Castle Roland

Roll Call

by Ricky


Chapter 18

Posted: N/A

"Jeez, you guys are loud. You ought to get a silencer for that thing."

"You talking about a gag for Tanner? Because there is no way to silence him once I go to work on his tight, squirming, twisted-up, little, love tunnel. I mean, like, holding back just ain't gonna happen. It's too good. We just fit together perfectly. And T-pup . . . Well, let's just say that it isn't just a surf board he knows how to ride well."

A silence occurred as Jan and Elliot started working on their own music.

A few minutes later and there was a concerto of chirps, squeals and moans from both music halls.

"Oh, my God Karen, would you listen to that? Jesus, fire up the triple-X jack hammer, let's make a little noise of our own."

"Renae, they might hear us."

Laughing Renae giggled out, "Right, babe, right now they can't hear anything but angels."

"So you guys are coming to the bar-B-Q right?" Gilbert asked with hope in his voice.

"Yeah," Jan shot back. "We told you we would be there Gil. Is Mark's mom still gonna come?"

"The last I heard she was going to try and maybe talk to my mom. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath though.

"How is Mark dealing with it?"

"It rips him up every time she looks at him. He says he only sees disgust. He knows she loves him, but that church shit is just drilled into her so deep that she can't look passed it. He says that if he had known he never would have come out to her."

"That's sad. It has to be hard. I mean, usually it's the dad people worry about. Mom's usually take it all in stride, but damn."

"We are going to try not to have too many shows of affection in front of her, alright Elliot? I mean, holding hands and stuff is fine but try not to swallow each other's tongues in front of her till she gets used to it all, okay?"

"Sure, I'll pass it along to Jan. So, how are you holding up?"

"Dude you wouldn't believe my mom. She's like, pointing out cute guys to me and shit just to see if she can make me blush. It's almost a sport with her now. And Christ, my dad started making jokes about my liking a challenge. Like, we went to get groceries and he stopped in front of the deli case and was just staring. I finally went up and said, "Dad, you alright? You've been staring at that deli case for like, twenty minutes!" Dude, you won't believe what he said. He said, "Well, I was wondering if, you know, like, you needed me to get like a salami log or something for you to . . . uh, challenge yourself with before Mark with the shark shows up Saturday."

"No freaking way!"

"Yes, way dude. I couldn't believe it. So get this, we are like, over in the pharmacy getting some shit for mom and he looks at me and looks at the lubes, then looks at me and he freaking takes his arm and scoops half the shelf into the cart!"

"AH! hahaha, no way! God, I love your dad. That is hysterical."

"And dude, he left me there standing in front of the chick at the pharmacy check-out putting the shit back up on the shelf. She looked at me and all the Wet lube I had in my arms and she smiled at me and then started checking out my package! I was dying there and I glance over and dad is like, three counters down laughing his ass off. Christ, I think it took me an hour before the red left my face. Then he had to tell mom all about it when we got home. So mom sets the tube of Wet next to my silverware at the dinner table. I come in for dinner and I'm like, God, you guys are awful. So I take it off the table and lay it in my lap and she's like, "You're not gonna use that now are ya?"

"Oh my God, they are having way too much fun with you on this."

"Yeah, it's both great and awful at the same time. They've registered with the Gay-Straight Alliance, PFLAG and the LGBT. I think if there was a gay funeral home they would be shopping it. They are just going gay crazy."

"Look, just give them time, they'll mellow out. It's still new to them."

"Easy for you to say. Mom just bought rainbow stickers for both cars, a freaking flag for my room. I'm like, "Mom, that's real nice, but I'm not like, into the gay pride thing. I'm just in love with Mark. She's like, be proud Gil. It's the only way to change society."

"Well, all I can say is that it is going to be an interesting evening. Hey, Jan's cousin is in town with his boyfriend and they are both hot. Think your parents would mind a couple more?"

"Nah, it'll be great. The more the merrier. It'll give Mark's mom something else to watch."

"Right! We'll see ya then tomorrow night. Talk to ya later."

"So, um Jeremy, I guess, we are like, roomies for a few days."

Jeremy blushed, "Um yeah, I guess so."

"Um, bed's pretty big, so um, lots of room um, there if you want to sleep. I mean. We got sleeping bags too, but the floor is kinda hard.

"Yeah, um, look, we don't have to do any. . ."

