Castle Roland

Dessert Fantasies

by Jack Scribe, of Honored Memory


Chapter 13

Posted: N/A

Unlucky For Some

Mario shuffled through the quiet house in his lounging clothes to the kitchen for a light snack. It was only 10:30 p.m. and he planned on doing some reading before bed. All the guys were out working and he didn't figure on seeing them until the following day. 'Business is good,' he thought while he looked in the refrigerator, 'especially with the gals.' The female escorts accounted for more than 80% of the revenues but he felt more at home - in several ways - with the men. 'It's like living in a queer frat house around here,' Mario thought with a chuckle as he pulled out a container of chicken salad from the fridge, 'and I'm the house mom.'

The sound of a vehicle leaving the parking area caused Mario to smile and shake his head. 'My young friend must have gotten his tubes cleaned out tonight.' He scooped some salad onto a plate and reached up to the cabinet for a box of crackers. 'This and some cheese should do it.' The back door opened and he turned around to see Cray walking in. The teen was barefoot with only a towel wrapped around his middle.

"Hi, Mario. Thought I'd have a glass of milk before I turn in," Cray said with a big smile.

"I guess that was your friend who just left?"

"Yeah...Michael. We've become good friends." Cray walked over to the fridge, opened the door and grabbed the milk container.

"From that shit-eating grin on your face, can I assume that you two figured out a few things about each other?" Mario reached for two glasses and added, "I'll have some milk, too." He decided to pull Cray's chain just a little. However, he also knew that the evening was probably important to the young guy and he needed to be supportive.

"I, ah...yep, we really did." Cray raised his eyebrows as he poured the milk. "Michael and I didn't do 'it' if ya know what I mean. Just kinda checked each other out. Maybe we shouldn't have been out there...we were just so sweaty from the class." He turned to Mario with a slightly worried expression.

"Worse things have happened at the pool, believe me. As long as you're staying here, you're more than welcome to bring a friend over. I do think, however, when it's time to do 'it', you might want to use your room." Mario winked and took a sip of the milk. "Buddy, I'm glad that you found someone at school who..."

The door banging open and a groan interrupted him. 'What the hell...?' he wondered as Brad, one of the newer guys, staggered in with a black eye, facial cuts and caked blood on his shirt. Mario knew that Brad had been booked for late afternoon.

"Oh, my God...I'm a fuckin' wreck," Brad said as he leaned against the counter. "It was so wrong."

"Cray, wet a towel with some warm water." Mario grabbed Brad to support him and slowly walked him over to a chair. "Sit down and let's see what the damage is." Unbuttoning Brad's shirt, Mario noticed the pants were torn and he was wearing no shoes. "Lean forward a little so I can check you out."

"The fucker beat the shit out of me before he raped me," Brad grunted as he carefully sat on the chair. He moved around to balance himself on his glute muscle. "I'm a little sore."

"This was your date?" Mario had never seen such damage to one of his guys. The clients were always screened when a credit check was run to avoid problems. Cray handed over the wet towel and Mario lightly wiped away some of the dried blood from Brad's face.

"Oh, ouch," Brad yipped with a grimace, "That's tender. No, I finished the job and decided to stop by the Ranch House for a drink before coming home. I was minding my own business when a big dude sat next to me. He was friendly enough...although rather gruff...and the bartender seemed to know him. Called him Ben. The guy came on to me but I told him I wasn't interested. I excused myself to go to the 'john'. The next thing I know is that someone whacks me from behind and I black out."

"Cray, find the ice pack in the freezer and bring it to me." Mario continued to gently wipe away the blood and survey the damage. In addition to some deep cuts that needed stitches, he was pretty sure Brad's nose had been broken. "How are you on your backside? You mentioned rape and that you're sore." He knew Brad was an experienced bottom and could take a sizeable a point. Mario was pissed and would seek out the asshole who had done this. 'But, first,' he decided, 'I gotta take care of Brad.'

