under forty drove a Grand Marquis? Who exactly is the weird one here? Lilac looked good, would have fit well in a convertible, maybe a Corvette or a Mustang, even a Saab. No, she chose a Mercury, and that gave her the weird points all to herself. She probably disliked Avril, too. I'd rather be anything but ordinary.

I was glad when we got there, because thinking about things kind of got me down, and anticipating Aaron had me horny as hell, and a bummed out horn felt really weird. I was sexed up and turned off at the same time. I wanted to be happy to see Aaron, and I wanted him to know I was happy, but I was afraid of how fucking Lilac would feel.

Well, as a human person I had to decide when we pulled into the property, and 'fuck Lilac' seemed like the right strategy. She'd driven me there, nothing more than that, so she could go for a boat ride or something. I was Aaron-deprived, and ready to remedy that right off the bat, and that's how things worked out.

I couldn't help but notice how much most of the people there looked like each other. Adults, for the most part, looked like Mr. Castle, and kids, also for the most part, looked just like Aaron and Justin.

As stressful as the ride had become with aunt Lilac, seeing a yard full of Aaron heads made me smile. All ages, the kids resembled Aaron in a pretty remarkable way. I could see him as a toddler, maybe a nine year-old, another kid around twelve, some older ones. It didn't matter, even the girls had that look, that resemblance, and I loved it. Welcome to Aaronville! No, too small, more like Aaron City!

I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat when that car stopped and I jumped out. The very first thing I heard was, "Evan!" and I turned quickly to see the real Aaron right there smiling. I grinned, and with a little hop I was there hugging him.

We kissed, not hard, but right in public.

Oh, that felt good to me. Aaron! There is not a thing on Earth that could make a hug and kiss with Aaron an evil act, something despicable. We'd leave that to Aunt Lilac's imagination, and later at that. For the moment, it felt too good to let go.

Love was new to me, but it involved Aaron, and the feelings that coursed through me were both mine and Aaron's, and they were all real.

Kissing in public like that, it was new, and it was kind of variably accepted. We sheepishly backed away towards the lake, aware that there was more than one Lilac there, though there was still some acceptance, too.

The house was set up weird. It looked nice enough from the outside, it was the layout. The road around the lake separated it from most of the property. The road and the driveways were right there, but across the street there was about a hundred feet of lawn down to the lakefront.

That's where I headed with Aaron, but we were soon accosted by a boy and girl who looked like blonde Aaron's. "Where you going?" asked the boy.

Aaron turned around, "Swimming. Give us some time, okay?"

I turned to see Billy and Dean right there, and the girl smiled at Dean. "Hi," she said.

Dean looked startled, "Chrissy? Hi..."

She smiled, "Dean ... it's been a long time."

I was taken by the looks of the boy and his sister. They both looked like Aaron but different, both blond and with dark skin. It was the facial features that were the same. Brown eyed blondes, the boy around twelve or thirteen, the girl probably seventeen, and really striking. She had sort of Aaron's face, but that dark skin, brown eyes, and blond hair, and her brother looked just like her.

It was an overload. Chrissy looked good enough to make me consider going straight, and the little brother could turn me into a pedophile. He was like Aaron, but younger and blond, but he had the exact same face, right down to the hesitant smile. So did Chrissy, though she was a year or two older than Aaron and me.

I stood there, feeling stupid and enjoying the scenery. Aaron finally noticed and introduced me. "Um, This is Evan, and .... um, I hope I can say this. He's my boyfriend."

There were hesitant smiles all around, then Aaron said, "This is my cousin Chrissy, Evan. She's from El Salvador." I could see him thinking, "Her mother is my dad's sister, my aunt." He put his hand on the boy's shoulder, "This is Reno. Renolfo, really. You're family, so you can call him Fofo!" Aaron smiled so sweetly I could have cried.

"Fofo?" I asked. "Do you hate that?"

Those brown eyes gleamed, "I like Reno." There was a slight accent, nothing serious. El Salvador, I had to think where that was. Central America. I was distracted, because they grew good looking boys there.