The sentence was stopped by a pair of lips pressing against his. When Jess stopped, Jeremy looked deeply into his eyes before whispering, "Tell me this is real." They kissed again.

"Is that real enough for you?"

"Yeah," Jeremy said as he laid his head against his chest and pressed his flat palm beside it to feel and hear the rhythmic beating of Jess's heart. He wanted to remember this moment forever.

"How about a 'real' shower together?" Jess said, smiling.

"Uh, slow up there. I'm new at all this and um, I'm a little scared of some of it yet."

"What, new to you? Hey, I just found out I like boys this afternoon. . . why does that sound so, so, um, weird? I like boys." He looked into Jeremy's eyes again. "Well, one boy anyways. God, this is going to take some getting used to."

"Yeah it will. Um, maybe I'll come and wash your back."

"Yes!" Jess screamed, grabbing his sleep shorts and running for the bathroom.

Blushing, Jeremy grabbed his and walked briskly towards the bathroom, arriving only to find the door closed. Reaching for the door knob, Mrs. Diaz appeared in her bathrobe with a book, heading for the stairs. "Hi Jeremy, getting settled in alright?"

Freezing, he stammered, "Uh, yes ma'am."

"Well I want you to know that we are glad you are here and I'm glad that you and Jess have each other to depend on."

Blushing, he spoke, "Thank you. I really appreciate your kindness . . ." But he was interrupted as the bathroom door opened and a hand reached out snatching Jeremy almost off his feet and the door closed. Mrs. Diaz smirked as she turned and headed down the steps.

"Jess, that was your mom!"

"Yeah, I recognized her," he said, peeling Jeremy's shirt off over his head. Jeremy just stared at the naked boy before him, soldier standing tall in anticipation. Jess let the shirt fall as he grabbed the muscular waist before him and pulled him to him kissing him. They kissed only moments before Jeremy was squirming trying to undo his belt. Jess, not breaking the kiss moved back enough to allow the job to be done. Their kiss broke as Jess turned and sliding the shower door open he turned on the water, diverting it to the shower head.

Jeremy toed off his shoes and stepped on the toes of his socks, stretching them to departure. Letting his jeans puddle about his feet, sliding his bikini briefs over his round mounds, he allowed his happiness to spring forth slapping against his abdominal plate, delivering a report that clearly spoke his excitement.

Looking up he saw Jess standing, staring at his eyes. A loving smile on his face, he held out a hand, "Come on, we'll just wash each other."

Jeremy reached for his hand and stepped into the tub-shower, pulling Jess in behind him.

As Jess closed the door, the water spraying his back and the warmth of the steam welling up around them, Jess reached for Jeremy pulling him slowly into a kissing embrace. Their warm bodies finding all the places they fit together. Each noting how each curve of the other nestled together as if they were once a single source, merely separated from the other. Their kiss broke and Jeremy laid his head against Jess and pulling against his back just breathed in the contentment he had never felt before, Jess, kissing his hair, turned slightly, allowing the warmer water to spray them both before turning again allowing the hot water to cascade over the beautiful hair of his love.

Jeremy shivered as the heat replaced the cold and the shiver shared itself with the other everywhere they touched. Jess gasped and involuntarily rolled his hips forward in response. It was Jeremy's turn to gasp and he stepped back looking at Jess's face. "Uh maybe we should um, wash?"

Jeremy took the liquid bodywash and put some in Jess's hand before squeezing some into his own. He began to smear it on his chest, flat-handed at first, his other hand joining in as his fingers began to trace his form. Running up this abs they rolled from the tickling as they traveled back up to his tender nipples that found rigidity in his caught breath.

Jess pulled him into him and allowed their curves to share the lather, the heat of their union welling between them as Jess rubbed the bodywash onto his boy's back. Gathering some from the growing lather-garden with the other hand, he dropped his hands to the tensing round mounds and he pulled them up into him. Their kissing became passion as their bodies writhed, sharing the wash between them.

Jeremy, finding Jess's mounds, ran his fingers lightly down his love path finding the withered spot that spasmed at his touch. Jess jerked and moaned as he flexed his cheeks holding his fingers against the entrance to that forbidden place. Jeremy kissed him more passionately as they undulated their hips. Jeremy ventured a finger through that forbidden door and wiggled it to the first knuckle. Their kiss broke as the animalistic nature took over and Jess rolled his hips pushing his muscular body against Jeremy's. He found the wall of the shower as their rounded movements found an equal rhythm.