"There's blood down there. I think he probably tore something when he rammed me." Brad looked at Mario and started to cry. "The fucker was an animal. I came to and he had cuffed my hands. He dragged me out by the back door of the bar to his truck and then took me back to his house. All I remember about the place was a dark room with a lot of S & M shit - really creepy. He used me as a human punching bag before he pulled off my pants."

"Okay, that's enough for now." Mario didn't want Cray to hear any more details. "You need medical attention and I'm going to send you over to the private clinic. Cray, go over to Mr. Ed's apartment and tell him that Brad's had an accident and needs to be driven for emergency medical attention. Tell Mr. Ed that I'll call our doctor and explain everything."

"Right away." Cray gave Mario the ice pack and trotted out of the kitchen.

"Do you have your wallet or has this Ben asshole got it?" Mario gently pressed the ice pack against Brad's eye and held it. "How the hell did you get away?"

"The wallet's in the right cargo pocket on the pants leg." Brad reached down, pulled the flap loose and retrieved the wallet. "I think the guy thought I was passed out once he did me. I heard him walk away and head to the bathroom. I grabbed my pants and made a dash for it once I heard him pissing. My feet are pretty fucked up because I didn't have time to find my shoes."

"You'll heal. But we gotta get you fixed up so you're pretty again," Mario said with a low chuckle. He wanted to ease the tension in the room. "How the hell did you get here?"

"Hid across the street and watched this guy's house. When he didn't go after me, I got over to the nearest busy street and flashed a hundred dollar bill until a cab stopped. I knew that I'd have to show some money for anyone to pick me up. Damn...that was my tip money, too."

"Don't worry about that. Let me make a call while you hold the ice pack." Mario went to the kitchen phone, looked and dialed. "Hi, this is Mario. Tell Doc that I'm sending over one of my associates. He needs stitches, a nose re-set, and checked for other injuries...especially in the anus. He'll be there in ten minutes." He heard a 'We'll take care of him' reply and hung up.

"Oh, dear," Mr. Ed said as he entered the kitchen with Cray following behind. He surveyed the situation and added, "It seems I'd better put some towels on the seat of the SUV. I suggest that's the best vehicle to use. Maybe Brad would be more comfortable traveling with flip-flops or socks. Those feet look pretty raw."

"Flops would work. Maybe Cray could get my black ones. They're in my closet."

"Be right back."

"Grab a fresh pair of boxers, a tee and shorts. Mr. Ed can take them along when they go to the clinic." Mario returned Cray's fleeting nod and turned to Brad. "What you're wearing is completely trashed. After you're cleaned and fixed up, you can change into fresh stuff." He didn't want to add that Brad might be staying at the clinic for observation. "Buddy, I'm going to take your driver's license and talk to the bartender. I want to positively I.D. the fucker who did this to you and make sure he understands what he did was wrong." The Ranch House was a gay bar that Mighty Joe Strollo operated for the 'company'. Mario knew that there would be no problem getting the bartender to cooperate.

"I...I don't think I'll be much value to you for a while," Brad said in a low voice.

"Don't worry about that. We'll get you fixed up just fine." Mario picked up the phone again and hit a speed dial number. "Johnny, hi. Need your help. Grab one of your guys -maybe Boone - and meet me at the Ranch House." Boone was an ex-football player who made most men squirm when they saw his linebacker frame.

"Any problem there?"

"No. But some cocksucker worked over one of my guys pretty bad. Need to investigate this A.S.A.P." Mario knew that Johnny understood that time was of the essence.

"See you in 20 minutes."

"Here's some clothes and the flops," Cray said as he returned. "I grabbed stuff I thought I'd seen you wear before. If I took your roomie's clothes, let me know."

"Good eye...they're mine," Brad replied with a quivering smile.

"Cray, get some large towels and take them with these clothes out to the SUV. If there's nothing else, I'll take Brad to the clinic now." Mr. Ed walked over and helped Brad stand.