I smiled, hoping for some time with Aaron, but that didn't seem about to happen because a whole crowd of people were crossing the road. I touched Aaron's shoulder and looked at his face, and he grinned. "Say hello, Evan, then we disappear. I talked too much this week."

That was an understatement. I met people ... aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. They all said they already thought they knew me because Aaron and Justin hadn't shut up, not once.

It was funny enough, I guess, but Aaron and I stayed put, and as people migrated to the lakefront we talked with them all, then when Aaron thought the last had gone by, we ran back across the street to the house.

I started to feel like a little sneak, but nobody else was there, so Aaron showed me where he'd been sleeping that week, and where I might sleep, except probably not. Then he locked the door and we did what a couple of excited, fifteen-year-old gay boys might be expected to do. Not just once, of course, because we didn't get interrupted.

Being with Aaron again felt so good to me, and he said the same. Absence had changed nothing other than the intensity of our feelings. There was a new word that kept coming into my consciousness ... need. Needs physical and emotional, needs that were new to me in reality, though they'd been just under the surface for a long, long time.

Now I was laying there with Aaron, kissing kind of sloppily and getting hungry for some food. I snickered, "I love you, you know. I think you're stuck with me."

Aaron smiled and sighed happily, "And I love you, Evan. I've never felt like this. I really love it when I think of love in general, then your face is there in my mind. Is it like that for you? It's my favorite way of passing time when you're not here."

I loved when Aaron said things like that. It was like the chocolate kisses, because I knew I wasn't doing it alone. Aaron was there at the other end, thinking about me just as I thought of him. It was one of the big things I loved about Aaron, the way he thought. He'd have an alternative strategy somehow. If you couldn't be there to kiss, you could eat a kiss.

I liked real kisses, and kissed Aaron again, saying, "I'm getting hungry."

He smiled, "Me, too. Let's go."

As we were pulling our clothes on, Aaron said, "We can sleep here, or we can camp out later. With you, this room will have six people in it. Camping can be just us, and if you want to get really romantic we can go by canoe."

I had to grin. Aaron was really an open person, and an innocuous one, I guess. His words, 'we can go by canoe' were so much Aaron! I loved it. In his head, we were going somewhere, somewhere alone, and if we had to go by oxcart we'd get there, but we were at a lake so we could go by canoe. And we could get romantic.

I loved it. Everything was built in to Aaron's thinking. We could go by canoe because there were such things. It was assumed that one of us could figure out how to run one. Just like he assumed we could find some place private to canoe to, if we could canoe at all without drowning ourselves.

I was the guy with the bad thoughts. Nobody drowned in Aaron's view of things, which I was taking to. Good things would come our way because we were good guys, it was that simple. We were both smart, competent, friendly. What could possibly go wrong, even if you tossed the odd Lilac into the mix every now and then? I told Aaron how she reacted to me, and he merely said, "Yup."

When I thought it over, he was right. I got treated a certain way by some people because I was thought of as a jock, and that could be a good or bad thing depending on who was doing the thinking. I also got treated in specific ways because of my smarts, and that treatment would vary with the treater. I know I'm not the first smart baseball player ever born, but certain people would get that impression.

On the surface, it's funny, but when you have to live it the humor wears off fast enough. By some people, I got treated like I could write without knowing how to read, and by others it was the opposite, and it had little to do with me. No, it was their expectations of me. Scholarship didn't go with athleticism in a lot of people's minds. You had brains or brawn, not both, and many couldn't accept the double dose.

That's really why Chris and I had become good friends, and why I thought so highly of Billy and Huck and Justin right off the bat. Those guys made me not-so-weird, because they were all both bright and athletic. There were lots of people like that, but there's also a common denominator, and on the one side, if you can throw you can't possibly think, and the other side says if you can think, you can't possibly throw a ball.