Jeremy found the soft of Jess's neck and bit slightly at first then sucking as Jess squirmed. "Oh God!" Jess gasped, "I never knew it could feel like this." His speed increased as Jeremy's administrations to his love tunnel received a second visitor and the two ventured further to the land of magic buttons where they started to dance against the spot known only to two boys in love. Their hips took on a life of their own and proceeded to the work at transferring the magic from one to the other as Jess began to whimper and chirp with each thrust.

Their songs began to be sung in harmony as the sounds of the love symphony echoed down the steps where a husband and wife sat, their books now dropping to their laps, staring with smiling eyes at each other as the boy concerto upstairs came to a stunning crescendo. Mr. Diaz closed his book and set it aside. Walking over to his wife, he held out his hand. She closed her book and stood as he took the book from her and laid it on the end table. "You won't be needing that," he whispered before kissing her and leading her up the stairs toward their own music hall.

"Jeremy," Jess gasped, out of breath, reeling in his afterglow, their warm sharing mingling between them. "What the fuck was that?"

Jeremy chuckled, "I think the term is orgasm."

"No, before that. You touched, um, something in there and I like, almost exploded at your touch."

Jeremy smiled, "If I plead ignorance can we try it again?"

"Now?" Jess pleaded, but the shower answered as the water rapidly changed from warm to cool.

They rinsed their love potions off each other and shut the water off. Stepping out, Jess grabbed two towels and after handing one to Jeremy, opened the other and began to dry Jeremy. Both taking the opportunity to marvel at the other's body, taking the time to caress and occasionally kiss the other's parts when their hearts led them to do so. Completing the cycle, they hung the towels and got on their sleep shorts, pausing momentarily as Jess retrieved a towel and gathered the drops on Jeremy's back that had since fallen from his dark curls. Draping the towel over his shoulders, he turned Jeremy around. He began once again kissing him as his now towel laden hands pressed the moisture from the curls.

Jess stopped abruptly and leaned back from Jeremy. His look more serious than ever, he whispered, "I'm starving." Jeremy broke into a fit of laughter as he hung the towel up and followed Jess out the door. Clothes gathered in his arms, they went back to the room and deposited the clothes in the hamper and then put on clean shirts to stave off the chill of the evening as they began their forage for food. Their travel was halted by an escalating noise that sounded vaguely familiar. It was like an older love song. Jess looked at Jeremy and Jess scrunched up his nose, "Eeeeewwwww!" before taking the steps two at a time, trying to escape his visions into the kitchen, the land of forbidden thought. Finding the left-overs from the pork chops, mashed potatoes and corn, they fired up the microwave and commenced the recharging ritual that teenage boys are known for.

"Hey, any more of those pork chops left?"

"Sorry pop, just cleaned them up."

"No worries," he said as he opened the refrigerator and started looking for containers with appetizing contents when he felt a hand on his back.

"Want me to make some breakfast for you, sweetie?"

"Ooo, that would be delightful."

Looking at the boys with an afterglow smile, "You boys still hungry? I can whip up some waffles, too." Jess looked at Jeremy and smiled before turning to his mom.


Smiling, she murmured, "I thought you may have worked up an appetite. Good thing your sisters are staying over at grandma's or we may have had to explain all the moans to them."

Jess looked at his mom, crimson. "Yeah well, you guys were a little louder than usual."

Both parents snapped around slack-jawed before blushing a little themselves. "Yeah well, I think they are used to ours. You guys were so loud that we might still have to explain it to them by phone." His mother managed to get through a full on, 'we've been busted but so have you', smile.

Through a firmly dimpled smile, Jess managed to deliver a barely audible, "oops!" Jeremy was so red he almost bled through the pours of his skin before covering his face with his hands and looking at the table. Mrs. Diaz realized she embarrassed him and handing the spatula over to her husband she went over and put her hand on his arm. Pulling him up, she hugged him.

"It's okay, you were doing what two people in love do. I'm sorry we embarrassed you."

"WE?" Mr. Diaz said.

"Well honey, I didn't want you to take all the blame yourself."

Mr. Diaz turned to stare at her. "Me! I didn't say anything."

"Yes dear, it's okay. I'm sure he's forgiven you. Hey, get the eggs before they burn."