"Can I go with Brad and Mr. Ed?" Cray asked before he took off.

"It's actually better if you stay here. This is pretty well wrapped up for the night and you've got school tomorrow. Thanks for your help." Mario didn't want Cray to know more about his business than necessary. He was relieved that Cray hadn't heard his phone conversation with Johnny moments earlier. He walked up to Brad and said, "I've got everything under control. Let Doc patch you up."

"I'll call you on your mobile telephone if there's any problem," Mr. Ed said as he slowly walked Brad to the door. Cray had grabbed a couple of pool towels and held the door open for the two men.

Mario watched everyone depart before he went back to his bedroom to change. He took off his lounging clothes and stepped into a pair of black jeans. After completing his all black ensemble that included a muscle-tee, leather vest and shoes, he went out to the garage. 'Might as well make it an all black evening,' he thought as he opened the door of the black Mercedes S550 sedan and got in. 'There's going to be a lot of black and blue with red mixed in before we're finished.'

The drive to the Ranch House was brief and at 11:30 p.m. he was parking the car in the shadows of the strip mall complex where the bar was located. Even though it was Tuesday, several cars were parked near the entrance. Although Mario didn't go to the bars very often, he always felt good vibes at the Ranch House. It was an added plus that he received a percentage of the monthly profits. As he walked through the door, he felt several pairs of eyes being focused in his direction - for only a moment. 'Guess I'm not Mr. Right material tonight,' he thought as he sauntered to the end of the bar. He nodded to the nearest bartender and watched him approach. 'Not bad,' he judged. 'I could use him in a pinch.'

"Hey, gorgeous," the bartender said with a bright, slightly effeminate voice.

"Hi. How about an orange juice," Mario replied. He visually inventoried the blond behind the bar and liked the low-cutoff jeans, construction boots and a tight wife beater that covered only his well-sculpted chest. 'Nice six-pack, but the lisp's gotta go.' He pulled out a twenty-dollar bill, set it on the bar and watched the bartender pour the drink.

"Here ya go." The bartender winked and added, "Outta this?"

"Yeah. One question, first. Do you know a customer by the name of Ben? Big guy whose a little on the rough side. He was in here earlier tonight with this guy." Mario pulled out Brad's driver's license from his pocket and gave it to the bartender. "Ben was with him."

"I didn't see him...but I'm the closer tonight. If he was in earlier maybe the other bartender - Paul - knows him. Paul's also the manager. Um, you a cop, or something?"

"No. Friend of the man who owns the bar, as a matter of fact. Ask Paul to step over here...and keep the change." Mario smiled, knowing the tip would be mentioned. He watched as the first bartender walked over to an older man and spoke briefly in his ear. The older man looked over, nodded, and approached Mario.

"Understand you're looking for Ben. Who's asking?" Paul said in a tone that was neither belligerent nor friendly.

"Mario's my name. I'm an associate of Mr. Strollo." He watched Paul's expression change from indifference to solicitous in a nano-second. Mario decided not to add that he passively supervised the business operations of the bar. Others were always sent if there was a problem.

"Oh, that's different. I don't talk about customers to other people...ever. He's a regular who stops in after work almost every night. Good handyman who can do most anything. In fact, I've used Ben on some odd jobs at my house."

"Look at the picture on this license. Was Ben with this guy tonight?" Mario pushed over the driver's license to the bar ledge. Paul picked it up and studied it.

"Hmmm, yeah. This guy came in by himself and Ben joined him. I don't think there was any chemistry but Ben was persistent. The young guy went back to the 'john'. I was busy with some other customers and didn't see Ben after that - just his money on the bar to pay for the drinks. Guess they hooked up and left by the rear entrance. That's where Ben always parks."

"What do you know about him?" Mario felt lucky that this Ben character had done work for the bar manager. 'Maybe there's a contact number,' he thought. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Johnny and Boone entering the bar. Mario nodded to them.