All that ever proved to me is that there are stupid stupid people, and stupid smart people. I didn't think of people that way really. The guys on my teams who were less than bright could be real decent people, just like the smart kids who couldn't do anything physical weren't necessarily nerds. There's some in-between, but not a lot. What falls in that territory looks like contempt, but I don't know how real it is. It's easy for a dumb kid to deride intelligence, but there's a fair amount of jealousy mixed in, just like when a smart kid calls a linebacker a dumb jock. Neither wants to give up their own skills, but they wouldn't mind a dose of the other's. In the meantime, it's high school, so you deride freely and worry about your own deficiencies in private.

Then there are people like me. Born blessed, probably. I was smart, athletic, good looking, gay and in love. So why does one word make that less than a perfect sentence? I could leave out any combination of things and not make the rest invalid. I could be smart without being athletic, ugly without being dumb. All those adjectives but one should add up to a happy person, especially the bit about being in love.

That's the problem, though. I love Aaron, and Aaron is a boy just like I am. Our kind of love is actually illegal in a few places, not very highly thought of anywhere.

I had sort of a problem with it. I loved Aaron, and loved him happily. I'd thought out my own gayness in every way I could, checked every resource I had, and couldn't find any fault to put on myself because I was gay. My problem wasn't me, it wasn't loving Aaron or even being attracted to him, it was the perception that brought from other people. People like Lilac, and people like my own family.

I didn't have any idea how many others at that particular gathering would be like Lilac, but it was time to find out.

When we were dressed, I hugged Aaron to me, "How bad will it be?"

He giggled, "What be?"

"How many Lilacs?"

Aaron kissed my cheek, "I don't know, don't worry about it. Lilac's the only loud one." He pulled back a bit and looked at me, "She gave you a hard time?"

I said, "Not that bad. She didn't call me names or anything."

Aaron grinned, "Yeah, but I bet you could feel her distaste! Why'd you tell her?"

I kissed his nose, "Because she started in on you. I'm telling you, I was all excitement about coming here, and she starts in telling me I should watch myself around you, and I got pretty pissed."

Aaron pulled me close, "No violence, though, right?"

I giggled, "No, I'm not in the habit of attacking people who drive Mercury's. They have their own problems."

Aaron burst out laughing, "You're bad! Let's go eat!"

With that, we headed outdoors, and Aaron said, "Wait'll you see the food we have! They've been making stuff all week!"

He wasn't kidding, either. We picked up a couple of lawn chairs and headed to the lake front, and I got my first good look at it in the dark.

They had a long dock, that also had an ell to it. On the long side, there were a speedboat, an open boat with an outboard on it, and a hobie cat. In the ell there were a few canoes, another Hobie Cat, and a rowboat in the water, a couple of kayaks on the dock.

Otherwise, we saw people eating, and Aaron and I had come late to the party. There were long tables set up with food, and at Aaron's insistence, I looked first, because there was too much to even consider a bite of everything.

It's bad when you're as hungry as I was. Everything looked good, and some discretely fingered licks told me it really was good.

Other people were getting seconds and thirds, and I listened to their recommendations, but the old saying 'your eyes are bigger than your stomach' held sway, and I just piled up what looked good.

Billy and Reno came over as soon as Aaron and I sat down, and they gave up trying to talk until we had some food in us. I noticed Dean sitting with Chrissie and probably her parents, then noticed when he got up to get his guitar. Chrissie got one, too, as did her father, and they all started tuning up, then playing kind of for themselves.

Aaron and I got seconds, then went up for some dessert. After we ate that, Dean called Aaron over to sing, and they started making music in earnest.

Billy sat in the chair that Aaron had just left, and Reno sat on my knee, and we listened. The music, with the lake as a backdrop, sounded beautiful. Dean was using a pick. Chrissie and her father were playing finger-style, and just the guitars would have been enough. Chrissie's father started to sing, and he had a really nice voice. Reno whispered to me that what they were playing was an Andean folk song, and I could somehow picture that. The sound would have been perfect in a cold, smoky, mountain setting. It sounded fine at a warm lakefront, too, and others knew the song and joined in.