Exasperated, Mr. Diaz turned and scooped the two eggs out of the frying pan and on a plate and pried the first waffle off the iron, shaking his head. The boys were laughing as Mrs. Diaz walked over and hugged him from behind. Giving him a quick peck on the cheek, she poured another dollop of batter into the waffle iron and closed the lid.

"Hey Gil, how's it going? Are we on time? Miss anything? Marks mom do the sidewalk slam on you yet?" Elliot smiled as he delivered the last.

"Dude that isn't funny. She is downright creepy."

"Gil! That's my mom you're talking about. Cut her some slack, she's having a really tough time with all this. She's trying."

"Yeah, I know Mark, and I'm sorry, but you know what I mean. She came holding her Bible and hasn't put it down once. She looks at me like I'm the devil himself. I think if I kissed ya in front of her, I'd end up eating that freaking book.

"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. It's just . . . I don't know. I don't know how I can help her to understand, Gil."

"I know and she really is trying. This must be so hard for her. It's all those years of having that crap force-fed to her. Oh shit guys, come on in I didn't mean to keep you in the doorway. Everyone is out back."

"Gil, Mark, this is my cousin Tanner and his main and only squeeze Ryan. We just call him . . ."

". . . Jake Austin!" Gil cut in.

"No, he just looks like him, honest. And we just call him Ry."

Ry looked at Tanner as he bumped knuckles with Gil, "Maybe it's the hair. I could cut it or something."

"No way, I think you're cute just the way you are." Tanner pulled him close and gave him a peck.

"And this is my main and only Mark with the shark."

"With a shark?" Tanner asked, bumping knuckles.

Mark blushed, "Uh yeah, more on that later. Come on, let's make an appearance and then we can slip away to the garage or something. Gil, why don't you do the introductions?"

"How about I introduce them to my parents and you introduce them to your's ?"

"It's your home and your party. You should do it."

"Hey," Tanner said, sharply. "Why don't you do it hand in hand? I mean, that's why you're here, right? So that Mark's mom can get to know what your relationship means to you, what each other means to the other and so she can ask questions of the other parents. Why not give her something to talk about? If you don't, then what are we doing here? I mean, we can get burgers without the drama down the street." He paused for a moment and looked at the two. "Have I been misinformed?"

"No, you're right. Thanks, it's just so hard."

"I can see that!" Ry giggled.

Gilbert looked at Mark and reached down and ran his hand over it once before smiling at Ry. Mark gasped and looked painfully at Gil as he said, "Oh no, not even close." Glancing back he said, "Well . . . now I would say we're close."

Tanner and Ry looked at Mark. Ry with shock, Tanner with hunger, just before Ry piched Tanners nipple and said, "Stop that!"

Tanner blushed and shrugged before whispering, "Damn!"

Jan laughed, "Yeah well, I guess intros are on hold for a couple minutes."

"Nonsense!" Gil said as he flicked the head of Mark's shark doubling him over in pain.

He stood up and punched Gilbert in the arm, "Ass!"

"Yeah, but it took care of the problem, didn't it?"

"You wait, I'll take care of 'your' problem, you just wait." Gilbert led them out to the back yard where the adults were sitting sipping tea.

Gilbert lead them to his parents, "Mom, dad, you remember Jan and Elliot? This is his cousin Tanner and his boyfriend Ryan. Tanner, Ryan, my parents, Bill and Dorothy Holland."

Tanner extended his hand and shook Dorothy's. "Very pleased to meet you Mrs. Holland. When did your husband get out of prison?"

Dorothy raised an eyebrow as Tanner glanced at both Mr. and Mrs. Holland. "Certainly they threw you in jail for cradle robbing sir. I meant no disrespect."

Bill grinned and Dorothy broke into laughter. She looked at Ry, "Is he always this charming?"

"Yes, well he is certainly a hard act to follow." Ry extended his hand, "I'm pleased to meet you, thank you for inviting us."

"It was our pleasure, and please, call us Bill and Dorothy. Tanner made me feel so young I don't want to put a damper on it. I don't get that kind of flattery often."

Turning to face Mr. and Mrs. Waverly, Mark stepped up. "Mother, father, you remember Jan and Elliot? They came over to help me clean out the garage. Well, this is Tanner and uh, Ryan. Tanner is Jan's cousin." Tanner extended his hand to Mrs. Waverly and she started to reach for it until Ry stepped forward and placed his arm around Tanner's waist. She withdrew her hand like she was offered a serpent.