"I know he's into rough sex. This is only an after-work bar for him. He seldom finds the type of 'sub' guys he likes here. He hangs out with a leather guy by the name of Jack. He's another mean dude." Paul saw the two new men approach the bar and swallowed hard before turning on a smile. "Gentlemen, what can I serve you?"

"Hi, guys." Mario stood and kissed Johnny on the cheek. Then, he made a fist and bumped knuckles with Boone. "I'm having a juice." He admired his team. Johnny's 18" neck, pumped up pecs and monster bi-ceps sent out a silent message that said, 'Beware'. Boone, on the other hand, was just huge. The African-American had a rough, handsome quality that a sports fan would find a macho sense.

"Two more juices," Johnny said.

"The bartender was telling me a little about Ben," Mario said when Paul went over to the refrigerator. "I'll make it fast. Ben's the asshole who beat up one of my boys. He's not a client...just some bad dude. Turns out that Ben's a regular here and we might be able to get a contact number from the bartender. I want to take care of this tonight." Mario nodded when Paul returned with the drinks. "Paul, do you have a business card for Ben? We need to see him tonight. You understand me?"

" lips are sealed. I've been here five years and Mr. Strollo takes good care of me. Give me a minute. I've got his card in a box by the cash register." Paul walked back to the center of the bar.

"Ben grabbed my guy, against his will, and took him to his place. He beat the shit out of the guy and raped the poor fucker. Ben's got to be taught a lesson."

"Here it is. Ben Crandall. It's got his cell number and a home number. Will this help?"

"Absolutely." Mario gave the card to Boone and said, "Cross-check the home number with our service. I want an address."

Boone took the card, nodded and left the bar. In the meantime, Mario gave Johnny a complete rundown of events and a proposed plan of action. By the time he was finished, Boone returned and gave Mario an index card with an address written on it. Mario read it and returned it to Boone.

"Boys, I'll follow you." Mario pulled out a couple more twenties and put them on the bar. He retrieved Brad's driver's license and waved to Paul as they left. "Thanks" he said with his lips.

The drive to the Sahara/McLeod Drive neighborhood took only five minutes and the two-car caravan parked on the quiet, deserted street a little after midnight. The three men approached the older, one-story house and paused as Mario walked ahead. He noted that a truck with the name "Crandall Construction" on the door was in the driveway and a light was on in one of the windows. 'Probably the asshole's bedroom,' he decided as he waved the other men forward.

The three men walked up to the door. Boone and Johnny moved to an area where they wouldn't be spotted and Mario rang the bell. He waited for a minute and then knocked on the door. All three men were wearing tight-fitting leather gloves.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming," a voice said from behind the door. "Who's there?"

"Jack said that I'd find what I like with you," Mario replied. He smiled with a pleading expression, knowing that Ben was looking at him through the peephole.

"You must be good if Jack sent you over."

"Oh, I'm very good." Mario heard the deadbolt lock disengage and the door opened. Facing him was a large, naked brute of a man, wearing two nipple rings and a P.A. Mario judged the man to be around 35 and in decent shape. He smiled as Ben stepped back.

"We'll find out, boy," Ben growled. "Come in." His hungry, sex-starved eyes probably didn't see Mario's foot move quickly until the toe of the shoe landed a solid blow in Ben's crotch. "Urghh," was all he could say while he doubled over and fell on the carpet.

"Brad says hello." Mario stood aside so that Boone and Johnny could enter. Once they were inside, he closed the door and said, "Let's go back to the bedroom. Johnny, use some duct tape to close his yapper. Don't want to wake the neighbors."

While Ben moaned deeply, Boone and Johnny dragged him down the hallway toward the room that was lighted. Just as they were about to enter, Mario motioned them to stop.

"Guys, just a minute. I wonder what's behind this closed door. I've got a gut feeling that our man is very serious about his fantasies and Brad mentioned some sort of dungeon." Mario stepped ahead and opened a door that was directly across from the rather non-descript bedroom. He flipped on the light and smiled to himself. "Looks like Ben is into the leather scene...even if this place is a little cheesy. Drag him in here."