After that song, Dean showed the other players some chords, then he started playing something I hadn't heard before, and Aaron sang it. It was a pretty song that I liked immediately. Chrissie harmonized with Aaron at one point, and their voices together could have sold records, I swear it.

I was also blown away by Dean's guitar playing. I'd pretty much heard one song out of him, and I'd loved it from the first time I heard it. Now he was playing other things, and playing in a way that just astounded me. He had such a flair for unexpected, pretty things, and what he did sounded so smooth and unforced. It was modern music no doubt, but he was playing it as smoothly as a classical player might.

It was a rude crowd, and there were a lot of people not paying attention, a lot of conversations going on.

Still, there was a core who were listening raptly to the music, and we gravitated closer. It ended up being like a little concert, the conversations behind us and the entertainment in front.

I loved it. Aaron was always happy when he could sing, and that talent wasn't his alone in the family. Chrissy had a pretty voice, and her dad had a powerful one that he reigned in when he wasn't singing alone.

I hadn't really paid attention, but Reno was now right on my lap and leaning back into me, and I had my arms wrapped loosely around his tummy.

This is where things got weird. I'd been paying all my attention to the music, and therefore none of it to Reno. How we got where we were was all an accident of fate. It was no big deal. He was a smaller kid, and he sat where he could find a place.

But. Well, butt. His butt was on my dick, and the second that I realized that, my very own dick tried to push him off, which he noticed. I got embarrassed, and tried to ease Reno off me, but he kept pushing back. I finally stood up, rudely dumping him forward, and he turned, "Why'd you do that?"

I said, "Sorry, I had a cramp," and started walking in a little circle like I was trying to get rid of one. I was thoroughly embarrassed, and Reno seemed bewildered, so I guess he hadn't noticed. That made the whole thing kind of amusing, but in a private kind of way.

When I sat back down, it was beside Reno, and I put my arm across his shoulder when he leaned into me. Except for his size, he looked and felt like Aaron, and that was enough to make me like him.

When the music stopped, Aaron came back, then we sat on the dock for awhile by ourselves.

I don't know how I could have been any happier. It was a beautiful, warm night. We'd eaten well. The music had been wonderful, and the people were fun to be around. Aaron and I were sitting on the edge of the dock with our feet in the water. Dean and Chrissie spoke briefly to us as they untied a canoe, then they paddled out into the darkness, leaving us alone again.

"How do Dean and Chrissie know each other?" I asked.

Aaron said, "Chrissie and Reno stayed with us for two years when things were bad in El Salvador. I was kind of young, but I guess they were pretty good friends. She's the reason Justin asked him to come up with you guys."

"That's nice," I said. "They made some fine music together."

Aaron smiled, "Yeah, they're both good." He leaned into me, slipping his arm around my back. I wiggled my feet in the water, lazy and happy with the whole situation. "Want to kiss me?" Aaron asked shyly.

Did I ever! I looked around, and seeing nobody, pulled Aaron's shoulder until we were facing each other, then leaned in for a smooch. I swear, we both purred. Kissing was something Aaron and I had learned together, and we had done our lessons exceptionally well.

We managed to feel passionate without actually trying to eat each other, too. Aaron was a sweet, gentle boy, and he passed the gentle part on to me. We could kiss very sexily without mouthly violence, and without a lot of noise.

That's exactly what we were doing when we were interrupted by the clearing of a throat, and we both spun around to see grandpa Castle there. God, even he looked like Aaron, though I suppose it was the other way around. He was sagging a little, but still a handsome man in his way. He had to be around eighty, but he had a great smile, and he flashed it at us. "Evenin', boys. That was some fiiiine singing, young Aaron. You take after me in that respect. Your dad could never catch a tune." He winked at me, "You're the Evan boy I've been hearing about all week. Glad you could make it."

I felt relieved that he hadn't said anything about the kissing. I said, "Thank you, sir."