Mr. Waverly quickly took his hand, "We're so glad you came. I'm Forrest and my wife is Janet. Have you had a burger yet?" he asked, wrapping an arm around Tanner and Ryan leading them away from Janet and towards the food.

Tanner stopped him. "Thank you, we'll get some food in a moment. Ryan didn't get introduced to your wife properly," and he reached over and pulled Ryan to him and back towards Mrs. Waverly.

"Oh shit!" Jan whispered to Elliot as he saw Tanner return to the Bible caressing Janet Waverly.

Tanner walked up to Janet Waverly with Ryan right behind them. "I'm sorry Mrs. Waverly, how rude of me. I didn't introduce my lover, Ryan. Ryan this is . . . Janet was it? Uh, Mrs. Waverly." he finished. Ryan extended his hand to her and smiled. He left it extended and she just stared at it and then back to his face, then back to his hand. The moment became long, then it became uncomfortable then completely pregnant.

Then Ryan spoke, "Mrs. Waverly I am pleased to meet you." He finally withdrew it from her and she visibly exhaled. Then Ryan went on, "We were pleased to be invited to such a special occasion. Your son is beautiful and has chosen a wonderful and well mannered boyfriend, you must be happy for them."

"They aren't like that!" she reeled. "He's just confused. God will heal him." she spoke in stuttered staccato.

Tanner and Ryan looked over their shoulder at Mark and Gilbert who were staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Their eyes met Tanner's as Tanner mouthed, ' kiss him'. Mark swallowed and looked back at his mother then at Gilbert and he pulled him into a kiss. Not a deep one, but more than a peck and he wrapped his arm around his waist. Tanner turned back to face Janet. "No, uh, I don't think he's confused, except perhaps by how you're treating the son you love.

Holding the Bible in Tanner's face, she said, "Stop confusing him with your sinful ways!"

"First of all, this is your religion not mine. But if you are going to hold me to what that book says, then perhaps you can tell me why you only choose the parts that suit you to follow."

"I follow the word to the letter!"

"Really? That is a really nice looking sweater. Is it all natural fibers? That dress doesn't look like it's been ironed. My guess is that it is a permanent press fabric. Tell me, what does Leviticus 19:19 tell you?"

Sheepishly, she read for a minute. "They were just telling them not to buy cheap clothes. Cotton mixed with wool made an inferior product."

"How convenient. Why is it literal in Leviticus 20:13 and not 19:19, shouldn't you be put to death, just like your gay son?"

"We are not bound by the old law but by the new!"

"Right then, don't like the battle, just change the war. Gotcha covered. So then in your 'New Testament' where does it say gays are bad?"

"Well, it doesn't say it directly, but it says that we should try to be like the lord."

"Well, didn't he travel with twelve cute guys? Sleep with them, kiss them?"

"Not like that! You are trying to confuse me."

"No ma'am, you are already confused. I'm trying to help you sort it out and to see that. You and your son's future depend on you figuring it out because I can tell you right this moment. he was born gay, he did not choose it, and you will never pray the gay away. So you got a choice, figure it out or lose your son."

She looked stunned in thought for a moment before raising the Bible beside her face. "There is no confusion in the Lord! His word is clear and concise. Confusion is of the devil."

Tanner snatched the book from her hand. "May I?" he asked, rhetorically. He thumbed through it for a moment before looking at her, "Do you know where the book of John is?"

She smiled, "Why yes." He handed her the book and she skillfully flipped it open to the book of John right at John 3:16 and handed it back.

Tanner took it from her, smiling his disarming smile. "Thank you. I'm going to make this easy for you. Or you can choose to keep fighting what you can't change." Tanner flipped through a few pages coming to the desired passage. "Are you familiar with John 13:34?"

She smiled gleefully, "Why yes, it is one of my favorites 'Love your neighbor as yourself', isn't that it?

"Almost, but you're missing the most important part of that verse. Let me read it for you. 'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.' So you see he gave you a new commandment." Tanner tore the page out of her bible and her jaw dropped. Tanner spoke, handing her the page, "So this is all you need." He leaned back and pitched the bible off into the brush beyond the fence. "See, now you can have your cake and Mark can be eaten too!" He turned and taking Ryan with him, he went over to the boys. Everyone was frozen in shock, waiting to see what Janet Waverly would do.