"Cheesy but practical. No windows, padded walls and floors...I'm sure that the soundproofing is ideal for his games," Johnny replied.

"And ours." Mario watched as the two men roughly threw Ben into the center of the room. He could only imagine what action the St. Andrew's cross, bench, leather sling and various toys had seen. "I think the cross is ideal for our purposes. Strap the fucker up so he can see."

"With pleasure. Stand up," Johnny yelled as he grabbed one of his arms.

"Arggh, uggh," was all Ben could utter through the tape covering his mouth as he got up. He still cupped his bruised and painful balls.

Johnny fastened Ben's wrists and ankles to the cross while Boone held the man. By the time Ben was secure, an expression of absolute fear had plastered itself on his face.

"Do you remember Brad?" Mario asked. "You know, the innocent victim you beat up and raped a few hours ago?" He brought back his arm and slammed his fist into Ben's stomach.

Ben's muted screams were ratcheted up a few notches when Mario aimed his fist at Ben's damaged nuts and followed it up by a punch squarely between his eyes. Mario jumped back to avoid the combination of snot and blood that spewed out of Ben's nose.

"Would you remove the tape? I think the construction of this room serves us well to muffle any sound." Mario looked and nodded at Boone. "Don't get messed up. This guy's probably a real gusher."

"Right, boss." Boone reached in and quickly ripped off the tape. Ben coughed out red, mucous fluid and looked at his captors with fear.

Mario glared at Ben and asked, "You do recall the guy you fucked over earlier this evening? The kid you tore apart? Focus you bastard and answer"

"Yes...yes, I remember. I thought he'd enjoy a little..."

"Fun? You miserable cocksucker, bondage and rough sex are supposed to be consensual...period."

"Misjudged...yeah, that...that's what happened. He looked like he could take it," Ben mumbled.

"Bullshit. You got your jollies off beating the crap out of a defenseless guy. Defenseless," Mario screamed. He glared at Ben while taking a moment to regain control of his anger. "I know a lot of your handyman business is paid for in cash. Where do you keep it? The kid you messed up is going to need some money to take care of the medical bills."

"I've got a metal box in the closet of my bedroom," Ben said with a sigh while his lips trembled.

"Check it out, would you?" Mario asked Johnny. He continued to stare at Ben with contempt. "You damaged a friend of mine and I intend for you to remember your error. I'm not going to physically do what you did cuz I'm pretty particular where I put my dick. Maybe a butt plug would be a good reminder of how you treated my friend." He turned to Boone and said, "The large one. Don't be gentle."

Boone walked over to a shelf and took a large, cone shape that was nearly a foot long and broadened in diameter so that the base was as big as a fist. He walked around to the rear of the cross and looked at Mario.

"Oh, please...please...don't use that. I, oh..." Ben begged.

"I'm sure my friend Brad said the same thing when you rammed your cock up his ass." Mario nodded to Boone and looked into Ben's eyes. "But we're a compassionate group. Unlike the consideration you showed my friend, we'll grease the plug up, first." Mario found a tub of Boy Butter and opened it. He held it while Boone scooped a handful and coated the anal missile. "Take it like a man...if you can."

The unintelligible explosion of the man's agony filled the room as Boone pounded the large, plastic device into Ben's puckered butt hole. A series of expletives ricocheted around the soundproof surface of the walls and were followed by violent sobbing.

Johnny returned and whispered to Mario, "The fucker had almost six grand stashed away. It's in my pocket."

"Good. Brad will need it while he's mending." Mario smiled with satisfaction that his revenge was almost complete. For the farewell event, he got Johnny's attention. Mario pointed to his lips, clenched his fist and pantomimed a slugging motion. Johnny nodded, took out a roll of quarters, gripped them and pounded his gloved fist into Ben's mouth. Teeth and blood spewed out as more screams bellowed from the disheveled mouth.