He shook his head, "Don't be so formal. That's never been my style. Anyhow, if you're fucking my grandson, I think we should be friends." He smiled sweetly and held out his hand.

Any words that may have formed in my brain caught in my throat. I wanted to say I wasn't fucking Aaron, I wanted to say he wasn't fucking me. I wanted to say a lot of things, but his grandfather's bluntness had caught me completely off guard, and it was all I could manage to stand and get my hand out.

He snickered when we shook. "Don't look so alarmed, Evan. I'm far past the days where anything surprises me, much less upsets me." He put his other hand on Aaron's shoulder, "Doesn't this one look just like me when I was a boy?" He saw my face and added, "Heh, that was a rhetorical question. I'll find a picture, and you can see for yourself. We're a handsome lot, us Castles. It's brought us the finest looking women forever, and I'm pleased to see that we can fish in the finest looking men, too."

Thankfully, Aaron laughed and got me out of my stare. I looked at Aaron briefly, then I could face his grandfather again. We were still shaking hands, which felt stupid to me by then, but he didn't let go, and he was smiling expectantly at me, like it was my turn to talk.

I still blanched, and Aaron said cheerfully, "Cut it out, Gramps. You're giving Evan the freaks." He took a step forward and hugged the man, whispering, "Thanks, I'm glad you understand."

For that, he got a grand-fatherly kiss on the forehead, and I was suddenly free. I got a finger in my face from grandfather, "I may be old, Evan, but I could still take you down. I feel the farce of what I'm about to say, but I'll say it anyhow, just as if Aaron was one of my grand daughters. You be good, you be kind, and you provide well, and you'll always be welcome in this family. If you do other than that, you'll be testing the bunch of us, and you'll find that it's a test you can't win."

Aaron slapped his hand away from my nose and laughed, "Stop it! Evan's not the enemy here," and he smiled at me, "not hardly."

His grandfather appeared to collect his thoughts, then he smiled at me, touching the side of my face, "Of course you're not. I'm sorry, Evan, but we protect our own." He looked down, then smiled back up at me, "Not usually so vehemently." He took a step back and looked at both of us, "You boys take care of each other, how's that?"

I stepped sideways, and Aaron and I both put our arms around each other. I smiled at his grandfather and said, "That we can do."

He nodded, and said almost absently, "I'm sure you can. Well, goodnight boys. Don't drown in this water, because I'd like to talk some more in the morning. Right now I'm tired."

Aaron let me go and hugged his grandfather again, whispering, "Thanks, Grandpa. I love you."

His grandfather patted Aaron's shoulder and nodded his head, then turned to go without saying anything else. I looked at Aaron, then smiled, "That's so cool! My grandfather would have lined us up just so, so he could take us both out without wasting two bullets. Your grandfather thinks we're fucking, and he's like totally okay with it! I'm moving in, Aaron!"

Aaron smiled, "Promise? You could lay on top of me if you wanted."

I leaned in and pulled him to me, "This is what I want," and we kissed. We didn't do a lot of standing up kisses, even though they were pretty cool. Sitting and laying down were fine, and sexier. Standing up, they were 'I love you' kisses, and they seemed special just for that.

How to put it? Love expressed when sex wasn't in the cards. That works. I loved to kiss Aaron, and I know I already said that. Still, I loved to kiss, and standing-up ones were fun. We could love in a lot of ways, and share love in a lot of ways. When we were standing up, the variety of ways just expanded. At that particular point in time, Aaron asked, "Want to take a canoe out?"

I grinned and touched noses with him, "If you know how to operate one, I'd love it."

He touched my cheek, "I'm competent. Want a life jacket just in case?"

I nodded, Aaron smiled, then he opened a wooden cabinet and pulled out two. He dropped one on the dock and said, "Turn around, I'll show you how to put it on."

I smiled and turned my back to him, loving the idea of Aaron taking care of me, even for a few seconds. He helped me into the floatation device, then pulled his own on. He had me sit in one end of the canoe, then untied it and pushed it out, rocking the boat when he got in at the other end. "Don't turn around," he said, and I could hear the paddle hit the water.