Mr. Waverly, seeking to head off the scene Janet was about to make started towards Tanner. "Tanner, that was a little bit overboard don't you . . .'

"No!" Janet barked. "Forrest," She paused walking up on them and taking Mr Waverly's arm. "The young man is right. I don't approve of the way he went about it, but he's right." She walked over to Mark and Gilbert, "Mark, I'm sorry. I've been such an old fool. And Gilbert, to you I am the most sorry. What awful things you must think of me. Please, both of you, give me a chance to make it up." Mark kissed his mom and then hugged her as her eyes welled up. She reached for Gilbert and brought him in to the hug. She stopped and stepped back and looked down for a moment. "Tanner, Ryan, I am so sorry. There is no excuse for being as rude as I was to you, you didn't deserve that. And you were right. No matter what else, love your neighbor. Do that and it covers all the rest."

"You are right on all counts Mrs. Waverly. Given a choice, none of us would have chosen to be gay when we were sorting it out. But it isn't a choice. If it was, there would be no suicides because parents couldn't accept their gay son or daughter. They would just choose to be straight. But that world out there is full of people just like you who are ready to crucify us for being how God made us. And I'm putting that in terms that I figure you will understand because personally, I can't see how anyone with intelligence can believe that rubbish. If I'm wrong and he has let this world go as bad as it has then he isn't worth my devotion, but that's my take on it and I respect you for yours. But you better figure out where you stand out there too. Because he is your son and God ain't gonna fix nothing in him because nothing is broke. He's gay, you're straight. Beyond that, I'm sorry I tore your book. I'll replace it gladly."

"No, thank you. I have others. And you're right. I have a ways to go yet. I hope when we meet again that I can look you in the eye and smile and you can do the same. That's all I can do right now."

"Fair enough. Now, did someone mention food? I'm starving."

"Ernie," T-rex said, "You wanna come over this weekend and we'll get some movies."

"Can't dude. I got a date."

"Nuh ah, who?"

"Liz Stuver. She is so hot."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Don't know yet. Thinking about a movie, but if I do that, then, well, she might be expectin', I mean, you know I don't know how to, um, you know, what to like, do. I mean, I know what to do but like, I don't know how to get started. God, I can barely talk when she looks at me."

They were quiet for a minute. "Wow, Ern, your first date. God, I'd be scared shitless."

"I kinda am. You know. Um hey, why don't you get a date and we can go together. Then she won't expect as much, um, you know, stuff to be goin' on."

"Me? No way. Who would want to go out with me? Besides, I'm not ready for a commitment."

"Commitment? I didn't say you had to marry the girl, just go out with one. Hey, I can ask Liz to bring one of her friends along."

"No way, are you insane? I want my first date to at least be someone 'I' choose."

"Then who are you going to ask?"

"I'm not asking anyone!"

"Come on, what are best friends for if not to get your back when you are in deep shit?"

"Dude, you don't know what you're asking."

"Rex, it's just a date. I'll buy. Come on pleeeease? You gotta back me up. And look!" he said, shoving his phone into T-rex's hand. He looked at the screen.

'Mom doesn't want us going alone. Know anyone who we can double with?'

Ernie snatched the phone back out of his hand and worked his thumbs frantically.

'Can ask my best friend Ernie but no date,' and pushed send.

The response was almost immediate, 'No problem Cindy said she would go. She thinks he's cute.'

"Yes!" Ernie pulled his fist in the air and thumbed in. 'Done!'

"Wait! What the fuck dude? You didn't even ask me if I like her at all. I don't even know her."

"It's alright. Trust me, she's almost as hot as Liz. You're gonna love her."

"Uh, I have to ask my dad, he wanted me to do the yard and a bunch of stuff this weekend. He's been after me about it for like, days. I might not even be allowed to go."

"Well I gotta run, mom said to be home for dinner and it's almost six. Come on, we can ask him together on my way out." T-rex stood in resignation and followed him down the stairs and into the living room where his mom and dad sat watching TV.

Ernie nudged him with his elbow.

"Um, dad?"

Mr. Rex turned to his son, muting the TV as he did, "Yes son?"

"Um, Ernie wants me to go out on a date with him Saturday night."

Mr. Rex raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Uh no, Mr. Rex, like, with a double date, with girls."