"Shut up and listen to me. If you ever mention this to anyone...we'll come after you and really do damage. Here's some more very serious advice: don't even think about trying to find the young guy who you screwed over. If one of your friends finds you, tell them that it was a trick gone bad. You understand?" Mario glared at Ben and knew that their job was finished. "We'll leave the front door unlocked."

Ben stared back through his puffy eye slits and nodded that he understood. He tried to talk but only gurgles and blood came out of his mouth.

Mario nodded to the men and picked up the duct tape that had originally sealed Ben's lips. 'Fucker,' he thought as they turned off the lights and left the house.

Cray was in his room and couldn't sleep. It was cool enough to open the windows and turn off the air conditioning. Therefore, he could hear the occasional noises on the outside. When he heard the garage door open, he knew it was either Mr. Ed or Mario. He put on a pair of shorts, slipped on his flops and left his room. As he rounded the corner of the garage/apartment structure, he saw Mr. Ed.

"Hi. How's Brad?"

"He's a lucky young man. Nose has been set, the stitches will heal without any scars and the bruises will disappear in time. Without getting into the details, he'll be sitting rather carefully for a while...but with no serious damage." Mr. Ed sighed, shook his head and added, "Although our friend will be out of commission for a while, it could have been a lot worse."

"That is fortunate." Cray decided not to explore that piece of information. After the experience of a couple of fingers when he played around with Spike's brother, he could only imagine the pain that Brad had experienced 'down there'. He looked at Mr. Ed and said, "I worry about those guys."

"Without going into details, you should be aware that what happened to Brad was not because of his...profession. He went to a bar and got involved - in a nonconsensual situation - with a brute of an animal. This could have happened in Des Moines...Iowa." Mr. Ed raised his eyebrows and added, "Or Leeds, in Yorkshire, for that matter. That's where I grew up."

"So why is he still there?" Cray was concerned that Brad had not come home with Mr. Ed. 'Is there something more that I don't know?' he wondered.

"Precautionary, actually. With the broken nose being set, the doctor didn't want to chance a problem of Brad maneuvering around in the night and damaging the medical work." Mr. Ed stopped at his doorstep and added, "The clinic is really like a nice hotel with nurses. I would imagine that I'll be sent to bring Brad home tomorrow. Cray, I'm going to bed now and I suggest you do, too."

"Yes, Sir. If I don't see you before I leave, please say 'hi' to Brad." Cray watched Mr. Ed walk into his apartment and wave goodnight before he closed the door.

Cray returned to his room and lay down on the bed without removing his shorts. He stared at the dark ceiling as he thought about the guys and their illegal activities. A brush with the law wasn't the only thing that concerned him; rather that these guys, and Spike especially, were risking their well-being for the mega-bucks they earned. 'Well, I don't know about mega,' he thought, 'but it's certainly better than $8.00 per hour. Somehow, I need to convince Spike that he's playing with fire.'

He had heard a few vehicles come into the parking area and knew that most of the guys had come home to roost. Except for Spike - he was aware that his friend was 'working' all night. Again, the grinding, metal noise of the garage door gliding up the guide rails alerted him to a more important arrival: Mario. He slipped on his flip-flops and headed back to the driveway. His mentor was just getting out of the sedan.

"I couldn't sleep and wanted to see ya when I heard you come home." Cray watched his friend walk forward. Even in the late night darkness, there was a magnetic, alluring quality about Mario.

"Hey, bud. Since you're up, let's finish that milk and snack we never got to eat." Mario reached up and ruffled Cray's short hair. They walked together into the kitchen.

"I guess we should start with fresh milk." Cray had rinsed out the glasses and cleaned up earlier. He opened the fridge and retrieved the carton.

"And maybe just a cookie." Mario found two clean glasses and set them on the table. He looked at Cray and said, "I'm tired. Bring the cookie jar over with you."