We were moving, and more quickly than I expected. "Where we going?" I asked.

"Nowhere, just around. It's pretty out here at night."

I looked around, and Aaron was right about that. There were a lot of houses and other buildings around the lake, and most of them had some kind of lights on that reflected out on the water. I could hear the water lapping up against the boat, the paddle slapping the water, and various indistinct sounds from shore. It wasn't silent, but just background noise, and I relaxed.

Well, I relaxed such as one can relax sitting on a three inch wide wooden slat, with no real place for size eleven feet to call home. Still, it was nice for awhile, then Aaron started humming and it got nicer.

After a moment, I asked, "What's that song?" I was curious because it was both pretty and unfamiliar.

Aaron hummed out the rest of the measure, then said softly, "It's called 'Out of Reach'. You never heard it?"

I said, "I don't think so. Who's it by?"

"Gabrielle is her name. It's a pretty song."

I whispered, "I like it. Keep going."

I could sense Aaron's smile, and he started up humming again. It was a pretty tune, and I was kind of mesmerized, and I felt relaxed and happy, content to say and do nothing.

After awhile, Aaron asked, "Want to go back? There's an island right here we could stop at."

I felt like an idiot. Aaron had been paddling all that time, and his arms were probably sore. I said, "Let's check it out."

In about one minute we bumped ashore, and I jumped out, pulling the boat up per Aaron's instructions. There was another canoe right next to us. When Aaron hopped out of our boat, he said, "Uh-oh. That's the canoe Chrissie took out."

"That's bad?" I asked.

Aaron's look was precious right then, so undecided I had to snicker. He took offense and said, "I don't want to intrude. There's not a lot of things two people do out here."

I understood, and asked Aaron, "Is that why we came here? Is this a seduction or something?"

Aaron blinked, "I was hoping so. C'mon, let's leave before they hear us."

Hm. I chuckled getting back into the canoe, and this time I sat backwards so I could see the boy I loved. When Aaron got in, he smiled. "Want to just paddle around? We can go back if you want."

I just smiled, "Your choice. I'm just here for the ride."

Aaron smiled, "You could try paddling, it's not hard."

"Really? Show me what to do," I said as I picked up the paddle from right in front of me. "I'm ready here. What do I do?"

I was facing the wrong way, but tried what Aaron showed me anyhow, and after a few minutes of the boat going in circles, I got it straightened out. Sort of straightened out, anyhow. Canoes don't have any inbred propensity for going where you intend them to go. That much was becoming clear, and I was getting mildly frustrated with my lack of forward progress.

Aaron helped out every once in awhile, dipping his paddle in the water when I got us turning the wrong way, but he never got negative about it. "You're doing a fine job," he said, "perfect, Evan," then, "you're getting really good at this!"

I finally said, "You are a liar! We haven't moved a foot yet."

Aaron laughed, "Sure we have." He pointed at a distant light, "We started out over there," then he pointed behind me, "and we went there, now we're here." He grinned, "You're doing fine, Evan." His grin turned evil, "Let me take over, your arms must be tired."

Uh huh, I knew that recital. Evan, the non-canoeist, was being eased out of position by a kid who loved him too much to say anything negative.

Aaron knew, and he was kind about it, just taking over the paddling and leading us right back to the dock at his place. It was there that I got stupid and stood up, tipping us both into the water.

I found my bearings and surfaced, thinking that the canoe was a really idiotic design for a boat. When Aaron popped up he was laughing, and called to me, "That was fun! You okay?"

I was in a stupid position. My feet hit the bottom with room to spare, but the life jacket thing made me so buoyant that I kept falling over when I tried to get to Aaron. I finally pulled the thing off and tossed it up on the dock, and we were together. Aaron could see that I was annoyed, and that always seemed to be a source of mirth for him, so I listened to his snickering as I sulked about the things that conspired to trip me up.