Mr. Rex watched T-rex's mouth drop and he had a look of terror on his face. "Uh right, I meant to say that. Like with girls, dad, alone . . . in the dark . . . in the back of a movie theater where anything can happen. So, you probably don't want me to go, right? I mean, I know you have a lot of yard work for me to do on Saturday. I understand." Turning to Ernie he put his hand on his shoulder, "Well, maybe next time, thanks for thinking of me. Come on, I'll walk you to the door."

"Wait!" Mr. Rex was fighting a smile. "It is true that I have a lot of yard work for you to do, but if we get started on it early we can be done by noon. I don't suppose the movie starts till evening. You are getting older now. I think you can be trusted to be responsible. You can go."

The look of terror expanded and was replaced with a glare until Ernie turned him around and smiled, "Great! See you about 4:00 pm at the Regal Theater. Wait, let's meet at the food court."

"Yeah, great. Thanks, see ya later." The smile was forced and his dad noticed. He closed the door and placed his forehead against it.

"Thomas?" his dad spoke. T-rex turned and bolted up the steps to his room, tears running down his cheeks. His mother looked at her husband.

"Honey, do you want me to go talk to him?"

"No, I think I better. It's my mess," and went up the steps to find the door to his room closed. He knocked. No answer. He turned the knob and stepped into the dark room and he flipped on the light to find T-rex looking towards the wall. "Hey Tiger," he rubbed his back lovingly. "Want to talk about it?" He shook his head, still hiding his tears from his dad.

"Come on, talk to me son. It can't be all that bad." His dad bent one leg sideways and slid onto the bed pulling T-rex up and into his lap. His lithe frame, limp like a rag doll, nestled into his father's lap and snuggled against his chest just like he did when he was little and skinned his knee. "Talk to me Tom"

"Dad, I don't know. It's just. . . I don't even know this girl and like, it's a movie and stuff. She's like, going to expect. . . Well, that's just it. I don't have a clue what to do with her and I really don't want to have anything to do with her. I mean, I'm just not ready for this and Ernie like, pushed me into this and I'm just, not . . . ready."

"Is it because it's a girl or because it's this girl?"

"Dad, I've never even kissed a girl before. And I just really don't want to now."

"Thomas, look me in the eyes." He lifted his chin so that his eyes met his. "When you came down and you said that Ernie wanted you to go on a date and it sounded like Ernie wanted you for his date, you got a look on your face of absolute terror. I've never seen that look on you before, and it looked like it actually caused you pain when he corrected it. We've been together your whole life son. You'll be my son and be loved until the day we die and it doesn't make a difference if you like boys or girls. We will love you the same. And if you aren't sure, then figure it out in your time. Don't be pushed into anything by anyone. And son, Ernie has been your best friend forever. If it turns out that you like boys and Ernie likes girls, I'm willing to bet that he will love you just the same. Best friends do that."

"And what if it's Ernie I like and Ernie likes girls?"

Hugging his son he whispered, "Then I'll love you and hold you until you are cried out, then we'll start looking for another Ernie for you to love. Together."

"You wouldn't hate me for being, you know, gay?"

"Son, you can be whatever you want and you are still my son. Unless of course you want to change that too, in which case, you would be my daughter and you'll have to start having these talks with mom."

A grin formed on Thomas's face. "Dad, I don't like girls, why would I want to be one?"

"I'm just sayin' . . ."

"What about mom? Will she still love me? Or will she be ashamed of me?"

"Why would she be ashamed of you?"

"You know, for not being normal."

"Thomas, when you were born she looked at you and then she looked at me and she said, 'I have to take care of him now. He depends on me.' She held you up and looked at your face. I asked her what she was looking at. She said I was trying to see what he looked like he would be when he grew up. You know, a doctor a lawyer, a plumber'. And then I asked her what she wanted you to be. You know what she said? She smiled at me and said, Happy. I don't care who he is or what he is, as long as he is happy."' T-rex snuggled in, not wanting this time to end with his father.

"Dad," he whispered, "Thanks for loving me. I've been so scared." His father kissed him on the forehead and hugged him before tucking him into bed. Before he closed the door he stopped, "You room is a mess, I'm afraid I have to ground you tomorrow. I know you're disappointed but I think it's the best thing for you, so you'll have to call Ernie in the morning and tell him you can't make it after all."


"Yes son?"

"I love you dad."

"Love you too son, good night."

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