"I spoke with Mr. Ed when he came in. He said Brad is doing fine but will stay at the clinic overnight." Cray noticed Mario's knuckles on his right hand were a little red and puffy but decided not to say anything.

"Yes. I called Doc on my cell and got the rundown while I was driving. Brad should be able to come home tomorrow sometime." Mario smiled and fished out cookies from the jar while Cray poured the milk.

"I'm very relieved. Mr. Ed also said that it was a freak situation that could have occurred to anyone. Why the hell do some people act that way?" Cray took a bite of his cookie and looked at Mario.

"There's a few sick assholes that screw it up for everyone else. Pure and simple. Mr. Ed was correct in his assessment. It's like walking across the street and getting hit by an auto. Cray, believe me when I tell you that nothing like this has ever happened to any of the guys while being with a client. We're very careful."

"You probably think I'm being a big old pest. It's just that I've become attached to you and Spike, especially. I want to know you'll be around for a long time." Cray reached over, took Mario's hand - the one that didn't look red - and gently squeezed it. "I guess you don't mind if I tell you I love you guys."

"I look forward to attending your high school and college graduation. I'm sure that Spike feels the same way. Trust me when I tell you that risks happen everywhere and what occurred to Brad was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time." Mario looked at Cray and added, "It won't be happening again."

"Okay. I can't promise that I won't worry but I'll keep it to myself. I suppose Brad will be forced to rest for a while?" Cray decided that Mario's comment about it not 'happening again' was something best left alone.

"Doc said that he should be good as new in a month. I'm probably going to suggest that he recoup here for a couple of weeks and then go someplace fun. We've got a place in Hawaii that he could use."

"I'll help him when I get home from school and on weekends if he needs me." Cray decided to make Brad his fall project. 'Well,' he thought, 'along with getting to know Michael better.'

"That probably isn't necessary but I would appreciate it if you would check up on him when you're around. But don't keep this new friend of yours hanging out in the wind. From our conversation earlier, it sounds like this guy might be a keeper." Mario smiled and took another bite of his cookie.

"Good point." Cray wondered if his mentor was some sort of mind reader. 'Christ,' he thought, 'are horns growing on my forehead?' He yawned and decided that they both were ready to call it quits for the night. 'I'm really not ready to re-hash the Michael story,' he decided. 'Plus, there's too much shit going down with Brad. Am I worrying too much about Spike?'

"Sleepy time? I think I'm also ready to call it a night." Mario stood up and stretched before adding, "Don't worry about things. This was a fluke...nothing more. Brad's going to be fine and I'll make sure that Spike runs the straight and narrow."

"I guess I worry too much. There's been so much going down with me these past few months." Cray came closer to Mario and looked into his eyes. 'This guy is my hero,' he thought. 'If I ever need someone to look after me in a tight pinch, Mario's it.' He opened his arms and walked into a hug. 'Man, this guy feels good. Good in a different way from Michael.' He felt safe in the arms of his hero.

"Buddy, I love you like a kid brother. I can only wish for your happiness and I look to the day very soon when you'll officially have those two dads. Drew and Bob love you, too. They're terrific men and I couldn't think of anybody better to help you get through these next couple of years. In the meantime, whatever you can do to help is appreciated." Mario squeezed hard and held Cray against his chest for a few moments.

"I love you, too. Big brother or don't know how much I appreciate what you've done for me." Cray continued to hold tight and feel the moment.

"Time to scoot to bed. You've got school and I have a shit load of work to do." Mario released the hug and kissed Cray on the cheek. "Get some sleep. It'll be morning before ya know it."

"I'm ready to get a few z's." Cray looked at the tired eyes before him and decided that Mario was also exhausted. "See ya tomorrow," he said while he watched Mario leave the kitchen. 'Gotta see Spike tomorrow morning before I go to school,' Cray decided as he walked to his room. 'Just to make sure he's okay.'

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