When I reached him, none of that mattered. I loved Aaron, and that was true during the day, during the night, in and out of the water, fed or not. Well, standing wet in a warm lake seemed special right then, and when we hugged we both giggled.

I waited, and when Aaron didn't say anything I got foolish and asked, "What happened to the hot dogs I brought? I thought for sure you'd want a hot dog."

Aaron looked at me and giggled, "Is that an offer?"

I snickered, "It's an offer if you want it to be one. I love you, Aaron."

Aaron sighed and leaned into me. "That's sweet, but I still don't know why."

I kissed his cheek and whispered, "I'll tell you why, then. It's mainly your johnson, of course, " and Aaron started giggling there, "but I like other things, too. Your smile, for instance, and the way you kiss, and your knees, and your fuzzy head, and your eyes. I love your voice, Aaron, both when you talk and when you sing, and I love the feel of you all wet like this. You've got a great butt, and a pretty terrific way with my own johnson." I grinned, "I'm getting silly, aren't I? That's you, Aaron. You make me all foolish, and I love every minute of it."

Aaron was giggling softly, and the resulting jiggle got me giggling, and before long we just kissed through the giggle until it went away. God, with warm water almost up to our necks, and with the resulting buoyancy, I felt practically weightless, and it was a wonderful, totally pleasurable feeling. I leaned into the kiss, then pulled back smiling helplessly, because I felt better than I ever had in my life.

What a sensation! It was the most tactile bunch of feelings I'd ever had, and the physical sensations bound up with my emotionas to overwhelm me. I got tears in my eyes, and pulled Aaron close while they fell.

Aaron said, almost inaudibly, "You're crying."

I giggled tearfully, "I guess I can be a girl sometimes, too. Oh God, Aaron. Love feels soooo good."

He squeezed me to him and sighed, "That it does. I can't believe you actually love me, Evan. I love you so much I don't know how to say it, but I love you."

I kissed his cheek, "You say it pretty well. It's not the words, Aaron, and I know what you mean, but when we're this close I don't think we have to say much. Kiss me, then let's go dry off."

Aaron laid a beauty on me, then we pulled up onto the dock. Aaron had been in a bathing suit all along, so the worst of it for him was a wet t-shirt. I was wearing wet shorts and underwear, and a polo shirt. I also had some very soggy money in my pocket. None of that mattered, and we dripped dry for a few minutes, until the coolness of the air became uncomfortable.

We picked up our sneakers and hurried up to the house, which was far from fancy, but it was pretty neat just the same. It was a big old place to start with, Aaron said ten or eleven rooms, and it had a screen porch that went clear across the front and wrapped around one whole side. There was another large, open porch on the other side, and a smaller screened one off the kitchen in back.

Almost everything in it served as a bed, and there were places for sleeping in all the common areas inside and on the porches. We walked through, greeting all the Aaron look-alikes, then changed into dry clothes and sweat shirts.

I was starting to feel a bit awkward about the looks we were getting, and I asked Aaron, "Everybody knows about us?"

He blushed, "Yeah, kinda I guess."


He smiled, "Well, I was pretty excited all week. I may have said something." He looked shyly at me, "I hope you don't mind."

I said, "Well, I already got into it with Lilac. It's just weird with everyone looking at us."

Aaron smiled, "Lilac's a bitch. I don't think anyone else cares much, since Gramps doesn't. They're just scoping us out. If it's more than that, well, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

I was shocked, "You swore!"

Aaron smiled, "I swear sometimes. You never heard it before?"

I shook my head no, "I don't think so. It adds a nice dynamic. Maybe later you can talk dirty to me."

Aaron smiled and was about to say something when the door flew open. It was Billy, who immediately put his hands over his eyes and asked, "Oops, are you decent?"

Aaron said, "No, we're eggs."

Billy dropped his hands, and both of us stared at Aaron, willing him to explain that remark. When he didn't, Billy made this circular motion with his hands and said, "I get it, I think. You mean you're good eggs, like your father always says?"

Aaron grinned, "No, we're rotten eggs. Scummy, scuzy eggs!"

I laughed, having not a clue what Aaron was saying, but Billy picked up on it. He tossed up his hands, "Okay, okay, I'm out of here. I know when I'm not welcome." With that he went out, closing the door behind him, and it immediately opened again, still Billy. "Are you sleeping in here?"

Aaron shrugged, "Here or outside." He looked at me, "Want a bed or a tent?"

I leered, "What's more private?"

Aaron shook his head, "Don't count on privacy around here, Evan. This place is about as private as a mall."

"Outside, then," I said. "I haven't slept in a tent all year."

I almost choked on those words. It didn't happen all the time, but it still happened. My old life would come back at me with a vengeance, where mostly it lurked in the shadows, hid around corners and out of sight, thoughts passing me like words said under my breath. Billy and Aaron both caught it this time, and they were on me like the friends they were. Billy hugged me from the front and Aaron pressed up behind me. I wasn't crying, although I probably could have.

I was okay, but when random thoughts hooked into me like that I got thrown for a loop. It was simple enough; tents equaled Chris, and talking about sleeping in a tent had evoked something very powerful and sudden. Chris and I had tented out hundreds of times. It was in a tent that I told Chris I thought I was gay, in a tent when we talked about my feelings so often and at such length, in a tent the first time Chris let me act on those feelings. We made each other laugh so hard, think so hard, and it was easier when we had the freedom of our own little canvas-covered space.

It's probably pathetic on my part, but getting hugs from Billy and Aaron at the same time not only brought me right out of my funk, it kind of turned me on. I was only an inch taller than Aaron, but I had three inches on Billy. He made up for his shortness with sheer power, both physical strength and power of personality. It had been a long time since I'd thought of him as short, but confronted with the evidence I just gave in to his hug.

"Thanks, guys," I whispered. "I'm glad you understand."

Billy backed up, checked me out, then smiled. "Okay, Grins. I think we have your number now." His grin turned evil, "The number I'm thinking is two, as in twice as nice, whatever." The smile weakened, "Um, don't think you have to pay lip service to me, but ... it's been a long time."

I think my eyes bugged out. Aaron still had his arms around me, and whispered, "Want to?"

I was shocked and turned totally on at the same time. I'd been attracted to Billy from day one, and he'd given up Aaron by delivering him to me. Heh, thusly giving up an 'excellent source of blow jobs'.

I turned around and whispered in Aaron's ear, "Serious?"

He whispered back, "You don't have to."

I didn't answer, but thought for a moment, then I turned to Billy, "Lock the door. Jesus Christ, make sure you get it right!"

Billy's eyebrows went up so far and so fast that I think he probably loosened them up permanently. I nodded to the question on his face, and he not only locked the door, he switched off the light.

At this point, I have to remark on Billy's constitution. He was made of different stuff for sure; a lesser man's heart would have stopped dead with both me and Aaron on him. Billy even managed to walk away on his own, although apparently without knees.

Actually, Aaron and I were pretty exhausted too, and it took us some time to even come up for air after Billy left. I was totally weirded out. I don't mean I felt bad about what we did, because that wasn't the case. No, it was that Aaron was my love, my lover, my boyfriend, and we'd just ganged up on Billy. It was strange, nothing else, and it was probably one of those things that didn't really need sorting out, just a little life experience from the far side.

Aaron said, hoarsely, "You okay? I mean, Billy's pretty big."

"Aaron," I said. "Let's not, as long as we live, ever bring this particular event up as a topic of conversation, okay?"

Aaron burrowed his head up under my arm and started laughing mirthfully. "Got it, Evan, and good thinking. Poor Billy, his dick's gonna hurt for a month."

I snickered, "I know, now shut up about it. It's you I love, Aaron."

He smiled up at my face, then kissed me, "I know. Still, Billy's a special person."

"That he is," I sighed. "Are we still sleeping outside?"

"If you want."

"I want."

Aaron smiled, "Evan!" he whispered. "I'm ready for that hot dog now."

Continued ...

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